Learning a Second Language at Any Age Can Slow Brain Aging

I lived in Stockholm for two years after college and doggedly learned Swedish, even though most Swedes speak beautiful English. Not only could I communicate better with then-tiny (now giant) Swedish nephews, turns out it was a good move for my brain. Learning a second language – even as an adult – helps protect the brain from aging,  says a new study published in the Annals of Neurology. “Learning a language later in life is a challenge but is very, very good for …

Calling All Cynics: Your Mistrust Is Bad for Your Brain

If you’re a cynic, you’ll probably disregard this, but researchers say that cynical mistrust will triple your risk of developing dementia. Scoff all you want, but researchers in Finland who tested 1,449 older adults (average age: 71) found that highly cynical people were three times more likely to develop dementia than those with a more trusting, optimistic personality, according to a study published today in the journal Neurology. In other words, “your personality may affect your brain health,” explained lead …

Older Americans Face Increasing Risk of Hunger

More than 15 percent of Americans over age 60 – some 9.3 million men and women – experienced the threat of hunger in 2012, according to a report just released by the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger. From the start of the recession in 2007 to 2012, the number of older people threatened by hunger has jumped 49 percent. The report, based on statistics from the 2012 Current Population Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, says the following groups of older Americans …

Low-Value Health Services Cost Medicare Billions

Medical services that provide little or no health benefit to older Americans cost Medicare at least $1.9 billion a year, according to a landmark new study. Researchers at Harvard University’s department of health care policy found that at least 25 percent of the more than 1.3 million Medicare beneficiaries had one or more of 26 tests and procedures that have been shown to provide scant medical value. The study is thought to be the first to measure wasteful spending by …

Can Age Discrimination Kill You?

Age discrimination can be hazardous to your health, a new study by researchers at Florida State University’s College of Medicine has found. What’s more, people who see themselves as targets of age discrimination are likelier to be in poor health than victims of race or sex discrimination, according to the study. “What we found was unexpected and striking,” said the study’s lead author, Angelina Sutin, assistant professor of behavioral sciences and social medicine. >> Sign up for the AARP Health …

Will Obamacare Save Lives?

Fewer people died after Massachusetts introduced mandatory health coverage in 2006, a new Harvard study finds, offering “encouraging evidence” that the country’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) – modeled on the Massachusetts plan – could also save lives, researchers said. The study, published this week in Annals of Internal Medicine, found that Massachusetts’ health-coverage law saved about 320 lives a year during each of its first four years. “Our findings add to a growing body of evidence showing that health insurance makes …