The aging process is a daunting and inevitable one.
Which is why effort and action must be taken to improve the overall health, longevity, and quality of life.
Despite this, 80% of adults are not engaging in enough physical activity to reach prescribed guidelines. In general, but especially for seniors, inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle are extremely dangerous.
What are the dangers exactly? Increased risk of serious adverse health conditions such as blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity, cholesterol issues, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, depression, and death from any cause. In 2008 there were 5.3 million deaths worldwide caused by a lack of physical activity out of the 57 million deaths worldwide.122
Many people know weightlifting is hugely beneficial but think light walking or recreational activity is “good enough” for seniors. There is this misconception that older aged individuals should stay away from any strenuous activity that can build strength like weightlifting.
Women who want to protect themselves against cognitive decline as they age could get a leg up through legwork, according to a new study that found “a striking protective relationship” between aging women’s leg power and cognitive changes over 12 years.
Researchers in England reached this conclusion after analyzing leg muscle power and cognitive performance among 324 healthy female twins at baseline (average age, 55; range 43-73) and then 12 years later. After controlling for health and demographic variables, they found that the women who had increased leg power at baseline scored better on tests of brain processing speed and visual memory 12 years later than the women with lower leg power at baseline. Overall differences were modest but consistent, with a 40-watt leg explosive power (LEP) increase correlated with an average 3.3 years’ lower cognitive age.
Authors of the study assert that the use of twins further strengthens their conclusions, because they were able to compare 10-year differences among “discordant” twins—twins with similar genetic traits and childhood environmental influences, but whose leg power was different at baseline. As with entire group comparisons, researchers found that the twin with the greater leg power tended to demonstrate slower cognitive decline than her sister. The strongest differences were noted in dizygotic (fraternal) twins; less so in monozygotic (identical) twins.
Forget about staying young at heart. For most Americans, simply having a cardiovascular system that isn’t lapping them in the race to old age is a challenge, according to a new report that says 69 million US adults have a “heart age” that is, on average, 7 years older than their chronological age.
The findings were released in a “Vital Signs” report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To arrive at a heart age, CDC calculated the age of a person’s cardiovascular system based on risk factors that include high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes status, and body mass index (BMI). CDC researchers used data collected from every US state and information from the Framingham Heart Study in what they describe as the first to provide population-level estimates of heart age.
Although the older heart age phenomenon was pervasive, the range of differences play out across demographic lines. Half of American men aged 30-74, for example, have an estimated heart age that is, on average, 8 years older. Among women in the same age range, 2 in 5 have an estimated heart age that is an average of 5 years older.
In what its authors call “the largest and longest duration randomized trial of physical activity in older persons,” a new study asserts that a carefully structured, moderate physical activity program can reduce risk of losing the ability to walk without assistance.
The Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) trial included 1,635 sedentary men and women aged 70-89 at risk of disability. Participants were randomly assigned to a program of structured, moderate-intensity physical activity or to a health education program focused on topics related to successful aging, and then monitored for 2.6 years. The diverse participants were recruited from urban, suburban, and rural communities across the US. Results are available for free in the May 27th issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Happy New Year! As you look ahead to 2014, do you wonder what you or your parents might need in the year ahead to stay safe, healthy and independent at home?
You might think, “Hoo boy, grab bars, or maybe they should move.” Think again. Much of the preventive work that supports healthy aging at home can be done with nary a screwdriver. Here are 10 easy-to-follow New Year’s resolutions that you and your loved ones can make for a happy and healthy 2014.
1. Stop making “old” jokes. They perpetuate stereotypes about old age and make people feel worse about it, fueling a negativity (see Resolution 2) that causes problems. Self-deprecation has its place but does not need to be tied to the aging process.
2. Lighten up about aging. Similarly, positive attitudes about aging help people to live longer and feel better getting there.
Stay active and engaged in life, and the years will be less of a preoccupation.
3. Use realistic language about aging. No need to pretend that it’s a (slower) walk in the park, but “oldness” tends to be blamed for more problems than it causes. Why exaggerate? Say “I feel tired” instead of “I feel old” and “I feel energized” instead of “I feel young.” Speaking realistically will make it easier to talk pragmatically about changing needs; it will reduce denial and open the door to important cross-generational discussion.
Unlike their predecessors, baby boomers will remain as physically and mentally active as ever, even as they retire from their day jobs.
Sixty- and 70-year-olds will continue to push boundaries, explore and experiment, travel the world, play sports, and stay healthy and fit far longer than what has been considered possible only a generation or two ago – or so we are told by an onslaught of literature, advertisements and workshops for active retirement, declaring the twilight years as the best of all times.
The truth is that many retirees find it hard to stay active at all after having lived sedentary lifestyles for most of their lives.
How active people will continue to be largely depends on the kind of jobs they are retiring from, according to Dr. Stephen Kritchevsky, a professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine and director of the Sticht Center of Aging at Wake Forest Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Raised blood sugar may lead to memory problems even in people with no signs ofdiabetes, a study has found.
Researchers tested the memory and blood sugar levels of 141 apparently healthy people with an average age of 63.
None were suffering from diabetes, or experiencing pre-diabetic symptoms.
Participants with lower blood sugar levels were likely to have better scores in memory tests.
In one test, which involved recalling a list of 15 words 30 minutes after hearing them, higher blood sugar correlated with poorer memory.
Scans also showed that the hippocampus brain region, which is important to memory, was smaller in those with higher blood sugar.
“These results suggest that even for people within the normal range of blood sugar, lowering their blood sugar levels could be a promising strategy for preventing memory problems and cognitive decline as they age,” lead researcher Dr Agnes Floel, from the Charite University Medicine in Berlin, Germany, said.
This course reviews two articles that examine stage1 and stage II posterior tibial tendon dysfunction. The first article investigates differences in arch height, ankle muscle strength, and biomechanical factors in individuals with stage 1 dysfunction. The second article compares foot kinematics during a bi-lateral heel rise of individuals with stage II dysfunction to participants with normal medial longitudinal arches.
This course explores the roles of genetics, immune function, and diet associated with aging. It is based on two articles published by the National Institute on Aging. Learn the connection between metabolic stress and free radicals, as well as calorie restriction and increased life span. Nutritional requirements specific to the aging population are covered, and tips for reading food labels and keeping food safe are reviewed.
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Age-related memory loss is a distinct condition from pre-Alzheimer’s, new research shows, offering a hint that what we now consider the normal forgetfulness of old age might eventually be treatable. They discovered that a certain gene in a specific part of the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, quits working properly in older people.
Scientists have found a compelling clue in the quest to learn what causes age-related memory problems and to one day be able to tell if those misplaced car keys are just a "senior moment" or an early warning of something worse.
[The recent] report offers evidence that age-related memory loss really is a distinct condition from pre-Alzheimer’s — and offers a hint that what we now consider the normal forgetfulness of old age might eventually be treatable.
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center examined brains, young and old, donated from people who died without signs of neurologic disease. They discovered that a certain gene in a specific part of the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, quits working properly in older people. It produces less of a key protein.
That section of the brain, called the dentate gyrus, has long been suspected of being especially vulnerable to aging. Importantly, it’s a different neural neighborhood than where Alzheimer’s begins to form.