Language Barrier Means Millions Of Elderly Can’t Access Alzheimer’s Trials

Sign up for the CommonHealth newsletter to receive a weekly digest of WBUR’s best health, medicine and science coverage.

My grandmother, Bella, a former nurse in the Ukraine, moved to the United States to help raise me when I was 7 months old. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year.

There was nothing to do to prevent her inexorable loss of memory and independence, her Massachusetts General Hospital memory specialist told our family, except to take a drug called memantine that slightly improves cognition in Alzheimer’s patients, but does not treat the underlying disease.

Full story at NPR

Study: Many Adults Ages 65 to 80 Continue to Be Sexually Active

FORTY PERCENT OF ADULTS aged 65 to 80 are sexually active, and more than half, 54 percent, say sex is important to their quality of life.

According to the National Poll On Healthy Aging by the University of Michigan, romantic relationships and sex are important even later in life. Sixty-five percent of people in this age group describe themselves as still being interested in sex.

“While sex is an integral part of the lives of many older adults, this topic remains understudied and infrequently discussed,” the study states.

The study, published Thursday, asked 1,002 adults aged 65 to 80 a variety of questions regarding relationship status, interest in sex and level of sexual activity.

Full story at US News

Engage at Every Age

May is Older Americans Month, a time when we recognize the contributions of older Americans and think about how we as Americans work together to support and value people over age 65. Our theme this year for Older Americans Month is “Engage at Every Age.”

According to our just-released 2017 Profile of Older Americans, one in seven Americans are 65 or older, and just two years from now, this fast-growing segment of the population will number more than 56 million people. In this increasingly diverse and vital group are treasured family members, expert craftspeople, skilled professionals, seasoned adventurers, and wise advisors. They are our connections to history, and our guides for the future.

Research suggests that seniors who are socially engaged also are healthier, mentally and physically. That’s why ACL is committed to supporting older adults with the tools and services they need to continue to engage in their communities throughout their lives. Through the national Aging Network, which includes thousands of agencies and organizations in every state, and with the help of advocates and partners from both the public and private sectors, ACL is working to connect older Americans and their families to the systems of services and supports available to help them remain healthy, live independently, prevent abuse and neglect, and support caregivers. We’re also working together to expand employment opportunities for older adults who wish to work.

Full story at

Vegetables may help protect elderly women from hardening of neck arteries

Elderly Australian women who ate more vegetables showed less carotid artery wall thickness, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts proved the most beneficial.

“This is one of only a few studies that have explored the potential impact of different types of vegetables on measures of subclinical atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of cardiovascular disease,” said Lauren Blekkenhorst, study lead author and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Western Australia in Crawley.

Full story at Science Daily

Healthy Aging: Oral Health for Older Adults

In the past, losing teeth and getting dentures was considered an almost-inevitable part of aging. Those days are over. Intact teeth, healthy gums and pain-free smiles are what older adults should expect as they maintain good oral hygiene and get regular dental care.

Some seniors may find it harder to brush thoroughly and take care of their teeth than they used to. But with age, good oral health is key to avoiding gum disease, preserving function and allowing people to eat well. Below, dental experts describe potential issues, nifty devices and affordable resources for seniors and caregivers to keep teeth healthy.

Mouth of a 45-Year-Old

Among most baby boomers, dental self-care comes naturally. “For this this group, losing their teeth is not a consideration,” says geriatric dentist Dr. Elisa Ghezzi, a past chair of the Coalition for Oral Health for the Aging. “They’re not going to. And they’re people who’ve grown up pretty recently educated that you should go regularly to get your teeth cleaned, that you should use a fluoridated toothpaste.”

Full story of healthy aging and oral health at US News

Frailty Is a Medical Condition, Not an Inevitable Result of Aging (Op-Ed)

As a medical resident 30 years ago, Ava Kaufman remembers puzzling over some of the elderly patients who came to the primary-care practice at George Washington University Hospital. They weren’t really ill, at least not with any identifiable diseases. But they weren’t well, either.

They were thin and weak. They had no energy. They tired easily. Their walking speed was agonizingly slow. “We couldn’t put our finger on a specific diagnosis or problem,” Kaufman says. “We didn’t have a word for it then.”

Today we do. It’s called frailty. There have always been frail people, but only in recent years has the term “frailty” become a medical diagnosis, defined by specific symptoms and increasingly focused on by those who deal with the medical issues of the elderly. Clinicians now are looking at ways to prevent or delay frailty, sometimes even reverse it.

“Frailty is not an age, it’s a condition,” says Kaufman, a Bethesda internist and geriatrician. “We know it when we see it, and it’s always been with us.”

Full story of aging and medical conditions at Live Science

AARP seeks to close hunger gap for seniors

Erie County has a growing number of senior citizens who struggle with hunger, and while many are eligible for government aid, most are not getting that assistance, according to a report released by AARP New York.

More needs to be done to break down the barriers that keep eligible senior citizens from getting help, said Bruce Boissonnault, a member of the AARP Executive Council.

Among the available programs to help them is the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly known as food stamps.

“Currently, half of potentially eligible older adults in New York State are not receiving food assistance through the SNAP program, and AARP estimates that here, in Erie County, the gap is even greater, with an estimated 72 percent of likely eligible older adults not receiving the benefit,” Boissonnault said.

The report, “Hunger Among Older New Yorkers: Breaking Down Barriers,” is an outgrowth of a 2012 summit with stakeholders from around the state. It contains a number of recommendations on how to make it easier for income-eligible senior citizens to access the benefits.

Full story of AARP and senior hunger at City & Religion

Aging Health Problems: 10 Conditions To Watch Out For (SLIDESHOW)

The “golden years” aren’t what they used to be — they’re getting even better, thanks to advances in medicine and nutrition.

And because of this headway, countries are experiencing an unprecedented increase in its senior population. By 2030, 1 in every 5 person in the U.S., for example, will be age 65 or older, and the average life expectancy has passed 80 years for women and 75 years for men.

But that doesn’t mean those run-of-the-mill senior health threats (such as osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s) are going away. On the contrary: It’s more important than ever to keep your bones, belly, and brain in tip-top shape. Your first step? Know which common conditions — and symptoms — to watch out for, so you can take steps to prevent or treat them.

Full story of aging health problems at the Huffington Post CA

Sandi Smith: Pets help seniors citizens live healthier

I have recently read many articles about the benefits of using animals in therapy for children, but animals and the elderly can have a special bond.

When you pet a soft, warm cat or play fetch with a dog whose tail won’t stop wagging, you relax and your heart feels a little warmer. Scientists noticed the same thing, and they’ve started to explore the complex way animals affect human emotions and physiology. Longstanding studies have shown that owning and handling animals significantly benefits health, and not just for the young. In fact, pets may help elderly owners live longer, healthier, and more enjoyable lives.

A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in May 1999 demonstrated that independently living seniors who had pets tended to have better physical health and mental wellbeing than those who didn’t. They were more active, coped better with stress, and had better overall health. A 1997 study showed that elderly pet owners had significantly lower blood pressure overall than their contemporaries without pets.

Why? First of all, pets need walking, feeding, grooming, fresh water and fresh kitty litter, and they encourage lots of playing and petting. All of these activities require some action from owners. Any activity can benefit the cardiovascular system and help keep joints limber and flexible.

Consistently performing this kind of minor exercise can keep pet owners able to carry out the normal activities of daily living. Pets may also aid seniors simply by providing some physical contact. Studies have shown that when people pet animals, their blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature decrease.

Full story of pets helping seniors health at El Paso Times

Nyad’s not alone: 7 senior citizens with superhuman strength

When Diana Nyad completed her historic swim from Cuba to Florida on Monday, her first message was that you’re never too old to chase your dreams.

“You can dream, you can be vital, and you can be in your prime even,” Nyad told TODAY’s Kerry Sanders of achieving the feat at age 64. “I may not look it right now, but you catch me on a good day, I’m in my prime.”

Nyad’s achievement, swimming 110 miles in treacherous waters in just under 53 hours, made her the latest remarkable athlete to show that age is nothing but a number: 35 years after she first attempted the swim at age 29, she was still in the elite physical condition necessary to achieve her goal.

In honor of her triumph as the first person to ever swim from Cuba to Florida without using a shark cage (enduring sun, waves, seawater, illness, and jellyfish stings in the process), proving that athletes in their sixth decade can still amaze, here are seven other fitness fanatics over 60 who are in better shape than people half their age.

Full story of senior citizens with super human strength at