The Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) is one of the few research institutions in the country translating clinical and health services research discoveries into interventions that improve the experience of aging.
“Most advances in medicine come from clinical trials,” says Susan Mitchell, M.D., M.P.H., senior scientist and director of Palliative Care Research at IFAR. “But many of the interventions that we are examining can be more complex than testing a pill,” she explains.
When you think about how to prevent falls, strength exercises or adaptive shoes may come to mind. There’s another fall prevention method that we are coming to learn more about through work at Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research (IFAR). IFAR researchers, under the leadership of scientist Brad Manor, Ph.D., director of the Mobility and Brain Function Lab, have uncovered a mind-body connection related to fall prevention by improving balance with non-invasive brain stimulation techniques. Watch Dr. Manor describe this correlation in the video below.
My grandfather lived to be 96-years-old, surviving mostly on red wine and M&Ms. He started smoking a pipe before World War II, and probably never saw the inside of a gym. He outlived two wives and one girlfriend, and died peacefully in his bed—without ever succumbing to an injury, illness or disability.
Many of us have a relative like this—a legendary figure who defies all odds in the race against time. And on the flip side, almost all of us have firsthand knowledge of someone on the opposite end of the spectrum – who ate all the right foods, never smoked, and exercised daily— only to die young, sometimes seemingly out of the blue.
Earlier this year Hebrew SeniorLife Communities sponsored the “Senior Living Communities of the Future Forum” at NewBridge on the Charles as an opportunity for our residents’ adult children to hear from experts in their fields on the future of senior living communities.
We sought insights to some of their most significant concerns as they relate to aging as well as important questions about their vision of the life they want to lead in later years.
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. Palliative care, while similar to hospice, is offered to patients earlier in the disease process and provides specialized medical treatment to manage symptoms. Often times pneumonia, delirium and eating problems accompany the terminal disease, and palliative care can help cope with those complications and improve quality of life for patients.
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). This is an area of research with the potential to help many individuals as the National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that low bone density and osteoporosis affects 54 million Americans.
As we age, many of us will face a number of health-related challenges. One big concern for older adults is a decrease in muscle strength (sarcopenia) and bone loss (osteoporosis). There is evidence that up to 50% of adults may suffer muscle loss as they age and further research estimates 54 million U.S. adults have low bone density or osteoporosis. Unfortunately, an osteoporotic fracture occurs every 3 seconds according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation.