Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today




Baltimore-Area Research on Aging Improves Health of People 50+

AARP lends a hand by recruiting participants

medical research

UMBC researcher Kate de Medeiros, left, interviews Shirley Griffin, 78, at her Crownsville home. Griffin is a participant in a study of women over 65 who have not had children. — Jared Soares

On the Baltimore campus of Johns Hopkins Hospital, doctors unearthed a new clue to diagnose and treat Alzheimer's disease long before the onset of symptoms.

In another Baltimore laboratory, researchers at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) discovered that aging does not inevitably lead to diseases such as diabetes, hypertension or dementia.

See also: 8 ways to save on your health.

Not far away, other researchers developed the "Mini Mental State Examination," which provides a quick, noninvasive assessment of age-related cognitive impairment.

Because of research conducted in the Baltimore area, older adults worldwide now take medicine and follow diet and exercise recommendations that were not available to earlier generations.

A vital element of the research network is a ready supply of study participants, and AARP Maryland has a key role in recruiting some of the volunteers.

With more than 800,000 members statewide, "we can get the word out pretty good," said Rawle Andrews Jr., AARP regional vice president.

Shirley Griffin, 78, of Crownsville, shares her life stories with researchers at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) who are studying the lives of women without children.

The retired Baltimore teacher, world traveler and author said many people believe parenthood is the only way to feel fulfilled. "I feel you can fulfill yourself in other ways," she said.

Principal researcher Kate de Medeiros said the study was prompted by the growing number of childless older women. A goal of the study is to help service organizations and policymakers rethink assumptions about family structure in older age.

This year, the Baltimore region received about $35 million from the NIA for studies. Among them are a Johns Hopkins study to identify barriers to kidney transplants for older adults and ways to overcome those obstacles, and a UMBC study on ways to achieve greater independence for residents of assisted living facilities.

"People who are in the aging field will very consistently cite Baltimore — because of the National Institute on Aging, Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland — as a major hub for aging research in the world," said Constantine Lyketsos, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer's Treatment Center.

Next: America's longest-running study of aging. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members can earn 50 points per $1 spent on select health & wellness products at Walgreens.

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members save 15% on easy listening devices and more at the HearUSA Hearing Shop.

Eye Med 4 Membership Benefit AARP Discount

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at Target Optical.

Membership Benefits Discounts Email Genius

Brain boost? Get AARP email for access to memory exercises & more that help you focus.

Being Social


Fat to Fit

Get tips, recipes and advice for reaching your personal weight loss goal! Join

Medicare & Insurance

Share health coverage information and experiences common to being age 50+. Join

Health Nuts

Share heart-smart recipes, fitness tips and stress relievers. Join