Helpful information from repuatable sources about caring for yourself or a loved one who has a debilitating condition.

Scientific evidence about the importance of remaining socially engaged as we age continues to grow. Participating in social activities, such as visiting friends, volunteering, and getting out for events and trips, has been associated with better cognitive function, while low social engagement in late life has been associated with an increased risk of dementia (Krueger, 2009; Saczynski, 2006). Other research has shown that support from a spouse/partner and friends alleviates loneliness and improves well-being in older adults. Recent findings from Dr. Emily Rogalski and colleagues at Northwestern University studying cognitive “SuperAgers” add more evidence about the importance of positive social relationships (Maher, 2017).

Who are cognitive SuperAgers?

3 men sitting together on a bench and laughingNorthwestern’s SuperAgers cohort is made up of people age 80 and older whose episodic memory (memories of past personal events) is comparable to people 25 to 30 years younger (age 50-65). Over the seven years the research team has followed this group, their episodic memory test scores have not declined significantly, indicating remarkably resilient memory. What factors contribute to their elite performance?

Read more ...

 

Tips for staying safe in cold weather

With winter's return, the colder temperatures bring some particular risks for older adults and people with chronic conditions. Older adults can lose body heat faster than when they were younger, and changes in their bodies can make it more difficult to be aware of a drop in body temperature. The result can be a dangerous condition called hypothermia.

Hypothermia occurs when a person's core body temperature drops to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Even a small drop in temperature and short exposure to cold weather can develop into hypothermia. Some warnings signs of hypothermia include slowed or slurred speech; sleepiness or confusion; shivering or stiffness in the arms and legs; poor control over body movements; slow reactions, or a weak pulse.

Read more ...

You have been a safe driver for years. For you, driving means freedom and control. As you get older, changes in your body and your mind can affect how safely you drive.  If you are an older driver with a medical condition, or if you are a concerned caregiver,these resources will help you learn how medical conditions can affect driving, what to do if you're experiencing or witnessing certain warning signs, and where to learn more about medical conditions. 

Read more ...

Assessing How Changes Can Affect Your Driving

Some of the changes you experience as you get older can affect your ability to drive safely. The good news is that people who keep track of changes in their eyesight, physical fitness, and reflexes may be able to adjust their driving habits so they stay safe on the road.

The following questions will help you decide if physical changes have affected your driving skills. Helpful tips about coping with these changes are also provided so that you can remain a safe driver for as long as possible.

Read more ...

What’s the problem?

Aging is not the problem, but the way we talk about aging is. Most people, without even thinking of it, use language that describes aging as a negative experience. Unfortunately, this language contributes to “Ageism” in our culture, which is a stereotyping or discrimination of a person or group of people because of their age. This is a serious challenge in our culture and communities, manifesting in the unconscious thoughts we have, the actions we take, and the social policies, institutions and systems we create.

What’s the solution?

To change the way our society thinks and acts about aging, we must begin to change the way we talk. Reframing aging using common language that celebrates our collective experience as we all age helps contribute to solutions. The language we use truly matters.

Read more ...

Hearing loss is a common problem caused by noise, aging, disease, and heredity. People with hearing loss may find it hard to have a conversation with friends and family. They may also have trouble understanding a doctor’s advice, responding to warnings, and hearing doorbells and alarms.

Read more ...

Hearing loss occurs in approximately one in three people age 65 to 74 and nearly one in two people age 75 and older in the United States, making it one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. Last year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability, a report that highlights the importance of hearing health to communication and overall quality of life, and proposes recommendations to increase the availability and affordability of hearing health care.

NIA-funded research has indicated that hearing loss may impact cognition and dementia risk in older adults. A 2011 study found that older adults with hearing loss were more likely to develop dementia than older adults with normal hearing. In fact, there was a relationship between level of uncorrected hearing loss and level of dementia risk: mild hearing loss was associated with a two-fold increase in risk; moderate hearing loss with a three-fold increase in risk, and severe hearing loss with a five-fold increase in risk. (Lin et al., 2011).

Furthermore, a more recent study found that cognitive abilities (including memory and concentration) declined faster in older adults with hearing loss, as compared to older adults with normal hearing (Lin et al., 2013). These observations by scientists raise the question: can cognitive decline and/or dementia onset be slowed or stopped by correcting hearing loss?

Trial launched to test hearing intervention impact on cognitive decline

The NIA has recently funded the Aging, Cognition, and Hearing Evaluation in Elders (ACHIEVE) clinical trial led by Drs. Frank Lin and Josef Coresh at Johns Hopkins University to examine the potential benefits of hearing rehabilitation. ACHIEVE will recruit 850 cognitively normal adults aged 70-84 with hearing loss from four locations (Hagerstown MD, Jackson MS, Minneapolis MN, and Winston-Salem NC). Individuals will be randomly assigned to either the hearing intervention (hearing needs assessment, fitting of hearing devices, education/counseling) or control intervention (health education).

ACHIEVE participants will be followed for three years and information on hearing function, cognition, and demographics (e.g. age, sex, education level) will be collected at several timepoints. The primary outcome of the study will be to determine if the hearing rehabilitative intervention changes the rates of cognitive decline as compared to the group receiving health education. Additionally, the researchers will examine if the intervention impacts physical and social functioning, quality of life, and physical activity.

This trial should further our knowledge on the relationship between age-related hearing loss and cognition and dementia. For further information on the trial, please visit www.achievestudy.org.

References

Lin FR, Metter EJ, O’Brien RJ, Resnick SM, Zonderman AB, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss and incident dementiaArch Neurol. 2011;68(2):214–220.

Lin FR, Yaffe K, Xia J, Xue Q, Harris TB, Purchase-Helzner E, Satterfield S, Ayonayon HN, Ferrucci L, Simonsick EM, Health ABC Study Group. Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adultsJAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(4):293–299.

Information provided by NIA (National Insittute on Aging)

Vitamins help your body grow and work the way it should. There are 13 vitamins—vitamins C, A, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate).

Vitamins have different jobs--helping you resist infections, keeping your nerves healthy, and helping your body get energy from food or your blood to clot properly. By following the Dietary Guidelines, you will get enough of most of these vitamins from food.

Minerals also help your body function. Some minerals, like iodine and fluoride, are only needed in very small quantities. Others, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, are needed in larger amounts. As with vitamins, if you eat a varied diet, you will probably get enough of most minerals.

Vitamins and minerals are measured in a variety of ways. The most common are:

mg – milligram
mcg – microgram
IU – international unit

Your doctor might suggest that, like some older adults, you need extra of a few vitamins, as well as the mineral calcium. It is usually better to get the nutrients you need from food, rather than a pill. That’s because nutrient-dense foods contain other things that are good for you, like fiber. Look for foods fortified with certain vitamins and minerals, like some B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D. That means those nutrients are added to the foods to help you meet your needs.

Read more ...