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
A recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive found that 75 percent of Americans described their retirement preparations as being based on some sort of a guess compared to 22 percent who said their plan was based on calculations. The numbers offer further evidence that Americans are in need of better education and financial preparation leading up to their retirement. For example, participants estimated their out-of-pocket healthcare costs in retirement would total $47,000, far below the $260,000 calculated by the Center for Retirement Research. Also, the number of respondents who said they aren’t confident they will have saved enough to live comfortably in retirement rose from 42 percent in 2011 to 53 percent this year. The poll was conducted via telephone and interviewed 1,000 middle-class Americans between the ages of 25 and 75. More here.
According to a paper authored by Albert Mulley of the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, doctors often recommend treatments for their patients without an understanding of their preferences and priorities. For example, a recent study found that doctors believed 71 percent of breast cancer patients rated keeping their breast as a top priority, but the number among their patients was only seven percent. Research has also shown that people will choose different treatments as they become better informed about the risks and benefits associated with a particular treatment. According to Mulley, providing a better diagnosis of patients’ preferences is not only the right thing to do but it may also reduce healthcare costs, as better informed patients are often more careful about the number of procedures they undergo. More here.
A new poll of 2,508 adults conducted by the Pew Research Center has found an increasing amount of anxiety over retirement savings but a shift in which Americans are expressing the most concern. In 2009, baby boomers were the most worried about funding their retirement but now adults in their late 30s and 40s are the least confident in their income and savings. Among adults between the ages of 36 and 40, more than half say they are not confident their assets will last through retirement, while only 34 percent of people ages 60 to 64 said the same. Overall, the number of Americans who express anxiety about financing their retirement has risen since 2009. According to Pew, the share of adults who aren’t confident in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement has risen from 25 percent in 2009 to 38 percent in the latest poll. More here.
New research from Dartmouth University and the University of Warwick found that a person’s happiness rose with the number of daily servings of fruits and vegetables they consumed. The study, which examined the diets of 80,000 people in England, found that happiness peaked at seven servings per day. Sarah Stewart-Brown, a professor of public health, said that the results were surprising since diet has typically been neglected when studying well being. The new research adds to recent studies recommending more than the familiar five servings per day. The study defined a serving as 80 grams or 2.8 ounces. More here.
So far this year, more Americans have reported exercising three or more days per week than in any of the past four years. In fact, 2012 may set a record for exercise in the United States. According to Gallup’s Well Being Index, the number of Americans who said they exercised for at least 30 minutes three or more days in the past week has risen in every month but April. August’s results found 54.7 percent of respondents engaged in frequent physical activity. Gallup says the fact that 2012 has been unusually warm may have played a role in the increasing amount of exercise Americans reported. And, as autumn and winter weather affects the ability to be active outdoors in much of the country, the numbers may recede. More here.
Women, more than men, say they expect to live past the age of 90. In fact, nearly twice the number of women said they expected to live a long life compared to men in a recent retirement survey. But despite having expectations of living longer, many women haven’t planned adequately for the financial requirements associated with increased longevity. For example, more than half of surveyed women said they respond to financial emergencies by dealing with them when they occur rather than planning for possible scenarios. But though women participants said they didn’t plan in advance, more than 70 percent admitted to being very or somewhat concerned about providing for their long-term care needs. The study highlights the need for women to be properly prepared for their financial needs in retirement. More here.
Legislation requiring minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in California hospitals produced an increase in hospital staff but not necessarily an increase in quality of care, according to a new study in the journal Health Services Research. The study looked at the real-life results of a bill passed in 1999 aiming to improving hospital care by requiring a minimum number of nurses available to care for patients. Researchers found that the increases in staff coincided with a decrease in the number of patients who died following a complication, known as failure to rescue. But they also found an increase in infections due to medical care related to intravenous lines and catheters. Still, the authors of the study caution that the increased levels of infection may be due to better discovery and reporting, rather than neglect or error. More here.
Seniors who exercise regularly are more likely to say they are in excellent or very good health. In a recent Gallup poll, 51 percent of older adults who exercised frequently said they were in excellent health while only 34 percent of seniors who do not exercise said the same. But while healthy eating habits increase with age, exercise habits fall off as we get older. Nearly 60 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 report exercising at least 30 minutes three or more days during the week. That number falls to 45 percent among those over the age of 90. By comparison, 91 percent of respondents over the age of 90 said they ate a healthy diet all day yesterday, while just 54 percent of Americans between the age of 18 and 24 said the same. In short, seniors who maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and visit the dentist are more likely to report good health than those that don’t. 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.