Betsy Agnvall is a features editor for health at AARP Media. She's fascinated by research that helps us understand how to live our lives to the fullest – keeping mind and body strong and sharp. She previously worked as a freelance writer for The Washington Post, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Safety and Health magazine and other publications.

Hearing Loss Tied to Brain Shrinkage

We’ve known for several years that hearing loss is linked to dementia and decline in memory and thinking skills, but we don’t yet understand why they are connected. A new study from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore may provide an explanation: Older adults with hearing problems appear to have a greater rate of brain shrinkage as they age. Researchers used information from the ongoing Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging to study 126 adults ages 56 to 86 who had yearly MRI brain scans …

Meditation Rivals Medication for Depression

Want a free, easy tip for reducing anxiety, depression and pain without medications? Try meditation. New research finds that meditation may be equally as effective as antidepressants in helping to reduce anxiety, depression and pain, according to a review of studies published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers reviewed 47 randomized clinical trials with 3,515 participants and found that mindfulness meditation improved symptoms of depression by 10 to 20 percent and symptoms of anxiety by 5 to 10 percent. “This is …

Vitamin E May Slow Alzheimer’s Progression

We haven’t discovered a cure for Alzheimer’s, or a drug that reverses the ravages of the disease, but researchers may have found a treatment to slow disease progression that’s simple, cheap and safe. Among more than 600 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, a daily high dose of vitamin E slowed the decline in the ability of patients to perform everyday tasks, such as dress or bathe independently, by about six months on average. And, perhaps more tellingly, those taking …

Good News About Exercise: It’s Never too Late to Start

Need inspiration to head out to that Turkey Trot in the frightful weather? A new study finds that regular physical activity later in life boosts the likelihood of healthy aging up to sevenfold. What’s more, the findings, published yesterday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, show that it’s never too late to start. “Significant health benefits were even seen among participants who became physically active relatively late in life,” wrote the study authors, led by Mark Hamer of the …

Exercise Boosts Memory in Adults Over 50

Want to stay mentally sharp? Just an hour of exercise three times a week can improve memory and brain health in as little as six weeks, according to a small new study. For the study, researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas divided sedentary adults from the ages of 57 to 75 into an exercise group and a control group. The exercise group rode on a stationary bike or walked on a treadmill for …

A Diet for a Stronger Body (and Mind) as You Age

Once again, the Mediterranean diet is winning out in the diet wars – this time for both physical and brain health. A large new study finds that women who follow a healthy diet during middle age have more than 40 percent greater odds of surviving past the age of 70 with no chronic illness, physical impairments or memory problems. In other words, the kind of spry old age we all hope to have. >> Sign up for the AARP Health …