Researchers conducting a new study from England found that brain cells act much like skin cells during the aging process. This study will provide a new concept as to how damaged brain cells can spread from different areas much like skin cells. Study experiments have only been conducted on mice, but Thomas von Zglinicki, a professor of cellular gerontology at Newcastle University said “This study provides us with a new concept as to how damage can spread from the first affected area to the whole brain; we will now need to find out whether the same mechanisms we detected in mouse brains are also associated with brain aging and cognitive loss in humans.” More here
Research suggests that up to 5% of the elderly population, age 70 and above, may suffer from a type of memory loss called mild cognitive impairment. This estimate is worse than any previous year according to a researching team at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Ronald Petersen, the neurologist who led the study stated, “If we extrapolate these findings to the baby boomers, who are aging into the period of risk, we’re talking about a significant number of individuals who may become cognitively impaired in the very near future.” The number of elderly adults that have mild cognitive impairment has increased to an alarmingly higher rate than previously anticipated. More here
According to the latest report in The Journal of the American Medical Association by Becca Levy, an associate professor of epidemiology and psychology at Yale University who has been researching the effects of negative and positive stereotyping in older adults, suggests that seniors with this positive bias are 44% more likely to completely recover from a struggle with disability. Study showed that when seniors are introduced to negative stereotyping they are more likely to suffer memory loss, have poor physical functioning and possibly die earlier as opposed to seniors who are introduced to positive stereotyping. More here
Low levels of vitamin C have long been associated with brittle bones but, according to a new study, large doses of the vitamin may actively stimulate bone formation and protect against osteoporosis and bone loss. Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine tested bone mineral density among two groups of mice, one of which was given large doses of vitamin C over eight weeks. The results showed that the mice who received vitamin C had a higher bone mineral density when compared to the group who received no vitamin C. Mone Zaidi, MD, director of the Mount Sinai Bone Program, said the study has profound public health implications and, with further research, may discover that dietary supplements may help prevent osteoporosis in humans. More here and here.
Benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Klonopin, and Xanax, are routinely prescribed to seniors for help with insomnia or anxiety. Now, a new study published in the BMJ, says that seniors who take benzodiazepines may be at increased risk for developing memory loss and difficulty thinking. According to the research, seniors who took these drugs were nearly 60 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who did not. Still, the results cannot definitely prove that benzodiazepines cause declining brain function and the researchers say that seniors who use them as a short-term solution are probably not at risk. More here.
According to a new AARP report, 80 percent of baby boomers who were unemployed in 2010 were still out of work late last year. The report, which surveyed boomers on their financial well being following the recent recession, discovered that Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 continued to struggle three years after the official end of the recession. Because older workers have less time to recover from a job loss, the recession was particularly difficult for salaried employees in their 50s and 60s. Even among those who were able to find work, less than half said they were back on track financially because of lost savings or having to take a job for less money. The survey’s findings highlight the economic struggle felt by millions of baby boomers whose retirement plans were changed or altered by the recent recession. More here and here.
Ginkgo biloba has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and, more recently, has been sold as a dietary supplement aimed at helping prevent memory loss and improving focus and mental sharpness. But, according to new research from the University of Hertfordshire, taking gingko biloba supplements provided no such boost to memory regardless of the age and health of the individual. Keith Laws, professor of psychology, said ginkgo biloba promises to reduce the mental decline associated with aging but the results of the study show it has no impact at all. Ginkgo biloba is one of the most popular plant-based products available without a prescription in North America, though a number of recent studies have found no evidence to support its effectiveness. More here.
According to data from two national surveys, the number of older people with vision issues has declined dramatically over the past few decades. In 2010, just 1 in 10 older Americans reported having eyesight problems compared to 1 in 4 in 1984. The drop is likely due to the fact that cataract surgery has become routine, smoking rates have declined, and the available treatments and therapies for diabetes-related vision loss have improved. Over just the past two and half decades, self-reported vision impairment has declined by more than 50 percent. Macular degeneration and age-related vision loss can limit activity and pose a threat to seniors’ independence and safety. More here.
Adding to a long list of studies that link physical activity to lowered risk of disease, new research from the University of Washington in Seattle shows that people who report a low level of physical activity have a higher rate of diabetes. The study asked 1,800 people to wear a pedometer and tally the number of steps they took each day. The results showed that, after five years, the people who walked the most were nearly 30 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who walked the least. Amanda Fretts, lead author of the study, said that increasing physical activity prevents weight gain and promotes weight loss, which would explain why walking would lead to a lowered risk of developing diabetes. More here.
As we age, there are a number of factors that can threaten our ability to continue driving. Certain health conditions, medication, and cognitive impairments can cause driving to become dangerous for older adults. Still, losing the ability to drive means a loss of independence and increased difficulty providing for everyday necessities. It’s also not always easy to identify at what point a loved one is no longer able to be safe behind the wheel. There are, however, resources available at AAA’s website that offer help for older drivers as well as family and friends hoping to help with the transition. The provided tips and tools, not only assess skills and evaluate weaknesses, but also help to better understand warning signs, transportation alternatives, and ways to improve the performance of older drivers that are still on the road. More here.