Tag 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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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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“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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How Much Weight Should You Lift?

Although the question of how much weight you should lift is a simple one, the answer isn’t so simple. A lot depends on why you are lifting. Do you want to build strength, or just build muscle size?

Bill Geiger, MA, of Bodybuilding.com writes, “You can pick up a 20-pound bar, curl it 75 times, and, after a while, you’ll become fatigued and your arms will get pumped. You’ll certainly be sweating a lot. Conversely, you can pick up an 85-pound bar, curl it 8 times, then have to drop it because you can’t do any more reps. In both cases, you trained “hard.” But is one approach better than another?

It may surprise you to learn that the answer changes depending on your goal. If you’re looking to get as strong as possible, you’ll be using a heavier weight than someone who is trying to get as big as possible. And to improve muscular endurance, you’ll use an even lighter weight.

• Strength training means choosing weights that allow you to train in a rep range of 1-6.
• Building muscle mean choosing weights that allow you to train in a rep range of 8-12.
• Focusing on muscular endurance means choosing weights that allow you to train for at least 15 reps.

As a senior citizen, I need to lift weights as much as the next guy, but I do not want to break or tear anything. So, I observe the following rule, the weights should not exceed 30 percent to 40 percent of your normal body weight.

The above is NOT Tony about to lift that barbell

Lifting heavy weights compresses the discs of the spine; twisting and turning while lifting or using your back muscles instead of your leg and thigh muscles to lift large, heavy objects can lead to a herniated disk and a lifetime of back pain. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should not exercise with more than 60 pounds of weights because as you age, the spinal discs are not as flexible and the risk of a back injury increases.

I mentioned in previous posts that as a senior citizen, I now do what I call ‘old man’ reps, i.e., half the weight with twice as many reps. The idea behind this is to work and lubricate the connecting tissues as well as to exercise the actual muscle.

Tony

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Does Prevagen Really Improve Memory?

I keep seeing ads for this so-called healthy brain drug PREVAGEN on the Weather Channel.

I need to preface this with a little background. I have had at least three family members die with Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia. I am going to be 76 years old next month, so you can bet I really care about my brain continuing to function at its current high level.

What about those Prevagen ads that promise, as it says on the package, “Improves memory, Supports Healthy Brain function, Sharper Mind, Clearer Thinking”?

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Sounds great if you are a senior like me – and there are millions of us. The baby boomers are all ready for a brain tune up.  Everyone who has ever suffered from a senior moment is a ripe prospect for this stuff. Cha-ching. That was the sound of a cash register.

My own first reaction was, “This is crap. They are trying to prey on the worst fears of us seniors.”

Here is what ConsumerLab.com says about Prevagen, “According to the company’s website, people who use people Prevagen (Quincy Bioscience) can “experience improved memory, a sharper mind, and clearer thinking. Unfortunately, no peer-reviewed studies have been published to back up these claims. In addition, the FDA has warned Quincy Bioscience in the past against claiming Prevagen could treat conditions such as head injuries and Alzheimer’s disease and for failing to report adverse reactions. The FDA has also claimed that the key ingredient, apoaequorin, a synthetic protein, is not an acceptable ingredient in a dietary supplement. “

As far back as 2012, MyAdvocates had a blog entry on the FDA issuing a warning letter that “accused the company of not reporting to the government “adverse events like seizures, strokes, and worsening symptoms of multiple sclerosis that had been reported to your firm as being associated with the use of Prevagen products.” Reports about the supplement to the company have also included chest pain, tremors, fainting and other serious symptoms, the FDA says.

So, my first reaction wasn’t too far afield.

But wait, seniors, don’t give up hope. I have addressed this problem numerous times on the blog. Please check out my Page – Important Facts About your Brain ( and Exercise Benefits).

Additionally, I would like to recommend the book Spark,  The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain by John J. Ratey, M.D.

Finally, for those seniors who are doing crosswords and sudoku puzzles to stave off memory loss, check out – Exercise, not just Sudoku for Seniors.

Prevagen is a drug not a vitamin for the brain. I think you are always going to be better off if you try to better your situation naturally rather than with pills.

Eat less; move more; live longer. Words to live by.

Tony

 

 

 

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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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Exercise More and Live Longer – New York Times

Gretchen Reynolds, writing in the New York Times, had some great information on the value of exercise in terms of living longer. She said that one of the problems with exercise is that experts aren’t clear on how much is too little, too much or just the right amount to for us to be healthy and, more importantly, to improve our longevity.

In one broad large scale study, comparing 14 years of death records, “They found that, unsurprisingly, the people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death.

7-Health-Benefits-Of-Walking-Every-Day“But those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but doing something, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent.”

“Those who met the guidelines precisely, completing 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, enjoyed greater longevity benefits and 31 percent less risk of dying during the 14-year period compared with those who never exercised.”

As a senior citizen who works on endurance and worries about breaking and tearing body parts with strenuous exercise, I was gratified to learn the conclusion: “The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.”

I have said time and again in this blog that walking is the Cinderella of the exercise world – totally under-appreciated, but really royalty.

Eat less; move more has been the mantra of this blog almost from the beginning. I would like to amend that to: eat less; move more; live longer.

Here are some of the posts I have done concerning seniors and exercise:
Why Seniors Need to Exercise – NIH
Weight Training Techniques for Seniors
What About Seniors Doing Endurance Sports?
What are the Guidelines for Seniors Exercising?

To read more on the benefits of walking:
Why You Should be Walking More
20 Benefits of Walking – Infographic
ow Good is Walking for You? – Infographic
Is Walking as Effective an Exercise as Running?
What are the Benefits of Walking and Bicycle Riding?

Last, but not least, no one wants to live long without the benefit of a fully functioning brain: check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise). You can have it all.
Tony

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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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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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Older Women Who Consume Too Many Diet Drinks Increase Risk of Heart Trouble

Women reporting at least two 12-oz. diet drinks a day were 29% more likely to have a fatal or nonfatal cardiac event than those in the lowest intake group, reporting no more than three diet drinks a month, Ankur Vyas, MD, of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

Check out my Page What’s Wrong with Soft Drinks for more details on diet and sugary drinks.

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

A daily habit of two or more diet drinks was linked to modestly elevated risk of cardiovascular events and death from any cause in women, an observational analysis showed.

But Jeffrey Kuvin, MD, vice-chair of the program committee for the American College of Cardiology meeting here, called the results provocative but not yet convincing enough to drive change.

“We know pretty well that nondiet drinks, or sweetened beverages, are associated with weight gain, diabetes, and coronary heart disease,” Kuvin, of Tufts Medical Center in Boston, told reporters at a press telebriefing he chaired.

“I’m not ready just yet to give up my diet soft drinks,” he added. “But if the data continue to be as compelling, I think all of us should take a close look and see why this might be. Is it the caffeine? Is it the sweetener? Is it what goes along with it? Perhaps it heightens…

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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.

Continue reading

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Filed under aging, endurance sports, seniors, Weight, weight-bearing exercise, weight-training

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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Filed under aging, biking, Exercise, seniors, warming up

How Much Weight Should You Lift?

Although the question of how much weight you should lift is a simple one, the answer isn’t so simple. A lot depends on why you are lifting. Do you want to build strength, or just build muscle size?

Bill Geiger, MA, of Bodybuilding.com writes, “You can pick up a 20-pound bar, curl it 75 times, and, after a while, you’ll become fatigued and your arms will get pumped. You’ll certainly be sweating a lot. Conversely, you can pick up an 85-pound bar, curl it 8 times, then have to drop it because you can’t do any more reps. In both cases, you trained “hard.” But is one approach better than another?

It may surprise you to learn that the answer changes depending on your goal. If you’re looking to get as strong as possible, you’ll be using a heavier weight than someone who is trying to get as big as possible. And to improve muscular endurance, you’ll use an even lighter weight.

•    Strength training means choosing weights that allow you to train in a rep range of 1-6.
•    Building muscle mean choosing weights that allow you to train in a rep range of 8-12.
•    Focusing on muscular endurance means choosing weights that allow you to train for at least 15 reps.

As a senior citizen, I need to lift weights as much as the next guy, but I do not want to break or tear anything. So, I observe the following rule, the weights should not exceed 30 percent to 40 percent of your normal body weight.

The above is NOT Tony about to lift that barbell

Lifting heavy weights compresses the discs of the spine; twisting and turning while lifting or using your back muscles instead of your leg and thigh muscles to lift large, heavy objects can lead to a herniated disk and a lifetime of back pain. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should not exercise with more than 60 pounds of weights because as you age, the spinal discs are not as flexible and the risk of a back injury increases.

I mentioned in previous posts that as a senior citizen, I now do what I call ‘old man’ reps, i.e., half the weight with twice as many reps. The idea behind this is to work and lubricate the connecting tissues as well as to exercise the actual muscle.

Tony

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Filed under aging, Exercise, Weight

Seniors Who Walk Faster Tend to Live Longer – Tufts

If you can’t really outrun the Grim Reaper, maybe you can at least keep him at bay a bit longer by walking fast. University of Pittsburgh researchers analyzing data from 9 studies totaling 34,485 seniors found that gait speed was an effective predictor of life expectancy – possibly filling a gap as a marker of well-being among older adults, according to the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Update.

Over a range of 6 to 21 years, 17,528 study participants died. Those with faster walking speeds at the beginning were more likely to live longer – an association that was strongest after age 75.


Overall, the median life expectancy was associated with a gait speed of about 2.6 feet per second; people whose usual pace, from a standing start, was 3.3 feet per second or faster “consistently demonstrated survival that was longer than expected by age and sex alone.”

Researchers suggested that “slowing gait may reflect both damaged systems and a high energy cost of walking,” adding, “Gait speed may be a simple and accessible indicator of the health of the older person.”

Time Magazine has a nice video on it here.

Walking is a wonderful exercise that is available to virtually everyone. To read further on it, check out my Page – Why You Should Walk More.

Tony

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