Aging

For older adults looking to sharpen their mental abilities, Facebook may be the way to go, according to preliminary psychology research which suggests that men and women older than 65 who learn to use Facebook could see a boost in cognitive function.

Janelle Wohltmann, a graduate student in the Univesity of Arizona department of psychology, set out to see whether teaching older adults to use the popular social networking site could help improve their cognitive performance and make them feel more socially connected.


Psychologists say they have compelling evidence that older adults can eliminate forgetfulness and perform as well as younger adults on memory tests. 

They used a distraction learning strategy to help older adults overcome age-related forgetting and say it boosted their performance to that of younger adults. Distraction learning sounds like an oxymoron but some claims are that older brains are adept at processing irrelevant and relevant information in the environment, without conscious effort, to aid memory performance.  It's intriguing enough it will likely be on Dr. Oz next month.


Can individual's state of mind can effect how well a vaccine may work?

Writing in Clinical Infectious Diseases, UCLA psychiatry professor Dr. Michael Irwin and colleagues say they have found a link between untreated depression in older adults and decreased effectiveness of the herpes zoster - shingles - vaccine. Shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash caused by the varicella–zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. It may affect a million people over the age of 60 each year in the U.S and each year health officials urge individuals 50 and older to get vaccinated against the virus. The vaccine boosts cell-mediated immunity to the virus and can decrease the incidence and severity of the condition.


You don't see many really old, obese people whereas you see a lot of old thin people. It is reasonable to assume, exceptions aside, that obesity kills. 

Unless you reach a certain age, it has been said. When it comes to seniors, research has reported an "obesity paradox" concluding that, at age 65 and older, having an elevated BMI won't shorten your lifespan, and may even extend it. A new study took another look at the numbers, finding the earlier research flawed. The paradox was a mirage: As obese Americans grow older, in fact, their risk of death climbs.


The goal of science is to explain the world according to natural laws - and then sometimes to break those rules.

And there is no greater rule than that people age and die. 

But we mitigate and prevent life-threatening diseases and we have increased life spans in  a quest to find a metaphorical "Fountain of Youth."

Ponce de León thought it might literally be a spring, but biologists are searching a little deeper.  But they may still find it in St. Augustine some day - in the structure and function of cells within the palm.  


Globally, people are living longer and lifespans have increased dramatically in the past 40 years, but the increased life expectancy is not benefiting everyone.  Adult males from low- and middle-income countries are most notably falling behind.

The average lifespan is longer than in 1970, and those extra years of life are being achieved at lower cost, but the costs for an extra year of life among adult males in lower-income countries are rising while the costs for an extra year of life among children worldwide and for adults in high-income countries continues to drop. 


Presently, there are about 40 million Americans over the age of 65, with the fastest-growing segment of the population over 80 years old. Traditionally, aging has been viewed as a period of progressive decline in physical, cognitive and psychosocial functioning, and aging is viewed by many as the "number one public health problem" facing Americans today.


Genetic research has a great deal of benefit but its mysteries, such as the lack of identified genetic determinants that explain heritability of complex traits, leave a lot of biology open to speculation, like that voting for one candidate may be 'biological' or that molecular changes to our genes -  epigenetic marks - are affected by what we eat.
 


 Benzodiazepines, the commonly prescribed sleeping pills and sedatives, may increase the risk of contracting pneumonia by as much as 50% and increase the risk of dying from it, suggests a new paper. 

Benzodiazepines have a wide range of uses and are commonly prescribed for anxiety, epilepsy, muscle spasm, and insomnia.

Benzodiazepines

are also frequently used in palliative care, as a sedative, and to help those with an alcohol problem to "dry out." Around 2 percent of the US and UK population have taken benzodiazepines for 12 months or more, and among the elderly this prevalence rises 10 percent.


We'll never cure things that shorten life span, like cancer and aging, but a roadmap to under cells at the molecular level might one day help push them to the background, and so a team of researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison have created an "atlas" that maps more than 1,500 unique landmarks within mitochondria that could provide clues to the metabolic connections between caloric restriction and aging.