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Older Danes Seem to be Getting Sharper

Age-related cognitive decline in the very old has improved in Denmark.

Good news for those getting older! A Danish cohort study has found that men and women born in 1915 were mentally sharper in 2010 (age 94 and 95) compared to those born in 1905 and assessed in 1998 (age 92 and 93). The 1915 cohort also had significantly better activities of daily living scores than did the 1905 group. The authors did not postulate as to the reasons for these improvements.

PositiveTip: Making healthy choices today may support not only longer life, but a better quality of life as well.

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Endurance Exercise Aids Elderly

Older endurance athletes had longer telomeres than those with medium activity.

Early research from Norway suggests that endurance training in older individuals may help regulate the length of telomeres in old age, thus slowing the aging process. Telomeres are the caps on chromosomes that are potential markers of biological aging. The Norwegian researchers also found that telomere length is positively associated with VO2max. However, the small sample size and cross-sectional design prohibits any conclusions about causality.

PositiveTip: Adequate physical activity is important any any age for good health.

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BP Meds Up Hip Fractures in Elderly

First month and a half of BP medication increases the risk of hip fracture by 43%.

The risk of fracturing a hip is significantly higher during the first 45 days of antihypertensive treatment than before or after. A large Canadian study of older adults found that this risk was consistent for all classes of anti-hypertensives, and is thought to be caused by dizziness, fainting, or syncope.

PositiveTip: While blood pressure medications may be necessary in some older adults, careful monitoring for falls would be prudent.

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At-home and Group Exercise Cuts Falls in Seniors

Exercise helps reduce the risk of falls in the elderly.

Group and home-based exercise programs decrease the risk of falling among the elderly living in the community according to a large review and meta-analysis. Group exercise decreased the risk of falling by 15% compared to no exercise, and at-home activities reduced the risk by 22%. Targeting at least two of the following factors was effective in reducing risks: strength, flexibility, or endurance. Taking supplements of vitamin D probably did not reduce falls, unless a person had a low blood level.

PositiveTip: Physical activity at all ages promotes health and reduces the risk of accidents.

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Immune System and Vaccine Failure in the Elderly

Exercise improves vaccine effectiveness in the elderly.

Advancing age brings a decline in immune system function. Regular exercise helps improves immune function in seniors, leading to a reduced rate of infections and the deaths they cause, and increases vaccine effectiveness.

PositiveTip: Multiple short daily walks can improve immune response to annual flu shots.

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Physical Activity Can Reverse Brain Loss in Elderly

Physical activity can preserve memory in the brains of the elderly.

A group of 120 older adults were randomly assigned between two groups: the first group had three moderate aerobic workouts a week, and the second group only stretched for the same amount of time. MRI imaging and memory tests were done at the beginning, after 6 months and after 1 year. Those who only stretched showed a 1.4% decline in brain volume (the hippocampus), while the brain volume of those who moderately exercised actually increased more than 2%. Both groups had memory improvement, but the group doing aerobic exercise showed more.

PositiveTip: Moderate aerobic exercise is a pretty cheap and easy-to-implement intervention to preserve brain function.

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It's Never Too Late to Lower Your Risk of Cancer

A majority of Americans do not know that aging increases the risk of cancer!

Does your potential cancer risk scare you? You are not alone! A recent survey by the American Institute for Cancer Research has found the majority of Americans over 70 years old do not know that cancer risk increases with age. Also, many older Americans think there is nothing they can do to reduce their risk. These troubling findings have led the AICR to launch a campaign called It's Never Too Late to Lower Your Risk.

PositiveTip: The good news is that even older people can significantly lower their risk of cancer through simple lifestyle changes such as eating smart, moving more, and attaining a healthy weight.

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Good Health Essential to Quality Sexual Activity in Older Adults

Better health correlates with greater quality and interest in sex for the elderly.

A University of Chicago study has revealed that middle-aged and older men and women who perceive themselves to be in very good health are significantly more likely to have a greater interest in sexual activity, as well as having more satisfying sexual experiences.

Men seem to lose more years of sexual activity than women as a result of poor health. In fact, men’s physical health problems are the most commonly cited reason by both sexes for sexual inactivity in later life.

PositiveTip: Choosing a healthy, balanced lifestyle not only enhances sexual relationships in marriage during the later years, it also extends the overall quantity and quality of life.

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Combination of Diet and Exercise Potent in Preventing Dementia

The combination of diet and exercise proves potent in lowering the risk of dementia.

We all know diet and exercise are important. New research suggests the combination of both may be particularly beneficial in lowering the risk of dementia. In a five-year prospective cohort study of elderly in New York, both high physical activity and high adherence to a Mediterranean diet (high intake of fruits, vegetables, and olive oil, and low intake of saturated fats, dairy products, and meats) were associated with lower risk for cognitive decline--absolute risk was 19% in people with low physical activity and low diet adherence, compared with 12% in those who reported high levels of both behaviors.

PositiveTip: Eating a healthy diet and getting appropriate physical activity regularly can improve your chances of having a sharp mind well into your sunset years!