The numbers are sobering: According to the American Geriatrics Society, there are 7,500 geriatricians in the U.S. – but 17,000 are needed now to care for our aging population. And with the growing numbers of Baby Boomers entering their senior years, this shortage is only getting worse.
When Josephine Pina of Boston spotted an ad in the Metro newspaper seeking individuals who had difficulty with thinking and who moved slower than usual, she immediately contacted the staff at the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) at Hebrew Senior Life. They were investigating the link between brain function, balance and falls in older adults. “I wanted to be part of the study and to see what the brain does at 67 years old,” she said.
Recently, researchers from Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) published an article in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation giving evidence that sub-sensory vibrations delivered to the foot soles of seniors can improve mobility and reduce the risk of falls in the elderly.
Delirium is a state of confusion that develops suddenly, often following an acute medical illness, a surgical procedure or a hospitalization. Although delirium is estimated to complicate hospital stays for more than 2.5 million older adult patients in the U.S. each year, this common condition often goes undetected. The end result can be serious complications with sometimes devastating consequences for vulnerable hospitalized elders.
We expect a lot from our feet. They get us to all the places we need to go, while providing the anchor and balance crucial to physical activity. Our ability to stay active often depends on keeping our feet healthy.
One thing not up for debate is that nutrition is an important part of overall good health. But that’s where agreement seems to end – at least according to reports in the media. Eat more protein; but all red meat is risky. Eggs send bad cholesterol levels through the roof; no wait, now it’s OK to eat them again. And recently, news about whether supplements, including calcium and vitamin D, protect us or actually cause harm has been fodder for headlines. So how do you parse the contradictory messages?
With aging there are many diseases that may impact quality of life and lead to eventual death. The end stages of Alzheimer’s disease, or other advanced illnesses can be challenging for patients and their families. At Hebrew SeniorLife we find that family members are looking to doctors and nurses to help their loved ones in what may be the end-stage of life.
Hebrew SeniorLife’s Harvard Medical School-affiliated Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) is celebrating 50 years of research focused on finding ways to optimize quality of life for all of us as we age. For half a century our researchers have explored age-related syndromes, debunking the myth that growing old has to mean growing frail.
As a newly trained attending physician, I vividly remember several patients who became extremely confused during their stay at the hospital. They were disoriented, and had problems with attention and memory. I realized that something was wrong. What was causing their confusion? They were all older adults and had been admitted for different conditions such as congestive heart failure, pulmonary disease, and cancer.
One of the defining moments of my work in aging research was learning how dramatically age affects the deterioration of the skeleton. This realization motivated me to perform research focused on understanding age effects on the skeleton. Thus I have spent my career studying the impact of low bone density and working to characterize the contributors to age-related bone loss (osteoporosis).