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Using Seniors As Lab Rats to Study ‘Health Span’

Though advances in medicine  have managed to extend the lifespan of many seniors, much less focus has been given to extending  “health span” — the years of old age in which one can remain well enough to largely steer clear of  doctors and hospitals.

But as the Wall Street Journal reports today, research at the  Mayo Clinic focused on extending  health spans to match lifespans  is being conducted using seniors — including many retired doctors — who agree to live in an extension of the lab.

Among the studies being conducted using residents of the Charter House, a residential facility connected to the Mayo Clinic, are: ” the usefulness of an electronic tablet app designed to help people stick to their medication regimens,” and “”how well a Band-Aid-size monitoring system measures irregular heart beat.”

The lab is particularly interested in understanding why many people who live to 100 manage to avoid illness until towards the very end of their lives. “”That has led researchers, including those at Mayo, to try and figure out what genes or other factors might be responsible for increased life and health span,” the Journal reports.


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About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.