Having a stroke ages a person's brain function by almost eight years, new research finds - robbing them of memory and thinking speed as measured on cognitive tests.

In both black and white patients, having had a stroke meant that their score on a 27-item test of memory and thinking speed had dropped as much as it would have if they had aged 7.9 years overnight. For the study, data from more than 4,900 black and white seniors over the age of 65 was analyzed by a team from the University of Michigan U-M Medical School and School of Public Health and the VA Center for Clinical Management Research. 

Credit: University of Michigan

The capacity to recall specific facts deteriorates with age, but other types of memory do not, according to research conducted by Wilma Koutstaal (University of Minnesota) and Alaitz Aizpurua (UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country), which concludes that the memory of older adults is not as deficient as has been thought until now. Elderly people remember fewer specific details than younger people and, in general, both groups retain concrete information about events experienced better than abstract information. The main difference is to be found in the capacity to remember more distant facts: youngsters remember them better.

Aging is associated with significant decline in cognitive functions. But does this translate into poorer decision making? Psychologists from the University of Basel and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development report that in simple decision situations, older adults perform just as well as younger adults. However, according to their study published in the academic journal Cognition, aging may affect decision performance in more complex decision situations.

Important decisions in politics and economics are often made by older people: According to Forbes magazine, the average age of the world's most powerful people in 2013 was 61 years. As populations across the globe age, the selection of older individuals into such powerful roles may even be further intensified.

Between the ages of 40 and 80, an estimated 30 to 50 percent of muscle mass is lost, resulting in lower strength and less ability to carry out everyday tasks. This process is known as sarcopenia and it is common and clearly linked to frailty and poorer health in older people.

The plant-based Mediterranean diet is an ongoing diet fad, and proponents now have some new ammunition - it is associated with improved cognitive function in a study of older adults in Spain, according to a paper in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Alzheimer's disease may affect as many as 5.5 million Americans and treatment costs are high with inconsistent benefits so one goal of science it to help stave off the disease or prevent it completely. 

A research paper has correlated a compound found in green tea and exercise with slowing the progression of the disease in mice. More speculative is that it may reverse its effects. 

Health interventions to increase exercise in older people are making senior citizens a giant class in a way we don't do with other demographics - in the modern world there is a big difference between someone 65 and someone 80, it is not simply 15 years, but advertising treats everyone with gray hair the same, yet don't do it with Generation X and Millennials.

A study in Science has tied the aging process to the deterioration of tightly packaged bundles of cellular DNA known as heterochromatinand say that the genetic mutations underlying Werner syndrome, a disorder that leads to premature aging and death, results in the deterioration of these bundles.

The discovery used stem cell and gene-editing technologies and could lead to ways of countering age-related physiological declines by preventing or reversing damage to heterochromatin.

A new study forecasting how life expectancy will change in England and Wales has predicted people will live longer than current estimates - and that means they could have an oncoming economic train wreck because of the need for additional investments in health and social services and pensions for the elderly.

By 2030, life expectancy in England and Wales is expected to reach 85.7 years for men and 87.6 years for women, losing the gap between male and female life expectancy from 6 years in 1981 to just 1·9 years by 2030, according to a new study. 

Between 1981 and 2012, national life expectancy in England and Wales increased by 8·2 years in men (to 79·5 years) and 6·0 years in women (to 83·3 years). However, national progress has come at the cost of rising inequalities, and the gap between the top and bottom 1% of life expectancies in local authority districts of England and Wales has increased by around 0·9 of a year for men (from 5·2 to 6·1 years) and 1·1 years for women (from 4·5 to 5·6 years).