Physical Health and Function
Through the Marcus Institute’s research we are learning how older adults can maintain independence and quality of life.
Research About Maintaining Physical Function as We Age
Mobility is the most common disability among older Americans. More than 40 percent of older adults ages 65-79 have at least one disability in either self-care, household activity, or mobility. For those 80 years and older, this share rises to more than 70 percent.
Moreover, 10 percent of older adults in the community and up to 50 percent in nursing homes have frailty, which is a state of increased vulnerability resulting from a decline in function across multiple systems of the body. The "oldest old" are especially at risk of developing the condition.
Maintaining physical function as we age is key to living independently and continuing the lifestyle and activities that bring us meaning and joy.
The Marcus Institute's research into the physical health and function of older adults focuses in six main areas:
Marcus Institute Research About Maintaining Mobility and Preventing Frailty in Older Adults
The Marcus Institute's research programs are dedicated to uncovering how physical health and function of older adults impacts their quality of life, and discovering interventions to maintain physical health and function.
Marcus Institute researchers are:
- Investigating innovative methods to measure and apply frailty in various clinical and research settings
- Examining the prevalence, causes, and prevention of frailty
- Studying the prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders including fractures, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, sarcopenia and hyperkyphosis
- Examining the role of diet and nutrition in bone and muscle health and frailty
- Conducting ground-breaking research in the use of non-invasive brain stimulation to improve mobility and balance and reduce falls among older adults
Explore this section to learn more about current research projects underway to study and improve physical health and function in older adults.
Find current research projects
Showing 37 Results
Dietary Intervention Targeting Inflammation, Motivation, and Engagement in Physical Activity in Sedentary, Older Adults with Depressive Symptoms
This research aims to pilot test a dietary intervention designed to target inflammation, and ultimately improve motivation to engage in physical activity. The two major goals of this study are:
1. To determine the feasibility and acceptability of a dietary intervention in older adults with depressive symptoms.
2. To evaluate if modulation of inflammation improve lack of motivation, thereby increasing the engagement in physical activity.
Eleanor and Herbert Bearak Healthy Lifestyles Program
This research aims to support individuals in articulating their vision of their best selves and then equip them with the knowledge and tools to perform at their highest cognitive potential, move toward the realization of that vision, and be satisfied with the outcome of their efforts.
Feasibility of a Multicomponent Frailty Intervention in the Setting of Post-acute Rehabilitation in Skilled Nursing Facilities
This research aims to determine the feasibility of administering an exercise and nutritional supplementation to frail older adults in a skilled nursing facility.
Harvard Translational Research in Aging Program (T32)
The specific aims of this training program are: 1) to provide a 2-year training program in basic and clinical aging research for postdoctoral trainees, 2) to bring together scientists across a broad range of basic and clinical research through seminars, didactic sessions, shared laboratory experiences, and collaborative projects.
Healthy Aging Initiative
The Hebrew SeniorLife Healthy Aging Initiative is a longitudinal cohort study of older adults to identify biological and lifestyle predictors of lifelong health and well-being, as well as early biomarkers for disease, and enable development of interventions to promote healthy aging and add life to years.
The initiative leverages the expertise of all scientists at the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research.
The Healthy Aging Initiative aims to:
• Identify the factors and predictors of lifelong health and well-being
• Identify early biomarkers for disease and rate of aging
• Determine factors that modify the progression of disease
• Discover risks for specific illnesses
• Enable the development of interventions
• Ultimately expand the initiative to include a diverse population of older adults
The Healthy Aging Initiative will take place at all Hebrew SeniorLife housing sites in 2023 including Jack Satter House, Center Communities of Brookline, NewBridge on the Charles, Orchard Cove, and Simon C. Fireman Community. We will be rotating through all the sites in order to conduct Healthy Aging Initiative assessments in-person, at a location that is convenient for participants.
High Frequency Monitoring of the Home Environment and Health and Wellbeing of Older Adults
This research aims to quantify the relationships between the physical home environment and health and wellbeing of older adults.
Home-based transcranial electrical stimulation program
The goal of this funding is to support research efforts to test the feasibility and effects of long-term, home-based transcranial electric stimulation on mobility and cognition in older adults with elevated falls risk, and in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Supported by BrightFocus Foundation
Identifying Osteoporosis Genes by Whole Genome Sequencing and Functional Validation in Zebra Fish
This research aims to identify potential causal-variants and their targeted genes via fine-mapping on previously reported GWAS loci of osteoporosis and identify potential targets for osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures therapy.
Mechanistic Effects of Combined Testosterone Therapy and Exercise on Axial Bone and Muscle Post-Hip Fracture
This research aims to investigate the hormonal mechanisms of action for exercise and transdermal testosterone on the skeleton and muscle in a parent study of frail older women during recovery from hip fracture.
Join a Research Study
The goal of the study is to determine whether the senolytic medications Dasatinib and Quercetin can reduce senescent cells, increase mobility (walking speed), and improve memory in older adults.
The goal of this study is to learn about the relationship between antioxidants (commonly found in blueberries) and motivation to exercise. Researchers think that supplementing one's diet with antioxidants on a daily basis may be a practical way to reduce inflammation and improve lack of motivation to exercise.
Berries and Steps Study Faculty
The goal is to determine whether non-invasive brain stimulation improves balance and walking.