The Challenges of Health Care for an Aging Population

October 15, 2012 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

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Many dire predictions surround the effects of the aging Baby Boomer generation on the health care system. A severe shortage of health care workers combined with costs that threaten to implode Medicare have worried analysts for more than two decades. How bad are things really? With the number of elderly in the United States already reaching 70 million strong, most experts agree that the growing and changing needs of the population mean that health care needs to change with them. There are several factors at work in the health care situation today.

1. People are Aging Differently

Not only are there more people over retirement age than ever before, they also have access to procedures, treatments, and medications that their parents never did. We spend an average of five times more on the health care of an elderly person than a working adult . The unhealthy American lifestyle greatly increases the money spent on heart disease, cancer, and other conditions. But health costs are also increased by relatively modern developments such as home care equipment, cosmetic surgery, and increased physical therapy. This has also given way to a number of more specialized health careers. Hospitals and clinics are in constant need of trained professionals who can provide the greater quality of life services that seniors are growing to expect.

2. Supply could be Worse than Demand

Even considering the fact that seniors are interested in a greater quality of life, many argue that the aging population is far less of a problem than the commercial nature of the health industry. In other words, patients are costing more money because of an industry rife with excess and fraud which is trying to make money off of them. The invention of new drugs and technology can often be a great thing, but it can also lead to unnecessary medicating and needless products, which the manufacturers charge higher and higher prices to provide.

3. The Growth of Seniors is a Global and Economic Issue

The current economic climate as well as the issues with health care costs is not unique to America – these issues have effected every major nation in the world. By 2050, the percentage of people over 65 will more than double, and their health costs could rise to an average of 5 percent of the world’s GDP. This also means that combined with a decrease in birth rates, senior citizens and the elderly will be of vast importance to the world’s economy. Their well-being is beneficial to everyone in the long run. Providing seniors with quality care and affordable health care options results in economic growth.

The discussion of changes to the health care system is a response to the fear that higher taxes and reduced Medicare benefits will soon be the only way to manage an unsustainable rise in costs. The aging population is definitely not the only factor in this problem. But solutions can begin with a greater dedication to recruiting and training nurses, medical staff, and caregivers, as well as working to rid the health care industry of excess and fraud. The most important thing to remember? No matter where you are in terms of age or income, the health care crisis affects us all – and we’re all in it together.

Darlene Jamieson Top Masters in Healthcare www.topmastersinhealthcare.com/

Happiest Woman in America – Health Tips [11-02-2011]

November 12, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=pX7E4o0ocdg%3Fversion%3D3%26f%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

A woman (/ˈwʊmən/), pl: women (/ˈwɪmɨn/) is a female human. The term woman is usually reserved for an adult, with the term girl being the usual term for a female child or adolescent. However, the term woman is also sometimes used to identify a female human, regardless of age, as in phrases such as ‘Women’s rights’. The Old English wifman meant ‘female human’ (werman meant ‘male human’. Man or mann had a gender neutral meaning of ‘human’, corresponding to Modern English ‘one’ or ‘someone’. However in around 1000AD ‘man’ started to be used more to refer to ‘male human’, and in the late 1200s began to inevitably displace and eradicate the original word ‘werman’). The medial labial consonants coalesced to create the modern form ‘woman’; the initial element, which meant ‘female,’ underwent semantic narrowing to the sense of a married woman (‘wife’). Visit MeTee.com The place for publishing and printing t-shirts & always free shipping. Become a channel sponsor for 30 days for /day meseed.com Have any ad you want play in each video (any one video can go viral with tens-of-thousands of hits) Or donate to keep this channel going: meseed.com Thank you for your generosity – Subscribe for Breaking News. Like/Dislike, Comment, Favorite and share on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ to get the word out on this video. Put this video on your channel with a more interesting title (never know if this channel will get taken down): www.keepvid.com Archive video with keepvid. Signup for

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Fitness Tips – Help prevent Osteoporosis

July 12, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=7kY4UYQByTE%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

Russ Melgar, fitness instructor, demonstrates some exercises that may help reduce the risk of Osteoporosis

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Beauty – My First Wrinkle Cream.

June 4, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=PAeyPxcaLLE%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

For more beauty, lifestyle and fitness videos visit: www.BodyRock.Tv

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Learn about Microdermabrasion: Skin Care and Beauty Tips

April 7, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=dngb9iVDquk%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

www.latestbeauty.com Learn how microdermabrasion can help clear pores and gets rid of fine lines. It’s anti-aging affects helps renew skin giving it a soft and radiant glow. Erica from latestbeauty.com gives you the scoop. Reviews of diamond microdermabrasion and other processes.

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Body Ecology – Beauty & Anti-Aging Secrets Video Training promo v2

March 19, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=Cm36Q6n7ecg%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

tinyurl.com Learn powerful tips for looking and feeling 10 years younger with Donna Gates and special guests as they reveal beauty and anti-aging tips for women in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond! In this powerful video training, get ready to learn things the beauty industry does NOT want you to know, such as: 10 secrets for looking naturally young and beautiful at any age. Learn the best skin care, hair care and body care secrets for looking young at any age. 7 transformational skin care tips that can erase years from your real age. 5 reasons why typical beauty products contribute to the aging process, including harmful ingredients to absolutely avoid in your personal care products. 3 little-known secrets about liver cleansing that will affect your health and your skin. Learn Powerful Tips From Women With Simple Secrets For Looking 10 Years Younger. You deserve to really trust your inner beauty…to know that your inner beauty is what matters most and when you cultivate that, the rest will follow…energy, vitality and that youthful glow that is simply ageless. Join us in this life-changing training and step into the power of harnessing the natural beauty inside of you!

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Associated with Aging and Chronic Disease Determinant

March 11, 2011 by  
Filed under AGING, Featured

Introduction

Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are essential for biological reactions, acting on the aging process. In developed countries, the classic syndromes of vitamin deficiency such as scurvy, beriberi and pellagra, are now rare but specific subgroups of populations that are at risk of vitamin insufficiency. This is the case of the elderly, who often suffer from vitamin D deficiency and water soluble vitamins. Research over the last decade has suggested that subtle deficiencies of B12 vitamins are risk factors for vascular disease, dementia, depression, and malignancies. In this review the authors report the latest findings on bioavailability of B12 vitamins in the elderly and the association between the deficiency of these vitamins and chronic diseases.

Intake, bioavailability and B vitamin status in the elderly

Most of these vitamins are widely distributed in foods, even at relatively low concentrations (B1), While others are only provided by certain categories of food (B12.) The synthetic forms of vitamins are also used in food fortification (folic acid) and supplements (cobalamin). Bioavailability is defined as the ratio of micronutrients absorbed and stored in tissues or used. Due to functional inadequacies, the vitamin status in the elderly may be subject to greater variability than the young.

The determinants of vitamin B12 deficiency in the elderly include: environment (hospitalization, residence in a nursing home, live alone), sex (higher prevalence in men), lifestyle (smoking, sedentary lifestyle, alcoholism), vegetarian and genetic variations. The lower caloric intake due to increased mortality combined with drug therapy increases the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency in the elderly. The evidence indicates that intake of vitamins B1, B2 and B6 in this population is below recommended levels.

In one study, the concentration decreased erythrocyte thiamine pyrophosphate in the course of 3 years; this fact would be related mainly to aging. The prevalence of riboflavin deficiency ranges between 16% and 45% in most communities evaluated. Several experiences have demonstrated the high prevalence of vitamin B6 (13% to 45%). Assessments of the levels of folate have provided varied experiences as detected deficiency or risk of osteoporosis, while others did not establish this possibility. Hypochlorhydria alters the dissociation of vitamin B12 food complexes and, therefore, their release into the lumen of small intestine. Atrophic gastritis associated with pernicious b12 deficiency anemia, with poor absorption of vitamin B12. These conditions explain the altered levels of this vitamin in some elderly, although they meet nutritional recommendations.

Vitamin B deficiency and degenerative diseases

The failure of folate, cobalamin, vitamin B6, B2 and B1 and is recognized as a risk factor for chronic diseases, cognitive and neuropsychiatric dysfunction and certain types of cancer. You can also exacerbate existing conditions in the elderly. The metabolism of homocysteine requires folate, cobalamin, vitamin B6 and riboflavin. The prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia (HHC) increases with age.

In one study, the prevalence of HHC amounted to 29.3% in subjects between 67 and 96 years. Low levels of folate play an essential role in the pathogenesis of HHC. A meta-analysis of randomized trials found that folate supplementation (0.5 to 5 mg / d) HHC can reduce by 25%, while the addition of vitamin B12 (0.5 mg / d) may decrease by 7% more. However, these predictions would not be valid in the elderly often with homocysteine levels exceeding the range of 10 to 15 mmol / l. There is also a possible moderate association between HHC and cardiovascular disease. Some studies suggest that vitamin B6 could provide independent protection against cardiovascular mortality.

The low intake or mild deficiency of vitamin B could be associated with neuropsychological impairment in the elderly. Some studies have suggested that low levels of free thiamine in the cerebrospinal fluid may be associated with risk of Parkinson’s disease, having detected a relationship between levels of vitamin B1 in plasma and cerebral cortex, with cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

HHC dependent on low levels of folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 could be a risk factor for cognitive disorders, depression, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Folate deficiency also would be associated with increased risk of cerebrovascular events in the elderly. The HHC would be an independent risk factor for stroke and cognitive impairment.

Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause neuropsychiatric abnormalities such as depression test, which was not seen with folate deficiency, which indicates the specific effects of cobalamin. The HHC would be an independent risk factor for stroke and cognitive impairment in elderly is not known if it precedes the onset of dementia, or is the result of dementia associated with vitamin deficiencies.

Some studies suggest that under certain circumstances, such as high fat intake or smoking, folate deficiency may influence cell differentiation in the pancreas and contribute to the pathogenesis of pancreatitis and carcinoma. The low intake of folate, vitamin B6, Or both, would be associated with increased incidence of colorectal adenoma. It is also reported an inverse association between folate intake and colorectal and lung cancer. Moreover, the risk of breast cancer is associated with low levels of folate and possibly vitamin B6.

Mechanisms of the effects of vitamin B deficiency associated with aging

Chronic deficiencies of vitamins B can disrupt the metabolism of homocysteine. Folate deficiency can affect the configuration and structural stability of DNA, chromosomal commitment. Aging, marginal deficiencies of folate or vitamin B12 and the elevation of homocysteine are accompanied by spontaneous chromosome damage. Several studies have shown that chromosome damage can be minimized with concentrations of folate in RBCs greater than 700 nmol / l.

B vitamins may provide protection against oxidative stress by lowering homocysteine prooxidant and acting as an antioxidant. Moreover, several factors associated with brain aging (vessel disease, brain dysfunction, impaired nitric oxide activity, oxidative damage of neurons and altered methylation reactions) are related to the HHC due to folate deficiency. Also, there would be a relationship between increased homocysteine and a toxic product of lipid peroxidation in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Prevention of vitamin B12 deficiency in aging

Cereals, vegetables, legumes, fruits, meat, fish and dairy products contribute to the consumption of vitamin B in the populations of developed countries. In order to prevent chronic diseases, experts from Western countries recommend a daily intake of at least 5 foods that correspond to fruits or vegetables. However, low percentage of subjects who follow this recommendation. Since the grain fortification with folic acid there were increases in plasma folate indicators in various populations.

Folate intake through supplements offers additional benefits for the elderly who consume fortified foods. However, supplementation and fortification with folic acid can enhance the growth and progression of colonic lesions and decrease the effectiveness of drugs used by the elderly. It was suggested that increased folate may precipitate or worsen the neurological dysfunction in subjects with vitamin B12.

The authors estimate difficult to answer if the elderly have specific needs of certain B vitamins Information from women between 60 and 85 years suggests a need to recommend a higher daily intake of folate, however, little specific advice. Despite some quantitative differences, the recommendations made in different countries generally agree on the specific requirements of B vitamins for the elderly. The daily requirement of vitamins B would be similar (folate, vitamins B1, B2, B12) Or higher (vitamin B6) To young adults. In the U.S. recommended the use of supplements or foods fortified with vitamin B12 for over 50 years. In thiamine-deficient elderly, administration of high doses of vitamin improved welfare indexes.

Treatment with vitamin B6, Cobalamin and folate, and multivitamin intake increased levels of vitamin and reduced homocysteine. In the elderly with vitamin B deficiency2 and B6 supplementation with physiological doses of riboflavin improved biochemical markers. It has not yet succeeded in establishing the amount of folate required to increase deposits to levels protective against chronic diseases. Several ongoing studies will enable to know the effects of supplementation with folic acid and other B vitamins in the production of chronic diseases. Currently, dietary modification towards a balanced system, rich in fruits and vegetables, it is preferable to consumption of products enriched or multivitamins.

Conclusion

The deficiency of B vitamins in the elderly population is associated with increased risk of degenerative entities, such as vascular disease, cognitive dysfunction and neurological tumors. However, there are differences between the information currently available. Therefore, longitudinal studies are needed to demonstrate that deficiency of these vitamins or alteration of biochemical indices (HCY) produces these pathologies. Other research projects will determine whether early initiation of adequate food has protective effect against degenerative diseases and whether the elderly require special attention on the status of the B vitamins.

In pursuit of happiness Part II: why the older are happier

January 31, 2011 by  
Filed under AGING

Why are the frail elderly happier than the dynamic young? In last week’s post, I discussed a bit about the so-called U-Bend of Life as reported in the Dec 16 issue of The Economist.

This week, let us explore further the reasons for the well-being that comes with age. If you take a look at the elderly, we will see all the limitations that aging brings: lack of vitality, mobility problems, failing eyesight, hearing impairment, and cognitive decline. For those who put emphasis on appearances, think about wrinkles and receding hairline.

Why are the old happier than the young? As the report in The Economist had stated:

“Enjoyment and happiness dip in middle age, then pick up; stress rises during the early 20s, then falls sharply; worry peaks in middle age, and falls sharply thereafter; anger declines throughout life; sadness rises slightly in middle age, and falls thereafter.”

The young

  • has lots of expectations to live up to
  • has lots of dreams and ambition to pursue and achievr
  • experiences frustrations and disappointment

At middle age, people might

  • have children reaching puberty, thus adding to stress
  • have financial worries such as mortgage and college money
  • be stuck in a boring job with low pay, little challenge and very little xxx to move up the career ladder.

The elderly

Here are some insights as to why the aged are enjoying life more than I do:

In developed countries, the ageing population is considered a burden to the system. In western medicine, aging is viewed as a disease to be treated. Perhaps it is time to re-examine these concepts.

Menopause and cancer: is there a link?

January 17, 2011 by  
Filed under AGING, CANCER

The years up to when I’d be undergoing menopause can be counted on my fingers. Although I’ve read up on menopause and menopausal symptoms, I still anticipate the stage with trepidation.

Menopause occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop functioning. When this happens, the menstrual cycle ends. The average age for menopause in American women is 51.

Menopause presents a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms, including:

It is no wonder that women undergoing menopause often feel some insecurity about their health, especially how menopause can affect cancer risk and prevention. Dr. Therese Bevers, a specialist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, USA tries to clarify some of the questions on the link between cancer and menopause. According to Dr. Bevers:

  • “Menopause does not cause cancer.” However, cancer risk increases with advancing age.
  • A late menopause is associated with certain types of cancer. Those who undergo menopause after age 55 have an increased risk of breast as well as endometrial cancer.
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is often prescribed to alleviate menopausal symptoms. However, HRT has been linked to breast cancer.

It is therefore advisable to look for safer alternatives to HRT. Most of these are lifestyle changes, etc.:

In addition, weight gain or loss after menopause can also affect cancer risk. At this stage of life, weight gain actually increases whereas weight loss decreases cancer risk.

Looking forward to old age

August 26, 2010 by  
Filed under AGING

Is there something positive about aging? We have previously tackled the topic of aging being considered a disease to be dreaded that needs treatment. In our current society, youth is revered and staying young as long as possible is the goal of many. But there are some upsides to being old. According to Stanford University researcher Laura Carstensen, there are so many things that older people can do better. They may not be up to running a marathon or taking on the catwalk but they are much, much better in “regulating their feelings and working on their social relationships” than the younger generation. This is despite age-related lapses like mild memory loss and cognitive impairment.

“It seems that wisdom, or being able to solve practical problems of everyday living, improves. So a lot of what we think of as being smart in life involve processes that get better with age, not worse.”

says Dr. Carstensen in a lecture at the National Institutes of Health.

In fact, the escapades and tragedies of young celebrities (Lindsay Lohan, Brittany Murphy, and Tiger Woods) may occupy the headlines but there are those who have survived and transcended the wildness of their youth to become wise. Sir Sean Connery turned 80 this week and Clint Eastwood is still directing The wild rockers of the 60s have mellowed down but still jamming and rocking in their 60s and 70s are Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Mick Jagger and their fans of similar age still rave about them (see NYT article Turn 70. Act Your Grandchild’s Age). But are these guys the exception rather than the rule?

“[The 80s is] …now seen as an active time of life: you’re just past retirement, that’s your time to explore and play mentally”

Experts are concerned that these stories of still active and kicking septuagenarians may give a false picture of old age. They say there the risk “that in celebrating the remarkable stories, we make those not playing Radio City, and certainly those suffering the diseases that often accompany old age, feel inadequate.”

Mindset is important in aging.

One mindset, according to Anne Basting, the director of the Center on Age and Community at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee:

“[The 80s is] …now seen as an active time of life: you’re just past retirement, that’s your time to explore and play mentally

The flipside is, according to S. Jay Olshansky, a demographer at the University of Illinois at Chicago:

“There will be an increase in frailty and disability because people are living longer…[ increased risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s] “is going to be the price they pay for extended longevity.”

Your choice?

I’d say, let us be pragmatic and take all these with a grain of salt. I remember a couple of years back when England’s queen mother turned 100, my husband’s grandma commented: “If she had cleaned all the windows in her house all by herself, she wouldn’t have lived this long.” Well, our beloved grandma will be celebrating her 90th birthday in a couple of weeks and she is still cleaning her windows all by herself.

Testosterone for the elderly: good for the muscles, bad for the heart?

July 1, 2010 by  
Filed under AGING, HEART AND STROKE

Aging comes with a lot of difficulties, including decreased mobility which limits an old person’s independence and overall quality of life. Health experts believe that impaired mobility in the elderly may be partly due to decreased muscle strength. Previous studies have shown that supplementation with the male hormone testosterone improve muscle strength.

The TOM (Testosterone in Older Men) trial investigated whether testosterone can improve mobility in older men with low testosterone levels. The study was designed as a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.  The study participants were 209 men aged, on average 74 years old who had testosterone levels and reduced mobility. Testosterone treatment was in the form of a topical gel applied on the skin daily for 6 months. The participants were assessed on their ability to walk and climb stairs. Of the 209 participants, 106 received testosterone gel and 103 received a dummy gel – a placebo. The trial was double-blinded, meaning neither the researchers conducting the study nor the study participants could distinguish between the two gels during the study period.

However, the trial was stopped rather prematurely due to adverse events, complications that were thought to be related to the testosterone treatment. The participants were told to stop using their medications. Of those who were treated with testosterone, 23 suffered from so-called cardiovascular events such as heart attack, heart rhythm disturbances and hypertension. One death possibly due to a heart attack was reported. In the group who received the placebo gel, only 5 cardiovascular events were reported.

It is not clear whether the testosterone was really responsible for the cardiovascular events because the study participants were old and many of them were suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“The authors caution that the ability to draw broader conclusions about the safety of testosterone therapy based on these findings is constrained by several factors, including this study’s small size and the fact that the study’s population was older and had higher rates of chronic diseases and mobility limitation than individuals in most other studies.”

However, the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) which regularly monitors the safety of clinical trials believed the possible adverse effects of testosterone treatment seem to outweigh the benefits, and thus recommended that the study be halted.

Exercise your way away from dementia

February 10, 2010 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

As we grow older, we might experience mild cognitive impairment, which is basically a consequence of the aging process. Mild cognitive impairment, which usually starts at midlife, is defined as “an intermediate state between the normal thinking, learning and memory changes that occur with age and dementia.” Those who have mild cognitive impairment are likely to develop full-blown dementia than those who do not have it. About 1 to 2% of the general population will eventually develop dementia. This number could be 10 times higher in those with cognitive impairment – 10 to 15% each year.

The good news is that there is a simple way of slowing down the progression of dementia – physical exercise. This has been reported in several research studies.

In one study, researchers from University of Washington School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle investigated the effects if aerobic exercises in 33 adults with an average age of 70 years.  The results showed that those who engaged in regular aerobic exercises experienced significant improvement in cognitive function while those who did exercise showed no improvement. The improvement was more evident in women than in men even though there was no significant difference in exercise intensity between genders. The researchers think “the sex differences may be related to the metabolic effects of exercise, as changes to the body’s use and production of insulin, glucose and the stress hormone cortisol differed in men and women.”

Another study by Mayo Clinic researchers reports that moderate exercise such as brisk walking, aerobics, walking, strength training and swimming performed have beneficial effects that prevent mild cognitive impairment. When these exercises were performed at midlife, the likelihood of cognitive impairment is reduced by 39%. When performed later beyond middle age, the reduction is 32%. Unlike in the previous study, no differences between men and women were observed. Surprisingly, light exercises (dancing, golfing with a cart) and vigorous exercises (jogging, racquetball) do not seem to as beneficial in preventing mild cognitive impairment as moderate exercises.

So how does physical exercise slow down cognitive impairment?

Physical exercise may protect against mild cognitive impairment via the production of nerve-protecting compounds, greater blood flow to the brain, improved development and survival of neurons and the decreased risk of heart and blood vessel diseases.

Physical exercise may be a marker for a healthy lifestyle… A subject who engages in regular physical exercise may also show the same type of discipline in dietary habits, accident prevention, adherence to preventive intervention, compliance with medical care and similar health-promoting behaviors.

Watching over our aging parents

December 17, 2009 by  
Filed under AGING

old woman gardenAs we approach middle age, our parents approach old age, and we are faced with the possibility that our aging parents will run into problems that comes with age. I lost both my parents years back. I come from Asia, where many countries have low life expectancy. I guess we were lucky that our Dad lived up to his 80s and our mom to her 70s. My husband’s family, like many European families, is family of mainly elderly people. European life expectancies are among the highest in the world. My husband’s parents in their 70s are both well and his grandma is approaching her 90th year with optimism. Uncles and aunts in their 70s are all healthy and active.

In Asia, it is tradition that the young take care of the elderly. In Europe, the elderly are more independent and tend to live alone. Initially, it was very difficult for me to accept this but I have learned to live with it.

However, I still believ we shouldn’t take for granted that our aging parents and grandparents can manage on their own all the time. Old age is something that the elderly people themselves may find difficult to accept. After all, old age can mean loss of independence and mobility. It is up to us to be vigilant about our elders’ health and well-being. The health experts at Mayo Clinic gives us some tips on what to watch out for as we watch over our aging parents:

Weight loss. When the elderly loses weight, this could mean a lot of things. Weight loss may be due to certain medical conditions. However, it could well be due to physical difficulties that may restrict the elderly from shopping or cooking. It could also be due to loss of sense of taste or smell that comes with the aging process. In any case, finding out the cause of weight loss is of utmost importance.

Physical appearance. We should pay attention to other parents’ appearance, their clothes, their grooming behavior, and their personal hygiene. Deviation from the normal or routine can indicate conditions that need to be investigated further.

Safety. As our parents age, their mobility and physical capabilities deteriorate. Stairs that used to easy can eventually become a difficult hurdle. We should pay more attention to health hazards (e.g. things that increase risks of falls or other injuries, fire hazards, etc.) in the elderly’s accommodations.

Behavior and social life. We should watch out for mood swings and abnormal behavior in the elderly. This will include looking for signs of depression and looking into their social life. It is well-known that an active social life keeps the elderly fit and lowers the risk for dementia. Depression, on the other hand, can be indicative of underlying medical conditions.

Mobility. Loss of mobility becomes a big risk with age. This loss can mean loss of independence for the elderly and can greatly affect all of the abovementioned problems. The elderly sometimes are the last to admit that they have problems with movement. It is up to us to monitor them and watch for signs of loss of mobility.

By watching out for these problems related to aging, we can take action to prevent the problems to worsen. Mayo Clinic recommends the following course of action:

■Share your concerns with your parents.

■Encourage regular medical checkups.

■Address safety issues.

■Consider home care services.

■Contact the doctor for guidance.

 ■Seek help from local agencies.

Physical exercise and aging

December 3, 2009 by  
Filed under AGING

Does physical exercise slow down aging? Many studies have indicated that this is the case. A more recent study by German researchers compared four groups of people. Two groups were trained professional athletes; the other two were not trained athletes but nonetheless healthy and nonsmoking. Specifically, the groups studied were:

  • young professional athletes with average age of 20 years
  • middle-aged  professional athletes
  • two groups of healthy nonatheletes aged matched to the groups above.

As indicator of aging, the researchers measured the length of telomeres – that part of the DNA at the end of the chromosomes which protects them from damage. Telomeres are considered as a biological clock within the cells and they shorten with age. A much too short telomere leads to cell death.

Blood samples were taken from the study participants and chromosomes and telomeres in the blood cells were analyzed. The results showed that telomeres of trained athletes are much longer thanchromosomes healthy compared to not physically trained individuals of matching age.

According to lead author Dr. Ulrich Laufs, professor of clinical and experimental medicine in the department of internal medicine at Saarland University in Homburg, Germany:

“The most significant finding of this study is that physical exercise of the professional athletes leads to activation of the important enzyme telomerase and stabilizes the telomere… This is direct evidence of an anti-aging effect of physical exercise. Physical exercise could prevent the aging of the cardiovascular system, reflecting this molecular principle.”

About telomeres

Telomeres are a hot topic these days. Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak jointly received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for their work on “how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase”. Telomeres act as “end caps” to chromosomes and function somewhat like the trips of shoe laces, i.e. protecting the chromosomes from wear and tear and damage. Telomeres, however, also get damaged and become shorter with each cell division, e.g. with aging. At a critical point, the telomeres become too short and the cell dies. A longer telomere, however, indicates slower aging.

So why do athletes have longer telomeres?

The researchers believe that long-term physical exercise activates the enzyme telomerase which makes telomere DNA. This process slows down telomere shortening in the blood cells. The participants who have engaged in rigorous physical activity for many years showed a slower rate of age-dependent telomere shortening.

Dr. Laufs continues:

“Our data improves the molecular understanding of the protective effects of exercise on the vessel wall and underlines the potency of physical training in reducing the impact of age-related disease.”

Photo credit: istockphoto

Welcome to Battling Aging

November 7, 2009 by  
Filed under AGING

aging3Welcome to the our latest health topic here at Battling for Health – Aging. From now on, we will be bring you news and views on this highly relevent topic. Stay tuned!

On stress and aging

September 23, 2009 by  
Filed under STRESS

September is Healthy Aging®Month in the US, an annual observance month designed to focus attention on the positive aspects of growing older. Last week, September 18 was National Aging Awareness Day inlaughing_elderly_woman the US.

That is why I take this opportunity to focus on the relationship between stress and aging.

Stress can put more lines on your face and turn more hairs into grey. But it is not just the outward signs of aging that is linked to stress. It’s the overall aging process that includes health problems and illnesses.

Aging (also spelled as ageing) is defined as the process of becoming older, a process that is genetically determined and environmentally modulated. One of the environmental factors that contribute to aging is stress in many different forms. Below I summarize a couple of recent research studies on the link between aging and stress.

Animal studies

According to a report by researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland

As we get older, our health tends to decline, but in addition to this, environmental factors make us age. Our age in terms of years may not correspond to the body’s true age.

The researchers studied the effect of environmental stress (e.g. harsh winters) on the health of sheep and found that stress has a long term effect on the animals’ health. What’s more, if these stressors are persistent, they actually have a cumulative effect that accelerates the aging process. Thus, animals with more stress exposure aged faster than those who had less. And with aging comes weaker immune system and age-related illnesses.

Human studies

In the recent issue of the Journal of Cell Biology, researchers from the Rockefeller University reports that prolonged stress  exposure induces cells to release its calcium stores, leading to apoptosis or cell death. Apoptosis is behind many age-related diseases.

Tips on how to slow down aging

There is no such thing as an Elixir of Life that can stop aging and death. However, our lifestyle can strongly influence our longevity. Here are some tips from Medicine.Net:

Cancer vs. Aging: take your pick

May 27, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

old_manIt is one of those biological paradoxes: what protects us from cancer early in life accelerate aging that makes us more susceptible to cancer later in life. This is according to a study by researchers at the Buck Institute for Age Research.

When the DNA in the cells gets damaged, the cells shut down and stop dividing. This shutting down provides protection against cancer. However, these cells also spew out proteins into the cells surrounding environment causing inflammation and creating conditions for the development of age-related diseases including, ironically, cancer. The process is called cellular senescence.

According to lead author and Buck Faculty member Dr. Judith Campisi

“We provide for the first time a broad molecular description of how this well known mechanism for cancer prevention drives aging and age-related disease by changing the local tissue environment.”

This is partly why treating cancer with chemotherapy leads to its severe side effects. The therapy forces both cancerous and non-cancerous cells into senescence, and blocks rapidly dividing cells such as those of the alimentary canal and hair follicles. The result is the severe nausea and hair loss that cancer patients on chemotherapy have to put up with.

Dr. Campisi continues to explain:

“The study has major implications for age research. This dynamic between cancer prevention and aging is exactly what is predicted by antagonistic pleiotropy, a major evolutionary theory of aging, which explains the trade-offs between early fitness and late life survival. The results suggest that a cellular response that likely evolved to protect from early life cancer can promote late life pathology, including, ironically, late life cancer. The challenge now is to preserve the anti-cancer activity of the senescence response while dampening its pro-aging effects.”

Indeed, life is full of ironies and this is one of them. It is basically a case of escaping cancer in your prime but growing old sooner. Luckily, there are research studies going on to unravel this biological paradox. The Buck Institute is the only freestanding institute in the United States that is devoted solely to basic research on aging and age-associated disease. The Institute is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to extending the healthspan, the healthy years of each individual’s life. The National Institute on Aging designated the Buck a Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Biology of Aging, one of just five centers in the country.

And the Buck researchers aren’t just stopping there with this research. They are investigating how to encourage the body to get rid of the senescent or aging cells faster. Hopefully, someday they will find a way to treat cancer and halt aging at the same time.

 Photo credit: stock.xchng

5 Ways to Treat the Dry Eye of the Aging Beholder

April 14, 2009 by  
Filed under VISION

The aging process means that there are all sorts of changes to your body and one of those changes has to do with your eyes. Older adults tend to experience dry eyes because tear production slows down. However, you do not have to put up with this condition. There are many things you can do to ensure lubricated eyes.
Eye of the beholderSometimes your diet is the problem or even medications that you are taking. Examine your environment, both inside and out, to see what could be causing your dry eyes. Sometimes the inside of your home is too dry and you may need to use a humidifier. Of course a visit to your doctor could diagnose allergies or some other affliction.

If drying eyes are a problem, your diagnosis of your environment can greatly help in determining the underlying cause, especially if it is something physical that can be easily changed or manipulated. The environment in and around your home is one of them. The eye makeup you wear could be a contributing factor as could your contact lenses or even staring too long at a book or computer screen.

During this screening process to determine your problem, there are a few things you can do yourself to produce the tears you need to keep your peepers wet.

(1) Take A Look At Your Diet

Vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes, especially tear production. Eat foods like mango, sweet potatoes and carrots. The vitamin A present as well as the nutrients like lutein is great for lubricated eyes.

(2) Humidity could be helpful if your environment is too dry

A humidifier in your home can work wonders for keeping your eyes moist. If you must go outside, try lubricating drops to keep your eyes wet.

(3) Read your medication labels

Chances are that some of the side effects include dry eyes. Anti-histamines for allergies and pain relievers are two primary culprits of dry eye syndrome. Check with your doctor about drug alternatives that do not cause this problem. If there are no alternatives, then perhaps they can prescribe special lubricating drops for your eyes.

(4) Rest your eyes often and remember to blink!

Long reading sessions or periods at the computer can cause your eyes to dry with itching and burning. By forcing mandatory resting periods, you can give your eyes a break.

(5) When outdoors, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the drying wind or glaring sun

You may have to invest in wrap-around glasses to keep the wind from finding its way around. Plus, sunglasses will protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

For the most part, by controlling your environment or living circumstances, you can greatly reduce your dry eye problems. However, if they continue to persist, be sure to consult with a doctor on what you can do to alleviate the problem. Sometimes the problem could be a simple chemical imbalance in the body that could even be remedied by dietary changes or a prescription eye medication. Only your doctor can tell you what is best for your dry eyes if you have exhausted all other options.

Want to live longer? – RUN!

August 18, 2008 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

Let’s continue with our Olympics special this week and look at what exercise can do for you.

If you want to stay active and live longer, running seems to be the sports for you. A study showing the health benefits of running is being published this month in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine report that running can slow down aging and the problems that come with it. The researchers followed up 538 people (50 years old and above) for more than 20 years. 284 of the participants were regular runners and members of a running club. 156 participants were recruited to be controls, non-running members of the university staff and faculty.

And here are the good news:

  • Older people who run are more likely to live longer than non-runners.
  • They enjoy a much longer active and mobile lifestyle.
  • They have fewer disabilities and the first disability occurred 16 years later than non-runners.

Of course, we all can’t run on forever in the same way that we all can’t live forever. When the study started, the running participants ran on the average, 4 hours every week. 21 years later, their running time is down to an average of 76 minutes each week. But the benefits were already in place and long lasting. 34% of non-runners had died within 19 years of follow-up but only 15% mortality was recorded among runners. Runners also tended to be more active and mobile in old age than their non-running counterpart.

Please take note that the studies only based their results on running but not other sports. Running is a so-called aerobic exercise which seems to more beneficial than anaerobic sports such as weight-lifting. It is also safer and less hard on the joins than high impact sports like football or exercises that require unnatural movements like ballet and gymnastics. The concerns that running can lead to osteoporosis at old age seem to be unfounded. There is no significant increase in knee replacement among runners vs non-runners.

The study only looked at older runners, mainly for follow-up time reasons till old age. Exercise however benefits everybody regardless of age.

The authors conclude:

Regular exercise could reduce disability and death risk by increasing cardiovascular fitness, improving aerobic capacity, increased bone mass, lower levels of inflammatory markers, improved response to vaccinations and improved thinking, learning and memory functions.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s go running!

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Exercise makes the heart grow younger

August 4, 2008 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

As we grow older, our body and its organs deteriorate. Including our heart. Now, is there in any way that we can slow down, even reverse our heart’s aging process?

Researchers at the Washington University at St. Louis may just have found the secret to eternal youth and it’s none of the power pills that you take or the power beverages that you drink. Surprise, surprise – it’s endurance exercise.

The research involved 12 participants – 6 males and 6 females aged 60 and 75. The participants were of normal weight but not physically active.

The researchers compared two treatments among non-active older adults: the effects of exercise training on the heart vs the effects of dobutamine, a drug that increases the heart rate similar to what happens during an exercise.

Endurance exercise training was defined as

walking, running or cycling exercises three to five days a week for about an hour per session.

Dobutamine induced increased energy demands, but the hearts of the study participants did not increase their blood sugar (glucose) uptake for more energy. This is how an aging heart would react.

Endurance exercise however resulted in higher glucose uptake by the participants’ hearts. This increased in blood sugar uptake – about double the energy demand of a heart at rest – is what young hearts do.

Lead author Pablo Soto explains:

…if heart muscle doesn’t take in glucose in response to increased energy needs, it goes into an energy-deprived state, which may raise the risk of heart attack. But if it can increase glucose uptake, the heart is better protected against ischemia (low oxygen) and heart attack.

The participants underwent 11 months of exercise training guided by a professional trainer. During the first 3 months, exercise was up 65% of the participants’ capacity. It was then increased to 75%, with no major problems. In fact, the participants reported feeling fit and young.

Many other studies have found strong links between exercise and aging. Nature News reported about a UK study that showed how physical activity keeps us young while an inactive lifestyle shortens our life. They used one biological measure of aging which is the length of telomeres at the end of our chromosomes. Telomeres protect our DNA from wearing down and tend to get shorter as we age.

The research went on to show that people who regularly engaged in exercise and are nonsmokers have longer telomeres compared to those who are inactive, overweight and smokers. The biological age difference based on telomere length differences can be as high as 10 years.

Now, who wouldn’t want to live a decade longer?

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.