Aging

Interacting with a therapeutic robot companion made people with mid- to late-stage dementia less anxious and also had a positive influence on their quality of life, according to a pilot study

PARO, a robotic harp seal, was used to investigate the effect of interacting with an artificial companion compared with participation in a reading group. PARO is fitted with artificial intelligence software and tactile sensors that allow it to respond to touch and sound. It can show emotions such as surprise, happiness and anger, can learn its own name and learns to respond to words that its owner uses frequently.
Scientists have a new theory as to why a woman’s fertility declines after her mid-30s: As women age, their egg cells become riddled with DNA damage and die off because their DNA repair systems wear out. Defects in one of the DNA repair genes, BRCA1, have long been linked with breast cancer and now also appear to cause early menopause.

Combining Medicare's hospital, physician, and prescription drug coverage with private supplemental coverage into one health plan could save the government and seniors $180 billion over a decade, according to a new analysis from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and advocacy group The Commonwealth Fund. 

Under the proposed plan, called "Medicare Essential," Medicare costs would be $63 billion lower between 2014 and 2023, with total premium and out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries estimated to be 17 percent to 40 percent lower than current costs.


You've seen it on television; a rich, older man who supports a younger, attractive spouse. And it happens in real life, but it's rare.

Instead, a new analysis by economists has found that people married to much younger or much older mates have lower average earnings, lower cognitive abilities, are less educated and even less attractive than couples of similar ages.


Researchers have taken a step forward in efforts to help people with memory loss tied to brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease. Using sea snail nerve cells, the scientists reversed memory loss by determining when the cells were primed for learning. The scientists were able to help the cells compensate for memory loss by retraining them through the use of optimized training schedules. 

This latest study builds on a 2012 investigation that pioneered this memory enhancement strategy. The 2012 study showed a significant increase in long-term memory in healthy sea snails called Aplysia californica, an animal that has a simple nervous system, but with cells having properties similar to other more advanced species including humans.


Amyloids
are the quintessential bad boys of neurobiology.
These clumps of misfolded proteins found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders muck up the seamless workings of the neurons responsible for memory and movement, and researchers around the world have devoted themselves to devising ways of blocking their production or accumulation in humans.

Understanding how amyloids form requires an understanding of the biology of proteins, which are essentially strings of smaller components called amino acids attached end to end. Once they're made, these protein strings twist and fold into specific three-dimensional shapes that fit together like keys and locks to do the work of the cell.


Alzheimer's research is always big news. The reason is simple: people are living longer and they also want to be living better. While progress in general health issues for seniors marches on, the brain remains trickier stuff. Instead of less Alzheimer's than in the past, we have more, thanks to better diagnosis and greater longevity. Once you reach a certain age, you are almost certain to have someone in your family with it. 

Regional spending is not linked to differences in survival of patients with advanced cancer, according to an analysis of Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked data in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Cancer care accounts for approximately 10% of Medicare spending, and costs are highest for cancer patients with late-stage disease. There are large regional differences in spending within the Medicare program - more seniors, more spending on Medicare, for example - however it is unknown if higher average regional spending for advanced cancer is linked to improved survival for individual patients with cancer.


New surveys find that older adults who play video games report higher levels of emotional well-being.

Scholars asked 140 people aged 63 and older how often they played video games, if at all. The participants then took a series of psychological assessment tests to determine their emotional and social well-being. 61 percent of study participants played video games at least occasionally, with 35 percent of participants saying they played at least once per week.

The survey found that participants who played video games, including those who only played occasionally, reported higher levels of well-being. Those who did not play video games reported that they felt more negative emotions and had a tendency toward feeling higher levels of depression.


Older people who don't expect a satisfying future may be more likely to live longer, healthier lives than those who see brighter days ahead, according to a paper in
Psychology and Aging

Scholars examined data collected from 1993 to 2003 for the national German Socio-Economic Panel, an annual survey of private households consisting of approximately 40,000 people 18 to 96 years old. The researchers divided the data according to age groups: 18 to 39 years old, 40 to 64 years old and 65 years old and above.

Through mostly in-person interviews, respondents were asked to rate how satisfied they were with their lives and how satisfied they thought they would be in five years.