Vista Del Mar Senior Living

Vista Del Mar Senior Living

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a condition in which the pressure of the blood pumping through the arteries is abnormally high. This increases the risk of stroke, aneurysm, heart failure, heart attack and kidney damage. More than 50 million Americans have high blood pressure, and a third are entirely unaware of it.
A blood pressure reading consists of two numbers:
  • Systolic pressure, which indicates the contraction of the heart muscle
  • Diastolic pressure (the second number) measures the blood pressure when the heart relaxes between beats

Cedars-Sinai Resource:


A reading of 140/90 or higher qualifies as high blood pressure. An ideal blood pressure reading is 120/80. However, blood pressure varies throughout a lifetime. Children have much lower blood pressure than adults. As people grow older, their blood pressure rises. In general, readings are higher in the morning and lower while a person sleeps. Physical activity makes blood pressure go up, and rest causes it to go lower.
A high blood pressure reading of more than 180/110 should be considered an urgency and seen by a doctor as soon as possible. In rare cases, blood pressure of 210/120 or more is seen. This should be considered an emergency and treated immediately. It can cause a variety of severe symptoms and result in death in three to six months if not treated.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Hypertension is often called the "silent killer" because symptoms of high blood pressure do not appear for years until a vital organ is threatened. Signs of long-untreated high blood pressure (such as headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, restlessness and blurred vision) can be the result of damage to the brain, eyes, heart and kidneys.

Causes of High Blood Pressure and Risk Factors

For most, the causes of high blood pressure are not known. Researchers believe several factors together may create higher pressure in the arteries. In some cases, diseases cause blood pressure to increase. These include:
  • Arteriosclerosis, which makes arteries stiff and unable to widen in response to rising blood pressure
  • Cushing's syndrome, which involves an overactive thyroid gland or a tumor in an adrenal gland
  • Kidney diseases or injury
The risk of high blood pressure is greater for those who are:
  • A smoker
  • African American. An estimated 32% of African Americans (compared with 23% of Caucasians and 23% of Mexican Americans) have high blood pressure.
  • Older. About 75% of women and almost 66% of men aged 75 or older have high blood pressure. (Only about 25% of people between the ages of 20 and 74 have high blood pressure.)
  • Overweight. High blood pressure occurs twice as often in people who are obese as it does in people who are not.
  • Sedentary
  • Under stress

Diagnosis of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is often discovered during a routine visit to the doctor or when another illness strikes. Your blood pressure is measured after you have been sitting or lying down for about five minutes. Your blood pressure may be measured again after you have been standing for a few minutes.
Because blood pressure readings can vary widely, it may take several readings or readings done on different days to confirm a diagnosis of high blood pressure. In cases where there is doubt, a 24-hour blood pressure monitor worn on the hip and connected to a blood pressure cuff on the arm can be used.
After determining that you have high blood pressure your doctor will look for possible causes of the high blood pressure and any effects it may have on key organs, such as your heart, kidneys, brain and blood vessels. Your doctor may recommend:
  • An electrocardiogram
  • Blood tests
  • A urine test to check for signs of kidney damage
It may be necessary to examine your retina, the light-sensitive membrane inside the back of the eye. This is the only place where your doctor can directly see the effects of high blood pressure on your blood vessels

Treatment of High Blood Pressure

If an underlying disease or condition has been identified as the cause, treatment of high blood pressure will focus on that condition. When it has been brought under control, your high blood pressure may go away.
Before using drugs to control high blood pressure, most doctors will suggest:
  • Avoiding alcoholic drinks
  • Cutting down on salt
  • Exercising regularly
  • Losing weight
  • Making sure you get enough calcium, magnesium and potassium
  • Quitting smoking
If these approaches are not effective, the patient may need to take daily drugs to lower blood pressure. The most commonly used drugs for the treatment of high blood presssure, include:
  • Diuretics to rid the body of excess salt and water
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to dilate the arteries and relieve pressure
  • Andrenergic blockers to help the body avoid high blood pressure caused by stress
  • Calcium-channel blockers, which cause blood vessels to widen using a different mechanism
Because drugs to lower high blood pressure work in different ways and have different effects, it may be necessary to work with your doctor over a period of time trying different drugs or combination of drugs to best manage your high blood pressure with the least side effects.

Additional Resource at Cedars-Sinai

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Today at VDM is Church Day

Religious services followed by some relaxation.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Olga Kotelko - Slowing Aging Through Athletics

Researchers want to know why senior track stars have slowed aging odometer

Her gold medals measure in the hundreds, and she has penned her name to more track and field world records than Usain Bolt.

Olga Kotelko is one of Canada’s most accomplished track and field athletes. And at 93 years old, she’s hurling hammers and leaping into long jump pits at an age that most of us simply hope to see.

“Amazing?” says the nonagenarian, who practically scoffs at the suggestion. “There’s nothing to it. If I can do it, why not?”

Perhaps a better question is why? Why has Kotelko, owner of 17 world masters records in her 90-95 age category, been able to slow the aging odometer? A group of researchers at Montreal’s McGill University are wondering the same thing.

“I don’t want to paint it as if she’s not aging, she certainly is. But she functions more like a very healthy 70-year-old than a 93-year-old,” says Russ Hepple, a physiologist at McGill and expert on aging muscle. “And so the question is: why?”

Hepple and his wife Tanja Taivassalo met Kotelko at the world masters championships in 2009, when they travelled to Finland to watch Taivassalo’s dad — a very fit 73-year-old — race the marathon. They invited Kotelko to McGill where they poked and prodded the five-foot silver-haired dynamo, running her through a battery of tests.

Kotelko was the first of about a dozen top masters athletes from around the world Hepple and Taivassalo have lined up to study in their quest to discover how these seniors have managed to put the brakes on the march of time.

One of those going under the microscope is Kotelko’s good friend Christa Bortignon.

At the world indoor championships a few weeks ago in Jyvaeskylae, Finland, Kotelko and Bortignon utterly dominated their age divisions — Kotelko won 12 gold medals and broke 12 world records, while the 75-year-old Bortignon captured seven gold medals.

The two West Vancouver, B.C., residents have been friends since Bortignon was inspired by an article on Kotelko three years ago in the local newspaper. Bortignon was looking for a new sport after arthritis in her hands forced her to give up tennis.

She contacted Kotelko, who “being a little pushy” instructed her to be at the track in half an hour. Two weeks later, Bortignon was competing at the Canadian masters championships, in the 100 metres and long jump.

“It was so funny, in the 100 metres I’m looking down the stretch and thinking, how far do we have to run because I expected a ribbon there but there was nothing there,” Bortignon says, laughing. “I said to the fellow, ‘How far do we have to go?’ And he puts his hands apart, and says, ‘This is a metre. You do a hundred of them.“’

The two women have been active most of their lives but were latecomers to track and field. Kotelko grew up on a farm near Vonda, Sask., the seventh of 11 children. If they had a ball to play with, “we were lucky.”

Kotelko played on a baseball team at a neighbouring school, a 10-kilometre walk from the family farm. After practice, it was home to do the evening chores. They ate what they produced on the farm, including the butter, cheese and milk.

She moved to B.C. to escape a bad marriage when she was pregnant with her second child. She rediscovered slo-pitch when her children were grown and played until she was 75 when a friend suggested she try track and field.

“You throw a ball, and you throw implements. . . javelin, discus. You run from base to base, so why not run 100 metres or 200 metres,” says Kotelko, whose favourite event is the hammer throw.

Kotelko holds the 200-metre world record in her age group with a time of 56.46 seconds. Bolt’s world record at that distance is 19.19 seconds.

Kotelko is a celebrity in the masters track world. She figures she’s done hundreds of interviews.

“I’ve been bombarded by media of all sorts, TV, radio, newspapers, magazines,” she says. “I enjoy it.”

Bortignon competed in numerous sports as a child growing up in Germany, but when the German government came recruiting potential Olympians when she was 15, her mother said no, “she didn’t think that’s what girls should do.”

She remained active however. In the 19 years she worked for the federal government in Ottawa, she ran five kilometres every lunch hour. She took up tennis when she moved to the West Coast.

In less than three years in track and field, she’s collected Canadian records in 28 different events in two age groups, indoor and outdoor, and her times keep improving. At five feet and 100 pounds, she has the body of a schoolgirl. She’s even been drug tested — she giggles when she talks about her shock at being approached by a doping official.

Bortignon wouldn’t call her lifestyle extreme.

“I’ve never smoked, I’ve worked all my life since I was 15, I’m still working (as an accountant). And I’m not into junk food. I never drink pop. Never. I don’t have an unusual diet,” says Bortignon, who lists her weaknesses as ice cream and chocolate.

Kotelko and Bortignon compete for the Greyhounds Track Club, a group of 45 masters enthusiasts that includes nine members who are on the shady side of 75. Their coach is Harold Morioka, who raced to over 100 Canadian masters records before five knee surgeries and two open heart surgeries finally forced him to the sideline.

“It’s not just one thing that makes you healthy, it’s everything,” says Morioka. “You you have to have your rest, you have to eat healthy, you have to have a positive attitude.

“You have to have a good clear mind, you can’t have negative thoughts. You have to be positive, enjoy what you’re doing, enjoy your life, be active, eat well.”

The 69-year-old Morioka, who was born in a Japanese internment camp in the Kootenays where his parents were interned for seven years, says he loves the camaraderie that comes from coaching.

The track club includes 82-year-old Ruth Carrier, a multiple world championship medallist and Miss Toronto in 1951, and 83-year-old Louise Sorensen, a Holocaust survivor who speaks at schools about her wartime experiences.

There’s 82-year-old Norm Lesage, who won three gold medals at the 2010 world masters indoor championships. He didn’t win his first race until he was 77, eight years after he first stepped on the track.

“I beat four guys that I had been training with for eight years,” Lesage says. “One day, I beat ‘em all, for no reason at all. Oh shoot, I couldn’t believe it. I thought maybe they got some bad food. Or they were drinking all night.”

There’s Andy Aadmi, who won the 300-metre hurdles at last summer’s world championships and was named B.C. Athletics’ top masters male in 2011.

“I don’t go by numbers but by biological age,” says Aadmi, who’s 77. “By biological age, I think I’m not more than 50. Two things are most important: exercise and diet. Don’t treat your body as a garbage dump. Worship it. That’s what I do.”

Hepple believes, however, that diet and exercise don’t paint the full longevity picture.

“Everybody wants to believe, including me, that exercise is this magic panacea, and it’s most definitely the most effective thing we have out there in terms of preserving health,” Hepple says. “But that alone cannot explain what these people are able to do.”

He and Taivassalo are putting the super-seniors through a battery of tests, from aerobic capacity to strength, to pulmonary function.

Kotelko was impressive on many different fronts, but “we don’t know why,” Hepple says.  “In terms of mechanism, understanding why she’s able to do these things, no, we don’t have any idea at this stage what is that magic bullet, so to speak.”

He suspects genetics may be the answer.  “The one thing that really strikes me about these people is that not only are they impressive in terms of their physical capacities, but cognitively they’re much better than you would expect from somebody at their age,” Hepple says.

His research has shown that the vast majority of muscles decline after the age of 80 is due to the loss of motor neurons that plug into the muscle fibres.

“If that’s true, and certainly that’s what we think at this stage, what it might suggest is these masters athletes have some sort of superior neural protection,” says the aging specialist.

Kotelko and Bortignon aren’t so concerned about why, but will continue to ask why not? They list the places they’ve been and the people they’ve met as their favourite aspects of the sport. There’s also the pure exhilaration of movement.

“I really love to run,” Bortignon says.

Neither plan to slow down any time soon. Bortignon says her mission is to inspire other seniors as Kotelko as inspired her.

Says Kotelko: “I will keep doing my track and field until I drop.”

Original Article

Monday, May 21, 2012

Guitarist Randy Pepper, 50, plays some licks recently at his shop The Guitar Attic in Holly Hill. Pepper has paid a price for his love of rock music: his hearing has declined and he suffers from tinnitus. (N-J | Peter Bauer) 
Randy Pepper, owner of The Guitar Attic, caught some memorable concerts in his younger days such as the Ramones, the Who and Ozzy Osbourne -- to name a few.
But the 50-year-old musician has paid a price for his love of rock. His hearing has gradually declined, and he has a permanent ringing in his ears after a particularly loud gig with his band three years ago in DeLand.
"I took my ears over the limit," the shoulder-length, black- and blond-haired guitarist admitted from behind the counter of his shop in Holly Hill.
Pepper is just one of the estimated 77 million baby boomers -- born between 1946 and 1964 -- who came of age during the rock 'n' roll eras of the 1960s and '70s. But baby boomers aren't the only ones who likely cranked up the volume. Twenty-six million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have some degree of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises such as music or those found on the job, according to the National Institute and Deafness and Communication Disorders.
Pepper went to a hearing specialist who diagnosed him with tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ears caused by exposure to extremely loud noise. There are few treatment options for his condition, Pepper said. In order to fall asleep at night, he keeps the TV on to drown out the ringing. But despite his hearing loss, Pepper isn't ready for hearing aids yet, he said. He also can't bring himself to wear earplugs when he performs because he said it prevents him from fully hearing his music.
"If it progresses to a point where I can't hear at all, then I'll get hearing aids," he said.
The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration says habitual exposure to noise above 85 decibels causes gradual hearing loss in a significant number of individuals. Louder noises will accelerate the damage. A person may risk permanent damage to their hearing if they experience noise levels of 140 decibels or higher, even from short-term exposure and with hearing protection. According to the American Hearing Research Foundation, rock concerts can exceed 120 decibels, motorcycles can reach 100 decibels and a jet engine can hit 140.
"If you went to a rock concert and walked away with ringing in your ears, you did permanent damage to your ears," said Larry Smith, owner of the Advance Hearing Center of Florida's Ormond Beach and Palm Coast branches. "The ringing may subside but later in life you will have problems with your ears."
While technological improvements have made hearing aids more discreet and better at picking up sound, for boomers, wearing them often evokes images of old age. Smith said that's one of the most common reasons that people delay getting a hearing test.
"There is a very unfortunate stigma that a hearing aid makes you an old person," Smith said.

"But let me tell you what makes you old: Walking around saying: 'huh, what?' "
Even if someone isn't ready for a hearing aid, a hearing test showing even the slightest impairment can help the patient take steps to remedy the condition, said Dr. Michael Branch, an ears, nose and throat specialist with Florida Hospital Fish Memorial in Orange City.
Branch experiences the same symptoms that many of his patients suffer from. The 58-year-old doctor has been a musician since he was a teenager, and exposure to loud concerts resulted in him not being able to hear higher frequencies in one ear.
Early symptoms of hearing loss include the feeling of one's ears being clogged or stopped up, Branch said. The first thing people can do is accept the fact that they are losing their hearing and get tested. The longer people wait the more inclined they are to feel disengaged and have personal relationships suffer, he said.
As to whether baby boomers will suffer increased hearing loss due to increased exposure to loud music, Branch pointed to a 2010 study by the University of Wisconsin showing that hearing impairment rates were 31 percent lower in baby boomers than their parents. The study tracked 5,275 adults born between 1902 and 1962. One reason for the lower impairment rates could be stricter OSHA regulations that have lowered noise levels in the workplace.
But more studies are needed to determine whether baby boomers will have higher rates of hearing loss as they get older, Branch cautioned.
"We need more time to see how things will play out," he said. "The number of people experiencing hearing loss is going to be quite high over the next 10 years."
It's never too late, however, to take steps to prevent hearing loss, Branch said. He recommends wearing earplugs at concerts and turning the volume down when using headphones.
"Once your hearing is gone, it's gone," he said. "There is no way to really recover it."
Come Again?
Signs you might need your hearing tested:
You frequently ask others to repeat themselves.
- You have a hard time understanding softer voices such as women or children.
- Family members complain the volume is too loud when you watch TV or listen to music.
- You have trouble hearing on the phone.
- Family members are often annoyed when you misunderstand what they say.

Original Article from News Journal

Thursday, May 17, 2012

More senior living centers in U.S. allow more pets

 Joyce Kavanagh and cat at the Silverado Senior Living 
Center in Encinitas, San Diego County. Residents are encouraged to have pets.

Los Angeles --
Shirlee and Nathan "Nick" Horowitz faced one serious health crisis after another before their doctor said they had to move into an assisted living center. They had only one condition - they weren't going anywhere without their dog.
Hundreds of retirement communities across the country now allow seniors to live with their pets and more and more keep house pets that provide the benefits without the responsibility.
As many as 40 percent of people ask about pets when calling A Place for Mom, the nation's largest senior living referral service, said Tami Cumings, its senior vice president.
When the service was founded 12 years ago, pets were seldom considered when it came time for older people to enter rest homes or skilled nursing homes, Cumings said.
Then came the boom in independent living centers, assisted living complexes and memory centers for Alzheimer's patients. At the same time, some people have latched on to studies that show pets can help their owners' health physically and psychologically, said Lori Kogan, a professor of veterinary medicine at Colorado State University.

Animals adjust

Shirlee Horowitz and her husband chose the Regency Grand in West Covina, about 20 miles east of Los Angeles. Meals are provided, as is housekeeping and transportation. Medication management and help with dressing and bathing can be arranged. But most of all, their collie Barney was welcome.
"I worried more about him because he had a big yard before," said Shirlee Horowitz, 77. "But he has adjusted to this better than we have."
Barney's friendliness has made it easier for the couple to meet their neighbors, and his walks have helped them get to know the complex.
Living centers usually prefer smaller pets and put the limit at two. Not all pets are dogs and cats either, Cumings said. They get a lot of calls about birds and fish, too.
As much as 30 percent of the residents at the Regency Grand have pets at any one time, said Leah Hynes, Regency Grand's marketing associate. Seldom do the elderly move in with puppies or kittens, she said. Most of the time, their animals are older, too.
One of the residents lost her husband of many decades. She wanted a pet, so Hynes helped her choose a cat. They named it Annie and had the cat spayed, vaccinated and microchipped.
"It was like bringing a new baby home. She had the apartment set up and couldn't wait to have the companionship and someone to care for again," she said.

Pets to share

Residents who don't have pets of their own are encouraged to share Alley, the office cat. At the center's memory care center, a dog, a cat and two bunnies live with a couple of parakeets and a lot of fish.
Pet-friendly living centers are still in the minority, so people who don't like animals will easily find centers that say "No Pets Allowed."
But some living centers are cultivating small menageries.
At the Silverado Senior Living center in Encinitas, 25 miles north of San Diego, residents have miniature horses and for several months every year, a very young kangaroo, said Steve Winner, co-founder and chief of culture for the company's 23 centers in six states, including Illinois and Texas.
They've had a pot-bellied pig, chinchillas, guinea pigs and even a llama until he got too big, said Winner, who estimated that 20 percent of their new residents move in with pets.

Something to care for

When it's time to walk the dogs, a staff member might play the song "Who Let the Dogs Out" by Baha Men as a signal that it's time to put leashes on the dogs.
Kogan founded a prototype program called Pets Forever, a Colorado State class where students earn credits while helping elderly and disabled pet owners care for their animals.
As people age. they lose relatives and friends, maybe some of their mobility, their jobs and homes. "So pets become increasingly important," Kogan said. The relationship between a person and a pet may be the only thing an older person has left, she said.
"Clients will often say their pets are the reason they try to continue living," she said. "These pets really give them meaning and value in life, a purpose for getting up in the morning."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Substance abuse on the rise among boomers
Age compounds toxic addictions
Monday, May 7, 2012

‘Three Scotches a night: What’s the harm?’

WORCESTER —  Think of a stereotypical drug addict and a vision of a young, tattooed high school dropout might come to mind. Drug addiction is typically associated with young adults, not with retirees.

But as the baby-boom generation, now ages 48 to 66, expands the ranks of an already-sizeable older population, substance abuse is on the rise among elders.

Tobacco addiction continues to be the leading addiction among older adults, according to Dr. Douglas M. Ziedonis, professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at University of Massachusetts Medical School, but abuse of prescription drugs, alcohol and even marijuana and other illegal drugs is an often hidden, but serious, issue.

“We think the numbers we have (on substance abuse) just reflect the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Gary S. Moak, clinical associate professor at the medical school and a geriatric psychiatrist who practices in Westboro.

“We are seeing the leading edge of what will be a tsunami.”

A report released by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration projected that the need for substance abuse treatment among Americans over age 50 would double by 2020.

The report found that based on a survey done between 2006 and 2008, an estimated 4.3 million adults, or 4.7 percent of adults age 50 or older had used an illicit drug in the past year. Marijuana use was more common than nonmedical use of prescription drugs for adults age 50 to 59, while nonmedical use of prescription drugs was more common among those 65 and older.

The survey didn’t look at alcohol or tobacco use.

Another study, by the same agency, found that illicit drug use among adults 50 to 59 increased to 5.8 percent of the population in 2010 from 2.7 percent in 2002. Among those 55 to 59, the rate increased to 4.1 percent from 1.9 percent.

Substance abuse can cause health problems at any age, and among older adults, the effects of chemicals on the body are compounded.

“You take a couple that used to have a couple of martinis a night and now their bodies don’t metabolize as well. The ability to process the alcohol decreases with age and the volume of distribution: There’s more fat and less muscle,” said Dr. David A. Wilner, a geriatrician and medical director at Summit ElderCare in Worcester, an adult-day health program for nursing home-eligible elders. “Plus, the alcohol interacts with prescription drugs.”

“The other issue that’s different (among the elderly) is people who don’t see ongoing drug abuse as a problem,” Dr. Moak said.

Dr. Wilner said drinking and other substance abuse are often hidden by the isolation that can accompany old age. “I am frequently surprised to find someone having an alcohol problem that I wasn’t aware of,” he said.

Older adults who are retired don’t have to show up for work; they might not drive; they might not have family members around who could express concern about the drinking or drug abuse.

“ ‘Three Scotches a night: What’s the harm?’ ” Dr. Moak said was a common attitude among the elderly and their caregivers alike.

The harm, he said, is that alcohol makes people more depressed, already a problem among many older adults; it increases cognitive impairment; it interacts with prescription drugs; and it makes frail elders more prone to fall and end up in a nursing home.

“Those three Scotches are more like eight (to a frail elder),” Dr. Moak said. “It’s much more toxic now and it compounds the risk.”

When it comes to the surface, Dr. Wilner said, it’s like an “Aha!” moment, in which the cause for the person’s erratic behavior, which mimics cognitive impairment and other age-related problems, suddenly becomes clear.

Sometimes physicians aren’t aware of an alcohol problem until the person is hospitalized for another reason, and goes through withdrawal, with severe symptoms of delirium tremens and risk of seizure, which are worse than among younger adults.

Dr. Wilner said the extensive intake process at Summit ElderCare, which includes a medical evaluation and assessment with a social worker, home health nurse, and physical and recreational therapists, sometimes brings substance abuse issues to light, and helps the team coordinate a care plan with the caregiver at home.

For alcohol treatment, in particular, Dr. Wilner said the socialization and structure of coming to the day health program can help focus on the the problem. “If there’s a willingness to alter that, we can do quite a bit here,” he said.

Prescription drug abuse is also often hidden by age-related health problems and isolated living conditions.

Patrice M. Muchowski, who has a doctorate in psychology and is vice president of clinical services at Adcare Hospital in Worcester, said a person might start out with a prescription for a medical problem, such as pain killers or tranquilizers, and then become addicted to it. If the prescription drug use is combined with alcohol use, the problem is compounded.

But as with drinking, older people don’t always see taking their medication as a potential problem.

“There’s often a mind-set that if a prescription is written by a physician, then it must not be harmful,” Ms. Muchowski said.

She attributed part of the problem to the growing number of prescriptions being written for everything, and the number of doctors an elderly person might see, who don’t always communicate well with one another.

“Of the elderly folks that come through, we see them with a lot of prescriptions,” she said. “They’re often astounded that they can get physically dependent over time.”

Conventional drug or alcohol rehabilitation such as 12-step programs or Antabuse to treat alcoholism may not work for the elderly who have some cognitive impairment, Dr. Moak said. And even those without underlying impairment might not connect with a group of 20- and 30-year-olds who face a different set of life issues.

But gradually weaning an elderly person off a substance seems to work pretty well, he said.

Ms. Muchowski said Adcare offers specialty age-related groups as an option, although many older adults enjoy the energy of mixed-age groups.

You’re never too old to kick an addiction, including tobacco, and improve your health and quality of life, according to Dr. Ziedonis. “The important message for elderly is it still makes a difference.”

Original Article from the Worcester Telegram

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Exercise Plus Computer Time May Boost Seniors' Brains

Combination seems to help reduce odds of age-related memory loss, study finds

TUESDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of moderate exercise and mental stimulation through computer use may help reduce the risk of age-related memory loss more than computer use or exercise alone, according to new research.
The study, published in the May issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, included more than 920 people in Olmsted County, Minn., aged 70 to 93, who completed questionnaires about their computer use and physical activity over the previous year.
The Mayo Clinic researchers found signs of mild cognitive impairment in nearly 38 percent of participants who did not exercise and did not use a computer, compared with just over 18 percent of those who did moderate exercise and also used a computer. Mild cognitive impairment is the stage between normal age-related memory loss and early Alzheimer's disease.
The investigators also found that 36 percent of participants who did moderate exercise and used a computer had normal memory function, compared with about 20 percent of those who did not exercise or use a computer.
Moderate exercise included brisk walking, hiking, aerobics, strength training, golfing without a golf cart, swimming, doubles tennis, yoga, martial arts, weightlifting and using exercise machines, the authors explained in a Mayo Clinic news release.
"The aging of baby boomers is projected to lead to dramatic increases in the prevalence of dementia," study author Dr. Yonas Geda, a physician scientist at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said in the news release. "As frequent computer use has become increasingly common among all age groups, it is important to examine how it relates to aging and dementia. Our study further adds to this discussion."
Although the study uncovered an association between combined exercise and computer use and better memory function, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

original article from Health Day

Saturday, April 7, 2012

62 percent of men and 37 percent of women over the age of 65 are sexually active

The project has been published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine

IMAGE: There are gender differences among those older than 65, with less sexual activity in women compared to men.

Click here for more information.
A study based on the National Health and Sexuality Survey, involving nearly 2000 people, describes the sexual practices of senior citizens in Spain. The most common are kisses, caresses and vaginal penetration. The main causes of sexual inactivity are physical illness and widowerhood.
A new study published in one of the world's biggest sexuality journals the Journal of Sexual Medicine analyses the factors that influence sexual activity amongst elderly people in Spain.
"This research lets us know the reality of a social phenomenon which is not tackled enough in Spain: sexuality and the elderly", Domingo Palacios, a researcher at the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid and main author of this study, explained to SINC.
The results, based on the National Health and Sexuality Survey, in which 1,939 heterosexual elderly people participated in 2009, show that 62.3% of men and 37.4% of women are sexually active. The most common practices are kisses, caressing and vaginal penetration. On the other hand, the least practised are masturbation and oral sex.
Furthermore, there are other factors that limit sexual activity in both sexes: being older than 75, not having a partner, having a low level of education, a poor perception of their own health and sexuality, suffering from two or more chronic illnesses and taking two or more types of medication.
"This can be applied to preventing illnesses and promoting health and healthy sexual practices", Palacios states. He highlights widowerhood and physical illness amongst reasons why the older Spanish population do not have sexual intercourse.
The authors note gender differences among those older than 65, with less sexual activity in women compared to men. They also note age differences, with better results for those aged between 65 and 74 than those older than 75.
The results support previous studies This is not the first time that sexual health amongst the elderly has been measured. In 2006, a study published during the XXVI Spanish Family and Community Medicine Society (SEMFYC) Conference showed that 60% of people over the age of 65 said they had sex on average four times a month.
In that project, which was carried out with over 100 people by family doctors in Catalonia, the majority said that although their sexual intercourse had changed as a result of age, they were not "less satisfying".
Furthermore, new data backs up a survey carried out in the USA and published in 'New England Journal of Medicine' in 2008, in which 73% of Americans between 57 and 64 years of age had sex. The number dropped to 53% for those aged between 65 and 75, and dropped to 26% for those aged 85.

Article from EurekAlert

Friday, March 30, 2012

Learning another language 'could protect against dementia'

Learning another language 'rewires' the brain and could help delay the onset of dementia by years, research suggests.
Having to grapple with two languages makes the brain work harder, making it more resilient in later life, say academics. 
One study found that, among people who did eventually get dementia, those who were bilingual throughout their lives developed the disease three to four years later. 
Dr Ellen Bialystok, of York University in Toronto, Canada, and two colleagues examined hospital records of patients diagnosed with a variety of different types of dementia. 
They found: "In spite of being equivalent on a variety of cognitive and other factors, the bilinguals experienced onset and symptoms and were diagnosed approximately three to four years later than the monolinguals.
"Specifically, monolingual patients were diagnosed on average at age 75.4 years and bilinguals at age 78.6 years.
Several other studies found similar results, they noted in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
While lifelong bilingualism appeared to have the strongest protective effect, any attempt at learning another language was likely to be beneficial, they wrote.
"If bilingualism is protective against some forms of dementia, then middle-aged people will want to know whether it is too late to learn another language, or whether their high-school French will count towards coginitive reserve," they said.
"A related question concerns the age of acquisition of a second language: is earlier better?" The best answer at present is that early age of acquisition, overall fluency, frequency of use, levels of literacy and grammatical accuracy all contribute to the bilingual advantage, with no single factor being decisive. "Increasing bilingualism" led to "increasing modification" of the brain, they said.
Brain imaging scans have found that having to switch between two languages helps exercise parts of the brain that carry out taxing intellectual tasks, like multi-tasking and concentrating intensely on a subject for a sustained period of time. These "executive control" functions tend to be among the first to wane in old age, a process known as "cognitive decline".
Dr Bialystok commented: "Our conclusion is that lifelong experience in managing attention to two languages reorganises specific brain networks, creating a more effective basis for executive control and sustaining better cognitive performance throughout our lifespan."
Dr Marie Janson, of Alzheimer's Research UK, said:"We know there are several lifestyle factors - such as healthy eating, exercise and mental activity - that could help to reduce our risk of dementia.
"This review discusses the evidence that keeping our brains active by switching between different languages could help to resist some of the damage caused by dementia, delaying the onset of symptoms.
"More research is needed to tease apart the most beneficial aspects of bilingualism - whether it is the age we starting learning, how fluent we are or how much we use the language in everyday life. 
"With 820,000 people in the UK living with dementia and this number expected to rise, it is vital to invest in research to understand more about how to prevent or delay the onset of this devastating condition." Original article from the Telegraph

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dementia, From the Inside

March 28, 2012, 8:19 am
Lee Gorewitz in a scene from the film "You're Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don't." 
Lee Gorewitz in a scene from the film “You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t.”
Scott Kirschenbaum’s new film, “You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t,” was supposed to be scripted and cast — a coherent story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Then he found his unlikely star: Lee Gorewitz, 78, who lives in dementia unit at Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living in Danville, Calif.
They met one day in 2009 as Mr. Kirschenbaum arrived at the facility, which was to be his setting, on a scouting mission. Fit, well-coiffed and made-up, in earrings that matched her baby blue jogging suit, Mrs. Gorewitz greeted him at the door and was eager to show him around.

But as she walked through the facility, he recalled in an interview, her tour made less and less sense.

“Windows,” she said.



And eventually: “I hear the song in my ears, and I think they don’t love me anymore.’’

Mrs. Gorewitz was vivacious, energetic, charming and “trying her darndest to communicate with me,” Mr. Kirschenbaum said, but the “gap between her thinking and speech’’ was cavernous. The head of the unit called Mrs. Gorewitz’s way of communicating “word salad.”

But the 31-year-old filmmaker knew that telling the story he wanted to tell, of living with Alzheimer’s from the inside out, meant “working with an unreliable narrator.” It meant giving up on the idea of a linear plot. It meant entering a fragmented reality where “emotional coherence had replaced intellectual coherence.’’ And so Mrs. Gorewitz, with her family’s wholehearted support, became his muse.

The result is a strange and transfixing television experience, shot over the course of two weeks in April 2009. It will air on PBS stations on March 29 in Chicago, Denver and San Francisco; on April 1 in New York and Los Angeles; and on April 6 in Washington. (Viewers should check their local PBS listings.)

Until now, screen depictions of dementia mostly have been told from the perspective of the caregiver. Mr. Kirschenbaum, never seen in the film, is heard only a few times, in barely a whisper, asking Mrs. Gorewitz questions about her late husband, children, favorite color, the identities of people in the photographs in her room, the recipient of a birthday card she had saved, what she wore to her wedding, the meaning of love.
Mostly, the camera follows her wanderings through the unit, her interactions with other residents and staff, her sudden swings from conviviality to despair to anger. We hear the background noise and conversation, if you can call it that, of residents and aides. Family members are never in the frame. We are there only to the extent Mrs. Gorewitz is. What she cannot tell us, we don’t know.

She rails at her grown children, who visit with some regularity; her grandchildren have decorated her room with photos and mementos. That birthday card was meant for her, it turns out, but she can’t figure it out.
Displaying her “wedding dress,” she holds up a lavender blazer of recent vintage. Of her late husband she says, “How do I even say it? The air’’ – she pauses – “was very good.’’

And the meaning of love? She is silent for a long time, licking her lips. “That’s a darn good thing to work with,’’ she says.

In the corridors and lounges of the unit, Mrs. Gorewitz dances and snaps her fingers when the tape deck plays “Billy Boy’’ or Frank Sinatra sings “Somewhere, Beyond the Sea.’’ She soothes an old woman curled in a wheelchair cradling a doll in her arms. She kicks an old man, also in a wheelchair, and blurts out at him, “You’re going to die.’’ He responds with a jaunty wave.

In one scene, she lies curled in a fetal position on her bed, with its blue flowered comforter, keening, “I don’t know why. I don’t why I do what I do.’’

At the end of each day’s shooting, Mr. Kirschenbaum recalled, Mrs. Gorewitz kissed him goodbye, tearing up at their parting. He had become family. “There is no such thing as enough when you are that sociable, confused and lonely,” he said. “The fundamental struggle is how to make do with the social dynamic available to her.’’

Mr. Kirschenbaum has some background in the subject matter. His grandfather, 100, lives in a Rochester nursing home; his 93-year-old grandmother is three miles away, in assisted living, and visits her husband a few times a week. At Yale, he made a documentary about the role of Jewish humor in the lives of 15 nursing home residents. He wrote profiles of the elderly for the Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine. Later, living in New York, he answered an online ad for a companion for a screenwriter with Alzheimer’s disease. The pair spent every Wednesday over muffins and coffee.

The title of the film is simply something Mrs. Gorewitz said one day, sitting at the edge of her bed, not far from tears and playing with a bunch of small stuffed animals. He didn’t ask what she meant.

Original article from the NY times

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Watchie GPS Locator Helps Keep Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients Safe

Posted by | 03/20/2012 | 0 Comments
Every week I’m guaranteed to see a Gray Alert on my Twitter feed or a flyer in my neighborhood here in New York concerning an elderly person who’s gone missing. Usually it’s a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia who accidentally wandered from home and didn’t come back.
Taking care of someone with either of these conditions is difficult, especially when you’re trying to balance their desire for dignity with your need to keep them safe. A new device called Watchie seeks to help with this issue and offers caregivers some peace of mind.
Watchie looks and is worn just like a watch and includes GPS technology and a SIM card for accurate tracking both indoors and out. Caregivers can set up specific safe zones and get alerts when the wearer leaves those zones or the wearer can press a panic button if they find themselves lost with no idea how to get home.
Caregivers can see where the Watchie is via a website or an app for their iPhone or iPad. There doesn’t appear to be an Android version yet.
The built-in accelerometer can also alert caregivers to sudden falls just in case the wearer isn’t able to press the panic button.
Despite the constant connection to cell towers and GPS satellites, the company behind Watchie claims that the device can go several days or weeks without needing a charge.
Watchie works in over 140 countries and is set to launch soon.

Original Article 3/20/12

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Exercising an Aging Brain

MORE and more retired people are heading back to the nearest classroom — as students and, in some cases, teachers — and they are finding out that school can be lovelier the second time around. Some may be thinking of second careers, but most just want to keep their minds stimulated, learn something new or catch up with a subject they were always curious about but never had time for.