Research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society states high blood pressure can effect your walking speed. Researchers were aware that older adults with high blood pressure were not as likely to function as well as adults without high blood pressure. Studies also have shown that adults with the condition run higher risks of becoming physically impaired as they age. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Washington in Seattle conducted a study that may give proof that high blood pressure can actually slow walking speed over the course of time. More here
A gradual decline in muscle strength is part of the natural aging process. And, though keeping physically fit is the primary defense against weaker muscles, a new study from the Society for Experimental Biology has found that caffeine may also help boost power in older muscles. The study, which theorized that caffeine would have the same power-inducing effect on elderly muscles as it does in younger adults, found that it did aid in keeping older muscles stronger, though to a lesser degree. Jason Tallis, the study’s primary author, said that, along with maintaining a physically active lifestyle, the performance enhancing benefit of caffeine could prove beneficial in the aging population. More here.
Among people over the age of 65, more than half have at least three chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, or Alzheimer’s disease. But, according to a new report from the American Geriatrics Society, healthcare providers often follow standard clinical guidelines for an individual disease when they may not be the safest or most effective treatment for a patient with multiple conditions. Cynthia M. Boyd, MD, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said a clinician prescribing medications according to standard guidelines for an individual disease may end up with a patient who is taking too many medications and running a risk for drug interactions and harmful side effects. The report recommends a number of guiding principles for caring for seniors with multiple health problems, such as considering patient preferences, weighing risks, benefits, and burdens, interpreting research, and accounting for the complexity and feasibility of treatment options. More here.
A recent study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society found many agencies that hire caregivers to assist elderly clients don’t run background checks or drug tests on the aides they place in seniors’ homes. Because most of these caregivers are not allowed to administer medicine and are typically tasked with daily activities such as dressing and housekeeping, they don’t require medical training. However, the study found just 56 percent of agencies run federal background checks and just one third drug tested their employees. Also, there was very little training and, in some cases, none at all. The research highlights the need for seniors to use caution when hiring a caregiver and to be sure to ask caregiver agencies about available insurance, their screening process, capabilities, and hiring requirements before making a decision. 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.
According to research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, fragmented or interrupted sleep may predict future placement in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. The study, published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, asked women with a mean age of 83 to wear a device that monitored movement for at least three days and then followed up with them five years later. Compared with women who suffered few sleep disturbances, participants who spent the most time awake after initially falling asleep were three times as likely to be placed in a nursing home at the five-year follow up. Adam Spira, lead author of the study, said sleep disturbances are common in older people and, according to the results, more sleep fragmentation is associated with a greater risk of being placed in a nursing home or in a personal-care home. Previous research has linked poor sleep with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and disability in older adults. More here.
A study of 713 women in their 70s found that those who ate the most fruits and vegetables and got the most exercise were eight times less likely to die over the next five years than participants who ate fewer fruits and vegetables and exercised less. Among participants, those who exercised the most were 74 percent less likely to die over the next five years and those who ate the most fruits and vegetables were 46 percent less likely to die. Combining a diet high in fruits and vegetables with exercise resulted in the greatest likelihood of increasing longevity. And though the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, doesn’t prove that eating more produce and exercising after the age of 70 will lengthen your lifespan, it does add to numerous studies showing that combining a healthy diet with regular exercise leads to better health at any age. More here.
A recent survey from AARP and the Society for Human Resource Management polled 1,004 workers over the age of 50 to gauge their attitudes toward work, employee benefits, and alternative work arrangements. Among the results, the survey found that nearly 80 percent of workers over the age of 50 said they were working for financial reasons such as the need for money or health insurance, as opposed to for enjoyment or the desire to be productive. However, the older the worker, the more likely they were to say they were working for non-financial reasons. For example, nearly two in five workers over the age of 70 cited non-financial reasons for working or looking for work. Also, more than 75 percent of currently employed individuals over the age of 50 said they intend to continue working at their current job until they retire completely and 52 percent of unemployed workers said they’d prefer to find a job in the same field as their previous job. Health insurance was deemed the most important employee benefit followed by pension, retirement plans, and paid time off. More here.
According to research from the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University, women in their seventies who exercise and eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables have a longer life expectancy than women who are less active and eat fewer fruits and vegetables. The study, published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, looked at 713 women between the ages of 70 and 79 and discovered that those who were the most physically active and ate the most fruits and vegetables were eight times more likely to survive a five-year follow-up period than women with the lowest levels of exercise and fruit and vegetable consumption. The study found that 53 percent of participants did no exercise at all. Women in the most active group, however, had a 71 percent lower five-year death rate than women in the least active group. More here.
The list of health benefits associated with eating chocolate continues to increase, though experts warn that some of the research requires further testing. Researchers gathered at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society to discuss the evidence behind previous claims and the latest cocoa research. Among the benefits considered to be provable, chocolate is known to have a positive effect on blood pressure and cholesterol. Eric Ding, Ph.D., said chocolate has been found to, on average, lower systolic blood pressure by two points. In addition, there is evidence that chocolate increases HDL, or what is considered good cholesterol. But cocoa is also being studied for positive effects on colon cancer, migraines, congestive heart failure, and type 2 diabetes, though the evidence remains debatable. More here.