They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, but new research shows you can teach an old rat new sounds, even if the lesson doesn’t stick very long.
For the record I wrote a post on that damaging cliche about teaching old dogs new tricks. You can read it here – Of cats and dogs and cliches ….
Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) of McGill University examined the effects of aging on neuroplasticity in the primary auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes auditory information. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to modify its connections and function in response to environmental demands, an important process in learning.
Plasticity in the young brain is very strong as we learn to map our surroundings using the senses. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Plasticity in the young brain is very strong as we learn to map our surroundings using the senses. As we grow older, plasticity decreases to stabilize what we have already learned. This stabilization is partly controlled by a neurotransmitter called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), which inhibits neuronal activity. This role of GABA was discovered by K.A.C. Elliot and Ernst Florey at The Neuro in 1956. Continue reading
One of my favorite (and most popular) posts is Exercise, Aging and the Brain. I wrote it in 2011 and more than 11,000 people have read it. Because of Alzheimer’s and dementia residing in my immediate family, I am very interested in the brain and anything that affects it. So, this study from Medical Express hit me right where I live.
In the largest known brain imaging study, scientists from Amen Clinics (Costa Mesa, CA), Google, John’s Hopkins University, University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, San Francisco evaluated 62,454 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans of more than 30,000 individuals from 9 months old to 105 years of age to investigate factors that accelerate brain aging. SPECT tomography) evaluates regional cerebral blood flow in the brain that is reduced in various disorders.
Lead author, psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, MD, founder of Amen Clinics, commented, “Based on one of the largest brain imaging studies ever done, we can now track common disorders and behaviors that prematurely age the brain. Better treatment of these disorders can slow or even halt the process of brain aging. The cannabis abuse finding was especially important, as our culture is starting to see marijuana as an innocuous substance. This study should give us pause about it.” Continue reading
I am now in my 18th year of retirement, so I think I have the retirement game down. But I know that a lot of you are on the other side and that barrier and getting closer by the day. Here are some good tips from Harvard.
Newly retired men face some typical difficulties. One is creating a new routine after leaving behind the nine-to-five grind. “During that phase of going from a lot of structure to almost no structure, men can exhibit the same signs as someone who is overworked,” explains Dr. Randall Paulsen, a psychiatrist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Riding through my retirement at Chicago’s Northerly Island
Retirement can also come with changes in a man’s relationship with a spouse or partner. “If you have a partner at home who is not used to you being around all the time, there has to be a recalibration,” says Dr. Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Continue reading
Again there are echoes of our mantra, eat less; move move; live longer.
Adults in their early 60s, who spend less time sitting and more time engaged in light to vigorous physical activity, benefit with healthier levels of heart and vessel disease markers, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
The results from increased physical activity were found to be particularly good among women.
Physical inactivity is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and premature death from cardiovascular disease. Physical activity’s protective effect is likely due in part to its impact on biomarkers in the blood that help predict atherosclerosis risk.
“The 60 to 64 age range represents an important transition between work and retirement, when lifestyle behaviors tend to change,” said Ahmed Elhakeem, Ph.D., study author and senior research associate in epidemiology at Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. “It may, therefore, be an opportunity to promote increased physical activity.
“In addition, cardiovascular disease risk is higher in older adults. It’s important to understand how activity might influence risk in this age group,” Elhakeem said. “We found it’s important to replace time spent sedentary with any intensity level of activity.” Continue reading
The older you get, the less apt you may be to recognize that you’ve made an error. As a senior citizen I find that statement slightly annoying and also probably to a large extent true.
In a new study, University of Iowa researchers devised a simple, computerized test to gauge how readily young adults and older adults realize when they’ve made a mistake.
Older adults performed just as well as younger adults in tests involving looking away from an object appearing on the screen. But younger adults acknowledged more often than older adults when they failed to look away from the object. And, older adults were more likely to be adamant that they did not made a mistake.
The research offers new insight how older people perceive their decisions, and especially how they view their performance–whether judging their own ability to drive or how regularly they believe they’ve taken medications.
“The good news is older adults perform the tasks we assigned them just as well as younger adults, albeit more slowly,” says Jan Wessel, assistant professor in the UI Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the study’s corresponding author. “But we find there is this impaired ability in older adults to recognize an error when they’ve made one.” Continue reading
Eat less; move more; live longer. It’s never too late to start.
Exercising regularly throughout life is the best way to keep your heart healthy. But starting to exercise even in late middle age may lessen the risk of heart failure, according to a report in the May 15 issue of Circulation. Heart failure, a gradual decline in the heart’s ability to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, affects about 6.5 million people in the United States.
The study involved more than 11,000 people who were part of a long-running project begun in the late 1980s, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Every six years, participants got medical testing and filled out questionnaires about their physical activity.
People who followed federal recommendations for physical activity (see How much physical activity do you need?) for the first 12 years of the study had the lowest risk of heart failure—31% lower than people who didn’t exercise at all. But people who increased their physical activity levels starting around age 60 over a period of just six years lowered their risk by 12%.
I wanted to share this fine rundown of finding the gold in the golden years. As a dog lover I am a follower of Paul Handover’s Learning from Dogs blog. Clearly, this post covers ground most germaine to Diet, Exercise and Living Past 100.
Learning from Dogs
Living well as we age.
TIME magazine published a double-issue in February of this year How To Live Longer Better!
The article, on Page 47, opens:
Old age demands to be taken very seriously – and it usually gets its way!
Then later on in that same article one reads:
Exactly how much – or how little – exercise it takes to begin paying dividends has been one of the happy surprises of longevity research. A 2016 study found that elderly people who exercised for just 15 minutes a day, at an intensity level of a brisk walk, had a 22% lower risk of early death compared to people who did not exercise.
Then two sentences later:
Researchers from McMaster University in Canada even found that breaking a sweat for just 60 seconds may be long enough to improve health and fitness (as long as it’s a tough workout).
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Finally some good news about being a senior comes from these University of Arizona researchers.
Lifelong cytomegalovirus infection may boost the immune system in old age, when we need it most, according to a study led by University of Arizona researchers.
Our immune system is at its peak when we’re young, but after a certain age, it declines and it becomes more difficult for our bodies to fight off new infections.
“That’s why older people are more susceptible to infections than younger people,” explained Dr. Janko Nikolich-Žugich, co-director of the University of Arizona Center on Aging and chairman of the Department of Immunobiology at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
In search of a way to rejuvenate the immune system of older adults, Nikolich-Žugich and Megan Smithey began researching cytomegalovirus, or CMV. The virus, which is usually contracted at a young age, affects more than half of all individuals. Because there is no cure, the virus is carried for life and is particularly prevalent in older adults. Continue reading
As a 78-year-old writing blog on diet, exercise and living past 100, I am keenly interested in everything that reflects on the brain and its part in aging, as well as the actual aging of the brain itself. Remember, I have three cases of dementia in my family including one certain one of Alzheimer’s.
This is a shot of my dog and me riding on the Chicago Lakefront last year.
While everyone gets older, not everyone feels their age. A recent study finds that such feelings, called subjective age, may reflect brain aging. Using MRI brain scans, researchers found that elderly people who feel younger than their age show fewer signs of brain aging, compared with those who feel their age or older than their age. Published in open-access journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, this study is the first to find a link between subjective age and brain aging. The results suggest that elderly people who feel older than their age should consider caring for their brain health.
We tend to think of aging as a fixed process, where our bodies and minds change steadily. However, the passing years affect everyone differently. How old we feel, which is called our subjective age, also varies between people—with many feeling older or younger than their actual age. Continue reading
If you have been reading this blog for a while you are aware that I have a particular focus on the brain afflictions – dementia and its move common manifestation, Alzheimer’s. Three members on both sides of my family suffered from a form of dementia. While there is no cure or preventative for Alzheimer’s, it seems that exercise is our best chance of possessing a functioning brain in our old age. Hence, my focus on movement of every kind. Now, it seems that we may be getting a new arrow in our quiver to fight mental illness.
Researchers report tau pathology can be reversed in Alzheimer’s patients with the help of a drug. Their study reveals reversing tau pathology in mouse models of dementia resulted in a reversal of cognitive deficits in spatial learning.
Compared with untreated animals, tau mice that had received zileuton performed significantly better on the tests. Their superior performance suggested a successful reversal of memory deficiency. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Reversing memory deficits and impairments in spatial learning is a major goal in the field of dementia research. A lack of knowledge about cellular pathways critical to the development of dementia, however, has stood in the way of significant clinical advance. But now, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) are breaking through that barrier. They show, for the first time in an animal model, that tau pathology – the second-most important lesion in the brain in patients with Alzheimer’s disease – can be reversed by a drug.
“We show that we can intervene after disease is established and pharmacologically rescue mice that have tau-induced memory deficits,” explained senior investigator Domenico Praticò, MD, Scott Richards North Star Foundation Chair for Alzheimer’s Research, Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology, and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple at LKSOM. The study, published online in the journal Molecular Neurobiology, raises new hope for human patients affected by dementia. Continue reading
For the record, I was a vegetarian for five years in my middle 30’s. At the time I did yoga daily and lived a generally active lifestyle. I weighed around 150 pounds and felt great. I stopped my vegetarianism mainly for social reasons. I felt guilty telling a hostess that I didn’t eat meat and needed different food. These days, I do eat red meat, but very sparingly. I am very conscious of the bad fats and am concerned about clogging up my arteries in my old age. As it turns out, I am eating according to the guidelines of this study from Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
According to new data, a diet rich in plant-based foods and low in meat — without strictly following a vegetarian or vegan diet — may offer protection against obesity in middle-aged and older adults.
Experts already know that diets that emphasize plant-based over animal-based foods — such as vegetarian or vegan diets — can decrease the risk of obesity.
However, scientists do not yet know how strictly these diets need to be followed to reduce the risk of becoming overweight or obese later in life. Continue reading
I thought this was an excellent explanation of good health in general and aging in particular.
Training For Life
This article was first published in Rotary News on April 2018.
There are two aspects to ageing. Your chronological age is the calculated number of years you have lived. Your biological or “real” age refers to the current condition of your physiological body at its very basic cellular level. These two are not necessarily one and the same. An individual may be chronologically 30, but might have the body and mind of a 55-year-old. He could be overweight, lethargic, with poorly conditioned muscles, poor memory, productivity and low stamina. He may be stressed, depressed, with a laundry list of medical conditions and pills to manage them.
On the contrary, someone could be 50 years old chronologically but have an actual age of a 35-year-old in terms of energy, stamina, strength, and pure joi de vivre.
Factors that ascertain your Real or Biological age
These are blood pressure, heart rate…
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I have found that most people consider osteoporosis to be a women’s affliction. The reason is that statistics show two out of three women over the age of 50 will experience osteoporosis while only one out of three men will. This is clearly a disease that affects more of us as we age. I think it is important for us men to keep in mind that while statistics show more women get it, the fact is, as women outlive men, there are simply more of them around. Osteoporosis is definitely something of which men should be aware.
A new expert consensus endorsed by the European Society for Clinical and Economical Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis, and Musculoskeletal Diseases (ESCEO) and the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) has reviewed the benefits and safety of dietary protein for bone health, based on analyses of major research studies. The review, published in Osteoporosis International found that a protein-rich diet, provided there is adequate calcium intake, is in fact beneficial for adult bone health. It also found no evidence that acid load due to higher dietary protein intakes, whether of animal or vegetable origin, is damaging to bone health.
The key findings of the extensive literature review include: Continue reading
Here we have more good news on the exercise/brain front. Eat less; move more; live longer really works on all levels it seems.
Healthy older people who exercise regularly are less inclined to struggle to find words to express themselves, research led by the University of Birmingham has discovered.
Researchers found that older adults’ aerobic fitness levels are directly related to the incidence of age-related language failures such as ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ states.
The research, published in Scientific Reports, is the first of its kind to investigate the relationship between aerobic fitness levels and temporary cognitive lapses, such as not having a word come to mind when speaking – known as a ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ state.
People in a tip-of-the-tongue state have a strong conviction that they know a word, but are unable to produce it, and this phenomena occurs more frequently as we grow older. Continue reading
The more I work on this blog the more I get the idea that whatever the problem exercise is the answer. Eat less; move more; live longer.
Regular physical activity may help older women increase their mobility, but muscle strength and endurance are likely to succumb to the effects of frailty if they haven’t also been doing resistance training.
That is according to the findings of a cross-sectional study led by the University at Buffalo and published in the journal Physical & Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics.
The study underscores the need for older women to build up muscle strength early in the aging process to help ward off the effects of aging, say the study’s lead authors Machiko Tomita, clinical professor, and Nadine Fisher, clinical associate professor, both in the Department of Rehabilitation Science in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions.
“Frailty progresses with aging, but older women who engage in a high level of daily physical activity can reverse certain characteristics related to aging, such as slow walking and decreased function,” says Tomita. Continue reading