Dr. Susan Mitchell is a senior scientist at Hebrew SeniorLife whose pioneering research focuses on decision-making, health outcomes and resource utilization for older people near the end of life, particularly those with dementia. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Mitchell about the motivation and vision behind her work.
Of the many medical specialties available, why did you become a geriatrician?
Truth: No studies to date show that your eyesight will get sharper just by eating more carrots. In order for your eyes to function properly they need the nutrient Vitamin A which is found in carrots. Be sure to talk to a doctor before adding a vitamin A supplement to your diet because too much can be harmful to your health.
Every year, nearly 1.5 million fractures are attributed to osteoporosis. But what causes bone disease and how can you protect yourself from it?
These are important questions – ones that scientists at theMusculoskeletal Research Centerin Hebrew SeniorLife’sInstitute for Aging Researchhave devoted their careers to, as well as identifying all health risks associated with bone disease. While we know osteoporosis occurs when bodies lose bone or make too little of it, what causes bones to weaken and fracture more easily with age is still not completely understood.
While calcium supplements are considered effective for bone health, there have been reports linking potential adverse effects between calcium supplements and the risk of heart disease. This information has led many seniors to question the safety of calcium supplements and whether they should take them. As lead author of a recent study completed by a team of researchers at the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) at Hebrew SeniorLife, I can offer reassuring insight into these concerns.
Overall, our study showed no evidence of a link between calcium intake and coronary artery calcification, reassuring adults who take calcium supplements for bone health that the supplements do not appear to result in the development of calcification of blood vessels.
What is so scary about hearing loss? Everyone gets a little hearing problem as they age, right? Well….yes. Most people do acquire age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, as they get older. Untreated hearing loss, however, can be a scary thing! Its onset is usually slow and gets worse gradually, making it easy to ignore until much damage is already done.
Research out of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, presents us with evidence of some frightening correlations between hearing loss and its subsequent effect on cognitive brain function.
Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research has helped transform the experience of aging in America through innovative studies. Our researchers have deconstructed many of the myths about what it means to age, replacing those notions with realities based on sound scientific inquiry. They have shed new light on the mechanical, physiological, and biochemical functions, as well as environmental factors that contribute to age-related conditions and decline.
There are plenty of genetic traits that we can thank our parents for—could weak bones be one of them?
My fellow researchers at the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife (IFAR) believe they’ve discovered links between 56 different genetics variants and subsequent bone loss.
After examining a wide scope of osteoporosis studies as part of the largest analysis of genome-studies ever conducted, our researchers were able to pinpoint 56 different genetic variants that negatively affect bone mineral density (BMD).
Among hospitalized Alzheimer’s patients, a substantial proportion of risk for adverse outcomes could be attributed to delirium, including 6.2 percent of deaths, 15.2 percent of institutionalization, and 20.6 percent of cognitive decline. This information, yielded from a study recently conducted by the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR), confirms that for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, the combination of a hospital stay and delirium can pose increased risks.
Twenty years ago, if a 70-year-old man visited the emergency room after falling, he would be said to have fallen accidentally. He might have been treated for a broken bone and sent home. We’re now realizing that the things we used to blame on aging, like falling, actually have an underlying reason and a cause – an understanding that motivates everything we do at the Institute for Aging Research.