Problems with Senses—Hearing, Vision, Smell, Touch, and Taste—May Predict Older Adults’ Overall Health and Ability to Function

JAGS graphicJournal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

The five senses are hearing, vision, smell, touch, and taste. When these senses begin to dim or are lost as we age, we face challenges dealing with everyday life. Losing one’s senses can also cause serious health problems.

Researchers have mainly focused on what happens after people lose one or two of their senses. However, we know that losing more than two senses occurs frequently for older adults. Until now, no studies have examined how losing multiple senses affects older adults. To learn more, a team of researchers from the University of Chicago designed a study to focus on just that. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Continue reading

Symptoms of Depression Linked to Problems Performing Regular Daily Activities for Older Japanese Adults

JAGS graphicJournal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

Recently, researchers investigated whether depressive symptoms might make it harder for older adults to perform their regular daily activities. The researchers also wanted to find out whether living circumstances or marital status had any impact on whether depressive symptoms affected older adults’ abilities to perform daily activities.

Symptoms of depression are common among older adults. Signs of depressive symptoms include:

  • Loss of interest in self-care and/or following medical advice
  • Little interest in social activities
  • Feeling “empty” inside
  • Trouble sleeping and/or feeling anxious
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering things
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Change in appetite and weight
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Feeling that one is a burden

The researchers examined information from 769 older adults who participated in the Kurabuchi Study starting in 2005. The study was designed to look at how well adults 65-years-old and older could perform their daily functions. The researchers published their study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Continue reading

Study Finds that Most Older Adults are Aware of Medication Risks

JAGS graphicJournal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

Geriatrics experts know that certain medications may have risks for older adults that outweigh their benefits, especially when safer alternatives are available. Medications that could be “potentially inappropriate” for older adults are included on recommendation lists that your healthcare provider can consult, such as the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) Beers Criteria or the STOPP-START list.

However, despite these recommendations, 25 percent of older adults take at least one potentially inappropriate medication every year. Taking these medications can increase the risk of being hospitalized due to a medication-related problem. Although 70 percent of older adults are willing to stop taking certain medications, healthcare providers continue to prescribe some potentially inappropriate medicines to older adults.

Researchers from the Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie in Montréal, Canada, designed a survey to learn about older adults’ awareness of drug-related health risks. They conducted the survey over the telephone with 2,665 participants, aged 65 or older. Continue reading

Talking to Older Adults About Health Prognosis May Be Helpful

JAGS graphicJournal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

Prognosis is the term for the most likely outcome of a medical condition. When it comes to health care, talking about your prognosis can be difficult for you, your family/friends, and even your healthcare providers. However, many of us prefer to talk to our healthcare providers about the expected course of an illness and about our life expectancy when living with a chronic or terminal illness.  This is according to new research on advanced care planning (the technical term for having early conversations with our healthcare providers about our care needs, preferences, and expectations).

In a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers examined how older adults with disabilities later in life might react to learning their prognosis, and how they evaluated their own prognosis compared to “official” estimates.

The study participants were 35 adults 70-years-old and older from four geriatrics clinics in the San Francisco Bay area. All the participants required help with daily activities, and they all participated in a 45-minute interview as part of the study.

The researchers asked older adults questions about how they would want to receive information about their life expectancy. For example, did they prefer hearing or reading news about their prognosis? Would they prefer receiving information about their prognosis while at home by themselves? Continue reading

Hospice Care Offers Comfort for Older Adults at End of Life. Should it be Considered Sooner?

JAGS graphicJournal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

A team of researchers from Yale University has studied how soon older adults who were experiencing distressing symptoms and disability were admitted to hospice near the end of their lives. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The researchers examined information from a study of 562 people, aged 70 and older, who were not disabled when the study began. Of these people, 244 (43.4 percent) were admitted to hospice during the last year of life. These people were slightly older and more likely to have cognitive impairments (problems thinking and making decisions) than those individuals who weren’t admitted to hospice.

The most common condition leading to death was frailty (the medical term for physical weakness or an increasing likelihood for poor health), followed by organ failure (the term for certain parts of our body no longer working as they should), advanced dementia, and cancer. Continue reading