Almost 16 million Americans aged 65 and older report having at least one disability, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau (PDF, 1.5M), commissioned and funded by the NIA. This is the first Census report on disabilities among older people and looks at disability status by age, sex, marital status, education, and poverty status.
Frailty and dementia often signal increased risk for mortality among older people. But can the loss of olfaction—the sense of smell—also be a significant indicator of mortality risk? An NIH-supported study involving thousands of older people showed those who could no longer detect or distinguish odors were four times more likely to die within five years than those with normal olfaction. The findings are the first to indicate the importance of olfaction in mortality risk for older adults.
The National Institutes of Health has released a new Web resource to help older adults stop smoking. Quitting Smoking for Older Adults, a new topic from NIHSeniorHealth, offers videos, worksheets, interactive features, strategies, quizzes, and more for older smokers who want to or are thinking of quitting.
A carefully structured, moderate physical activity program can reduce risk of losing the ability to walk without assistance, perhaps the single most important factor in whether vulnerable older people can maintain their independence, a study has found.
Older people who lose their mobility have higher rates of disease, disability, and death. A substantial body of research has shown the benefits of regular physical activity for a variety of populations and health conditions. But none has identified a specific intervention to prevent mobility disability.
Resveratrol, a compound in red wine, grapes, and nuts, has been the focus of many studies for its effects on aging and disease. Researchers have found it to improve the health (and in some cases, longevity) of animals, including mice and nonhuman primates. However, in a study published online by JAMA Internal Medicine on May 12, 2014, researchers report that dietary resveratrol did not provide such effects in a group of community-dwelling, older people in Italy.
Scientists showed that people who have a variant of a longevity gene, called KLOTHO, have improved brain skills such as thinking, learning and memory regardless of their age, sex, or whether they have a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. Increasing KLOTHO gene levels in mice made them smarter, possibly by increasing the strength of connections between nerve cells in the brain. The study was partly funded by the National Institutes of Health.
In recognition of World Kidney Day 2014 on March 13, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health remind older Americans about the importance of protecting their kidneys and urge them to better understand the decline of kidney function as people age.
Increased physical activity has been linked to numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular and respiratory health, insulin sensitivity, bone and muscle strength, and cognitive function. In addition, physical activity is associated with reductions in coronary heart disease, stroke, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and depression. For most health outcomes, benefits increase as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency or longer duration, although the magnitude of these benefits diminishes with advancing age.