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Alzheimer's disease

disease associated with aging characterized by gradual declines in memory, learning, attention, and judgment; confusion as to time and where one is; difficulties in communicating and finding the words one wants to use; declines in personal hygiene and self-care skills; inappropri ate social behavior; and changes in personality. Affects 25% of those 85 and older.


protein that is produced in abnormally high levels in Alzheimer's disease and that may be responsible for the neurofibrillary tangles and neuritic plaques

anxiety disorders

problems such as feelings of severe anxiety for no apparent reason, phobias to specific things or places, and obsessive-compulsive disorders in which thoughts or actions are repeatedly performed. More common in older adults, 10% of older women, 5% of older men. Treated with medication and psychotherapy (relaxation).

attentional control

the abilities to focus, switch, and divide attention. If older adults are told where to focus and when to shift attention, difference is minimized. If the rate of attention shift is fast, young adults do better.

average life expectancy

age at which half of the people born in a particular year will have died. Increases due to declines in infant mortality, women dying during childbirth, elimination of major diseases, and improvements in medical technology.

behavior therapy

approach to treating depression based on increasing the number of rewards or reinforcements in the environment, and decreasing the number of negative things by avoiding them

cellular theories

theories of aging that focus on processes that occur within individual cells. One theory is the buildup of harmful substances in cells over one's lifetime. Another is a limit on the number of times cells can divide, possibly caused by the shortening of the telomeres.

chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

most common form of incapacitating respiratory disease among older adults; examples are asthma and emphysema

circadian rhythm

sleep-wake cycle, when disturbed causes problems with attention and memory

cognitive therapy

approach to depression based on the idea that maladaptive beliefs (viewing yourself as inadequate) or cognitions about oneself are responsible for depression


theory of aging in which some proteins interact randomly with certain body tissues, such as muscles and arteries, resulting in elastic tissue becoming stiffer. Little evidence showing cross-linking causes all aspects of aging.


family of diseases involving serious impairment of behavioral and cognitive functioning


people who study population trends


feeling sad or down; the most prominent symptom of depression

episodic memory

the general sub-explicit class of memory having to do with the conscious recollection of information from a specific time or event. Older adults perform worse than young adults.

explicit memory

conscious and intentional remembering of information that is learned and remembered at a specific time

external aids

memory aids that rely on environmental resources, such as notebooks or calendars

free radicals

chemicals produced randomly during normal cell metabolism that bond easily to other substances inside cells, causing cell damage that impairs functioning. Formation can be prevented with antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E.


break in any blood vessel that leads to loss of blood

heterocyclic antidepressants (HCAs)

type of medication used to treat depression

implicit memory

effortless recollection of information learned at some earlier time. Age differences absent.


loss of bladder or bowel control, common in advanced stages of Alzheimer's.

internal aids

memory aids that rely on mental processes, such as imagery

internal belief systems

what one tells oneself about why certain things are happening. People who are depressed blame themselves.


number of years a person will live, determined by genetic and environmental factors

maximum life expectancy

oldest age to which any person lives, around 120 years

metabolic theories

theories of aging that focus on aspects of the body's metabolism, mainly caloric intake and stress. People who limit the number of calories they eat can expect to live longer and lower rates of disease. Another theory is the hormonal regulatory system's ability to adapt to stress declines with age.

monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors

type of medication used to treat depression

neuritic plaques

damaged and dying neurons that collect around a core of protein, that interfere with normal neuron functioning, associated with dementia.

neurofibrillary tangles

masses formed from when the fibers that compose the axon become twisted, which interfere with the neuron's ability to transmit information down the axon, associated with Alzheimer's disease.


chemicals released by the terminal buttons that allow neurons to communicate with each other. Levels decline with age, responsible for age-related changes in memory, sleep, and perhaps Parkinson's.

Parkinson's disease

common disease among older adults that results in motor problems, including slow walking, difficulty getting into and out of chairs, and hand tremors. Caused by deterioration of neurons that produce dopamine. Treated with medication and/or a neurostimulator. About 30 to 50% of the time, Parkinson's involves severe cognitive impairment and dementia.

population pyramid

graphic technique used by demographers to illustrate population trends


loss in the ability to hear high-pitched tones caused by the cumulative effects of noise. Most common age-related hearing problem experienced by 50% of those in late 70s. Results from 4 changes in the inner ear: sensory, neural, metabolic, and mechanical.


difficulty in seeing close objects clearly, caused by the inability of the lens to focus as the muscles around it stiffen

programmed cell death theories

theories that suggest that aging is genetically programmed, cells ability to self-destruct, and to trigger key processes in other cells.

psychomotor speed

speed with which a person makes a particular response, most studied phenomena of aging, people slow down as they get older, because they take longer to decide they need to respond. Minimized if adults can practice quick responses, or if they're experienced in the task.

selective attention

the selection of relevant information and inhibition of irrelevant information. Older adults tend to perform poorer, though differences are minimized when simple searches or sufficient practice.

selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

type of medication used to treat depression that alters the balance of serotonin in the brain

semantic memory

the general sub-explicit class of memory concerning the remembering of meanings of words or concepts not tied to a specific time or event. Age differences absent.

spaced retrieval

memory intervention that involves teaching persons with Alzheimer's disease to remember new information by gradually increasing the time between retrieval attempts


interruption in the flow of blood in the brain due to a blockage in a cerebral artery caused by clots or fatty substances (atherosclerosis)


tips of the chromosomes, which apparently play a major role in limiting the number of times a cell can divide before dying

transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)

an interruption of blood flow to the brain that often is an early warning sign of stroke

useful life expectancy

number of years a person has that are free from debilitating chronic disease and impairment

vascular dementia

disease caused by numerous small cerebrovascular accidents


the maintenance of attention over time. With minimization of memory demands, practice, and visual impairments corrected, differences are minimized.

wear-and-tear theory

theory of aging that suggests that the body, much like a machine, gradually deteriorates over time and finally wears out. Explains diseases such as osteoarthritis rather well, does not explain brain diseases.

working memory

type of memory in which a small number of items can be stored briefly, working blackboard, declines with age

how the population pyramid has changed

proportion of older adults has increased due to better health care and lowering women's mortality rate during childbirth

composition of future adult populations

latinos, asian and native americans, and blacks show very large increases. Future adults will also be better educated.

environmental factors on longevity

diseases (Alzheimer's), toxins (pollution), lifestyle (smoking, exercise), social class (poor, cannot afford cost of healthful lifestyle)

gender factors on longevity

women's average longevity is 7 more than men's at birth, narrowing to 1 year by age 85. Some guess this is due to men's higher susceptibility to fatal diseases.

third age vs fourth age

third age (young-old age 60-80) see increase in life expectancy, potential for physical and mental fitness, evidence of cognitive and emotional reserves, and high levels of emotional and personal well-being. Fourth age (oldest-old age 80+) see losses in cognitive potential and ability to learn, increase in the effects of chronic stress, high prevalence of dementia, frailty, and multiple chronic conditions, and problems with quality of life and dying with dignity.

changes in dendrites as you age

some shrivel up and die, however some continue to grow

structural imaging

brain imaging technique that provides images of anatomical features in the brain

functional imaging

brain imaging technique that provides an indication of brain activity but not high anatomical detail

changes in cardiovascular system

beginning in young adulthood fat deposits found in arteries, cardiac output will decline 30% by late 70s, heart muscle tissue will be replaced by connective tissue, arteries will calcify.

diagnosing strokes and vascular dementia

evidence may be obtained from an MRI or CT, which is confirmed by neuropsychological tests. Known risk factors are hypertension and family history of the disorder.

changes in respiratory system

maximum air in one breath drops 40% from 25 to 85, due to stiffening of rib cage and air passages, and destruction of alveoli

normal structural changes in the eye

decrease in the amount of light that can pass through the eye, the eye becomes yellow, causing poorer color discrimination, and the loss of ability of the lens to adjust and focus as the muscles around it stiffen.

abnormal structural changes in the eye

opaque spots called cataracts which limit the amount of light transmitted, fluid buildup that causes high pressure (glaucoma) may develop.

macular degeneration

the progressive destruction of receptors resulting in the loss of ability to see details, affecting 1 in 5 people over 75 and is the leading cause of functional blindness.

diabetic retinopathy

by-product of diabetes, causes fluid retention in the macula, detachment of the retina, hemorrhage, and aneurysms


ability to see details, declines steadily between ages 20 and 60

effects of loss of hearing

numerous adverse emotional reactions, such as loss of independence, social isolation, irritation, paranoia, and depression

changes in sense of smell

substantial declines after age 70, which are characteristic of Alzheimer's

sleep disturbances

due to mental health problems, physical diseases, and other conditions such as obesity.

nutrition for older adults

residents of nursing homes and frail older adults are prone to weight loss and may have nutritional deficiencies, such as B12 and folic acid.

risk of cancer

partly caused by lifestyle, genetics, and exposure to carcinogens, the risk of cancer increases with age. Early detection is crucial to maximize odds of surviving.

immigrant status on health

have difficulty communicating, may not let others examine them, higher rates of depression


has three components (selection, vigilance, control) which allow people to perform a variety of functions. Improved by aerobics. No simple description in developmental changes in attentional abilities.

autobiographical memory

memory for events that occurred during one's life. Memories between ages 10 and 30 are reported more often than those occurring after age 30.

determining abnormal memory changes

first step is find out if the change interferes with everyday functioning. When memory problem interferes with functioning, one should obtain a thorough examination (physical, neurological, and neuropsychological).

E-I-E-I-O framework

developed by Camp, allows different types of memory to be combined with different memory aids: explicit-internal such as rehearsal, explicit-external such as taking notes (most frequently used), implicit-internal represents effortless learning, and implicit-external such as icons representing the time of day and the number of pills to take.

creative idea changes with age

overall number of creative ideas increases through one's 20s, plateaus in one's 30s, and declines thereafter. People keep producing the ideas, they're just fewer of them. Mathematics had the youngest age of first contribution, and earth sciences tend to have the oldest age at last important contribution.

Baltes' 4 characteristics of wisdom

deals with important matters of life and the human condition, is truly superior knowledge/advice, is knowledge with extraordinary scope/depth, and is well intended and combines mind and virtue.

Baltes' 3 factors that foster wisdom

general personal conditions (such as mental ability), specific expertise conditions (such as mentoring or practice), and facilitative life contexts (such as education or leadership experience)


declines from young adulthood to old age, cross-culturally. Rates are higher in Latino older adults. Diagnosed on the basis of two clusters of symptoms present for 2 weeks: feelings and physical changes. Impairs daily living. Older adults have less depression due to better coping skills.

feeling signs of depression

feeling sad, helpless, or tired. Older adults will appear apathetic and expressionless, confine, neglect, and to make derogatory statements about themselves.

physical signs of depression

loss of appetite, insomnia, and trouble breathing

problems that resemble depression

neurological disorder, medication side effect, metabolic condition, substance abuse

causes of depression

biological: imbalances in specific neurotransmitters, psychosocial: how we interpret loss of something

MAO inhibitors

usually used as a last resort to treat depression


work by boosting level of serotonin, and had the lowest overall side effects

diagnosing Alzheimer's

rule out all other conditions via medical and psychological tests: blood tests, metabolic and neurological tests, and neuropsychological tests.

causes of Alzheimer's

some forms show inheritance, links between genetic markers and production of amyloid protein,

helping Alzheimer's patients

acytylcholinesterase inhibitors have showed promise to improve cognitive functioning, thioridazine and haloperidol treat severe psychotic symptoms, antidepressants alleviate depression, spaced retrieval

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