Healthy Aging Archive


Is U.S. life expectancy getting shorter?

A 2023 study found that between the 1930s and the mid-1980s, life expectancy in the United States was generally longer than in other wealthy nations. However, since the mid-1980s, the United States has been doing progressively and dramatically worse. Among many reasons for this change is the fact that the country doesn't make health care as widely available to all citizens as do other wealthy countries. For example, tens of millions of people in the United States do not have health insurance. Ultimately, it will be up to society to make health improvements nationwide.

Surprising risk factors for vision loss

Vision loss has many risk factors. Some risk factors are well known, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and older age. Other risk factors for vision loss are not as well known, such as inactivity, psoriasis, shingles, and smoking. People who have these risk factors might need eye exams more often than the standard recommendations for healthy adults (a comprehensive eye exam every two years from ages 40 to 65, and every year or two after age 65).

Do I still need to keep taking a statin?

For people older than 75 who have heart disease already, or who are at increased risk of developing heart disease, there now is solid evidence that statins remain effective at lowering cholesterol and, more important, in reducing the risk of new or recurrent heart disease. For people older than 75 who have not been diagnosed with heart disease and are not at increased risk for developing it, the value of statins still is uncertain.

When blood pressure falls after you stand up

Orthostatic hypotension, a condition that causes blood pressure to drop when a person stands up, can leave people dizzy and lightheaded. It can result from certain medications or health problems and becomes more common with age and frailty. Doctors sometimes worry that intensive blood pressure treatment contributes to the problem, but research suggests the opposite is true. Strategies to cope with symptoms of orthostatic hypotension include drinking plenty of fluids, wearing compression stockings, and taking care when rising from a chair or bed.

Strength training tied to smaller risk of knee osteoarthritis and pain later in life

In a 2023 study, people who engaged in regular strength training were less likely than those who didn't to develop knee pain and knee osteoarthritis as they approached their senior years.

Get out of your slump

People typically lose almost one-half inch every 10 years after age 40 with the loss in height becoming more pronounced after age 70. While natural aging is the main contributor, another leading factor is poor posture caused by weak and inflexible muscles. People can improve their posture by adopting a strength training program that focuses on the muscles of the upper back, chest, and core and doing regular stretching, including yoga and tai chi.

Why women take the fall

Falls are the leading cause of injuries and accidental deaths among Americans 65 and older. Women fall more often than men and are far more likely to show up at an emergency room because of a fall. Women are especially vulnerable to falling due to weaker bones, lower muscle mass, higher rates of incontinence and antidepressant use, and a tendency to multitask. People can reduce their fall risk by doing strength and balance exercises, getting regular vision and hearing exams, reviewing their medications, and keeping floors clutter-free.

Having a hobby tied to happiness and well-being

A 2023 study of 93,000 people ages 65 or older found that those who said they had hobbies reported having better health, more happiness, fewer depression symptoms, and higher life satisfaction, compared with those who said they didn't have hobbies.

How to lower your dementia risk

An estimated 3% of adults ages 65 and older currently have dementia, and that proportion rises substantially as people age. The most convincing evidence for reducing one's risk relates to the basic foundations for an overall healthy lifestyle: aerobic exercise, a plant-based diet, and quality sleep. Aerobic exercise helps reduce the buildup of toxic proteins in the brain and improves blood flow, a plant-based diet can manage inflammation, and quality sleep helps the brain clear out harmful proteins.

Prepare for a fall

More than one in four adults ages 65 and older fall each year, and about 20% of those tumbles result in a broken bone or head injury. The best way to prevent falls is to stay in good shape by improving core strength, balance, and flexibility. People can further protect themselves by learning to fall in a way that reduces their risk of serious injury. Practicing falling can help develop muscle memory, so the body can automatically react to the situation, and help those who have previously suffered a fall overcome the fear of taking another tumble.

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