Category Archives: successful aging

The Surprising Secret to Healthy Aging

Really good information in this.

 

To read more on lining your head up straight, check out my Page – Positive psychology – What’s it all about?

Tony

Our Better Health

You probably know that exercise and diet are important when it comes to aging well. But there is something else you control that can help you along: a positive attitude.

Research shows more and more that your approach to life may be just as important in making your “golden years” your best years.

Aging: It’s in Your Mind

Growing older brings with it some natural changes (think those creaky knees). But folks who see good years ahead and who don’t accept stereotypes about aging — such as you’re less useful — may actually live longer.

And there’s science to back that up.

One study found that thinking positively about getting older can extend lifespan by 7.5 years. And that’s after accounting for things such as gender, wealth, and overall health. Some 660 women and men in Ohio joined this study, and they were monitored for more than 20 years.

If…

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5 Lessons on making a happy life – Harvard

I am all for living a long and healthy life and this blog is filled with suggestions on achieving that. But, besides having a functional brain and body in our senior years, we also want to be happy about it. Harvard has studied a group of men and boys over the past 78 years in what is one of the longest studies of adult life ever done.

“The Harvard Study of Adult Development has tracked the lives of 724 men from the time they were teenagers into old age — 268 Harvard College sophomores, and 456 boys from Boston’s inner city.”

 

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Here are five of the big lessons they learned about what contributes to a good life.

Lesson 1: Happy childhoods matter

Having warm relationships with parents in childhood predicts that you will have warmer and more secure relationships with those closest to you in adulthood. We found that warm childhoods reached across decades to predict more secure relationships with spouses at age 80. A close relationship with at least one sibling in childhood predicts that people are less likely to become depressed by age 50. And warmer childhood relationships predict better physical health in adulthood all the way into old age. Continue reading

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Good heart health in middle age improves/extends golden years – AHA

Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. Now, according to the American Heart Association, the sooner you start, the better.

People with no major heart disease risk factors in middle age live longer and stay healthy far longer than others, according to a 40-year study reported in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

“Good cardiovascular health in middle age delays the onset of many types of disease so that people live longer and spend a much smaller proportion of their lives with chronic illness,” said Norrina Allen, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

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In the first study to analyze the impact of cardiovascular health in middle age on the duration of illness later in life, researchers examined data from the Chicago Health Association study, which did initial health assessments in the late 1960s/early 1970s and has followed participants on an ongoing basis using Medicare health records. Researchers determined how many participants had favorable factors: non-smokers, free of diabetes and normal weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels; versus those with elevated risk factors or high risk factors. Continue reading

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Another Favorite – Visual Mind Games

At the risk or appearing like I am selling out on my idea of protecting my brain by exercising regularly, I would like to suggest this fun pastime as an additional line of defense against cognitive impairment.

I wrote this for another blog I write occasionally and thought it would be of interest to you. I know a lot of folks are doing adult coloring books these days for relaxation. I thought these puzzles would be a nice step up that could be more challenging to the imagination.

Tony

Willing Wheeling

I ran across these at an art fair years ago. They are wonderful brightly colored shapes that you get to remake into various geometric visions. You can see more at the website of Kadon Enterprises, Inc. Kadon says that the creation of tiling patterns is an ancient and still very popular art form and recreation. “In quilting designs, floor tiles and wallpaper patterns, we find geometric shapes that fit together in attractive, usually symmetrical arrangements.”

There is a wonderful brochure that comes with each puzzle that explains some of the relationships between the angles and gets into the math of it.

Although I have only pictured two, I hope you can see how multi-faceted this is. I spend many happy hours exploring this and many of their other puzzles.

I used these two shots so you could see the simplest variation. The tiles are acrylic and fit into place perfectly.

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Weight-bearing exercises protect against osteoporosis – Study

Just two days ago I posted on older men being at risk of osteoporosis. “As I reported here, after the age of 50 men are as likely to get osteoporosis as prostate cancer. More to the point, older people of both sexes have great vulnerability to it.”

Now comes a new study that explains how weight-bearing exercises affect our bone structure and fight that disease.

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Osteoporosis affects more than 200 million people worldwide and is a serious public health concern, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Now, Pamela Hinton, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, has published the first study in men to show that long-term, weight-bearing exercises decrease sclerostin, a protein made in the bone, and increase IGF-1, a hormone associated with bone growth. These changes promote bone formation, increasing bone density. 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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Is it Okay to Exercise if you Suffer from Arthritis?

Because arthritis sufferers experience pain when they move, many conclude that not moving is healthier because it doesn’t hurt. Unfortunately, that is one instance where listening to your body is not the best course of action. I hope the following information will alter that conclusion.

First, some startling statistics on arthritis from Ashley Boynes.

Some 50 million Americans have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. That’s 22 per cent of the population, more than 1-in-5 adults!

Arthritis costs the US economy $128 BILLION per year.

Sad statistic – 31 per cent of US 18-64 year olds with arthritis either can’t work, or report work limitations.

Arthritis is the number one MOST COMMON disability.

Some 32 percent of veterans surveyed in 36 States had been diagnosed with arthritis, compared with 22 percent of non-veterans, representing a 50 per cent increased risk for arthritis for veterans.

More than 1,000,000 joints will be replaced this year alone.

To answer the question about suitability of exercising with arthritis, I recently attended a Northwestern Memorial Hospital Healthy Transitions presentation on Arthritis and Exercise.
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Yet another reason for seniors to stay active

At the risk of sounding repetitious, eat less; move more; live longer. As a 77-year old who rides his bike daily, this kind of info is music to my ears.

Older adults with higher levels of physical activity have pain modulation patterns that might help lower their risk of developing chronic pain, reports a study in PAIN®, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

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In tests of pain processing by the central nervous system, physically active older adults have lower pain perception and are better able to block responses to painful stimuli, according to the new research by Kelly M. Naugle, PhD, and colleagues of Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. “This study provides the first objective evidence suggesting that physical activity behavior is related to the functioning of the endogenous pain modulatory systems in older adults,” the researchers write.

Being More Active, Less Sedentary, Affects Pain Perceptions in Older Adults

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Famous people born today – January 26

General Douglas MacArthur, Paul Newman, Angela Davis, Wayne Gretzky, Eddie Van Halen, Jules Feiffer and Ellen DeGeneres were all born on January 26.

Oh, yes, and one not so famous. It’s also my birthday. I am now 77 years old. I am happy to say that I feel great and am healthier than I was 20 years ago when I toiled in the working world.

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This is my birthday picture from last year. It’s the only one I have that’s decorated.

This is from my birthday blog post last year:

One of the main reasons I feel like I have things so together is this blog. I started writing it in March of 2010 with a partner who has since left for other pursuits. From the beginning, I discovered a focus. At first it was simply trying to keep my weight down. I learned portion control and serving size. This Italian guy was surprised to learn that a “serving” of pasta was not a 10 inch plate heaped with spaghetti noodles smothered in tomato sauce. No, a serving of pasta is about the size of a baseball. Incredibly, that was a revelation to me. But I put the information to use. I began to reduce my portions accordingly. I am not going to recount all the lessons I learned in the past nearly six years, but if you want to get control of your weight, check out my Page – How to Lose Weight – and Keep it Off. Continue reading

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Delirium could accelerate dementia-related mental decline

It ain’t easy being green, according to Kermit. Turns out it ain’t so easy being old either.

New research by UCL and University of Cambridge shows delirium may have long-lasting consequences, including accelerating the dementia process

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When hospitalized, people can become acutely confused and disorientated. This condition, known as delirium, affects a quarter of older patients and new research by UCL and University of Cambridge shows it may have long-lasting consequences, including accelerating the dementia process.

The study, published today in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, is the first to show the multiplying effects of delirium and dementia in these patients.

Episodes of delirium in people who are not known to have dementia, might also reveal dementia at its earliest stages, the research found.

While both delirium and dementia are important factors in cognitive decline among the elderly, delirium is preventable and treatable through dedicated geriatric care.

Further research is needed to understand exactly how delirium interacts with dementia, and how this could be blocked.

“If delirium is causing brain injury in the short and long-term, then we must increase our efforts to diagnose, prevent and treat delirium. Ultimately, targeting delirium could be a chance to delay or reduce dementia” said Dr. Daniel Davis (MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL), who led the research while at the University of Cambridge.

Scientists looked at three European populations – in Finland, Cambridge and UK-wide – and examined brain specimens in 987 people aged 65 and older. Each person’s memory, thinking and experience of delirium had been recorded over 10 years towards the end of their life.

When these were linked with pathology abnormalities due to Alzheimer’s and other dementias, those with both delirium and dementia-changes had the most severe change in memory.

Dr Davis added: “Unfortunately, most delirium goes unrecognized. In busy hospitals, a sudden change in confusion not be noticed by hospital staff. Patients can be transferred several times and staff often switch over – it requires everyone to ‘think delirium’ and identify that a patient’s brain function has changed.”

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Walking program linked to reduced disability

Falls are a top cause of disability for older adults. But a study published Sept. 26, 2016, in Annals of Internal Medicine, suggests that adopting a regular routine of moderate physical activity, such as walking, helps older adults remain mobile longer and may also help them to recover faster from physical disabilities, according to Harvard Health Publications.

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Researchers analyzed information from a previous randomized controlled trial that divided 1,600 sedentary adults ages 70 to 89 into two groups. One group received ongoing health education classes that included upper-body stretching exercises. The other group took part in a structured exercise program several days a week that included walking and some strength, flexibility, and balance training.

Researchers assessed both groups over a period of three-and-a-half years. The new study concludes that people in the exercise group reduced the amount of time spent suffering from major disability by 25%, compared with people in the health education group. People in the exercise group also appeared less likely to experience disability in the first place, and more likely to recover if they did.

While falls cause serious injuries to older adults, the exercise walking benefits all ages, please check out my Page – Why you should walk more to see how good it is for you.

Tony

 

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Seniors’ brains benefit from distraction – Study

While I want to live past 100, I also want to have my brain fully functional. So, any piece of information that satisfies that criterion, is music to my ears.

As you age, you may find it more difficult to focus on certain tasks. But while distractions can be frustrating, they may not be as bad as we think. In a review published November 15 in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, researchers at the University of Toronto and Harvard University suggest that there may be some benefits to reduced focus, especially in people over 50. Using behavioral studies and neuroimaging evidence, the researchers discuss how being easily distracted can help adults with, for example, problem solving and learning new information.

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“Different types of tasks benefit from a more broad focus of attention, and this is usually seen in tasks that involve thinking creatively or using information that was previously irrelevant,” says first author Tarek Amer, a psychology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto and a graduate student at the Rotman Research Institute. “The literature gives us the impression that older adults are essentially doomed as their cognitive abilities decrease, when, in reality, many older adults get along just fine in their day-to-day lives, and we think that shows that aging adults don’t always need to have high cognitive control.”

When people have high cognitive control, they are able to maintain their focused attention and ignore distractions to get things done. But Amer and his colleagues found that people with reduced cognitive control had an easier time thinking of creative solutions to problems, and they were better at noticing patterns in the world around them. These findings also indicated that older adults could outperform their younger counterparts on certain problem-solving tasks, as they were able to broaden their attention more easily. Additionally, people didn’t require high levels of cognitive control for inherent, day-to-day tasks, like walking down the street or learning new information.

In order to explore the benefits of cognitive control, many lab-based behavioral experiments require participants to complete a specific set of tasks, limiting the role of distraction. But the researchers say these experiments have shortcomings, as they don’t explore situations when distractions and reduced cognitive control could be helpful, making the conclusions fairly one sided.

“Many of the tasks that we study in classic cognitive psychology are tasks that require high cognitive control, but these assigned tasks might not accurately mirror what people do in the real world because they limit distractions,” says co-author Lynn Hasher, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and the Rotman Research Institute. “But a distraction in one setting can actually be useful information in another setting, and the more information you have, the better able you’re going to be to address a current problem.”

Amer and his colleagues hope to use this information to determine exactly what tasks can benefit from reduced control in order to better simulate these experiences in a lab. Although they also hope to expand the research beyond the aging population to examine how distractions can be beneficial for people with a range of cognitive impairments, for now they recognize that this understanding of cognitive control is a step closer to understanding the aging brain.

“There is a question about what really sustains performance in old age, and it’s clear that working memory alone cannot provide us with the answer to that question,” says Hasher. “But we think it’s possible that studying reduced cognitive control can help us understand how older adults can still perform independently and successfully in their lives.”

While it is gratifying to learn that some slippage in our mental acuity is not necessarily harmful, it is also crucial that we keep are mental ‘hardware’ in toptop shape. Please check out my Page -While it is gratifying to learn that some slippage in our mental acuity is not necessarily harmful, it is also crucial that we keep are mental ‘hardware’ in toptop shape. Please check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) for more.

Tony

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It’s never too late to start exercising – Harvard

Exercise can ward off chronic disease and help you maintain your independence and mobility. But the older we get in the United States, the less active we are, according to a study published Sept. 16, 2016, in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Researchers analyzed data from a 2014 national health survey, focusing on adults ages 50 or older. Over all, about 28% of those people had not exercised in a month. But inactivity increased with age: non-exercisers amounted to about 25% of people ages 50 to 64, about 27% of people 65 to 74, and about 35% of people 75 or older, the Harvard Health Blog reported.

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I used this illustration in the post on sarcopenia and loved it enough to repeat it.

The good news? “It’s never too late to become physically active! We have research studies showing that changing from being inactive to active—whether occurring in your 40s, 50s, 60s, or even 70s—is beneficial for health,” says Dr. I-Min Lee, a Harvard Medical School professor. Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking. If you’re unable to meet that goal, remember that any physical activity will provide health benefits, so do what you can manage based on your ability and your doctor’s advice.

Since this is a blog post, I would like to make it more personal. I wrote about sarcopenia back in August. Don’t know the term? The Mayo Clinic Blog said, “It is a simple fact. As we age we lose muscle and strength. There’s even a medical term for this — sarcopenia. It’s derived from the Greek words “sarcos” (flesh) and “penia” (lack of). Continue reading

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80-year old reshaping views of aging in China

In this blog devoted to living a long healthy life with a fully functional brain at the end, I just had to share this news item on “China’s hottest grandpa.”

Here is a link to the article in today’s New York Times.

I never thought I would be offering you a video with Chinese as the spoken language, but there is a sub-titled translation below it and you will have a chance to meet the sparkling Mr. Deshun for yourself.

“Determined to avoid mental and physical stagnation, Mr. Wang has explored new skills and ideas while devoting ample time to daily exercise. Last year, he walked the runway for the first time, his physique causing a national sensation. He takes obvious joy in subverting China’s image of what it means to be old,” Didi Kirsten Tatlow wrote in the Times.

I was not aware that old age in China begins relatively early. “The legal retirement age for women is 50 for workers and 55 for civil servants, and 60 for most men.”

Besides his healthy mental outlook, he carries on his avid interest in swimming managing a half mile a day. (my emphasis)

He says that he is not picky about food. He eats whatever he wants. Clearly, he is making good choices to be in such wonderful condition.

Tony

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High Blood Pressure May Impair Cognitive Function and Pose Risk for Alzheimer’s

My family history of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia popped this news item up onto my radar screen.

Before considering problems with high blood pressure, let’s understand what it is. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushed against the the wall of the arteries. It depends on the strength of the heartbeat, thickness and volume of the blood, the elasticity of the artery walls and general health. It is the arterial pressure of the circulation, a dynamic process that fluctuates all day.

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Normal BP is 120/80, systolic/diastolic. Prehypertensive is 120-139 over 80-89. Stage one hypertension is 140-159 over 90 – 99. Stage two hypertension reads 160 -179 over 100 – 109.

Some of the causes of high blood pressure include smoking, overweight, lack of physical activity, too much salt, too much alcohol, stress, older age, genetics. Continue reading

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Vitamin D engages longevity gene to increase lifespan – Study

I  have written about the benefits of Vitamin D a number of times. You can check some of the links at the end of this post to read further. Now comes Neuroscience News with a report on  its possible impact on increased longevity.

Research in C. elegans shows the popular supplement engages longevity genes to increase lifespan and prevent the accumulation of toxic proteins linked to many age-related diseases.

A simple Google search for “what does vitamin D do?” highlights the widely used dietary supplement’s role in regulating calcium absorption and promoting bone growth. But now it appears that vitamin D has much wider effects — at least in the nematode worm, C. elegans. Research at the Buck Institute shows that vitamin D works through genes known to influence longevity and impacts processes associated with many human age-related diseases. The study, published in Cell Reports, may explain why vitamin D deficiency has been linked to breast, colon and prostate cancer, as well as obesity, heart disease and depression.

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“Vitamin D engaged with known longevity genes – it extended median lifespan by 33 percent and slowed the aging-related misfolding of hundreds of proteins in the worm,” said Gordon Lithgow, PhD, senior author and Buck Institute professor. “Our findings provide a real connection between aging and disease and give clinicians and other researchers an opportunity to look at vitamin D in a much larger context.” Continue reading

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