We all know someone "old." But what does "old age" mean, and how much is known about the aging process? The following questions are an excerpt from the National Institute on Aging's "Aging IQ Test."
After answering the questions in this column, if you are interested in the full quiz, visit the online quiz at www.naipublications.org/quiz/index.php. Happy test taking!
* What is the fastest-growing segment of the American population?
Adults older than 85. Today, there are approximately 6 million adults in that oldest age category. But in 2050 when the youngest baby boomer turns 86, that number is expected to reach 20 million. The reasons for this are many. Two are the shear number of baby boomers and medical advances that make aging more possible.
* What is the No. 1 killer of U.S. men and women?
Heart disease. Many think heart disease primarily hits men, but everyone is prone to it. The standard healthy living guidelines will help lower the risk of developing heart disease: stop smoking, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, manage blood pressure and cholesterol.
* A friend is 65 years old and has smoked cigarettes since her early 20s. Family members are pressuring her to quit, but she believes it's too late to make a difference. Does it still make sense for her to quit?
Yes! There are many health benefits that begin soon after kicking the habit. They include better blood flow in the arms and legs, easier breathing, food tastes better and quitting saves money. Quitting is hard, but there are resources to help. Talk with your doctor or call the Hawaii Tobacco Quitline today at (800) QUITNOW.
* True or false. Getting tested for cancer is as important for adults older than 65 as those under 65.
True. When detected early, cancer is more manageable for all ages, but especially for older adults.
* What is the second leading cause of death in the United States?
Cancer. The good news is that some of the numbers can be lowered through healthy lifestyles and regular checkups and tests that detect cancer early.
* What is the leading cause of blindness in the world?
Cataracts. A cataract clouds the eye's lens and impacts sight. More than half of adults older than 80 in the U.S. either have a cataract or have had one removed. Cataract surgery removes the cataract and replaces it with an artificial lens. More than 90 percent of patients report improved sight after surgery. But in developing areas of the world where surgery is not possible, cataracts can cause blindness. Talk with your doctor about cataracts, surgery to remove them, and the side effects (positive and negative) of surgery.
* True or false. There is an age at which it is advisable to give up driving.
False! In general, drivers older than 65 are safe drivers. They generally drive fewer miles, speed less, drive less at night and stay away from congested roadways. But changes in the eyes, ears, brain and body can make left turns, changing lanes and passing slower cars more difficult. AARP on Maui periodically offers safe driving workshops, Car Fit events, and provides other resources to help drivers of all ages. Watch The Maui News for event notices, visit the Hawaii AARP website at states.aarp.org/category/hawaii or search AARP's website for "driving resources."
These questions cover 25 percent of the institute's "Aging IQ Quiz." The full online quiz provides additional information about each answer. It also offers additional resources for those topics you want to research in more detail.
The Aging IQ Quiz includes topics such as depression, sleep, causes of forgetfulness, medications, healthy weight management, urinary health, fall prevention, legal resources, dietary supplements and much more.
For more information, visit www.nia.nih.gov.
* Heather Greenwood is with the University of Hawaii Manoa Cooperative Extension, Maui Intergenerational and Aging Programs. Aging Matters covers topics of interest to Maui's aging community and appears on the third Sunday of each month.