Category Archives: seniors

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,

Running

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.

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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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How 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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How to Exercise Safely in Hot Weather – NIH

With summer upon us it is important to play it safe when we play outside. Too much heat can be risky for healthy 40 year olds as well as seniors. The National Institutes of Health has issued the following tips for hot weather fun.

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Check the weather forecast. If it’s very hot or humid, exercise inside with a Go4Life DVD or walk in an air-conditioned building like a shopping mall.

Drink plenty of liquids. Water and fruit juices are good options. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. If your doctor has told you to limit liquids, ask what to do when it is very hot outside.

Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes in natural fabrics.

Dress in layers so you can remove clothing as your body warms up from activity.

Get medical help right away if you think someone might have a heat-related illness. Watch for these signs: Continue reading

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Filed under aging, cardio exercise, health, healthy living, hot weather, hydration, men's health, mortality, National Institutes of Health, running, seniors, strength, stress, walking, water, Weight

Weight Training Techniques for Seniors

One of my problems with most advice on working with weights is that it is written by young jocks for young jocks. I am a senior citizen and I don’t want to break or tear any parts of my body. If I tried to emulate some of the recommendations or workouts done by you younger guys and gals I think I would end up in the emergency room.

The principles of exercise change for seniors whether it is cardio or resistance work. I have written about seniors doing endurance sports and also seniors lifting weights.

Dr. Anthony Goodman, in the course I took called Lifelong Health, said that seniors should concentrate on using lower weights, but do higher reps because seniors want to strengthen their ligaments and tendons as well as the muscles. Ligaments and tendons weaken as we age and lead to injuries that can really slow you down. Strengthening ligaments can also protect you from common aging problems like Achilles tendon rupture, rotator cuff tears in the shoulder and hip and knee injuries.

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Having said that, I am very pleased to pass on the bottom quarter of a recommendation from Dr. Doug McGuff as reported by Dr. Mercola on his fitness website in January of 2012. Although over a year old, it was news, welcome news, to me. I hope it will be to you, too. Sometimes old news is good news.

Dr. McGuff is explaining super-slow weight lifting. As you will see in his conclusion it is especially helpful for seniors.

Essentially, by aggressively working your muscle to fatigue, you’re stimulating the muscular adaptation that will improve the metabolic capability of the muscle and cause it to grow. McGuff recommends using four or five basic compound movements for your exercise set. These exercises can be done using either free weights or machines. The benefit of using a quality machine is that it will allow you to focus your mind on the effort, as opposed on the movement, because the movement is restricted by the structure of the machine.

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How Can Senior Cyclists Warm Up Faster?

I am over 70 and averaged biking over 20 miles a day last year, most of them with my dog in the basket. My pace is one that keeps my heart rate in the target zone, but otherwise I am not breaking any speed records. Thought this discussion of warm ups from our friends at RBR Newsletter for senior cyclists worth reading.

Biking on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive with poochie.

This senior cycling on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive with poochie.

Question:
Have you guys noticed that it takes much longer to warm up for a ride? Once upon a time I could jam from the gun. Now, 40 years later, it takes me close to 40 minutes to get comfortable going hard. And if I push hard too early, the ride seems to stay hard to the finish. Is this common among senior riders or unique to my physiology? — Art W.

Coach Fred Matheny Replies:
I’m afraid that difficulty feeling good and performing well without a warm-up is common among older riders. As the saying goes: “By the time I’m warmed up, I’m too tired to ride!” Continue reading

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Is Cycling Past 70 Different Than Cycling Past 50?

I ran across this excellent discussion of senior cycling on RoadBikeRider.com. They have graciously permitted me to reprint it. See permission at end.

RBR Editor’s Note: Coach John Hughes copied me on a recent email exchange he had with Marty Hoganson, an RBR reader with whom he had ridden on tours in years gone by. Marty wondered what, if any, differences there are in terms of recovery, motivation, etc., between 50-somethings and 70-somethings. Both agreed to let me share the exchange with RBR readers. It provides a wealth of solid, useful information.

Marty Asked:
These days I live and ride in Yuma, Arizona. I am involved in our local bike club called Foothills Bicycle Club, which is primarily made up of retired folks – late-50s to mid-80s. Many strong riders in their 60s and 70s, for their ages — or any age, for that matter.

Now that I am older also I have taken some interest in your articles on cycling and aging. I was wondering how cycling over 70 relates to your articles on cycling over 50? I’m pretty sure they don’t necessarily relate well. I am arriving in that 70+ age group this year, and have been feeling the difference in recovery time and healing from injuries for quite a few years.

The plus 70 year old blogger riding with his dog on Northerly Island in Chicago.

The plus 70 year old blogger riding with his dog on Northerly Island in Chicago.

What used to take three days to recover from, while riding a tour, may now take longer than the tour lasts. Maybe months longer. I ride year-round and still ride pretty strong, but I’m also experiencing a loss of interest in doing long days. I still like to do long tours, but with shorter days. I’m wondering if the lack of desire or drive might be a major contributing factor in the loss of performance, or if the loss of performance leads to the lack of desire to train harder? Also, if the shorter days might lead to the longer recovery times? Continue reading

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Short Bursts of Exercise are Heart Helpful – Study

Short bursts of exercise like walking up stairs or doing yard work are excellent for warding off health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, according to an article in the Daily Mirror.

This is fascinating news to me as Chicago recently succumbed to winter with snow, ice and vicious cold weather here. Because of the weather conditions, I was unable to ride my bike outside and had to opt for the health club. The good news is that I got some welcome weight work done as opposed to just cardio on the bike. However, there was something about riding the exercise bike and pumping the rowing machine indoors that felt unsatisfying. I missed the fresh air and general sights and smells of the outdoors. So, this news about short bursts of more generalized exercise were heart healthy was music to my ears.

Maybe trips to the health club aren't as necessary as we thought

Maybe trips to the health club aren’t as necessary as we had thought …

NHS Choices said, “The news is based on the results of a cross-sectional study which suggested that even less than 10 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity, such as climbing stairs, ‘count’ and may be as beneficial as longer periods of exercise. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, blood pressure, blood sugar, calories, cardio exercise, cold weather, Exercise, Oleda Baker, senior supermodel, seniors, treadmills, Weight, weight-bearing exercise

Senior Sleep Habits Damage Memory Abilities – Berkeley

I have posted numerous times on the value of a good night’s sleep in our daily lives. Click on How Important is a Good Night’s Sleep to see seven of them. Now comes the University of California at Berkeley with a report that helps to explain the connection between poor sleep, memory loss and brain deterioration as we grow older. The discovery may open the door to boosting the quality of sleep in seniors to improve their memory.

Man Sleeping In
“UC Berkeley neuroscientists have found that the slow brain waves generated during the deep, restorative sleep we typically experience in youth play a key role in transporting memories from the hippocampus – which provides short-term storage for memories – to the prefrontal cortex’s longer term “hard drive.”

“However, in older adults, memories may be getting stuck in the hippocampus due to the poor quality of deep ‘slow wave’ sleep, and are then overwritten by new memories, the findings suggest.

““What we have discovered is a dysfunctional pathway that helps explain the relationship between brain deterioration, sleep disruption and memory loss as we get older – and with that, a potentially new treatment avenue,” said sleep researcher Matthew Walker, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and senior author of the study to be published this Sunday, Jan. 27, in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

“The findings shed new light on some of the forgetfulness common to the elderly that includes difficulty remembering people’s names. Continue reading

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New Year’s Resolutions, er, Revolutions

Getting through December in a four season climate like Chicago is a dicey experience for a guy who wants to ride his bike every day. You just don’t know what the weatherman will be serving up on any given day.

December usually has some of the most bizarre offerings, unfortunately. However, this year was one for the record books. No snowfall of an inch or more since March. This was the third most snow free season on record with 0.9 inch the lowest since 1939. The year 2012 was the warmest in Chicago’s 142 year observational record dating back to 1871.

Easily mistaken for Tony, this is an ad from J2 Studios. That' one hot set of wheels.

Easily mistaken for Tony, this hot-looking guy is from Shawn Jantzen’s J2 Studios. One hot set of wheels.

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I just finished adding up my bike riding for the year and it comes to, wait for it … 8,433 miles. I don’t know if you are impressed, but I am. This mellow December has been most helpful in my biking. Normally, we have snow and really difficult weather for riding at all, let alone virtually every day. This year, as you can see from the first paragraph – warmer and less snow. I bought a new car on February 25. I have driven it 4200 miles.

This cycling total is most gratifying to me because last year I rode 6,300 and thought I had begun to slow down due to my age. In 2010, the prior year, my total was 7,111 which was the most I had ever ridden. I was not surprised when I slid back the following year.

The 8,433 miles comes to a daily average – 366 days in 2012 – of 23.04 miles. A 23 mile ride lasts around two hours and burns about 1000 calories, thus expanding my gustatory horizons for the remainder of the day. It also works my heart and lungs and pumps up fresh oxygen to my brain creating new neurotransmitters.
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Filed under 2012 in review, aging, biking, calories, cardio exercise, cold weather, Exercise, happiness, heart, heart rate, men's health, seniors, Weight, winter