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

  • 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...

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    • 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

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    • 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...

    • 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...

    • 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...

    • Even Light Exercise Can Speed Stroke Recovery

      Even light exercise can counter the damage of stroke in survivors, a new study suggests. More...

    • Sheltering at Home? Take Steps to Prevent Injuries From Falls

      As you shelter at home during the coronavirus pandemic, eliminate hazards inside that could lead to falls, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) suggests. More...

    • Are Steroids Really the Answer for Arthritic Knees?

      Folks with knee arthritis will get more out of physical therapy than a cortisone shot, a new clinical trial argues. More...

    • How Pets Can Be True Lifesavers for Seniors

      Having a furry, fluffy or feathered friend can have a profound effect on seniors' mental health, possibly even helping prevent some suicides, new research suggests. More...

    • Vitamin D Might Aid Seniors' Recovery From Hip Fracture: Study

      After a broken hip, seniors who have sufficient vitamin D have better odds of walking, a new study finds. More...

    • Mindfulness a Powerful Tool for Aging

      Mindfulness may explain why many older people feel their life has gotten better with age, a new study suggests. More...

    • Pandemic Adds to Challenge of Caring for Loved One With Dementia

      Now, with most of the country under stay-at-home orders -- and elderly adults especially vulnerable to severe COVID-19 -- family caregivers face new challenges. More...

    • Is Thyroid Hormone Dangerously Overprescribed in Older Patients?

      Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is commonly prescribed when blood tests show a dip in thyroid hormone levels, but new research suggests it may not always be the best choice for older adults. More...

    • Don't Fall Prey to COVID-19 Scammers

      The COVID-19 pandemic has spawned a wave of scammers looking to take advantage of older adults, experts warn. More...

    • AHA News: Dropping Blood Pressure May Predict Frailty, Falls in Older People

      Blood pressure that goes down when you stand up is associated with frailty and falls in older people, according to a new study that advocates more testing. More...

    • When Is Surgery Not Safe for Seniors?

      Poor physical function, dementia and depression all raise seniors' risk of death after a major operation and should be factored into their pre-surgery assessments, researchers say. More...

    • Rising Number of Older Americans at Risk of Vision Loss

      As the population ages, millions of older Americans are at risk of losing their sight, a new study warns. More...

    • U.S. Primary Care Docs Unprepared for Surge in Alzheimer's Cases

      Many U.S. primary care doctors worry they aren't ready to care for the growing ranks of Americans with Alzheimer's disease, a new report suggests. More...

    • Even a Little Activity Keeps Aging Brains From Shrinking, Study Shows

      Take a walk, weed your garden, go for a swim or dance -- it could keep your brain from shrinking as you age, a new study suggests. More...

    • Seniors, Getting Off the Sofa Brings Big Health Benefits

      Physical activity may help seniors live longer and healthier -- and exercise doesn't have to be intense, two new studies say. More...

    • Helping Seniors Manage Meds After Hospital Reduces Readmission: Study

      Helping older people manage their prescribed medicines after they leave the hospital reduces their risk of readmission, researchers say. More...

    • Many Seniors Leave Hospital With New Disabilities

      Older Americans often return home from the hospital with disabilities they didn't have before, a new study finds. More...

    • Sleepy Seniors Have Higher Health Risks

      If you're over 65 and sleeping well at night, yet find yourself nodding off during the day, you may have a higher risk of developing new medical conditions like diabetes and cancer. More...

    • Losing a Spouse Could Speed Brain's Decline

      Losing a spouse can be a heartbreaker, and new research suggests it's also tough on the brain. More...

    • Time Spent on the Links May Lengthen Life

      Grab your golf clubs. Spending a day on the green at least once a month may lower the risk of early death among older adults, a new study finds. More...

    • With Macular Degeneration, 1 Missed Visit to Eye Doc Can Mean Vision Loss

      Missing just one eye doctor appointment can result in vision loss in older adults with macular degeneration, a new study warns. More...

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