Aging & Geriatrics

Introduction to Aging and Geriatrics

Aging & Geriatrics

Great improvements in medicine, public health, science, and technology have enabled today's older Americans to live longer and healthier lives than previous generations. Older adults want to remain healthy and independent at home in their communities. Society wants to minimize the health care and economic costs associated with an increasing older population. The science of aging indicates that chronic disease and disability are not inevitable. As a result, health promotion and disease prevention activities and programs are an increasing priority for older adults, their families, and the health care system.

Many people fail to make the connection between undertaking healthy behaviors today and the impact of these choices later in life. Studies indicate that healthy eating, physical activity, mental stimulation, not smoking, active social engagement, moderate use of alcohol, maintaining a safe environment, social support, and regular health care are important in maintaining he...More

Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What healthy choices should those who are aging make?

  • Choosing a doctor is one of the most important decisions anyone can make. The best time to make that decision is while you are still healthy and have time to really think about all your choices.
  • Studies show that endurance activities help prevent or delay many diseases that seem to come with age. In some cases, endurance activity can also improve chronic diseases or their symptoms.
  • You can improve your health if you move more and eat better!
  • As you grow older, you may need less energy from what you eat, but you still need just as many of the nutrients in food.
  • The Federal Government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly encourage older adults to be immunized against flu, pneumococcal disease, tetanus and diphtheria, and chickenpox, as well as measles, mumps, and rubella.
  • Sunlight is a major cause of the skin changes we think of as aging — changes such as wrinkles, dryness, and age spots.

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What medical issues can those who are aging face?

  • Age can bring changes that affect your eyesight.
  • About one-third of Americans older than age 60 and about half the people who are 85 and older have hearing loss. Whether a hearing loss is small (missing certain sounds) or large (being profoundly deaf), it is a serious concern.
  • Menopause is the time around the age of 51 when your body makes much less of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone and you stop having periods, which can cause troublesome symptoms for some women.
  • The risk of osteoporosis grows as you get older. Ten million Americans have osteoporosis, and 8 million of them are women.
  • Prostate problems are common in men age 50 and older. There are many different kinds of prostate problems and treatments vary but prostate problems can often be treated without affecting sexual function.
  • Loss of bladder control is called urinary incontinence and at least 1 in 10 people age 65 or older has this problem.
  • In order to meet the criteria for an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis, a person's cognitive deficits must cause significant impairment in occupational and/or social functioning.

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What mental health issues can those who are aging face?

  • Because the aging process affects how the body handles alcohol, the same amount of alcohol can have a greater effect as a person grows older. Over time, someone whose drinking habits haven’t changed may find she or he has a problem.
  • There are many reasons why depression in older people is often missed or untreated. The good news is that people who are depressed often feel better with the right treatment.

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News Articles

  • Aerobic Exercise May Help Guard Against Dementia

    Study found seniors with mild cognitive impairment saw gains in thinking, memory skills after six months of workouts. More...

  • Having Trouble Hearing? Maybe It's Not Your Ears

    Part of the problem for seniors might lie in the brain, research suggests. More...

  • Older Fallers Have Often Been Administered High-Risk Drugs

    Older fallers have often been administered high-risk medications, frequently at higher-than-recommended doses, according to a study published online Nov. 28 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

  • 3 Keys to Cutting Your Risk of Heart Failure

    Guarding against obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes at middle age may slash risk, study finds. More...

  • Antidepressants + Exercise Beneficial in Late-Life Depression

    For older adults with late-life major depression, the combination of antidepressants and physical exercise seems beneficial, especially for individuals with specific characteristics, according to research published online Nov. 21 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

  • 45 More
    • Gender Gap in Life Expectancy Persists

      Genetics and riskier behaviors may help explain the difference, researchers say. More...

    • Some Elderly With Alzheimer's Brain Plaques Stay Sharp

      Study finding raises question of whether something protected their brains. More...

    • About Half of Seniors in ER Willing to Use Tablet Computers

      About half of older adults in the emergency department are willing to provide information using a tablet computer, but few can do so without needing assistance, according to a study published online Nov. 2 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Could Loneliness Be an Early Sign of Alzheimer's?

      People with 'biomarkers' for the brain disease were more likely to feel socially detached, study finds. More...

    • Benefit of Exercise on Resting Pulse Rate in Seniors Unclear

      A long-term moderate-intensity physical activity intervention may reduce resting pulse rate among older adults, according to a study published online Oct. 27 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • 1 in 4 Seniors Doesn't Discuss End-of-Life Care

      Finding suggests efforts to encourage more planning aren't working, researcher says. More...

    • Less Than Half of Older Hip Fracture Patients Fully Recover: Study

      Geriatric experts cite need to set realistic expectations for the injured and their families. More...

    • New Method May Provide Better Rx for Seniors' Ankle Fractures

      A new type of plaster cast might help older adults avoid surgery for unstable ankle fractures, according to research published in the Oct. 11 issue the Journal of the American Medical Association. More...

    • Clots May Be the Cause of Fainting in Some Elderly

      But doctors don't often suspect pulmonary embolism, researchers say. More...

    • Better Way to Treat Seniors' Ankle Fractures?

      'Close contact casting' might help many avoid surgery, study suggests. More...

    • Volunteering May Help Prevent Cognitive Impairment in Seniors

      Older adults who volunteer have lower risk of developing cognitive impairment, according to a study published online Oct. 3 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Healthy Living May Mean More Healthy Years for Seniors

      Study found they enjoyed longer spans without disability even as they lived longer. More...

    • New Clues to Age-Related Hearing Loss

      Older people's brains have a harder time processing speech, researchers suggest. More...

    • U.S. Life Expectancy Lags Behind Other Wealthy Nations

      Diabetes, drugs and guns contribute to disappointing statistics in new global report. More...

    • Number of Americans With Severe Joint Pain Keeps Rising

      CDC tally estimates that close to 15 million people now live with this discomfort. More...

    • Have Humans Hit Their Longevity Limit?

      More people might attain very old age, study finds, but probably not beyond 125 years. More...

    • High Incidence of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Older Adults

      Older adults have high incidence of cardiovascular risk factors, with increased incidence of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia for blacks, according to a study published online Sept. 26 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • A Happy Spouse May Keep You Healthy

      Your husband or wife can encourage good lifestyle habits, researchers say. More...

    • Exercise Speeds Seniors' Recovery From Disability

      Walking regimen also curbs risk of injury in the first place, study finds. More...

    • Study: Colonoscopy After 75 May Not Be Worth It

      But, expert says age shouldn't be only criterion for screening for colon cancer. More...

    • How Older People Can Head Off Dangerous Drug Interactions

      Taking multiple medications and supplements could cause serious problems, FDA warns. More...

    • Promising Results for Laughter-Based Exercise Program

      For older adults, combining simulated laughter exercises with a moderate-intensity strength, balance, and flexibility physical activity program is associated with improvements in health, physical performance, and self-efficacy for exercise, according to a study published online Aug. 4 in The Gerontologist. More...

    • Heavy Drinking Can Harm the Aging Brain

      Study supports notion that the habit is toxic to brain cells, slows mental abilities. More...

    • Falls a Growing and Deadly Threat for Older Americans

      They cause millions of injuries and soaring health care costs, CDC report shows. More...

    • Hearing Aids Underused by the 'Older Old'

      Although the rate of hearing loss in patients goes up significantly during the 10th decade of life, hearing aids remain underused in this population, according to research published online Sept. 15 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. More...

    • Diet or Exercise: What's Best for the Middle-Aged Heart

      Study finds each effective, as long as healthy weight loss is the result. More...

    • Hearing Loss Widespread, 'Progressive' in Older Americans

      Rates accelerate especially after age 90, study finds, but hearing aids underused. More...

    • 31 Million Older Americans Aren't Getting Enough Exercise

      Inactivity boosts their risk for falls, broken bones, serious disease and early death, CDC warns. More...

    • Brains of 'Super-Agers' Look Decades Younger

      Regions of mentally sharp older folks don't shrink like their peers with memory loss do, study finds. More...

    • One in Four Older Adults Report Breathlessness

      Twenty-five percent of adults aged 70 years and older report breathlessness, which is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and severe fatigue, according to a study published online Sept. 7 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Seniors Not Scared of Social Media After All

      Study also finds using it helps them feel less isolated, may boost their health. More...

    • Health Tip: Traveling With Arthritis

      Suggestions to ease pain More...

    • Health Tip: Choosing a Senior Home

      Signs it's a good place for a loved one More...

    • Fans May Not Be Cool Choice for the Elderly

      Heart rate, core body temperature rose more with fan use than without in 108 degree heat, study finds. More...

    • 1 in 6 Younger Americans Wants to Die Before 80

      Negative views of old age are powerful influence on how long people want to live, survey finds. More...

    • Over 64? Want to Cut Your Heart Disease Risk? Try Exercise

      Finnish study finds even moderate exercise lowers odds of early death. More...

    • Even a Little Exercise May Help Stave Off Dementia

      Sedentary seniors more likely to suffer mental decline, study finds. More...

    • Senior Years May Truly Be Golden for Happiness

      Researchers find people get less stressed and are more content as they age. More...

    • Family Trumps Friends in Extending Seniors' Lives

      People are comfortable expecting more help from relatives, researchers say. More...

    • Healthy Diet, Exercise May Help Keep Alzheimer's at Bay

      Study finds people who are active and eat well have fewer brain effects linked to the disease. More...

    • Injected Drug May Help Fight Osteoporosis in Women

      Abaloparatide appears to reduce fractures better than the current drug Forteo, researchers say. More...

    • Heat Waves Hit Seniors Hardest

      Risk of high-temperature trouble rises with age and chronic health issues, experts warn. More...

    • How Long Will You Live? Look to Your Parents

      Lower risk of dying from heart disease if mom and dad lived past 70, study suggests More...

    • Virtual Reality Component Reduces Risk of Falls in Elderly

      For older adults at risk of falls, the addition of non-immersive virtual reality to treadmill training reduces the incidence of falls, according to a study published online Aug. 11 in The Lancet. More...

    • Addiction Risk Low for Seniors Taking Post-Op Opioids: Study

      Vast majority of patients used the meds short-term to ease their pain. More...

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