Category Archives: seniors

Higher Fitness Level Can Determine Longer Lifespan After Age 70 – Study

I am always happy to pass along another example of how valuable my eat less; move more; live longer mantra is in daily practice.

Researchers have uncovered one more reason to get off the couch and start exercising, especially if you’re approaching your golden years. Among people over age 70, physical fitness was found to be a much better predictor of survival than the number of traditional cardiovascular risk factors in a study being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session.

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While high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking are closely linked with a person’s chance of developing heart disease, these factors are so common in older people that the total number of risk factors becomes almost meaningless for predicting future health, researchers said. The new study suggests doctors can get a better picture of older patients’ health by looking at how fit they are, rather than how many of these cardiovascular risk factors they have. Continue reading

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Tips for my senior friends … Infographic

I am fortunate to live in a big city and have lots of social outlets. For my senior readers, here are some suggestions from the National Institute on Aging for dealing with situations which are less hospitable.

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This infographic says to get moving. I can’t stress enough how beneficial my daily bike riding is for me. I get out of the apartment and enjoy flying across the pavement. In the good weather I put my dog in the basket. But, I always bring my water bottle with the bluetooth speaker on top. I get to listen to my favorite songs from my iPhone the whole time, not to mention enjoying being out in nature. Don’t forget: the law of the body is – use it or lose it.

Tony

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Guidelines for feeling good and functioning well into senior years – GCBH

I just ran across this newly-published set of guidelines for helping seniors succeed in retaining their mental function and well-being as they age. As a senior myself who has a family with a history of Alzheimer’s and dementia I found it to be on point with my own situation.

The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) is an independent collaborative of scientists, health professionals, scholars, and policy experts from around the world who are working in areas of brain health related to human cognition. The GCBH focuses on brain health relating to people’s ability to think and reason as they age, including aspects of memory, perception and judgment.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

We believe the following suggestions will increase the chances for people to experience or optimize mental well-being. If you are already engaging in these healthy activities, continue to do so, and consider trying something new as well.

FOR INDIVIDUALS:

1. Take the time to develop and strengthen relationships with family and friends. For more about the brain health benefits of strong social ties, see the GCBH report, The Brain and Social Connectedness: GCBH Recommendations on Social Engagement and Brain Health.

Continue reading

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Older People Less Apt to Recognize Their Mistakes – Study

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.

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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

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Choosing Healthy Meals As You Get Older – NIA

It turns out that ‘senior discounts’ apply as much to our nutrition as to our bills when it comes to eating as we get older. The National Institute on Aging offers the following tips for seniors to insure that we get all the nutrients. that we need.

 

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Making healthy food choices is a smart thing to do—no matter how old you are! Your body changes through your 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond. Food provides nutrients you need as you age. Use these tips to choose foods for better health at each stage of life.

1. Drink plenty of liquids

With age, you may lose some of your sense of thirst. Drink water often. Low-fat or fat-free milk or 100% juice also helps you stay hydrated. Limit beverages that have lots of added sugars or salt. Learn which liquids are better choices.

It always pays to read the labels. Remember, that a teaspoon full of sugar is only four grams, so know how much sugar you are consuming.

2. Make eating a social event

Meals are more enjoyable when you eat with others. Invite a friend to join you or take part in a potluck at least twice a week. A senior center or place of worship may offer meals that are shared with others. There are many ways to make mealtimes pleasing. Continue reading

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Do Sleep Habits Change for Seniors?

With 10,000 baby boomers becoming 65 every day, the question of sleep becomes highly relevant. The Washington Post says, “Scientists have also discovered the role of telomeres in aging. These are caps on the ends of strands of DNA that protect a cell’s genetic material when it divides. But they get a little shorter with each division, and once they get too short, a cell can no longer function normally. Older people have shorter telomeres, but so do people with high stress and poor sleep habits.”

First of all the myth that seniors need less sleep is – a myth. Dr. Michael W. Smith of WebMD offers the following definitive answer, “As children and adolescents, we need more sleep than we do as young adults. But by our senior years, we need the same seven to nine hours a night we did as teens.” 
On the other hand, the nature and quality of sleep does change as we age.

sleep_puppy_iStock_000015227531MediumHrayr P. Attarian, MD, in a talk before Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program® said that although we get less sleep as we age, we need the same amount. Older people take slightly longer to fall asleep than younger ones. Also, sleep efficiency falls as we age. The 18 to 30 year olds have 95 percent sleep efficiency; 31 to 40 year olds enjoy 88 percent sleep efficiency; 41 to 50 year olds have 85 percent sleep efficiency and 51 to 70 year olds are down to 80 percent sleep efficiency.

So the bottom line seems to be seniors need as much asleep as ever, but they have a harder time achieving it.

Medications play a part in senior sleep habits, too. As we age we often need more medications to get us through the day and night. Dr. Attarian warned about Tylenol and Advil PM specifically. He said that they worsen prostate conditions in men and that they impair reflexes in both sexes into the next day.

To read further on sleep, check out my page How Important is a good night’s sleep.

Tony

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Why older men should do more housework – Study

As an older guy, I turn 78 in less than two weeks, I am interested in my health and certainly my longevity. So, the subject of older men doing more housework caught my attention. Also, housework does not rank high on my list of fun stuff to do.

The following is what Medical News Today reported:

According to a new study, it seems that elderly adults are stuck in a time when housework was the woman’s job. Researchers have found that every day, older women spend an average of 2 hours more doing household chores than men.

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But it’s not all bad. Older men and women who engage in more housework might have better health. Though if women get too much or too little sleep, the health benefits of housework diminish.

The new study — which was recently published in the journal BMC Public Health — was led by Nicholas Adjei and Tilman Brand, of the University of Bremen in Germany.

The research was designed to get a better idea of how adults spend their time in later life, and how certain day-to-day activities impact their health.

“The percentage of those aged 65 years and above,” explains study co-leader Adjei, “is increasing globally due to higher life expectancy. It is important to understand how older adults spend their time in these later years and the possible positive and negative implications for their health.” Continue reading

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German seniors show vitamin deficiencies – Study

This study of German seniors demonstrates once again the value of a good diet. The fact that many were inactive and frail seems also to suggest that we continue to need to move and exercise as we age, perhaps more than when we are  younger. Eat less, move more, live longer.

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Young woman holding her neck and talking with female doctor.

One in two persons aged 65 and above has suboptimal levels of vitamin D in the blood. This is the conclusion of an investigation conducted by researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, as part of the population-based KORA-Age study in the region of Augsburg. Moreover, as the authors of the study report in the peer-reviewed journal ‘Nutrients,’ one in four older adults has suboptimal vitamin B12 levels.

Since more than 30 years, the KORA Cooperative Health Research platform has been examining the health of thousands of people living in the greater Augsburg area in Southern Germany. The aim of the study is to understand the impact of environmental factors, lifestyle factors and genes on health. “In this context, we were also interested in examining the micronutrient status of older adults, including vitamins” explains study leader Dr. Barbara Thorand of the Institute of Epidemiology (EPI), Helmholtz Zentrum München. “So far, in Germany, research data on this topic has been relatively thin on the ground.”

Overall, the scientists examined blood samples of 1,079 older adults, aged 65 to 93 years from the KORA study*. Their analysis focused on levels of four micronutrients: vitamin D, folate, vitamin B12 and iron.

“The results are very clear,” explains first author Romy Conzade. “Fifty-two percent of the examined older adults had vitamin D levels below 50 nmol/L and thus had a suboptimal vitamin D status.” The scientists also observed shortages with regard to some of the other micronutrients. Notably, 27 percent of older adults had vitamin B12 levels below the cut-off. Moreover, in 11 percent of older adults, iron levels were too low, and almost nine percent did not have enough folate in their blood.

EPI director Professor Annette Peters puts the data into context: “By means of blood analyses, the current study has confirmed the critical results of the last German National Nutrition Survey (NVS II)**, which revealed an insufficient intake of micronutrients from foods. This is a highly relevant issue, particularly in light of our growing aging population.”

Are dietary supplements the way forward?

The majority of older adults with suboptimal vitamin levels had in common that they were very old, physically inactive or frail. Special attention should, therefore, be paid to these groups with a higher risk for micronutrient deficiencies, explain the researchers.

“Our study also shows that regular intake of vitamin-containing supplements goes along with improved levels of the respective vitamins,” says Barbara Thorand. “However, vitamin-containing supplements are not a universal remedy, and particularly older people should watch out for maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet.”

In this context, the authors say their next objective is to continue investigating the metabolic pathways that link supplement intake, micronutrient status and disease states.

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Falls lead to declines in seniors

Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. Incredibly, as important as these factors are, as we age, the move more factor takes on added significance. Seniors with mobility problems can be more vulnerable than those without them. Mobility problems can come from a sedentary lifestyle as well as heavy medication.

More than half of elderly patients (age 65 and older) who visited an emergency department because of injuries sustained in a fall suffered adverse events – including additional falls, hospitalization and death – within 6 months. The results of a study examining how risk factors predict recurrent falls and adverse events were published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine (“Revisit, Subsequent Hospitalization, Recurrent Fall and Death within 6 Months after a Fall among Elderly Emergency Department Patients“).

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“Our study shows an even higher rate of adverse events than previous studies have,” said lead study author Jiraporn Sri-on, MD, of Navamindradhiraj University in Bangkok, Thailand. “Patients taking psychiatric and/or sedative medications had even more adverse events. This is concerning because these types of drugs are commonly prescribed for elderly patients in community and residential care settings.” Continue reading

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Facts about seniors drinking

What we put into our system counts a lot toward our daily health and ultimate longevity. So, I  thought this study on increasing seniors drinking was relevant.

Most older Americans drink alcohol. Given that this segment of the population is projected to almost double by 2050, reaching 112 million, in the future, there will likely be many more older drinkers in the United States than currently. Importantly, older individuals are more sensitive to alcohol’s effects than their younger counterparts, and are also more likely to take prescription medications that can interact negatively with alcohol, potentially leading to falls and other injuries. This study examined trends in drinking status among U.S. adults 60 years of age and older.

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Researchers analyzed data from the 1997-2014 National Health Interview Surveys: 65,303 respondents 60 years of age and older (31,803 men, 33,500 women) were current drinkers; 6,570 men and 1,737 women were binge drinkers. Analysis of respondents by sex, age group, and birth cohort showed differing trends over time. Continue reading

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Retirement and healthy lifestyle don’t always mix – Study

I have been retired for 17 years, since I turned 60, and my health has improved dramatically since then. I have lost around 20 pounds and I exercise regularly. I must confess that I got careless the first few years. There’s a dangerous ‘freedom’ you experience when you first retire that takes some getting used to. It turns out that I’m not the only one to encounter that situation.

Healthy lifestyle adherence among retired, late middle-aged adults may be more challenging than originally thought. New research,  from West Virginia University,

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published this week in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, sought to compare the rates of healthy lifestyle adherence among retired, late middle-aged adults to those who were still working. Continue reading

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“Bad” cholesterol fluctuations may worsen seniors’ brain health – AHA

•    Greater fluctuations in “bad” cholesterol levels may be linked to declining brain health in older adults.
    •    The negative effect from fluctuations was found regardless of average bad cholesterol levels or use of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Greater fluctuations in “bad” cholesterol levels may be linked to worse cognitive function in elderly adults, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

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In a study of European adults age 70 to 82 years old, researchers found that greater fluctuations in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, are associated with lower cognitive performance.

For example, study participants with the highest LDL cholesterol variability took 2.7 seconds longer on average to finish a cognitive test to name ink colors of color words written in different ink (for example, the word blue written in red ink), compared to individuals with the lowest variability.

“While this might seem like a small effect, it is significant at a population level,” said Roelof Smit, M.D., lead study author and a Ph.D. student at Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden, the Netherlands.

The link between variability and declining cognitive function was found regardless of average bad cholesterol levels or use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

In addition, greater fluctuations in bad cholesterol were associated with lower brain blood flow and greater white matter hyperintensity load – which has been linked to endothelial dysfunction.

These results show LDL cholesterol variability may be important to neurocognitive function, Smit said.

“Our findings suggest for the first time that it’s not just the average level of your LDL-cholesterol that is related to brain health, but also how much your levels vary from one measurement to another,” Smit said. (my emphasis)

Measurements fluctuate because of diet, exercise, frequency of cholesterol-lowering statins and other factors, he said. However, these fluctuations might also reflect an increasingly impaired homeostasis; for example, due to age or underlying disease, added J.Wouter Jukema, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study and professor of Cardiology at the Leiden University Medical Center. Continue reading

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Brain Game May Help Older Adults

As regular readers know, I have both Alzheimer’s and dementia in my family history. As a result, I am keenly interested in everything having to do with keeping the brain functioning throughout life. So far my research has taught me that is is very difficult to find anything that equals the benefit of cardiovascular exercise for sending oxygen molecules to the brain and creating new neurotransmitters. Please check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits) for more.
brainMost ‘brain games’ like crosswords and sudoku build skills in those specific games, but do not strengthen working memory.

Having said that, I am nonetheless passing on this information from the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences on a ‘brain game’ that is said to help seniors.

An international team of scientists has demonstrated that just one month of training on a “Virtual Week” computer brain game helps older adults significantly strengthen prospective memory – a type of memory that is crucial for planning, everyday functioning and independent living.

Seniors who played the cognitive-training game “more than doubled” the number of prospective memory tasks performed correctly compared to control groups that performed other activities such as music classes.

Continue reading

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Dance the Pain Away

The use of pain medicines fell by 39 percent among seniors in the dance group but rose 21 percent among those who did not dance, she noted.

The findings about walking speed are important, she added, because seniors who walk too slowly are more likely to fall, be hospitalized or require care from others.

Cooking with Kathy Man

Dancing can reduce seniors’ knee and hip pain and also improve their walking, a new, small study finds.

The research involved 34 seniors, average age 80, who all had pain or stiffness in their knees or hips as a result mainly of arthritis. The participants — mostly women — were assigned to a group that danced for 45 minutes up to two times a week for 12 weeks or to a control group that did not dance.

By the end of the 12 weeks, those who danced had less pain in their knees and hips and were able to walk faster, said Jean Krampe, an assistant professor of nursing at Saint Louis University and lead author of the study.

The use of pain medicines fell by 39 percent among seniors in the dance group but rose 21 percent among those who did not dance, she noted.

The findings about walking…

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Body Strengthening Yoga Poses – Infographic

Wandering through Pinterest, I ran across another super infographic that I wanted to share with you. Yoga is not a new subject to the blog. I wrote Why Should I Do Yoga? two years ago. One of the best reasons that yoga works for me, a bicycle rider, is that yoga is weight-bearing exercise and while bike riding is superb cardio exercise, it is not weight bearing so does not protect against osteoarthritis.

You can enlarge this by clicking on it

You can enlarge this by clicking on it

To read further on yoga check out: Are There Health Risks to Hot Yoga?

Yoga for Arthritis; Yoga for Seniors
Are There Immediate Benefits to doing Yoga?

Why is Yoga Good for You?

Tony

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A Memory Aid for Seniors: Laughter

“It’s simple, the less stress you have, the better your memory,” one of the study’s authors, Lee Berk, said in a Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology news release. “Humor reduces detrimental stress hormones like cortisol that decreases memory [brain cells], lowers your blood pressure and increases blood flow and your mood state. The act of laughter — or simply enjoying some humor — increases the release of endorphins and dopamine in the brain, which provides a sense of pleasure and reward.

Cooking with Kathy Man

Humor and laughter may help combat memory loss in the elderly, a new study suggests.

Previous research has found that the stress hormone cortisol can harm memory and learning ability in older adults. This new study examined whether mirth might reduce the damage caused by cortisol.

Researchers showed a 20-minute humorous video to a group of healthy seniors and a group of seniors with diabetes. These groups were compared with a group of seniors who didn’t see the video.

The two groups that watched the funny video showed significant decreases in cortisol levels and greater improvements on memory tests, compared to the group that didn’t see the video. The diabetes group showed the largest decrease in cortisol levels, while the healthy group had the greatest improvement on memory tests.

The study was to be presented Sunday at the Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego. Research presented at meetings should be…

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