Category Archives: aging

Middle-aged adults with healthy heart habits may lower high blood pressure risk years later

Better heart health, as measured by the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 (LS7) scale, was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) in middle-aged, Black and white adults, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“High blood pressure is among the most common conditions in the U.S., and it contributes to the greatest burden of disability and largest reduction in healthy life expectancy among any disease,” said Timothy B. Plante, M.D., M.H.S., lead study author and assistant professor in the department of medicine at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “Even though high blood pressure causes so much death and disability, we don’t know the root cause of it.”

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Some very simple suggestions on good health …

The National Institute on Aging offered the following infographic on living a healthy and long life. There is nothing new in it, but I think it is good to see simple rules like this that we all know and refresh them in our minds.

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Lower wealth linked with faster physical and mental aging – NIA Study

People with lower household wealth (or socioeconomic status) have a higher risk of many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and depression. They also have shorter lifespans. Some lifestyle factors may play a role. For example, people with lower incomes have higher rates of smoking. However, other factors—including chronic stress and reduced access to resources—also likely contribute, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

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Less is known about how socioeconomic status influences the general aging process. To look more closely at this question, Drs. Andrew Steptoe and Paola Zaninotto from University College London followed more than 5,000 adults, aged 52 and older, for 8 years beginning in 2004. The team broke the study participants into four groups based on household wealth. Continue reading

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Living environment may be key to longevity – Study

When it comes to living to the ripe old age of 100, good genes help but don’t tell the full story. Where you live has a significant impact on the likelihood that you will reach centenarian age, suggests a new study conducted by scientists at Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

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Published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and based on Washington State mortality data, the research team’s findings suggest that Washingtonians who live in highly walkable, mixed-age communities may be more likely to live to their 100th birthday. They also found socioeconomic status to be correlated, and an additional analysis showed that geographic clusters where the probability of reaching centenarian age is high are located in urban areas and smaller towns with higher socioeconomic status, including the Seattle area and the region around Pullman, Wash.

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Seniors share fewer memories as they tack on years

By the time people reach a certain age, they’ve accumulated enough life experience to have plenty of stories to tell about life “back in their day.”

However, a new study suggests that the older a person is, the less likely they are to share memories of their past experiences. And when they do share memories, they don’t describe them in as much detail as younger people do.

The results of the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona and published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, echo previous findings from lab-based research suggesting that memory sharing declines with age.

The UArizona study came to the conclusion in a new way: by “eavesdropping” on older adults’ conversations “in the wild.”

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Avoiding Dehydration – Tufts

As a senior, I want to stress to you that we seniors are more vulnerable to dehydration than our younger associates.

The hot summer months are upon us, but sweating in the sun is not the only factor that raises risk for dehydration. This potentially dangerous drop in body fluid affects everything from blood pressure to the brain, so knowing the causes, signs, and symptoms of dehydration—as well as how to avoid it—is critical.

Dehydration Basics: Any situation that involves either not taking in enough fluid or losing too much fluid can cause dehydration. “We don’t drink enough if fluids are unavailable, or if we lack an adequate thirst response,” says Roger Fielding, PhD, director and senior scientist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, and Sarcopenia Laboratory at Tufts’ Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. “We lose fluid through sweat, diarrhea, vomiting, or blood loss. Medications like diuretics (water pills), or medical conditions like uncontrolled diabetes, can also cause too much water to leave the body. These factors, alone or in combination, can lead to dehydration.”

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Walking: Key To Staying Active and Independent

Did you get your 10,000 steps today? Many people have adopted this daily walking goal to obtain the recommended amount of physical activity. The 10,000-steps-a-day number comes from the Japanese brand name of a pedometer manufactured in the 1960s, the “10,000 steps meter.” In the Fitbit era, counting daily steps remains appealing to many people as a source of motivation.

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In the US, adults are urged to get the equivalent of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. Walking is a popular way to meet those recommendations, particularly in older adults or people who are relatively physically inactive.

Although 10,000 steps is a worthy challenge, aiming for more exercise than you normally get—unless you are one of the few who regularly trains for marathons or triathlons—comes with benefits. Any amount or type of physical activity adds to your daily goal. Regularly taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking farther away from your destination, can make a measurable improvement in your health.

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The Care and Feeding of Your Immune System – Tufts

There seems to be no limit to the promises on the Internet for foods and dietary supplements that allegedly “boost” or “support” your immune function. There’s more than a grain of scientific truth in it, and the prospect of enhancing immune function with nutrition is a busy area of research—some of it by scientists at Tufts’ Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

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We know that nutrient deficiencies weaken the immune system and leave people vulnerable to illness. But if your nutrient intakes are adequate, can certain foods and nutritional supplements still improve immune function?

There is no definitive answer yet to this question—although there is reason for optimism. “I would not say it’s entirely an open question,” says Simin Nikbin Meydani, PhD, senior scientist and director of the Tufts’ HNRCA Nutritional Immunology Laboratory. “We do have promising evidence from animal studies and some human clinical trials that specific nutrients might be able to help strengthen an aging immune system. But we need additional research.”

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Responding to challenges of older adults with COVID-19

Older adults with COVID-19 who survive hospitalizations and return to their homes confront substantial health challenges and an unpredictable future. Early evidence suggests that complex and long-term physical, functional, cognitive, and emotional negative health consequences will be the norm for them. However, the trajectories of health care needs of older adults with COVID-19 in the weeks and months following hospital discharge have yet to be identified.

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In an article in the Journal of Aging and Social Policy, three researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) explain how the core components of the Transitional Care Model, along with early findings regarding the unique concerns of those with COVID-19, suggest a path for immediate practice and policy responses to caring for this population as they transition from the hospital back to the community.

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Insomnia May Predict Depression in Seniors – Study

Older adults with depression may be at much higher risk of remaining depressed if they are experiencing persistent or worsening sleep problems, according to a study from researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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The researchers, who published their findings online April 30 in the journal Sleep, analyzed data from almost 600 people over 60 years old who visited primary care centers in the Northeast U.S. All patients met clinical criteria for major or minor depression at the outset of the study. Continue reading

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Cognitive Health and Older Adults- NIA

Eat less; move more; live longer. Turns out the National Institute on Aging shares my sentiments on these actions.

Cognitive health—the ability to clearly think, learn, and remember—is an important component of brain health. Others include:

  • Motor function—how well you make and control movements
  • Emotional function—how well you interpret and respond to emotions
  • Sensory function—how well you feel and respond to sensations of touch, including pressure, pain, and temperature

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This guide focuses on cognitive health and what you can do to help maintain it. The following steps can help you function every day and stay independent—and they have been linked to cognitive health, too.

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New Tool Measures Pace of Aging Across Life Course

A study just released by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health researchers is reporting a blood-DNA-methylation measure that is sensitive to variation in the pace of biological aging among individuals born the same year. The tool—DunedinPoAm—offers a unique measurement for intervention trials and natural experiment studies investigating how the rate of aging may be changed by behavioral or drug therapy, or by changes to the environment. Study findings are published online in the journal e-Life.

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“The goal of our study was to distill a measurement of the rate of biological aging based on 12 years of follow-up on 18 different clinical tests into a blood test that can be administered at a single time point,” says lead author Daniel Belsky, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School and a researcher at the Butler Columbia Aging Center.

Continue reading

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Number of steps per day more important than step intensity

I have written repeatedly about the benefits of walking, calling it the ‘Cinderella of the exercise world.’ Now, according the the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it seems that quantity equals quality in walking.

person in black socks and black sneakers walking on gray asphalt road

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  • Adults who took 8,000 or more steps a day had a reduced risk of death over the following decade than those who only walked 4,000 steps a day.
  • Step intensity (number of steps per minute) didn’t influence the risk of death, suggesting that the total number of steps per day is more important than intensity.

Doctors often recommend walking as an easy way for inactive people to ease into better health. Taking 4,000 or fewer steps a day is considered a low level of physical activity. A goal of 10,000 steps a day is commonly cited, but recent studies have shown that health benefits accrue even if fewer than 10,000 steps are taken daily. Continue reading

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Why life can get better as we age — study

As an 80 year old, I have to confess I read about this study with a great deal of personal interest and identification.

People say life gets better with age. Now research suggests this may be because older people have the wisdom and time to use mindfulness as a means to improve well being.

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Healthy aging researchers at Flinders University say certain characteristics of mindfulness seem more strongly evident in older people compared to younger people – and suggest ways for all ages to benefit.

“This suggests that mindfulness may naturally develop with time and life experience,” says behavioral scientist Associate Professor Tim Windsor, who co-authored a recent study based on an online community survey of 623 participants aged between 18 and 86 years. Continue reading

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Exercise and an aging brain – Infographic

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March 25, 2020 · 12:07 am

The Anti-Aging Pill – UC

At the age of 80, I am interested in anything that might add a few to my remaining days. For that reason, this article in the Alumni Magazine of the University of Colorado piqued my interest.

In 1935 in upstate New York, a little-known animal husbandry researcher named Clive McKay looked into the rat cage in his lab and found an unexpected window into the Fountain of Youth.

elderly man sketching on white cardboard

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Conventional wisdom at the time held that the more animals were fed, the better they’d fare. But McKay noticed something different: Long after the well-fed rats began to show signs of aging, those on a nutrient-dense but super-low-calorie diet retained a silky sheen to their fur, remained alert and agile and lacked the age-related health problems of their more gluttonous peers. In the end, the calorie-restricted mice also lived about 300 days longer — nearly a third of a lifetime in rat years.

Fast forward to 2020, and studies in everything from fruit flies and worms to monkeys and people have confirmed that sharply restricting calories (by 20-40 percent) while maintaining essential nutrients can fend off age-related diseases and, in some cases, extend lifespan. The problem: People like to eat, so almost no one is willing to do it. And it can be dangerous. Continue reading

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