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

  • Fall Risk Rises Even in Alzheimer's Early Stages

    In older people a fall can sometimes be a sign of oncoming Alzheimer's disease, even in the absence of mental issues, new research suggests. More...

  • Middle-Aged Americans Report More Pain Than Seniors

    Middle-aged Americans are living with more physical pain than older adults are -- and the problem is concentrated among the less-educated, a new study finds. More...

  • Poll Finds Pandemic Surge in Loneliness Among Older Adults

    The constraints of the coronavirus pandemic have many more older adults feeling lonely this summer than in years past. According to a new poll, many older adults are feeling isolated while they protect themselves from the virus. More...

  • Isolation, Loneliness of Lockdowns Is Tough on America's Seniors

    Seniors are among those most at risk for dying from COVID-19, and so they've been urged to socially distance during the pandemic. But experts fear this isolation, while protecting them from a potentially fatal infection, might be wearing away at their health in other ways. More...

  • Teens, Seniors Are Often Driving the Least Safe Cars

    Seniors and teens are more likely to drive vehicles that lack important safety features, a new study finds. More...

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    • Common Meds Tied to Faster Mental Decline in Seniors

      A group of widely used medications might speed up older adults' mental decline -- especially if they are at increased risk of dementia, a new study hints. More...

    • Seniors With Depression Show Resilience in Face of Pandemic

      Older Americans with depression have held up well to the threat of COVID-19, a new study finds. More...

    • Are Opioids Prescribed Too Freely as Patients Are Moved to Nursing Homes?

      When hospital patients are moved to a skilled nursing facility, they are too often given a prescription for a high-dose opioid painkiller, new research suggests. More...

    • Telehealth Skyrocketing Among Older Adults

      More older Americans have been seeing their doctors virtually since the pandemic began than ever before, a new poll finds. More...

    • Why Are Dementia Patients Getting Risky Psychiatric Drugs?

      As many as 3 in 4 older adults with dementia have been prescribed drugs that may pose a risk to them, researchers report. More...

    • Education Benefits the Brain Over a Lifetime

      A new study confirms what your parents always told you: Getting an education opens the door to career opportunities and higher salaries. But it may also benefit your well-being in old age. More...

    • Could Daily Low-Dose Aspirin Hasten Cancer in Seniors?

      Taking a daily low-dose aspirin may speed the progression of cancer in the elderly, a new clinical trial shows. More...

    • Can Seniors Handle Results of Alzheimer's Risk Tests?

      As researchers hone in on ways to detect whether someone has a high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease before they have any symptoms, mental health professionals have worried what the psychological fallout of that knowledge might be. More...

    • Telemedicine Is Here: Experts Offer Tips for Seniors

      Virtual medical visits have been invaluable for many during the COVID-19 pandemic, but older adults may still need help managing them -- especially if they are hard of hearing. More...

    • Many Stay Optimistic Until Old Age Hits

      "We found that optimism continued to increase throughout young adulthood, seemed to steadily plateau, and then decline into older adulthood," said study author William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University. More...

    • Are Baby Boomers Less Sharp Than Previous Generations?

      Aging baby boomers may not be as mentally sharp as their parents were, a new study suggests -- raising questions about what the pattern could mean for future dementia rates. More...

    • Many Older Adults Can't Connect With Telehealth: Study

      The coronavirus pandemic has fueled big increases in video visits between patients and doctors, but older Americans haven't easily taken to the trend, a new study finds. More...

    • Many Older Americans Getting Cancer Screens They Don't Need: Study

      Contrary to recommendations set by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, many Americans are getting screened for cancer even when old age or poor health would likely render such screenings risky and pointless, new research finds. More...

    • More Education May Slow Start of Early-Onset Alzheimer's

      Among people who have the gene that carries a heightened risk for early-onset Alzheimer's disease, a new study suggests that more education might slow the development of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. More...

    • Many Older Americans Staying Strong in the Pandemic

      Older Americans are feeling stressed by COVID-19 and prolonged social isolation, but they're also showing their resiliency, a new study finds. More...

    • Repeat Bone Density Tests Might Not Be Needed, Study Finds

      Bone density tests are often touted as a way to predict the risk of fracture in postmenopausal women, but a new study casts doubt on the value of repeating this commonly used test. More...

    • Less Smoking, Drinking Means Fewer Hip Fractures for Americans

      In a rare bit of good health news for Americans, a new government study finds that hip fracture rates have fallen substantially since the 1970s. More...

    • Want to Protect Your Eyes as You Age? Stay Away From Carbs

      Glaucoma strikes many people as they age, but what if a simple dietary change could lower your risk? More...

    • Glaucoma Checkups Fall by the Wayside During Pandemic

      In yet another sign that the coronavirus pandemic has pushed critical medical care aside, a new survey finds many glaucoma patients have missed appointments for monitoring their eye disease. More...

    • What Puts You at High Risk of Midlife Mental Decline?

      Your thinking skills may be at risk of declining in midlife if you smoke or have high blood pressure or diabetes, a new study suggests. More...

    • Will Your Brain Stay Sharp Into Your 90s? Certain Factors Are Key

      Some people in their 90s stay sharp whether their brain harbors amyloid protein plaques -- a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease -- or not, but why? More...

    • Check Early and Often for Glaucoma

      Regular eye checks are crucial for people with early-stage glaucoma, a new study shows. More...

    • Many Older Americans Face Ageism Every Day, Survey Finds

      But what about more subtle forms of ageism -- like jokes about "senior moments," or assuming an older person can't use technology, or the constant barrage of anti-wrinkle ads in the media? More...

    • Many Americans With Dementia Live in Homes With Guns

      Many people with dementia may have access to a gun in their home, yet few families have gotten advice from a doctor on how to handle the situation, a small new study finds. More...

    • As People Age, They Share Fewer Memories With Others: Study

      The older people get, the less likely they are to share memories, researchers say. More...

    • U.S. Air Pollution Still at Deadly Levels, Study Finds

      Fine particulate air pollution remains at levels deadly to older Americans, a new study finds. More...

    • 75 or Older? Statins Can Still Benefit Your Heart

      Older adults with healthy hearts probably would benefit from taking a cholesterol-lowering statin, a new study contends. More...

    • Muscle Relaxants for Back Pain Are Soaring: Are They Safe?

      Experts worry that muscle relaxants may not help much and could cause troubling side effects, especially in older patients. More...

    • Middle-Age Obesity Linked to Higher Odds for Dementia

      If you've been looking for a good reason to slim down, consider this: Being obese at midlife appears to increase your odds for dementia. More...

    • Amid Pandemic, Fears That Older Americans Are Feeling 'Expendable'

      From the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it's been clear that older adults are especially vulnerable to serious illness. Now, experts are concerned that older Americans are falling victim to ageism and messages that they are "expendable" amid the crisis. More...

    • What Behaviors Will Shorten Your Life?

      Smoking, drinking too much and divorce are among the social and behavioral factors most strongly linked to dying early, a new study says. More...

    • 5 Healthy Steps to Lower Your Odds for Alzheimer's

      A combination of healthy habits -- such as a good diet and regular exercise -- may lower your risk of Alzheimer's disease by as much as 60%, a new study suggests. More...

    • Want Added Years? Try Volunteering

      If you're older and you want to prolong your life, try volunteering, new research suggests. More...

    • Blood Pressure Meds Help the Frail Elderly Live Longer

      Blood pressure drugs help even the most frail elderly live longer, and older people who are healthier get the biggest benefit, Italian researchers say. More...

    • Exercise Habits Key to Gauging Seniors' Longevity

      Knowing how much older adults exercise can predict their odds of developing heart disease or dying early, a new study suggests. More...

    • Get Moving, Seniors: It's Good For Your Brain

      Want to give your brain a boost? Go for a swim, take a walk, or spin your partner on the living room floor. More...

    • Millions of Older Americans Can't Get Enough Food

      Older Americans were going hungry even before the coronavirus pandemic short-circuited the nation's food supply, a new poll finds. More...

    • Can Fruits, Tea Help Fend Off Alzheimer's Disease?

      If you're worried about developing Alzheimer's disease, new research suggests that eating more fruits or drinking more tea or red wine might help protect your brain. More...

    • Vigorous Exercise Safe for Those at Risk of Knee Arthritis

      People at high risk for knee arthritis don't need to avoid jogging and other types of vigorous exercise, a new study suggests. More...

    • Middle Age More Stressful Now Than in 1990s: Study

      The study found that most age groups reported an increase of 2% more daily stress in 2012 than they did in 1995. But middle-aged folks -- 45- to 64-year-olds -- had about 19% more daily stress than did their counterparts from the 1990s. More...

    • Pandemic Delaying Medical Care of Older Americans

      The University of Chicago survey found that 55% of U.S. adults aged 70 and older experienced a disruption in their medical care during the first month of social distancing. More...

    • Pneumonia More Deadly Than Hip Fractures for Hospitalized Seniors

      Seniors hospitalized with pneumonia are much more likely to die in the hospital and within two years of leaving the hospital than those with hip fractures, new research shows. More...

    • Active Older Vets More Likely to Fall, But Less Likely to Get Hurt: Study

      Physically active U.S. veterans are more likely to fall but less likely to get hurt when they do, compared with inactive older adults who didn't serve in the military, a new study finds. More...

    • Ask Grandma to Dance to Boost Her Mood And Strengthen Your Bonds

      If you're a grandparent, shaking a leg with your grandchild might benefit both of you. More...

    • Early On, Many Seniors Were Unfazed by Coronavirus Warnings, Study Finds

      The coronavirus hits older people and those with chronic medical conditions hardest. But many of these folks didn't take the virus seriously as the outbreak took off in the United States, a new study finds. More...

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