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Author Archives: jtauss

Here’s a Study Just in Time for Healthy Aging Month

September is Healthy Aging Month—a great time to make lifestyle changes that raise our chances of remaining independent and well for as long as possible.

By now, you probably know that certain lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise, can lengthen our lives. But gerontologists remind us that the quality of those extra years is equally, if not more, important. It benefits seniors, their families, and our society as a whole to reduce the average period of disability at the end of life.

The U.S. Census Bureau defines disability as “an individual’s physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of that individual.” A recent report from the Bureau found that nearly 40 percent of all people age 65 and older have at least one disability, and this percentage rises with age. Difficulty walking and climbing is by far the most common disability, followed by hearing loss, vision loss and cognitive impairment.

A recent study from the American Geriatrics Society looked at 25 years’ worth of data on 5,248 older adults, and discovered that men experience, on average, close to three years of disability at the end of life, while women live 4.5 years with limited abilities. The study also found that certain factors reduced the number of years that a participant lived with disability near the end of life.

Four lifestyle choices in particular were associated with fewer years of disability:

  • Greater distance walked—Participants who walked more had both longer and healthier years—with a 0.5 percent improvement per every 25 blocks walked per week.
  • Healthier diet—Those participants who ate healthful food remained independent longer.
  • A healthy body weight—Participants who were obese spent more of their later years living with disability.
  • Avoiding smoking—Participants who smoked lived shorter lives, with substantially greater disability at the end.

Concluded the study author, University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health professor Dr. Anne Newman, “We discovered that by improving lifestyle, we can postpone death, but even more so, we can postpone disability—in fact, it turns out that we’re compressing that disabled end-of-life period to a shorter timeframe. This clearly demonstrates the value of investing in a healthy lifestyle.”

Source: IlluminAge AgeWise reporting on a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Falls Raise a Senior’s Risk of a Car Accident

  September 22, 2017 is Falls Prevention Awareness Day, a great time to learn about the surprising relationship between two leading causes of injuries in older adults. Falls and car accidents are two common causes of serious injuries in older adults, and can lead to disability, loss of independence and even death. Experts note that… Continue Reading

Alzheimer’s Experts Confirm the Role of Diet

For years, nutritionists and neurologists have been examining the link between the foods people eat and the risk of developing dementia. At the recent 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, experts presented evidence from four major studies that help firm our understanding of dietary choices that protect the brain. In a resolution statement at the conference,… Continue Reading

More Seniors Than Ever, Says New Census Report

In June 2017, the United States Census Bureau released a population estimate showing that we have more seniors than at any other time in history. Census expert Peter Borsella explains that the aging of the baby boomers, who started turning 65 in 2011, is what’s behind this trend. Said demographer Lauren Medina, “Our country’s demographic… Continue Reading

When a Loved One Is Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, Should They Give Up the Car Keys?

Dad has been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. He insists that it’s still perfectly safe for him to drive—but is it? This conversation has led to some tense moments as the family discuss the best way to care for Dad as the disease progresses. Some of the common changes of aging can make driving unsafe.… Continue Reading