Healthy Aging

Colon cancer screening: Is there an easier, effective way?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor

The preparations necessary for a colonoscopy can be as unpleasant as the test itself, if not more so. A new test can be completed at home and requires no special prep, but the test is more likely to return a false positive, requiring further testing. In addition, some of the research supporting this test was done by the company or co-inventors, so more research is needed.

Now hear this, men: Hearing aids can be a life changer

Matthew Solan
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Many older men need hearing aids, but are reluctant to wear them. Because hearing loss is associated with greater risks for certain conditions including depression, anyone who suspects their hearing is deteriorating should have a hearing test. It is important to note that hearing aids make sounds louder, but not clearer. There are other ways to improve communication with or without a hearing aid.

Heart disease and brain health: Looking at the links

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

To keep your brain in tip top shape as you age, work to lower your risk for heart disease. Steps that can help protect both your heart and cognitive abilities include getting regular physical activity, quitting smoking, managing blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Talk to the animals: Animal-assisted therapy offers emotional support

Matthew Solan
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Interacting with animals can be helpful to people dealing with issues like anxiety and depression. Animal-assisted therapy is used in settings such as retirement communities and hospitals, and can be helpful for those affected by traumatic events.

Regular meditation more beneficial than vacation

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor

A study of participants in a mindfulness workshop found that the benefits of meditation and yoga are as significant as the relaxation benefit of taking a vacation, and are more persistent. In addition, regularly practicing meditation and yoga can boost immunity, and seems to promote healthier aging.

Good hearing essential to physical and emotional well-being

Charlotte S. Yeh, MD
Charlotte S. Yeh, MD, Chief Medical Officer, AARP Services, Inc., Guest Contributor

Hearing loss is common among older people, causing a profound impact on a person’s quality of life by creating a sense of isolation that affects overall health. In most cases, hearing problems can be alleviated relatively easily, restoring one’s sense of connection to the world.

Older men: Rethinking a healthy sex life

Matthew Solan
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Though sexuality changes with age, this should not hinder older men from being sexually active. It may be helpful for men to reframe how they think about sex, focusing less on the outcome and more on the experience and pleasure of shared intimacy.

The most important health problems (and why they matter)

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Data from the CDC and elsewhere examining death rates and causes shows that the most common causes of death are not necessarily the ones of greatest concern to Americans. Understanding the causes of death is important, not only because of what they may say about how we live, but also to find ways to increase longevity.

Knee replacement: Life changing or a disappointment?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Osteoarthritis, the “wear and tear” form of arthritis, can cause pain and restricted movement in the joints. Joint replacement surgery (typically for knees and hips) can restore mobility and reduce pain. However, these procedures involve risk, recovery and rehabilitation time, and the joint may still not feel completely normal. However, for some, surgery may improve quality of life and be better than the alternatives.

Get up, stand up, for your health: A little exercise offsets a lot of sitting

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor

Sitting has been described as the “new smoking.” While that may sound discouraging if you’re always driving long distances or sitting in an office chair for hours on end, there is something you can do about it. Moderate exercising like walking the dog or riding a bike for just an hour a day could alleviate or even eliminate the dangers caused by sitting all day. And if you’re worried about a full hour, benefits still come from spreading those 60 minutes out throughout the day.