Conventional wisdom often links aging to sleep problems. And, according to recent research, sleeplessness can raise the risk of everything from hypertension to diabetes. But though that may seem like a reason for older adults to be concerned, a new study from the University of Pittsburgh’s Sleep and Chronobiology Center and University Center for Social and Urban Research found that seniors aren’t having as much trouble sleeping as as assumed and sleep trouble may have more to do with poor health than age. The study surveyed 1,200 retired seniors. Results showed that 75 percent of respondents reported sleeping more than 6.75 hours a night and just 25 percent reported sleeping less than that. Timothy H. Monk, Ph.D., the study’s lead author, said the stereotype of seniors going to bed early and having trouble staying asleep is inaccurate. More here.
New research from the University of Hertfordshire found that women with Alzheimer’s disease tend to deteriorate faster than men with the disease. The paper, published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, discovered men consistently scored higher on a series of cognitive tests and outperformed women in verbal and visuospatial tasks. Keith Laws, professor of psychology, said Alzheimer’s specifically disadvantages women, unlike with normal aging where women tend to decline more slowly than men. Alzheimer’s disease, according to current estimates, affects 30 million people worldwide with 4.6 million new cases every year. Women are more prone to the disease than men, though the reason behind the gender-based differences in decline are unknown. More here.
According to a new retirement survey from the Society of Actuaries, the number of respondents who say they do not expect to be able to retire has risen since 2009. That year, 29 percent of workers approaching retirement age said they didn’t expect to be able to retire. The latest results, on the other hand, found 35 percent of pre-retirees pessimistic about their retirement options. Among surveyed participants, nearly 90 percent of people approaching retirement age say they plan to continue working in order to stay active and engaged but, among those with financial concerns, more than 80 percent named additional income and preserving assets as their reason to keep working. Benefits were cited by 61 percent of those who plan on staying employed. Carol Bogosian, actuary and retirement expert, said current trends indicate that people may need to work longer than they originally planned. More here and here.
A recent survey, conducted on behalf of Pfizer, asked more than 1,000 participants over the age of 18 for their perspective on aging. The results show how perceptions and priorities change as we age. For example, participants between the ages of 50 and 64 were the most optimistic about getting old and the most likely to say they feel like they look five or more years younger than they actually are. Older respondents were also the most likely to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day and to say they are more active than their parents were at the same age. Younger respondents ranked money higher on a list of aspirations and said people should start watching what they eat at 20 and start having yearly physicals at 21. Health was the number one reason people said that aging was better than they expected. More here.
After comparing data on 1,574 centenarians born in the United States between 1880 and 1895 with that of their shorter-lived siblings and spouses, researchers from the University of Chicago determined that people born in the fall are significantly more likely to live to be 100 years of age than those born between March and August. The study, published in the Journal of Aging Research, found people born in September, October, and November had longer life spans. Though the researchers couldn’t determine the exact reason for the difference, environmental temperature during birth, seasonal infections and disease, and the nutritional status of the mother during pregnancy were among the theories offered to explain the effects of birth month on longevity. More here and here.
New research from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley found that a person’s happiness is more closely tied to their standing in their community and how much respect and admiration they receive from their friends, neighbors, and co-workers than it is to how much money they have. Psychological scientist Cameron Anderson set out to examine the relationship between respect, money, admiration, and happiness. And, over the course of four studies which surveyed and followed a diverse sample of participants, Anderson found clear evidence that having influence and social acceptance was more important than accumulated wealth. Having high standing in your local ladder leads to being more integrated into the group’s social fabric, Anderson said. According to Anderson, one reason money doesn’t buy happiness is how quickly people adapt to new levels of income. More here.
A county-level analysis of life expectancy found a large majority of American counties have been falling behind as compared to countries such as Japan and Canada that rank among the top performers in the world. The research, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, found that 80 percent of counties in America fell below the average of the 10 nations with the highest life expectancies between 2000 and 2007. For men, life expectancy ranged from 65.9 to 81.1 years and, for women, between 73.5 and 86 years. Regionally, the worst performing counties were in the South, Appalachia, and Northern Texas and the best life expectancies were found on the coasts and in the Northern Plains. The authors noted that, more than racial or economic factors, the reason behind America’s poor performance was primarily preventable factors such as smoking, high obesity rates, and other lifestyle-related behaviors. More here and here.
Research from the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention examining mortality in the United States over the past 75 years found that the risk of dying dropped 60 percent between 1935 and 2010. The risk of death dropped for all age groups but the greatest decline was found in the very young, with death rates between the ages of one and four dropping 94 percent. The death rate for people over the age of 85 was down 38 percent. Heart Disease, cancer, and stroke remained among the top five causes of death in each year between 1935 and 2010. But the report cites significant progress in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular diseases as the reason for a 41 percent decline in age-adjusted mortality in the period from 1969 and 2010. More here.
To better understand Americans’ spending and saving habits and how they’ve been affected by the weak economy, AARP Bulletin conducted a survey of 1,018 adults over the age of 18. According to the results, more than three quarters of Americans said they are saving more of their money and cutting back on spending. The top two reason cited for changing spending habits were to have more money available for emergencies and to save more for retirement. As for how Americans have been reducing their debt, 75 percent said they limited the number of times they went out to eat, made purchases and took vacations. An additional 73 percent said they were paying cash or debit card rather than using their credit cards. Only 53 percent of adults said they were currently saving for retirement. More here.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. It causes the body to either not have enough insulin or ignore the insulin being produced by the pancreas. A toxic accumulation of the protein called hlAPP has been associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But people who drink four or more cups of coffee each day have been shown to have a 50 percent lower risk of developing the disease and a group of Chinese researchers have now potentially uncovered the reason. Kun Huang, PhD, professor of biological pharmacy at the Huazhong University of Science & Technology, said they’ve found three coffee compounds which reverse the toxic accumulation of the protein hlAPP which would explain why previous studies have shown coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. More here.