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Behavioral Health and Aging - Aging

Aging and Population Health

With life expectancy at an all-time high there has never been a more urgent need to understand how to add “life to years” and identify strategies for successful aging. Our researchers are applying a life-course approach to aging.

Some of the main studies under way include:

  • Kaiser Healthy Aging and Diverse Life Experiences (KHANDLE), with about 1,800 participants, using data from Multiphasic Health Checkup, electronic medical records, and interviews of a diverse cohort recruited for KHANDLE.
  • Study of Healthy Aging in African Americans (STAR), all Black participants including data from the Multiphase Health Checkup, electronic medical records, and interviews through STAR.
  • Life After 90, ongoing multiracial cohort of more than 1,000 individuals 90 and older, aiming for diverse cohort, who will be evaluated every 6 months.

Looking Early in Life for Clues to Aging Well

Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) has more than 300,000 elderly health plan members, many of whom have received their medical care from KPNC for several decades. This resource — in conjunction with data from the Multiphasic Health Study, which commenced in 1964-73 — has provided seminal clues about why individuals may or may not age successfully by evaluating risk and protective factors from early life on aging outcomes. Dementia and late-life cognitive changes are on the rise as the number of elderly Americans continues to grow. Researchers have identified modifiable risk factors for dementia, including midlife obesity, smoking, and hypertension, providing a framework for research in prevention.

Ethnic and Racial Disparities in Cognitive Aging

America is becoming more diverse, and incidence of dementia is increasing. Our researchers are in the unique position to study dementia in people of different backgrounds and explore why certain groups may be at higher risk. Our research shows that African Americans and Native Americans have increased rates of dementia compared to other groups. Current work is focusing on why these disparities exist and ways to mitigate them.

Aging Successfully with Diabetes

Individuals with type 2 diabetes have double the risk of dementia; our researchers are uncovering why. Our research has shown that appropriate glycemic control, avoiding low blood sugar episodes and microvascular complications are key to reducing risk of dementia and cognitive impairment.

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