Health In Aging Blog


How Do Older Adults Fare After Hip Fracture?

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

Hip fractures in older adults can be extremely serious, and often result in chronic illness, death, and increased health care costs. Experts estimate that some 18 to 33 percent of all older adults who have suffered hip fractures will die within a year, with even higher rates of death among people who have dementia or who live in a nursing home.

As many as 50 percent of older adults face difficulties following a hip fracture, and may be unable to bathe, feed, or dress themselves (called “activities of daily living,” or ADLs). They may not be able to get around for months to even years after their fracture. This physical decline can lessen their quality of life, and some 20 percent of older adults go on to long-term care facilities after having a hip fracture.

Studies conducted on older adults who have had hip fractures suggest that the strongest indication that a person will experience a decline after a hip fracture is being disabled before the fracture occurs.

What’s more, hip fractures affect not only the quality of life and health of the older adult, but also that of their caregivers—and can cause financial burdens when the individual requires more care.

Despite all this, the number of daily hours of care people need after a hip fracture has not been well studied. To learn more, researchers designed a study to better understand how older adults fare after suffering hip fractures. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Continue reading

Exercise Improves Anxiety and Mood in Older Adults Undergoing Chemotherapy

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

Although we know that exercise improves anxiety and mood problems in younger people with cancer, few studies have looked at the effects of exercise on older adults with cancer. Since most new cancer cases occur in adults aged 60 or older, a team of researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center and other institutions designed a study to learn more.

Their study appeared in the June issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS).

Having cancer increases the chances of people experiencing anxiety and mood issues, which can affect emotional and social well-being. In turn, this may lead people to discontinue cancer treatments—which can mean shortening their survival.

Chemotherapy can benefit older adults with cancer, even though older people receiving this type of treatment often experience higher rates of dangerous side effects than younger people do. Older adults often experience anxiety and other mood disorders during their treatment for cancer, too—and treating those problems with medications can often cause potentially dangerous side effects.

What’s more, many anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants are listed in the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) Beers Criteria® as being potentially inappropriate for older adults. That’s why it is desirable to seek alternative treatments that are safe and effective at improving anxiety, mood disturbances, and emotional and social well-being, including treatments that don’t rely on medications. For example, several studies have been conducted to examine the relationship between exercise and mood in cancer survivors and most have shown positive results. Continue reading

Weighing Risks and Benefits of Drug Treatment for Major Depression

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

Depression is a common and serious problem for older adults. Some 15 to 20 percent of people aged 65 and older who live independently deal with symptoms of major depressive disorder. For residents of nursing homes, the rates of depression may be as high as 50 percent.

For some people, medication is an effective part of treatment for depression. However, when considering whether to prescribe antidepressant medication for older adults, healthcare providers must weigh the safety risks these medications pose against the often modest benefits they can provide compared to other options.

For example, tools like the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) Beers Criteria® for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults recommended that healthcare providers avoid prescribing certain antidepressant medications to older adults who have a history of falls or fractures. These include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). That’s because these medications may actually increase the risk of falls and fractures.

Understanding these and other risks associated with “potentially inappropriate medications” is key to building better care for us all as we age. That’s why a team of researchers recently reviewed and analyzed studies to learn more specifically about the harmful effects of antidepressants for treating major depressive disorder in adults 65 years of age or older. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The systematic review was performed at the University of Connecticut Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC). The researchers reviewed studies that examined how many older adults experienced a harmful event during the study. Continue reading

Does Your Health in Middle Age Predict How Healthy You’ll be Later in Life?

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

Cognitive decline is the medical term for a decline in your abilities to think, remember, and make decisions. Researchers know now that cognitive decline may begin in midlife and can develop over a period of 20 years or so. In a new study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS), researchers identified factors associated with brain health in middle age in order to identify ways to preserve brain function when people are older.

Several studies have shown links between changes in the senses and the development of cognitive decline. In earlier studies, the research team responsible for the new JAGS report found that problems with hearing, vision, or the sense of smell were associated with poorer cognitive function in middle-aged adults. These changes also have been linked to developing cognitive impairments for older people.

To learn more in this new work, the researchers used information from the ongoing Beaver Dam Offspring Study (BOSS; conducted from 2005 to the present), a study of the adult children of participants in the Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study, a population-based study of aging. Continue reading

How Interval Training Affects “Belly Fat” in Obese 70-Year-Olds

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

By today’s estimates, one-third of adults aged 65 or older are obese. This growing obesity trend, along with the decrease in our level of physical activity as we age, seriously raises our risk of diseases and death.

We know that aging leads to a gradual decrease in lean body mass (LBM). Put simply, LBM is the entire weight of your body minus the weight associated with fat tissue. As we age, fat distribution in the body can shift, and often increases in the belly region. This is a health concern for older adults, because so-called “belly fat” (also known as “central obesity”) is associated with a greater risk for heart disease than general obesity.

Now, a team of researchers have designed a study to learn more about the effects of a 10-week, easy-to-perform, personalized, progressive vigorous-intensity interval training among 70-year-olds with “belly fat.” Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Continue reading