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Aspects of Aging

Health and Wellness

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The Life-Changing Magic of Choosing the Right Hospital

New York Times
August 23, 2016

A great deal of the decrease in deaths from heart attacks over the past two decades can be attributed to specific medical technologies like stents and drugs that break open arterial blood clots. But a study by health economists at Harvard, M.I.T., Columbia and the University of Chicago showed that heart attack survival gains from patients selecting better hospitals were significant, about half as large as those from breakthrough technologies.

New York Times
February 17, 2016

Some forms of exercise may be much more effective than others at bulking up the brain, according to a remarkable new study in rats. For the first time, scientists compared head-to-head the neurological impacts of different types of exercise: running, weight training and high-intensity interval training. The surprising results suggest that going hard may not be the best option for long-term brain health.

For a related article, see For Effective Brain Fitness, Do More Than Play Simple Games (New York Times, July 8, 2016) 

New York Times
September 6, 2016

Depression, dementia and mental impairment are often associated with B12 deficiency, especially among the elderly who live alone and don’t eat properly.

New York Times
September 7, 2016

“Over the last 15 years, as a geriatrics and palliative care doctor, I have had candid conversations with countless patients near the end of their lives. The most common emotion they express is regret: regret that they never took the time to mend broken friendships and relationships; regret that they never told their friends and family how much they care; regret that they are going to be remembered by their children as hypercritical mothers or exacting, authoritarian fathers."  So stated VJ Periyakoil, M.D. and that’s why he came up with a project to encourage people to write a last letter to their loved ones. It can be done when someone is ill, but it’s really worth doing when one is still healthy, before it’s too late.

New York Times
March 9, 2015

Of course, young children fall more than any other age group, but the consequences are rarely more serious than a skinned knee or smashed ice cream cone and thus don’t get counted in official tallies. Fall injuries requiring medical attention rise almost linearly from age 18 on, peaking at 115 per 1,000 adults 75 and older. Statistics among older people are indeed daunting. Dr. Laurence Z. Rubenstein, chairman of geriatrics at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, reports that those 65 and older constitute about 13 percent of the population but account for three-fourths of all deaths caused by falls. About 40 percent in this age group fall at least once a year; one in 40 of them ends up in the hospital, after which only half are still alive a year later.

New York Times 
November 3, 2014

Preventing a fall, and the resulting injuries, isn’t simply a matter of being more careful. Indeed, experts who have studied falls wish that people would take measures to protect themselves much as they do against heart disease or viral infections.

New York Times
September 23, 2016

Home medical care, a practice from the past, can cost less than hospital care. But bringing it back faces numerous challenges.

New York Times 
April 15, 2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all adults age 60 and over be routinely vaccinated “irrespective of whether you’ve had shingles or not,” said Dr. Rafael Harpaz, a medical epidemiologist in the division of viral diseases at the C.D.C. The vaccine is approved starting at age 50. The risk of recurrence is comparable to the risk of a first episode, with 6 percent of adults having a second bout of shingles within eight years of the first.

New York Times
June 20, 2016

After the author wrote last year that diet, not exercise, was the key to weight loss, I was troubled by how some readers took this to mean that exercise therefore had no value.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Of all the things we as physicians can recommend for health, few provide as much benefit as physical activity.  In 2015, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges put out a report calling exercise a "miracle cure."

Symptoms Older Adults Shouldn't Ignore
August 17, 2016

If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor.

Loneliness Can be Deadly for Elders; Friends Are the Antidote
New York Times
December 30, 2016

A "tide" of recent research indicated how dangerous loneliness and isolation can be and how important social networks are to counteract the dangers.

How to Become a "Superager"
New York Times
December 31, 2016

"Superagers" are those whose memory and attention aren't merely above average for their age, but are on a par with healthy, active 25 year olds. The keys seem to include engaging in vigorous exercise and strenuous mental effort.

Who Will Care for the Caregivers?
New York Times
January 19, 2017

The estimated economic value of unpaid family caregivers is approximately $470 billion per year. Those caregivers are wearing out. They may be aging themselves, may be balancing work and other family demands, may be unable to save for their own retirement. There are things the medical community can do to help them.

Getting Older, Sleeping Less
New York Times
January 16, 2017

The causes of insomnia are many, and they increase in number and severity as we age. What to watch for, when and how to talk to your doctor, possible treatments.

Blame Technology, Not Longer Life Spans, for Health Spending Increases
New York Times
January 23, 2017

Increases in health care spending are not driven by the aging of the population, but by the increasing sophistication and cost of medical technology. 

When Retirement Comes With a Daily Dose of Cannabis
New York Times
February 19, 2017

There is increasing evidence that cannabis can help with many of the physical problems of aging. Obtaining access in a nursing home or similar facility can be difficult or impossible, although things are changing.

Yoga for Everyone: A Beginner's Guide
New York Times "Well Guides"
March 5, 2017

Descriptions and videos of easy to do yoga poses. For those ready to go further, see Yoga to Make You Strong

Working Longer May Benefit Your Health
New York Times
March 3, 2017

The scientific evidence is inconclusive, but it tends to suggest that working longer is good for your health, particularly if you find your work fulfilling.

The Biggest Threat Facing Middle-Age Men Isn't Smoking or Obesity: It's Loneliness
Boston Globe Magazine
March 9, 2017

The health hazards of skimping on time with friends are increasingly obvious.

Generation Us: Downsizing Your Living Arrangement Can Be Stressful at Any Age
Daily Progress (Charlottesville, VA)

March 16, 2017

Moving from a house to an apartment to assisted living or an nursing home.... It's hard. There is even a condition, relocation-stress syndrome or "transfer trauma" that can lead to physical symptoms including fatigue, sleep disturbances, anxiety and agitation.

Health Benefits of Pets for Older Adults
Next Avenue
March 16, 2017

Among the benefits: companionship and connection to community, exercise, lower blood pressure, lower anxiety.

The Best Exercise for Aging Muscles
New York Times
March 23, 2017

Recent research indicates that intense exercise, especially interval training, may improve health at the cellular (mitochondrial) level.  

Self-Driving Cars Could Be Boon for Aged, After Initial Hurdles
New York Times
March 23, 2017

Once the bugs are worked out, self-driving cars might extend the independence of the aging, especially as the majority live in the suburbs with limited or no public transportation.

High Tech Hope for the Hard of Hearing
The New Yorker
April 3, 2017

Recent research findings show how hearing is damaged and lost, and is beginning to develop new hearing aids and other means of improving hearing.

Patient Voices: Sleep Apnea
New York Times
April 3, 2017

Sleep apnea is common, and can cause significant health problems. Here are stories from patients about their treatment and cure.

Walk, Stretch or Dance? Dancing May Be Best for the Brain
New York Times
March 29, 2017

Research indicates that social dancing (ballroom, country, square dancing for example) improves brain function while providing physical exercise.

Is It Harder to Lose Weight When You're Older?
New York Times
March 31, 2017

Unfortunately, yes, for a variety of reasons. Instead of focusing on the scale, focus on maintaining a healthy weight, healthy eating and exercise.

How Many Pills Are Too Many?
New York Times
April 10, 2017

Patients should review their prescriptions regularly with their doctor, especially if they see several specialists or are having problems like dizziness. There may be drugs they can stop taking, or reduce the dosage.

Why Deep Breathing May Keep Us Calm
New York Times
April 5, 2017

Research at Stanford University indicates just why deep breathing can help us calm down. It also demonstrates how intricate and pervasive links are within our bodies between breathing, thinking, behaving, and feeling.

The Cost of Not Taking Your Medicine
New York Times
April 17, 2017

Too many patients don't take the medications they're prescribed, either because they can't afford them, they feel better and don't think they need them, or other reasons. It's important to talk with your doctor before starting or stopping any medication. The results can be catastrophic.

After Knee or Hip Replacement, No Place Like Home
New York Times
April 24, 2017

Research demonstrates that most patients, even those living alone, do better going home after surgery and receiving in-home physical therapy, than they do spending time in a specialized rehab center.

Diet Sodas Tied to Dementia and Stroke
New York Times 
April 26, 2017

A long range study indicates that people who consume one to six diet sodas per week had twice the risk of having a stroke as those who had none. The link to dementia is weaker but similar. 

Are Dorms for Adults the Solution to the Loneliness Epidemic?
Fast Company
April 27, 2017

Living alone has been linked to an earlier death. Co-housing, where residents have private apartments but also share a common living area, may be one solution.

Health Care? Daughters Know All About It
New York Times
May 11, 2017

A huge percentage of the care of older people falls on their daughters (many of whom are also approaching retirement). The increase in the number of people with dementia will increase the demand. Care givers sacrifice their own health, their time with their children and partners, their current earnings, and their retirement.

Yoghurt May Be Good for the Bones
New York Times 
May 16, 2017

New research indicates that eating yoghurt daily may help increase their strength and density, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis.

Forgot Where You Parked? Good
New York Times
June 30, 2017

Forgetting small things is actually healthy. It turns out that forgetting can help us learn, and when we relearn something we've forgotten, we develop deeper understanding.

The Patient Wants to Leave. The Hospital Says "No Way"
New York Times
July 7, 2017

Checking out "against medical advice" is fairly common, especially among older patients. Emergency medicine is sometimes practiced as "one size fits all" without considering the age and other health issues of patients. Fear of lawsuits may also play a part. Many elderly patients do better at home than in an institutional setting.

How to Stay Out of a Nursing Home and Age Independently
PBS Newshour
July 11, 2017

A summary of recent research on how to remain healthy and independent, including diet, exercise, and social interaction.

The Subtle Signs of a Thyroid Disorder
New York Times
July 24, 2017

Routine blood work may not show problems with your thyroid. You may want to talk with your doctor about screening for thyroid stimulating hormone, too.

Stop Treating 70 and 90 Year Olds The Same
New York Times
August 11, 2017

Health care providers need to realize that their most elderly patients are very different from their older patients, and adjust drugs, screening recommendations and other care accordingly.

Tai Chi May Help Prevent Falls
New York Times
August 8, 2017

Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese martial art, has been shown to help prevent falls by improving flexibility and balance.

New Study Offers Support for Prostate Testing
New York Times
September 4, 2017

There has been conflicting advice in the last few years on the benefit of PSA testing. New analysis suggests that having the test but proceeding cautiously with biopsies and treatment may have benefits. There is not unanimous agreement however.

See the related article, The ABCs and Ds of Whether to Get Protstate Cancer Screening, which explains why the recommendations regarding prostate screening have changed for younger men but remained the same for those over 70. 

Under "Observation," Some Hospital Patients Face Big Bills
New York Times
September 1, 2017

Patients "under observation" can spend days in the hospital but still be classified as "out-patients." The implications can be dire, especially if they need subsequent nursing home care, since Medicare treats in-patient and out-patient bills differently.

Vision and Hearing Loss Are Tied to Cognitive Decline
New York Times
September 25, 2017

If left untreated, diminished vision or hearing can result in a decline in cognitive ability as well. Currently, Medicare's coverage of vision and hearing correction is extremely limited, leaving poorer seniors at increased risk.

Graying State Needs More Health Care
Albuquerque Journal
October 22, 2017

New Mexico is rapidly changing from one of the youngest states to one of the oldest. The number of health care providers we need is increasing, but the supply isn't. Opportunities for businesses (and groups like Village in the Village) that provide services to seniors will also increase.

Under New Guidelines, Millions More Americans Will Need to Lower Blood Pressure
New York Times
November 13, 2017

The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology have issued new guidelines for blood pressure levels, based on findings from a federally funded study. The guidelines will require many more Americans to use drugs to lower their blood pressure when diet and exercise don't get them to the much lower numbers.

For a doctor's perspective on the guidelines, see Don't Let New Blood Pressure Guidelines Raise Yours (NYTimes Nov. 15). The author advises caution and extensive conversations with your health care provider before starting new drug regimes. He points out that the study patients were monitored under ideal conditions (not a rushed doctor's office) and were chosen for the study because of elevated risks of heart disease. And before you go for your next appointment, read Odds Are They're Taking Your Blood Pressure Wrong, for information on how it should be done. Don't hesitate to ask that your doctor's office do it right.

Cataract Surgery May Prolong Your Life
New York Times
December 4, 2017

Results of a recent study indicate that, not only does it improve quality of life through better vision, cataract surgery may actually prolong your life. There are things you can do and foods you can eat to help prevent cataracts, but their removal is the most common surgical procedure in the US.

The Surprising Effects of Loneliness on Health
New York Times
December 11, 2017

The negative effects of loneliness and social isolation have been known for several years. But as scientific understanding grows, new refinements are appearing. For example, not every person who is isolated is lonely. Loneliness, an emotion rather than a state of being, is surprisingly common across all age groups, and may indicate a propensity for dementia in later life.

Why Sitting May Be Bad for Your Heart
New York Times
December 20, 2017

While we've known for a long time that sitting too long is unhealthy - leading to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease - a new study shows that it may be damaging our heart muscles by encouraging the body to manufacture a particular chemical that can contribute to heart failure. Even exercise may not counteract the damage. 

Too Many Older Patients Get Cancer Screenings
New York Times
December 19, 2017

Older patients - some in their 80s and 90s - are being screened for cancers that are unlikely to affect them. While mammograms and PSA tests are "noninvasive" and may not be seen as harmful, followup biopsies, etc. can be painful and traumatic. The American Cancer Society and other professional groups have issued guidelines for screening, which should be considered by patients, their doctors and their families in light of life expectancy and other factors.

Vitamin D and Calcium Don't Prevent Bone Fractures
New York Times
December 28, 2017

A growing body of research demonstrates that supplements don't help strengthen bones against fractures. Talk to your doctor; you may be able to get rid of those pills and save some money. Concentrate on foods that provide the nutrients and on getting exercise. Additional, follow up information is available in this article from October 2018

Afraid of Falling? For Older Adults, the Dutch Have a Cure
New York Times
January 2, 2018

A specialized class helps seniors in The Netherlands learn how to avoid falls, and how to fall so they avoid serious injuries. 

For those who live here and can't attend such classes, here's advice on How to Prevent Falls

You're Over 75 and You're Healthy. Why Are You Taking a Statin?
New York Times
January 5, 2018

Research indicates that statins may not prevent a first heart attack in older patients, and can have serious side effects. Talk to your doctor.

New Findings Could Save Lives of More Stroke Patients
New York Times
January 24, 2018

New research indicates that the critical "window" for intervention after a stroke may be longer than previously believed. If more patients receive appropriate treatment, more will survive and be less impaired.

Is Loneliness a Health Epidemic?
New York Times
February 9, 2018

We've all seen the articles about the "loneliness epidemic." The British have even appointed a new "Minister for Loneliness." But the research behind these articles may be suspect. "One reason we need to be careful about how we measure and respond to loneliness is that, as the University of Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo argues, an occasional and transitory feeling of loneliness can be healthy and productive. It’s a biological signal to ourselves that we need to build stronger social bonds." If you feel lonely, that's your body telling you to get out and meet people.

A Perfect Storm for Broken Bones
New York Times
February 12, 2018

After reports of serious possible side-effects from osteoporosis drugs, the rate of testing and treatment went down, even as the population aged."If this trend is not reversed, and soon, by better educating people with osteoporosis and their doctors, the result could be devastating, spawning an epidemic of broken bones, medical office visits, hospital and nursing home admissions and even premature deaths." The potential side-effects are very rare. Talk to your doctor.

Too Late to Operate? Surgery Near End of Life is Common, Costly
National Public Radio
February 28, 2018

Surgery for patients who are frail and elderly is increasingly common, and its costs to Medicare are high. Rarely does it help them live longer or improve the quality of life for the patient, however.

For Many Strokes, There's an Effective Treatment. Why Aren't Some Doctors Offering it?
New York Times
March 26, 2018

A "clot busting" drug can reduce the effects of the most common type of  stroke if it is administered promptly. A vocal minority of doctors believe that it's too dangerous and advice patients and their families against it, resulting in an increased risk of disability.

Those 2-Minute Walk Breaks? They Add Up
New York Times
March 28, 2018

New research indicates that short bursts of activity - as little as 2 minutes at a time - can be as effective as longer periods in improving cardiovascular health. Several short, brisk walks around the office, the house or the yard every day will help keep you healthy.

Older Americans Are "Hooked" on Vitamins
New York Times
April 3, 2018

Sixty eight percent of Americans over 65 take vitamin supplements. Frequently, they start taking them after hearing new studies indicate that they improve health. Later studies may show the opposite, but people keep taking the pills. Talk to your doctor. The supplements you are taking may not be doing you any good. Some may even hurt you. 

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Statins
New York Times
April 16, 2018

73 million Americans have cholesterol levels that indicate the need to take statins. Too many never take the medication, or stop taking it, due to concerns about possible side-effects. "Unlike medications prescribed to treat a symptom or illness, statins are often given to health people to prevent a potentially devastating health problem, and the drug must be taken indefinitely to do the most good." Talk to your doctor about the benefits as well as potential downside of any medication. And if you aren't taking prescribed drugs, NPR reports there's now a way for your doctor to find out. Drug Test Spurs Frank Talk Between Hypertension Patients and Doctors (note that the test includes cholesterol as well as hypertension drugs).

To Prevent Falls in Older Age, Try Regular Exercise
National Public Radio
April 17, 2018

Falls are the most common cause of injury and death among older people. A comprehensive study by the US Preventive Services Taskforce concluded that exercise (almost any kind of exercise) was the best way to prevent those falls. The study also concluded that, unless there is a diagnosis of osteoporosis, taking Vitamin D and calcium supplements is not effective in reducing falls or the severity of injuries. 

To Slash Your Risk of Heart Disease, Keep Moving
New York Times
April 18, 2018

The largest study to date of the associations between exercise, fitness and cardiac genetics indicates that even people with a family history of heart disease can reduce their risk by exercising regularly. Essentially, the study showed that, if people are fit, they are less likely to develop heart disease, even if they have a genetic indicator for it. And it didn't take more than moderate exercise like walking to benefit.

The Latest Thinking on Osteoporosis, Which Weakens Bones
Washington Post (reprinted from Consumer Reports)
May 21, 2018

Research on how and when to treat osteoporosis, continues to evolve. But there is growing consensus on the need for screening (at different ages depending on a number of factors), monitoring balance, improving diet and exercise, and careful use of medications when bone scans indicate the necessity (with monitoring and generally for a limited period). Calcium supplements are no longer recommended; the use of Vitamin D supplements is more complicated and should be discussed with your doctor.

Can't Do the 7-Minute Workout? Neither Can I
New York Times

June 5, 2018

A growing body of research indicates that a short, intense workout can be as beneficial as a longer one. In response, the New York Times developed 9-minute and 7-minute workouts. If those are too much, here's a slightly easier variation. Use it to get started, or to keep going. 

In Elderly Hands, Firearms Can Be Even Deadlier
New York Times
May 25, 2018

Guns at home can always be dangerous. In the hands of a dementia patient displaying paranoia, they can lead to shootings. Increases of suicide rates among the elderly are also linked to guns. Consider the evidence and what can be done to make home safer. 

How to Increase Your Chances of Having a Long, Health Life
New York Times
June 4, 2018

A large, comprehensive study of longevity has identified the healthiest places to live in the US. But it also re-emphasizes what we've all been told. The biggest factors in living a long health life are "how people live their lives: whether they smoke, what and how much they eat, and whether they abuse alcohol or drugs. These, along with high levels of blood sugar and blood pressure, both of which are influenced by diet, are the main factors dictating poor health." Other factors the study identifies are genetics and "the opportunities people have for a good education, financial security, quality medical care and environmental safety..."

Exercise Makes the Aging Heart More Youthful
New York Times
July 25, 2018

Exercise for your heart is best started while you're young. But starting a cardiac health program in middle age - or even later - improves your heart.

The Illness is Bad Enough. The Hospital May Be Even Worse
New York Times
August 3, 2018

"[T]he stress and disruptions of hospitalization - interrupted sleep, weight loss, mile delirium, reconditioning caused by days in bed" can lead to disorientation and weakness, a state researchers refer to as "post hospital syndrome," which can lead to rehospitalization or a move to a nursing home. Hospitals could adapt some of the changes they've made for children to make a stay less traumatic and discharge more successful.

How You Felt About Gym Class May Impact Your Exercise Habits Today
New York Times
August 22, 2018

A recent study indicates that exercise habits as we age are directly related to how we felt about gym class in school. If you loved gym, you probably love to exercise, and do it regularly. Those on the other end are far less likely to exercise in middle age and beyond. That attitude, and that memory, have to be overcome in order to develop a healthy exercise routine.

Preventing Muscle Loss As We Age
New York Times

September 3, 2018

As we age, we can lose muscle mass. Sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle, is the most serious problem, and can lead to the loss of independence due to the inability to walk or even get up from a chair or bed. Fortunately, even in the most elderly, sarcopenia can be reversed using resistance exercise. Talk with your doctor and request a referral to a physical therapist to determine the best exercise routine and make sure you're doing the exercises correctly.

Using Tai Chi to Build Strength
New York Times
September 10, 2018

Tai Chi uses slow, carefully controlled motions to build strength and improve balance. It can be practiced by people of all ages and levels of fitness - even sitting. And, once the motions are learned, it can be practiced alone. You may also want to read an earlier article, Tai Chi May Help Prevent Falls.

For Elderly Women With Breast Cancer, Surgery May Not Be the Best Option
New York Times
September 14, 2018

When elderly women, particularly those in nursing homes, are diagnosed with breast cancer, hormone treatment may be a better option than surgery. Frailty and other underlying ailments increase the dangers of surgery and decrease the chances of a successful outcome.

Low Dose Aspirin Late in Life? Healthy People May Not Need It
New York Times
September 16, 2018

A recently published large scale study indicates that many people should not be taking aspirin. The study, of whites over 70 and African Americans over 65, indicated that the danger of aspirin - primarily excessive bleeding - far outweigh the benefits for those who have not had a heart attack or stroke. There is no evidence that the aspirin reduced the risk of a coronary event or cancer. If you have not had a heart attack or stroke and are not taking aspirin, don't start. If you are, ask your doctor before you stop.

Can't Get Comfortable In Your Chair? Here's What You Can Do
September 24, 2018

Today's soft upholstered furniture is bad for our backs. If you hurt after sitting too long, there are things you can do to improve your posture and thus reduce or eliminate that pain.

Wider Use of Osteoporosis Drug Could Prevent Bone Fractures in More Elderly Women
October 1, 2018

Results of a recent study indicate that giving the infusion drug Zolendronate to women with osteopenia (early thinning of the bones) could significantly reduce the risk of fractures by preventing more thinning. Earlier oral medications aren't being used as much as previously due to concerns about side effects. The new drug doesn't seem to prose the same risks.

Your Lifetime Health Checkup Roadmap
New York Times
October 4, 2018

Suggestions of things you should include in your routine health care at all stages, and specific age ranges, of your adult life. A lot are common sense, but reminders are always good.

Costly Rehab for the Dying is on the Rise at Nursing Homes, a Study Says
New York Times
October 12, 2018

Intensive rehabilitation therapy is being given to nursing home residents, even in the final days of their lives. Although some rehabilitation is valuable in end of life care, the current trend seems to be driven more by Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements than by quality of life concerns. It may even be doing more harm than good.

Should You Have Knee Replacement Surgery?
New York Times
October 15, 2018

Experts are expressing concern about trends toward knee replacement surgery in younger patients. Since artificial knees wear out after 10 or 15 years, these patients may face a second surgery. In most cases, other treatments, including weight loss, physical therapy, and injections, may reduce pain enough to delay surgery, and should be tried first. If pain doesn't respond and mobility is compromised, the discussion changes.

The Problem with Probiotics New York Times
October 22, 2018

Recent research indicates that probiotics may help people with some conditions, but generally are of no value and may actually be harmful. Equally important, they are not regulated by the FDA and some samples have contained very little of the labeled ingredients, and some actually contained potentially dangerous ingredients. Ask your doctor. Think carefully before you pay for these supplements.

Lavender's Soothing Scent Could Be More Than Just Folk Medicine
New York Times
October 23, 2018

Research involving mice shows that a chemical in the scent of lavender actually reduces anxiety. Observational studies in humans seem to confirm the finding. Overexposure, however, can reduce the effectiveness, so don't over do.

Even a 10-Minute Walk May Be Good for the Brain
New York Times
October 24, 2018

Most research linking exercise and brain health - particularly memory - has focused on extended and/or rigorous workouts. New research, though, shows that even a short leisurely stroll immediately affects how parts of the brain connect and communicate with each other and improves memory function.

16 Tips to Keep Your Joints Healthy
August 25, 2016; Rev. 10/4/2018

Stay In Motion. It's the golden rule of joint health: The more you move, the less stiffness you'll have. Whether you're reading, working, or watching TV, change positions often. Take breaks from your desk or your chair and get active. See this slide show for details of keeping limber.

September 30, 2016; Rev. 8/14/2018

It helps your heart.  If you're in good shape, moderate drinking makes you 25% to 40% less likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or hardened arteries. This may be in part because small amounts of alcohol can raise your HDL ("good" cholesterol) levels. Heavy drinking, on the other hand, boosts your risk of heart disease, but know the limits.  Before you start a petition to replace the office water cooler with a beer keg, let's be clear: Alcohol is only healthy in smaller amounts -- about 1 drink a day for women (5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of liquor) and 2 for men. After that, the benefits get hazier and the risks increase.

How to Take Charge of Your Medical Care
New York Times
November 5, 2018

A useful guide on how to be in charge of your care. What to do when you're healthy, how to prepare for a visit to the doctor, what to do if you're in the hospital and when you go home again, and how to be an advocate for someone else who can't do it themselves.

Regular Exercise May Keep Your Body 30 Years "Younger"
New York Times
November 21, 2018

A new study reveals that the muscles of older people who have exercised regularly are indistinguishable from those of 25 year olds! These people also have higher aerobic capacity, which makes them appear as much as 30 years younger than they are. The study involved people who had started running recreationally in the 1970s, when jogging started being popular, and kept going.

How Long Can People Live?
New York Times
November 19, 2018

Research into longevity is revealing the reason cells age, and what can (and can't) be done to delay that. Essentially, the number of "old" cells increases, and they are related to the onset of many diseases we associate with aging - cancer, diabetes, dementia. While there are some chemicals that may delay the process, they have dangerous side effects that indicate they are not the solution. Indeed, there seems to be a built-in "expiration date" on humans.

You Have Two Ages, Chronological and Biological. Here's Why it Matters
November 30, 2018

New research is providing ways of differentiating between our chronological age (as determined by our birthday) and biological age (determined by our health profile) It is possible to improve our biological age through simple things like diet and exercise.

Even a Little Weight Training May Cut the Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke
New York Times
December 4, 2018

Weight training provides a variety of health benefits. New research indicates that it may not take much to take advantage of those benefits. Of course, talk to your doctor. And consider hiring a personal trainer to help you get started so you don't hurt yourself.

Stair Test May Predict Your Risk of Dying of Heart Disease, Cancer, Study Finds
December 4, 2018

New research suggests that one way of predicting your risk of heart disease or cancer may be your ability to climb stairs. Climbing four flights of steps without stopping in about a minute is the ideal.

Is Aerobic Exercise the Key to Successful Aging?
New York Times
December 12, 2018

Aerobic exercise - jogging, interval training, etc. - seems to provide benefits that slow the aging process. Weight training (see above) works differently and provides different benefits.

Scant Evidence Behind the Advice About Salt
New York Times
December 17, 2018

Many patients, particularly those with heart disease are advised by their doctors to go on a low-salt diet. There's little actual evidence to support the recommendation, but more research is being done. A healthy, holistic approach to health and diet may be best.

Dr. Google Is a Liar
New York Times
December 16, 2018

Not all online information is reliable. Some (a lot?) medical information comes from individuals and companies selling fake or unproven remedies just to make money. Know your source. Double check and confirm information you find. It could save your life.

How Exercise May Make Us Healthier
New York Times
December 19, 2018

A new study indicates that exercise stimulates proteins in the blood stream that do everything from improving immune response and blood-sugar levels to wound healing.
New York Times
December 24, 2019

A collection of links to recent articles on living better longer. (Note: The New York Times limits how many articles non-subscribers can read. You may not be able to open all of these)

What We Know About Diet and Weight Loss
New York Times
December 10, 2018

At a recent medical conference, it was clear that even the experts aren't sure about what kind of diet is best for losing weight and keeping it off. The only agreement was that reducing calories and increasing activity was essential not matter what.

Hearing Loss Threatens Mind, Life and Limb
New York Times
December 31, 2018

It's become increasing clear that hearing loss isn't just an inconvenience. It leads to increased isolation (which can lead to many health issues), as well as dangers to safety and health. Unfortunately, insurance, including Medicare, does not pay for hearing aids. New legislation will make hearing aids more readily available and less expensive, but not until 2021.

The Unsung Role of the Pharmacist in Patient Health
New York Times
January 28, 2019

Many people, especially as they age, see more than one doctor, each prescribing medications without necessarily knowing what others are doing. By going to a single pharmacist, possible adverse interactions can be spotted and prescriptions can be adjusted to avoid them. It's just one of the things the pharmacist does which aren't always recognized and valued.

Exercise May Help to Fend Off Depression
New York Times
February 13, 2019

Exercise is good for our minds as well as our bodies. It helps our hearts, our joints, and our memory. Now we're learning that it helps our emotions. Just 15 minutes of vigorous exercise, like jogging, or 30 minutes of more sedate exercise like gardening, has been shown to help prevent depression from developing.
New York Times
February 15, 2019

Kidney failure affects older people, and the typical treatment is dialysis - several hours tied to a machine several times every week. But for some patients "conservative management," including diet, careful control of weight and blood pressure, and hormones to prevent anemia, may be effective. The problem is that doctors don't talk about it with their patients.

The Medical Tech That Helps You When Your Doctor Can't
New York Times
February 20, 2019

Health insurance, including Medicare, doesn't cover everything. Notably, hearing aids are excluded, but the cost is very high - averaging around $4,700 per pair not including the doctor visits required to get them. A new technology company is making hearing aids available online for less than half that average, with interest free payment plans available (since even $2,400 is a lot) They work with licensed providers to ensure the same quality device as your doctor would give you (these aren't those cheap ones you see advertised). More companies are moving in to provide services that aren't covered by insurance.

A Guide to Sleep Apnea
New York Times
February 26, 2019

Sleep apnea is very common, particularly among older patients. It can be life threatening. This guide outlines common symptoms, potential risks of not treating it, and diagnosis and treatment. 

Falls Can Kill You. Here's How to Minimize the Risk
New York Times
February 25, 2019

Every 19 minutes, a resident of the U.S. dies from complications of a fall. And fear of falling can result in restricted activity and increased isolation. Know the risk factors and how to reduce them. Exercise to build and maintain leg strength. Have your eyes and hearing checked regularly. Talk with your doctor about any medications you take that might cause dizziness. Review your home for trip hazards and avoid walking around in just socks. It could save your life.

Train Your Brain Like a Memory Champion
New York Times
January 9, 2019

There are tricks you can use to help you remember names, phone numbers, and other important things. This article outlines those used by memory champions as well as things recommended by neuroscientists, based on their research of how the brain adds and retains information.

A Diabetes Home Test Can Be a Waste of Time and Money
New York Times
March 11, 2019

Research indicates that routine testing is not necessary for people with Type II diabetes who are not taking insulin. Talk to your doctor - it could save you time, money, and finger sticks.

Colon Cancer Screening Can Save Your Life
New York Times
March 11, 2019

Colorectal cancer is being diagnosed more and more frequently in younger patients. Recommendations for screening are lowering the age to 45 or even 40 instead of 50. There are a variety of tests available, some of which don't require the unpleasant preparation required for the traditional test. Early diagnosis allows for better treatment and outcomes. Do it - it could save your life.

Exercise vs. Drugs to Treat High Blood Pressure and Reduce Fat
New York Times
March 13, 2019

Recent studies indicate that vigorous exercise can help reduce high blood pressure and visceral body fat as well as - ore even better than - commonly prescribed medications. However, the research on what kinds of exercise are most effective is still unclear. More research is needed.

Daily Aspirin to Prevent Heart Attacks No Longer Recommended for Older Adults
March 18, 2019

Unless you have had a previous heart attack or other cardiac disease, a daily low dose aspirin may not be needed. The risk of bleeding seems to outweigh the minimal advantages for otherwise healthy older adults. As always, talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any medication.

Older Americans Are Awash in Antibiotics
New York Times
March 15, 2019

Older patients, particularly those in nursing homes, are prescribed antibiotics too often. And many of those prescriptions are for viruses, not bacterial infections. The former don't respond to antibiotics. Further, the side effects of the drugs, including nerve and tendon problems and even mental health complications, are significantly worse in older patients than in young people. 

Why Lifting Weights Can Be So Potent for Aging Well
New York Times
March 20, 2019

We've know for a long time that resistance (weight) training helps older people improve their strength and balance. New research in Finland indicates that it can also motivate them to become even more active and exercise regularly, improving their fitness and over health even more.

When the Benefits of Statins Outweigh the Risks
New York Times
March 18, 2019

Statins, medications used to lower cholesterol, have known side effects. Some people are able to lower their cholesterol levels through diet and exercise. Some people, however, can't. For them, the benefits outweigh the risks. Knowing what side effects to watch for, and making sure to follow instructions for monitoring, can reduce the risks.

A User Manual for Your Knees
New York Times
March 25, 2019

An interactive guide to anatomy of your knees, as well as how to take care of them, prevent and treat injuries, so they'll last a lifetime (or at least a long time)

What Your Exercise Habits Might Say About How Long You'll Live
New York Times
March 27, 2019

New research indicates that people who stay active in midlife and beyond live longer. Even those who start physical activity later in life benefit. Get moving!

An Hour of Activity May Help Keep Disability Away, Study Says
April 1, 2019

As little as an hour a week of moderate to vigorous exercise may help maintain strength and mobility among those with lower limb joint pain and stiffness. 

Brain Booster in a Bottle? Don't Bother
New York Times
April 1, 2019

Research shows that supplements advertised to improve memory and brain function are not helpful. In fact, the FDA has charged many of the companies selling these products with false advertising. And "brain training" games train you to be good at the game. Instead of a pill, focus on your diet. The same foods that help your heart have been shown to help your brain. And instead of a game, get out and socialize, use your computer for other purposes, do crafts - exercise your brain.

Most Osteoporosis Drugs Don't Build Bone. This One Does
New York Times
April 9, 2019

A newly approved drug, Evinity, actually builds new bone in patients with osteoporosis. Previous treatments stopped bone loss. The new drug is only for post-menopausal women with a high risk of bone fracture. It may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

After a Hip Fracture, Reducing the Risk of a Recurrence
New York Times
April 15, 2019

Anyone who has had a hip or spine fracture(other than in a traumatic event such as a car crash) is considered to have osteoporosis, and should be treated to help prevent a second fracture. However, a very low percentage of those patients are diagnosed and treated appropriately.

A New Rx for Diabetes: Lighten Up
New York Times
April 12, 2019

New recommendations from geriatricians indicate that the fight for very low A1c levels among those with Type II diabetes should be reduced as patients age and other diseases appear. The benefits of low blood sugar may be outweighed by the risks, including increased risk of hypoglycemia. As always, talk to your doctor.

Resistance Training Even As Little As Once Per Week Benefits Older Individuals
International Council on Active Aging
March 2019

Even if you do it only once a week, new research indicates that resistance training benefits those over 65, with improvements in blood levels, muscle strength, and mental well-being. 

Don't Visit Your Doctor in the Afternoon
New York Times
May 14, 2019

We all experience that afternoon slump. For physicians, who see too many patients in too little time, the impact can be serious. Studies indicate that doctors fail to recommend critical tests, prescribe unnecessary antibiotics, and miss key symptoms at the end of a long day. The same thing happens with patients: late appointments may result in not following up to schedule those critical tests. We can't all have early morning appointments, but preparing and knowing what to ask to compensate for both of you being tired can help.

What's Your Purpose? Finding a Sense of Meaning in Life is Linked to Health
May 25, 2019

A psychological study of 7,000 people between 51 and 61 found that those with a strong purpose in life - motivation to do things - were less likely to die early.

10,000 Steps Per Day? How Many You Really Need to Boost Longevity
May 29, 2019

Turns out that "magic number" of 10,000 steps was part of a marketing campaign for a pedometer. Research on older women shows that walking between 4,400 and 7,500 steps per day has the maximum effect on your health and longevity. But doing fewer was definitely less effective. See also a related article from the New York Times

Deadly Falls in Older Americans Are Rising. Here's How to Prevent Them
New York Times
June 4, 2019

The mortality rate from falls doubled in the years between 2000 and 2016. While the reason for this increase is unclear, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of falls. Daily exercise is critical, as are things like hydration, eliminating trip hazards at home, and checking medications that might cause dizziness.

An Anti-Aging Pill? Think Twice
New York Times
June 19, 2019

The diabetes drug metformin is sometimes prescribed to slow aging. But research shows that the pills actually reduce or even negate the benefits of physical exercise. If you don't have Type II diabetes, ask your doctor before taking this drug.

Supplements and Diets for Heart Health Show Limited Proof of Benefit
New York Times
July 8, 2019

A new study shows that supplements and diets claiming to improve heart health have little or no benefit, and some actually can cause harm. Specifically, folic acid, reduced sodium diets, and Omega 3 showed limited cardiac benefit. Calcium with vitamin D actually caused increased the risk of stroke. If you are taking most of these supplements, you are wasting your money and may be risking your health.

Simple Ways to Prevent Falls in Older Adults
July 14, 2019

Falls among older adults are increasing. Although there's no consensus on why more of us are falling, there are simple things you can do to reduce the risk.

How Weight Training Changes the Brain
New York Times
July 24, 2019

Studies in rats continue to demonstrate that resistance exercise and weight training can result in the creation of new neurons in the memory center of the brain. A long history of studies show that aerobic exercise helps thinking and memory, these new studies are more evidence, particularly of the benefit of adding weights to your work-out.

One in 10 Older Adults Binge Drinks
New York Times
August 2, 2019

We probably associate binge drinking with young people, but a recent study shows that it happens in those over 65 as well. And the results are much worse for older people. Excessive drinking can cause complications in chronic diseases, interact negatively with prescription medications, and make health maintenance more complicated. Of course, the chance of falls increases as well, and older people don't heal as quickly as younger ones after a fall.

Do You Need All Those Meds? How to Talk to Your Doctor About Cutting Back
August 15, 2019

Older adults frequently have multiple doctors, each prescribing different medications for different conditions. The result can be over-medication, causing tiredness, dizziness, or nausea. A discussion with your doctor about all of the drugs you take isn't necessarily about stopping some of them, but looking at the overall picture and making sure that the drugs you take are working well together.

This Daily Pill Cut Heart Attacks by Half. Why Isn't Everyone Getting It?
New York Times
August 22, 2019

A recent study indicates that a "polypill" of multiple generic drugs dramatically reduced heart attacks. But it is not widely prescribed, in part because cardiologists know that the drugs have side-effects that may be counter-indicative.

Think Your Aging Parents Are Stubborn? Blame "Mismatched Goals"
New York Times
August 30, 2019

Researchers asked middle aged adults how often their parents ignore suggestions designed to keep them safer, disregard doctor's instructions, or insist on doing things their way even when that makes others' lives more difficult. The result wasn't entirely surprising. Most report that their parents are "stubborn." But that perception may result from differing expectations. Older adults may consider independence more important than safety, while their adult children may be more concerned with keeping them safe, even if it means they have less freedom. Understanding, conversation and compromise may help reduce conflict.

Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Loneliness and Isolation for Seniors
September 12, 2019

Hearing loss frequently results in loneliness and isolation, as seniors lose the ability to participate in conversation and other activities. And hearing aids, which would help solve the problem, are expensive and not covered by Medicare, and not always by Medicaid.

Hot Flashes Connected to Heart Attacks and Cognitive Decline, Study Says
September 24, 2019

Recently reported research has found a link between severe hot flashes experienced by menopausal women and heart attacks, strokes and cognitive decline. There are a variety of treatments available to help deal with the symptoms, but research is not yet clear whether those treatments will reduce the elevated risks.

Rx for Doctors: Stop With the Urine Tests
New York Times
October 14, 2019

Routine urine testing of elderly patients turns up positive results in those without symptoms - and indeed without an infection. Those positive results, however, lead to over prescription of antibiotics. The AMA is urging doctors not to routinely test, and to reserve testing for those with symptoms.

What You Should Know About Cataract Surgery
Consumer Reports via Washington Post
October 14, 2019

About 24.5 million Americans have cataracts, and surgery to fix them is one of the most frequently performed in the country. There are decisions to make regarding the procedure, and there can be complications. This article provides some guidance.

Overzealous in Preventing Falls, Hospitals Are Producing an "Epidemic of Immobility"
Washington Post
October 13, 2019

Hospitals face financial and legal penalties if patients fall. To prevent falls and compensate for insufficient staff to assist elderly patients, they are increasingly restraining elderly patients, either with electronic monitors or even physical restraints. The unintended result, particularly if patients don't receive any kind of physical therapy, is that they go home with decreased mobility which may result in permanent disability.

How to Stop Vertigo
October 14, 2019

Almost 40% of adults will experience vertigo at some time in their lives. While there are many causes, one of the most common is an inner ear condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). It will generally clear up on its own eventually, although it can last for months or even years. There is a treatment, called the Epley maneuver, that can get rid of the symptoms.

The Silent Heart Attack You Didn't Know You Had
New York Times
October 21, 2019

Many older people may have suffered a "silent myocardial infarction" and not know it, with the result that they have an unrecognized elevated risk of a second, fatal heart attack. Following a heart-health diet and exercise regime decreases the risk, but it is there. The best test for SMI, a cardiac MRI, is expensive and not routinely recommended, but doctors and patients should be aware of the risk and screen when appropriate.

For Many Widows, the Hardest Part is Mealtime
New York Times
October 28, 2019

Researchers are just beginning to recognize food as a part of grieving. Cooking for one, eating alone, going out to eat with friends but going home alone... it can be devastating and even result in eating disorders. There are groups forming to help the bereaved cope.

We Can Help Men Live Longer
New York Times
November 7, 2019

Men typically don't live as long as women, even though they are healthier longer. Genetic differences seem to play a part in this, but there are things the health care system can do to extend health lives for everyone. Focusing on preventive care is key.

Why We Can't Tell the Truth About Aging
New Yorker
October 28, 2019 (November 4 print issue)

In a review of several new books on aging, looking at how aging affects both emotional and physical well being, and how to deal with the problems.

3 Hours of Exercise a Week May Lower Your Depression Risk
New York Times
November 20, 2019

Research has shown that there is a genetic predisposition to depression. A new study indicates that exercising three hours per week (at any level, and almost any type of exercise) can reduce the risk of developing depression, even among those with the genetic markers.

We Beat Sleep Apnea. It Should Be Easier for You to Do It Too
New York Times
December 9, 2019

Sleep apnea is very common, particularly as we age. But formal diagnosis and treatment require an overnight observation in a "sleep lab" that can actually mean little or no sleep as well as a large bill. New CPAP machines, used to treat apnea, can actually be used to diagnosis it. Doctors and insurers should be open to this less expensive and less invasive diagnosis and treatment of what can be a deadly condition.

Frail Older Patients Struggle After Even Minor Operations
New York Times
December 13, 2019

Even minor, routine surgeries can be devastating for older patients, particularly if they have multiple health issues that make them more frail. Surgeons don't always take this into account when advising patients about surgery, and the patients don't realize the potential - sometimes deadly - risks.

The Hidden Drug Epidemic Among Older People
New York Times
December 16, 2019

Research indicates that people between 65 and 69 take an average of 15 prescription medications each year; older patients take even more. And they add over the counter drugs to that mix. The result of fragmented health care, rushed visits with providers, and drug advertising can mean the drugs are doing more harm than good. Doctors need to know about all medications the patient is taking, and to review them regularly to ensure that they work together, and that all are still necessary. Not doing so can waste money as well as complicating and compromising the health of the patient.

Tackling Inflammation to Fight Age-Related Ailments
New York Times
December 23, 2019

Research is showing that many chronic ailments associated with aging share an underlying cause - chronic inflammation. Reducing inflammation through diet, exercise, weight and stress reduction, adequate sleep and not smoking, can improve overall health.

How to Be Health, in Just 48 Words
New York Times
January 3, 2020

This advice on how to be healthier is valuable for everyone, no matter their age.

Older People Need Geriatricians. Where Will They Come From?
New York Times
January 3, 2020

The US has suffered for years with a shortage of specialists to treat older patients. As the senior population increases, the supply of geriatricians has shrunk, and many of the specialists are also older. One solution is to have geriatricians train professionals in other specialties, since all of them are seeing more older patients.

Most Dietary Supplements Don't Do Anything. Why Do We Spend $35 Billion a Year on Them?
Washington Post
January 27, 2020

Multiple studies have shown that most dietary supplements - vitamins, minerals, herbals, and so on - have no benefit. Some are even harmful, and they aren't regulated so you don't know whether you're getting what you're paying for. Yet Americans continue to pay billions every year. So which ones actually help? "'It’s a short list,' Hopp [deputy director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)] told me. 'Ginger for nausea, peppermint for upset stomach, melatonin for sleep disruption. And fish oil does seem to show some promise for cardiovascular disease, although some of the data is conflicting.' He went on to list some of the supplements that haven’t shown benefits in NCCIH trials: turmeric, St. John’s wort, ginkgo, echinacea." Do some research before you buy that next bottle.

Combining Aerobics and Weights Tied to Optimal Weight Control
New York Times
February 12, 2020

In a recent study, subjects who did both aerobic and weight bearing exercise controlled their weight and avoided obesity better than those who did only one type of exercise. In another study (Strength Training is Vital in Avoiding Injuries and Staying Independent as You Age), older people who regularly participated in resistance or strength training lost less muscle mass (an inevitable process of aging starting around age 30) and have stronger bones than their contemporaries who did not.

When It Comes to Exercise, "All Movement Counts"
March 5, 2020

People who don't regularly "exercise" may not recognize that they actually are. As little as 22 minutes a day of moving is beneficial. And you don't have to sweat or "feel the burn." Walking absolutely counts. So does just repeatedly standing up and sitting down. Start small and find what works for you. And know that exercise, no matter how little, makes you feel better mentally as well as physically. (Note that this article includes a link to a 22 minute workout developed by Bryant Johnson, personal trainer to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87 year old cancer survivor and Supreme Court Justice.)

Aging Out of the Mammogram
New York Times
March 16, 2020

Annual or bi-annual mammograms are a routine for women. But at a certain age, the benefits of detection are outweighed by the risks of treatment. Many breast cancers that are detected by mammography are slow growing, and other factors may end life before the cancer becomes dangerous. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are dangerous, particularly for older, fragile women. Talk to your doctor before continuing to be tested.

Just What Older People Don't Need: More Isolation
New York Times
April 13, 2020

Loneliness has proven negative health impacts. The current pandemic requires that we be isolated. There are things that can reduce the feeling isolation, including phone calls as well as technology using video, etc. to reach out.

Healthy People Shouldn't Take Low Dose Aspirin to Prevent Heart Disease
June 3, 2020

Unless you have heart disease or have had a heart attack or stroke, you probably shouldn't be taking low dose aspirin. A review of recent medical literature concludes that the dangers of aspirin - especially bleeding - outweigh any slight benefit. Talk to your doctor.

Why Everyone Needs to Know More About Menopause During the Pandemic
Washington Post
June 29, 2020

Information about menopause is not widely available, particularly to the partners and families of women going through the process. The physical and emotional changes are especially challenging when stress and depression associated with Covid-19 are widespread. More information and support are necessary.

Trying to Preserve Your Hearing in Noisy World
Science Friday
November 15, 2019

There are a growing number of threats to our hearing. There are also things you can do to protect your hearing from damage.

For Successful Aging, Pick Up the Pace or Mix It Up
New York Times
September 2, 2020

Research shows that gentle exercise, like a leisurely walk, may not be enough to painting strength and balance as we age. Something more active, like cycling, may be necessary as part of a mix of physical activities.

The Risk of the Prescribing Cascade
New York Times
September 7, 2020

If a patient has side effects from a medication, doctors may treat those side effects as a new disease, with a new prescription to treat it, instead of looking at the bigger picture. The result can be too many drugs, multiplying side effects, and worsening health.

For Older People, Reassuring News in the Statin Debate
New York Times
September 21, 2020

Research is revealing that statins, used to lower cholesterol, are actually not just safe but beneficial for older patients. And they're available as inexpensive generics. The expected result is more patients being prescribed the drugs to help not just the heart and circulation but other conditions, including reducing the risk of some cancers and memory loss.

The Four Types of Aging
Boston Globe
October 24, 2020?

Researchers are realizing that people don't age in the same way or at the same rate. Their discoveries may lead to new ways of treating chronic disease and helping seniors avoid some of the worst problems associated with aging.

How Exercise Enhances Aging Brains
New York Times
March 3, 2021

New research with older African Americans demonstrates that changing from sedentary to active improves brain activity, particularly in areas linked to memory.

Hearing Aids for the Masses
New York Times
April 12, 2021

Hearing aids can make a huge difference in the quality of our lives as we age. But they're very expensive and not covered by Medicare. An alternative may be coming soon. Improvements in technology are making "personal sound amplification products" better and cheaper. The FDA has been charged by Congress to develop guidelines for approving the best of these devices for over the counter sale - at as little as $350 (vs. more than $3000 for prescription hearing aids). While these new devices won't help everyone, they will make hearing assistance much easier to get.

A Birthday Milestone: Turning 80
New York Times

May 17, 2021 (updated 5/21)

The secret of health aging? Exercise, healthy eating, and the right attitude. "That to me is the secret of a happy, vibrant old age: Strive to do what you love for as long as you can do it. If the vicissitudes of life or infirmities of age preclude a preferred activity, modify it or substitute another."

Can a Smartwatch Save Your Life?
New York Times
May 20, 2021

Smartwatches and fitness trackers often have the capability of monitoring heart rhythm and pulse rate. Those readouts can indicate a problem that needs immediate attention. They can also issue false alarms. The consensus seems to be that having one is not a bad idea (although those with a tendency toward hypochondria should be careful). The devices come in a wide variety of price points, so it's wise to compare and check reviews.

Looking to Tackle Prescription Overload
New York Times
June 7, 2021

Older patients are frequently taking multiple medications, some of which can affect cognition or can have bad interactions. Sometimes, specialists prescribe new drugs without knowing what the patient is already taking. A review of all medications (including over the counter supplements) should be part of regular doctor visits, and a plan for reducing those medications should be undertaken carefully in consultation with all prescribers.
A related article, from the Washington Post, highlights the risk of falls from some medications and/or drug interactions.
But another, also from the Post, focuses on the danger of not taking prescribed drugs. Don't stop taking your medications without a thorough discussion of all of them.

Do We Really Need to Take 10,000 Steps a Day for Our Health?
New York Times
July 6, 2021

The short answer? No. That said, adding steps to a sedentary lifestyle definitely improves mental and physical health. Getting over 5,000 has been proven to help prevent premature death. Remember that walking related to daily activity (just moving around the house) counts. Four thousand is pretty typical of those who aren't even trying to exercise. Just a few more steps......

How Many Daily Steps Should You Take to Live Longer?
New York Times
September 15, 2021

We now know that the 10,000 step goal was actually part of an advertising campaign for early pedometers. Experts have now concluded that between 7,000 and 8,000 steps per day (about 35 to 40 minutes) is the ideal for improving health and longevity.

Keeping Older Drivers Protected on the Road
New York Times
October 18, 2021

Research shows that drivers over 70 are actually less likely to be involved in a serious accident than younger ones - probably because they're healthier than before as well as because they're driving safer cars on better designed roads, there are still things you can do to remain a safe driver as you get older. And you have to be willing to recognize when it's time to give up the keys.

A Hearing Aid for Everyone
New York Times
October 20, 2021

The FDA has begun the process of creating a new category of hearing aid that will be available over the counter at significantly lower cost the the current devices. Although the new affordable assistance probably won't be as good as prescription aids, it's a huge breakthrough in making them available to the millions who can't afford them currently. 

Are Mammograms Worthwhile for Older Women?
New York Times
August 20, 2021

Older women are far more likely to die from other causes than most breast cancers. And the treatment for cancer can greatly diminish the quality of life. There is conflicting advice, with some saying routine screening should continue as long as a woman expects to live 10 or more years longer, and others saying screening should stop at 75 regardless of life expectancy. 

How to Prevent Falls and Provide Comfort in a New Home for Seniors
Washington Post
January 25, 2022

Moving into a new home is always stressful, but it can be particularly so for older people who may have lived in the same place for years, or even decades. Downsizing means giving up treasured possessions. Family and friends can call on experts to help with designing and furnishing a space to be comfortable, familiar, and safe.

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Could Finally Give People an Affordable, Convenient Hearing Solution
New York Times
March 2, 2022

Hearing aids are expensive (as much as $14,000 per pair) and involve multiple trips to an audiologist for diagnosis, fittings, and adjustments. The federal government is finally establishing rules for over-the-counter alternatives what should be as good but be more convenient and less expensive to get. Note that those "hearing aids" you see advertised on television or online are not hearing aids - they're defined as "hearing augmentation devices," also known as "hearables." 

A Daily Aspirin Regimen May Hurt More Than Help, Experts Warn
New York Times
May 21, 2022

Because of the increased risk of uncontrolled bleeding, doctors are now advising patients - particularly those over 70 - to avoid daily aspirin, particularly if they do not have heart disease and have not had a heart attack or stroke. As always, check with your doctor before stopping any medication.

Menopause Is Not a Disease
June 17, 2022

Although many women need help dealing with the symptoms of menopause, the "medicalization" of the stage of life has led to an incorrect, and sometimes damaging, view of a normal process.

What to Look for in a Physical Therapist
New York Times
July 6, 2021

Over the past few years, research has demonstrated what works - and what doesn't - for physical therapy to help with healing. Before starting therapy, ask what kind of treatment will be involved, and make sure it's not only right for you but will actually do you good.

Study Finds Another Condition That Vitamin D Pills Don't Help
New York Times
July 27, 2022

New research demonstrates that taking Vitamin D does not help prevent fractures. That joins many other conditions that the pills were recommended for - none of which were helped. The pharmaceutical companies making the pills, and the labs doing blood tests, are making money, but it's almost certainly not needed. Ask your doctor, but consider taking the pills.

Just 2 Minutes of Walking After a Meal Is Surprisingly Good for You
New York Times
August 4, 2022

It takes very little to reduce blood sugar levels after a meal. A two minute long stroll is all you need (although more is never a bad thing).

Can You Pass the 10-Second Balance Test?
New York Times
August 12, 2022 (updated August 13)

Stand up (near a wall or chair, just in case) and raise one leg. If you can stand for 10 seconds, you've demonstrated that your balance is good. Accidental falls are a major cause of serious injury and even death, and older people are more likely to have balance problems that can lead to falls. If you fail the balance test, there are things you can do to improve strength and balance.

FDA Clears Path for Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids
New York Times
August 16, 2022 (updated August 23)

After many years of study and discussion, the FDA has finally approved the sale of hearing aids without a prescription. The approved devices, which should be available by October, will make a difference for millions. The new hearing aids will be significantly cheaper than the old ones. But they are not as good, and they aren't for everyone. They are designed for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. For more, read What to Know Before Buying Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids and The Best Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids and Other Hearing Solutions.

Is There a Gender Gap When It Comes to Loneliness?
August 19, 2022

It's well known that loneliness and social isolation are detrimental to physical and mental health, and that they are more common among seniors than the general population. But research indicates that they are even more common among older women. Women live longer, on average, than men, and so are more likely to not have a partner. Their network of friends also shrinks with time, and they are more likely to live alone and in poverty than are men. It's important to recognize that you are suffering from loneliness and to take steps to reduce the problem. Society also needs to develop ways to reduce isolation and loneliness.

Want to Add Healthy Years to Your Life? Here's What New Longevity Research Says
Washington Post
October 11, 2022

There's no consensus on how long humans can live. There is, however, a growing body of research showing how we can extend our healthy life times. No surprise, it includes a healthy diet and exercise. Loving long-term relationships and optimism are also important. Surprisingly, it also shows that a certain amount of stress is good for us. 

A "New Frontier" for Hearing Aids
New York Times
October 10, 2022

Hearing aids for mild to moderate hearing loss will now be available without a prescription, and at significantly lower cost. It will take a while for the market to open up, but the change will be revolutionary. For advice on how to pick the right one, see this Washington Post article. Keep in mind, however, that these new hearing aids won't work for everyone, depending on what has caused the hearing loss as well as how severe it is. For a perspective, see this from CNN. 

You May Have Hearing Loss and Not Know It
Washington Post
October 28, 2022

Experts say that about 1/4 of adults between 20 and 69 who think they have excellent hearing actually have measurable hearing damage. A hearing test should be part of routine health exams. This article demonstrates how a hearing test works.

What If You Could Go to the Hospital ... At Home?
New York Times
November 19, 2022

An experimental program, prompted by the COVID epidemic, provided hospital-level care - remote monitoring, visiting nurses, etc. to patients who went home rather than stay in the hospital. Preliminary findings demonstrate that the patients did well, avoiding the risk of hospital infections and the anxiety often associated with a hospital stay. However, the program is time limited, and its future is in doubt.

How Would You Feel About a 100-Year-Old Doctor?
New York Times
November 28, 2022

Amidst a growing shortage of health care providers, a growing number of doctors are continuing to practice well past 65. Concerns about their capacity to provide good care are growing. The article suggests regular mental acuity screening for older doctors.

Does Exercise Really Help Aging Brains?
Washington Post

December 14, 2022

For years, we've been told that exercise helps keep your brain, as well as your body, healthy. New research brings that into question. The results indicate that we don't understand enough about how the brain works and how to measure it. Further research is needed. But keep exercising!

A New Study Points to a Surprisingly Simple Way to Ward Off Knee Pain
New York Times
June 8, 2022 (updated June 14)

If you have osteoarthritis, walking may help avoid knee pain, even for those who have previously suffered pain in their knees. It also reduces the chances of further damage to the joints.

You're Never Too Old for Yoga
New York Times
January 25, 2023

Yoga has been shown to have both physical and mental health benefits. Finding the right class and type of yoga for you, and doing it regularly, can help seniors.

Your Next Hospital Bed Might Be at Home
New York Times
January 26, 2023

During the COVID crisis, when hospitals were overwhelmed, Medicare authorized an experiment in "hospital at home" care, where patients were cared for at home by doctors, nurses, and other health professionals who visited them or conducted checks via telemedicine. The results have been promising, but the program may end soon. (Note that Pres. in Albuquerque currently participates in the program)

To Stay Healthy in Old Age, Research Finds Building Muscle is Key
Washington Post
February 20, 2023

Physical function deteriorates as we age. Counteracting that, in particular by doing regular and frequent weight training and other strength building exercise, is critical to maintaining health and independence. For ideas, see 5 Exercises to Keep an Aging Body Strong and Fitt, from the New York Times.

Why Aren't Doctors Screening Older Americans for Anxiety?
New York Times
February 26, 2023

Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder is the most common type among seniors. Routine screening, however, is not being recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force, although some experts disagree with the finding. The problem is that anxiety may present differently among seniors, and they may be reluctant to ascribe their worries to psychological problems. More research is needed.

This Revolutionary Stroke Treatment Will Save Millions of Lives. Eventually
New York Times
March 1, 2023

Endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) is a new life saving treatment for the most common type of stroke - those caused by a clot or other blockage in the brain. But it has to be performed within a very short window of the stroke - a few hours at most. And only a handful of doctors have, so far, been trained in how to perform it.

Why Are Falls So Serious in Older People?
Washington Post
March 9, 2023

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 1 in 4 Americans over 65 fall every year. One in five of those falls results in a serious injury including a broken hip or head trauma. Falls are the leading cause of death and serious injury among seniors. Declining muscle mass, reduced sense of balance, poor vision, multiple medications, and many other factors lead to falls - and a history of falls means you're more likely to fall again. There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk.

The Challenge of Caring for Women's Hearts
Washington Post
March 6, 2023

Women who experience chest pain and other symptoms of heart attack don't always have the same symptoms as men, are their problems are sometimes dismissed as anxiety, rather than heart disease. The fairly new diagnosis is MINOCA, "myocardial infarction with non-obstructive coronary arteries." Women with heart disease may not have arterial blockages, as is more common in men, so they don't "look right." Recognizing the difference is critical for saving women's lives.

At 102, She Leads Exercise Classes 4 Days a Week
Washington Post
March 8, 2023

A rigorous chair exercise class keeps residents of a senior community moving, fit, and connected with each other. Started during COVID, they haven't quit, and their instructor insists that they "do it right." and use their muscles.

Most Men with Prostate Cancer Can Avoid or Delay Harsh Treatment
March 12, 2023

A new long term study shows that most men can avoid harsh treatments without sacrificing their chances of survival. Prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed in men. In most cases, it is not a major threat. A strategy of surveillance or active monitoring can be effective for most, and their need for treatments that can have life altering consequences, can be reduced or even eliminated. About 15% of diagnosed cancers are more aggressive and must be treated, however.

A Little Motivation to Take a Walk
New York Times
March 17, 2023

A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that a short, brisk walk (about 11 minutes) significantly reduces the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, and mortality overall.

Yoga May Reduce Frailty, Improve Endurance in Older Adults
Washington Post
March 14, 2023

A review of previous research, conducted by Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, provides strong evidence that yoga improves strength, balance, and other factors that reduce frailty among older patients. A similar article in the New York Times says, "You're Never Too Old for Yoga."

Why the US Health Care System Must Address the Shortage of Geriatricians Now
March 30, 2023

By 2030, 20% of the US population will be over 65. An acute shortage of primary care providers is most visible among those caring for older patients. And while Americans are living longer, they aren't living healthier - most older patients have at least one chronic health condition, many have more, and new providers are not interested in or trained to care for these complex patients.

Weight Loss May Mean a Risk of Death for Older Adults
April 11, 2023

For older patients, weight loss can mean an increased risk of mortality; a similar gain may not be bad. The reason seems to be that weight loss is a symptom of serious underlying health problems such as cancer or dementia, resulting in loss of appetite. Patients and their health care providers need to monitor weight changes and seek care.

First Vaccine Targeting RSV Wins FDA Approval
Washington Post
May 3, 2023

The FDA has approved a vaccine for seniors to prevent RSV, a respiratory infection which is usually mild but can kill particularly vulnerable patients. Similar vaccines for young children, who are also more likely to be extremely sick with RSV, are in the pipeline.

Too Many Older Men Are Still Screened for Prostate Cancer
New York Times
May 8, 2023

Most prostate cancers are slow growing and treatments can be debilitating. Research shows that most men, particularly those who are older, are better off monitoring but not treating.

Cardiovascular Disease Is Poised to Kill More Older People
Washington Post
May 21, 2023

Heart disease rates are rising, and Black and Hispanic communities are hit harder than Whites. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among those over 65. The rapid growth of the senior population combines with increases among that group of diseases - obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure - that are linked to heart disease, combine to create a serious public health problem.

The "Silent" Disease of Osteoporosis Affects 10 Million Americans
Washington Post
June 5, 2023

Osteoporosis, a significant loss of bone mass, is invisible. Some people don't know they have it until they suffer a fracture. A bone scan can be used to diagnosis the condition, or its precursor osteopenia. Medications are available to slow bone loss, but diet (foods high in calcium and Vitamin D) and weight bearing exercise can help keep it from happening or from getting worse.

Tai Chi Is a Workout for the Brain and Body
New York Times
June 20, 2023

Tai Chi has its roots in ancient martial arts practices, but its slow, gentle movements and focus on balance as well as mindfulness make it attractive to many, including seniors as well as athletes recovering from injuries. This article includes video demonstrations of 4 movements.

What's Normal for the Body and Brain As We Age?
Washington Post
October 15, 2023

The author of a new book, "Honest Aging" (available at the Corrales Library) talks about issues we all contend with as we get older, and offers suggestions of how to adapt to the new life we're living.

Why Your Grip Strength Matters, and How to Improve It
New York Times
October 19, 2023

Hand or grip strength is important to many aspects of daily life, and it's shrinking as the way we live has changed. Strength building exercises are easy to do, and should be part of your regular exercise routine.

Hearing Aids Are More Affordable, and Perhaps More Needed, Than Ever
New York Times
October 30, 2023

Hearing loss has been directly linked to declines in cognition. Over the counter hearing devices, designed for those with low or moderate hearing loss, are now available, and much more affordable than traditional "prescription" hearing aids. The market is new, and chaotic, with only limited government regulation. Preliminary evaluation of the new devices indicates that those at the higher range of costs ($1000 or over) are generally good to excellent, while those selling under $500 are "junk." For more see: The Best Over the Counter Hearing Aids and Other Hearing Solutions

Should I Be Taking Supplements?
New York Times
October 31, 2023

There are thousands of dietary supplements on the market. Many of them have little or no benefit to the patient. Vitamins and minerals taken for a clinically diagnosed nutrient deficiency (Vitamin D, iron, Vitamin B12 among vegetarians/vegans, for example), or prenatal vitamins during pregnancy. The value of others is still being evaluated, with some indicating no value at all.

Most Strokes Are Preventable
Washington Post
October 23, 2023

About 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. There are things you can do to reduce your risk: watch medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, and take medications if needed; get physical activity; eat healthily; watch alcohol intake; avoid pollutants; and control stress. 

Why Some Seniors Are Choosing Pot Over Pills
New York Times
November 16, 2023

A growing number of people over 65 are opting for pot instead of prescriptions for insomnia, pain, or anxiety, among other conditions. According to the National Survey onDrug Use and Health, 0.4 percent of seniors reported using cannabis in the previous year; by 2022, it was more than 8%. Many of them turn to pot when other medications aren't working. But users need to be aware of interactions with other medications, as well as how it may impact balance, coordination and cognition.

UTIs Can Lead to Cognitive Dysfunction
Washington Post
November 16, 2023

Urinary Tract Infections, and other common infections, can affect mental capabilities, particularly if left untreated. About 30% of seniors with UTIs develop delirium; and about half of delirium diagnoses are linked to infections. Although short term delirium is manageable, if it is not treated it can lead to long term, even permanent, diminished cognition. It's important to avoid UTIs, and to treat them promptly if they develop.

How Do My Calorie Needs Change as I Age?
New York Times
October 10, 2023

The number and type of calories we need change as we get older. Seniors are especially in need of more lean protein, although their caloric needs lessen, particularly if they are less active.


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