aging

In the fall, the World Health Organization will review the revisions to the eleventh “International Statistical Classification of Disease and Related Health Problems” (ICD-11), and while the title alone can lull you to sleep, it is a document that few have heard of but that carries quite a bit of weight globally, especially in the US. The ICD-11 (although we are currently on version 10) catalogs all of the known diseases of humankind and form the basis for payment for health services, subsequently underpinning 18% of our GDP. One of the questions raised was whether we should consider aging a disease and give it a code within ICD-11.

The definition of disease, per WHO is a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of infirmity.” It is long...

With right-to-die legislation in its fledgling stages in the United States, the bioethics surrounding assisted suicide are in play as they haven’t been in the past. Traditionally, arguments to enact these laws are fashioned around the notion of liberating a patient from terminal usually insufferable disease. But, the recent intentional death by 104-year-old scientist David Goodall via euthanasia brings to the forefront whether to deem deterioration from advanced aging as another reasonable consideration.

So determined was the British-born scholar, who failed in prior attempts in his home country of Australia where it...

In spite of having a face (and body) that only a mother could love, the naked mole rat, Heterocephalus glaber, (NMR) may provide valuable insights into the processes involved in both aging and cancer since they seem to have a low propensity for either one. Unusual among mammals, these creatures that live underground in desert areas of eastern Africa, have a social structure similar to that of hive-dwelling bees. Only one female, the queen, is capable of reproduction. The rest seem to function like worker bees, taking care of offspring and housekeeping chores.

Cancer

NMR are...

Along with the projected increase in the number of elderly people over the next few decades, we can also expect an increase in the ailments that bedevil them — and few are as concerning as Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia. According to the US Census, in 2014 about 15 percent of the US population was 65 years old or older. That percentage is expected to reach about 24 percent by 2060 and as the population grows so will the number of people in that age group.

 Several types of actions that people can take to prevent or delay dementia have been touted, primarily as a result of epidemiological studies. These include regular exercise, prescription medications, cognitive...

While wildfires, floods and earthquakes threaten everyone in their paths, older folks are distinctly more vulnerable, as exemplified by the fact that of the people who died in the recent northern California wildfires, most were over 65 years old. Of course most people would recognize that the elderly residing in nursing homes are most at risk, but community-dwelling adults in their later years may also be less able to respond effectively to an emergency. Just a brief consideration of aging makes this obvious.

First, many older folks no longer hear as well as they used to. According to some reports, as many as two-thirds of those...

There are many questionable aging-related products on the market. One of the more recent is TeloYears, a test that supposedly determines your "true age" by measuring the length of a structure on your chromosomes called telomeres.

Telomeres can be thought of as a protective cap. Each time your cells divide, the telomere caps on the DNA that makes up your chromosomes shorten just a bit. When the telomeres get too short, the cell dies. If your telomeres are shorter than they ought to be, the thinking goes, then your body is actually "older" than your chronological age would suggest. On the flip side, if your telomeres are longer than they ought to be, then your body is "younger" than your chronological age would suggest.

Is this test accurate? Probably not. There doesn't...

The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), currently afflicts 5.5 million adults in the United States and is estimated by 2050 to impact 13.8 million (age 65 or older). 

Why is this happening? 

Given that age is the most significant risk factor for disease development, fewer are dying from other illnesses due to treatment advances, hence, more and more people are surviving into later adulthood. As a consequence, death rates for AD have risen 55% between 1999 and 2014 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 

The analysis is “the first to provide county-level rates for deaths caused by AD” obtained through review of state- and county-level death certificate data provided...

The prevalence of dementia in the United States significantly declined from 11.6% in 2000 to 8.8% in 2012.  A new study by JAMA Internal Medicine attributes this, in part, to an increase in educational attainment. 

Dementia has multiple causes and types.  It reflects damage to the nerve cells of the brain which can appear in varying locales.  Symptoms of memory loss and cognitive changes manifest differently depending on the individual, medical history and etiology.  

Alzheimer’s is the most common culprit in those 65 and older.  Right behind is vascular damage of the vessels that...

shutterstock_146356910 Urinalysis via Shutterstock

One of the hallmarks of aging — even in healthy individuals — is a decrease in the body's ability to regulate hydration.If the body doesn't have enough water - dehydrated - then the ions and proteins in the blood and tissues will be too concentrated to work properly. Conversely, too much water dilutes the blood and can be problematic too. The body monitors the level of hydration — too much water and the excess is excreted in the urine. If there's too little, the kidneys decrease the water they...

shutterstock_162586499While it's great that people are living longer these days, thanks in large part to great advances in medical science, aging brings its own challenges. One of the most feared is Alzheimer's disease and similar neuro-degenerative disorders, often classified under the rubric of dementia. Such ailments steal the victim's memory, personality, and function. The holy grail, of course, is understanding these diseases well enough to prevent or at least treat them effectively. And, with help of a mouse model, some progress is being made.

Dr. J.A. Lemon from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada and...