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You Need to Laugh More, for Your Health

You Need to Laugh More, for Your Health

Studies show that laughter can actually improve your health and push off disease. It can even help those who are ill cope better with their illness. So, you need to laugh more.

You Need to Laugh More, for Your Health

You Need to Laugh More, for Your Health

 

“A friendly sense of humor will bless you with better social relations as well as coping skills, and the reduced risk of dying early.” –Sven Svebak, professor emeritus at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Svebak has been studying the impact that laughter has on health for more than 50 years.

There’s the apparent psychological effects of laughter, but there’s a social aspect as well. Having a sense of humor can create a stronger community around you. It can stimulate memories in those with dementia.

More physically, laughter wakes up your organs by increasing the oxygen intake to the heart, lungs, muscles, and makes your brain release more endorphins.

It eases tension, relaxes muscles, and lowers blood pressure. It’s been shown that it can strengthen the immune system.

A 15-year Norwegian study found that humor can delay or prevent life-threatening diseases. They looked at over 53,000 people and measured their sense of humor with a health survey. It included asking them how to guess their ability to find something funny.

Women with high cognitive scores had a reduced risk of premature death from cardiovascular and infectious diseases. Men had a reduced risk of early death from infections.

The study didn’t find any effects on cancer and other causes of death. The benefits also slowly faded and left after 85.

Read more here.

Another Reason the Mediterranean Diet is Good For You

Another Reason the Mediterranean Diet is Good For You

We’ve talked about the Mediterranean diet before and how it’s a healthy way to eat. Well, this diet is back in the news because a new study has shown another reason the Mediterranean diet is good for you.

Another Reason the Mediterranean Diet is Good For You

Another Reason the Mediterranean Diet is Good For You

 

The study revealed that eating this diet for just one year changed the microbiome of older adults. Not only did it change these microbiomes, but changed them in ways that improved brain function and helped them live longer.

The diet stopped or slowed down the inflammatory chemicals that lead to loss of cognitive function. It also prevents the development of chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and atherosclerosis.

Why are Microbiomes a Big Deal?

 

How much food do you think passes through a human body’s lifetime?

60 tons.

That’s a lot of food, and that food exposes us to different bacteria. Bacteria, both good and bad, plays a huge role in our health. It decides how well we absorb nutrients, the functionality of our immune response, and our energy and metabolism levels.

As we age, the amount of microbes in our stomach reduces. A poor diet is normal among older adults in long-term residential care, and those who live alone. There are many reasons why this happens. Things like lack of appetite, dental issues, transportation issues are just a few.

When the diversity of bacteria lessens, “inflamm-aging” happens. It’s when age-related inflammatory processes start that can lead to a variety of diseases.

Closer Look at the Study

 

Researchers looked at the stomach microbiomes of 612 older people from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

They put 323 on a special diet based on Mediterranean principles, which means lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, olive oil, fish, and little red meat, sugar, and saturated fats.

The remaining participants were asked to eat how they usually do.

After a year, those who followed the Mediterranean diet saw positive changes to the microbiome in their digestive systems. The loss of bacterial diversity slowed, and the production of potentially harmful inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein and interleukin-17 were reduced.

There was growth of beneficial bacteria linked to improved memory and brain function. The diet also appeared to boost “keystone” species, which is critical for a stable “gut ecosystem.” It slowed signs of frailty like walking speed and handgrip strength.

Nationality didn’t matter. The findings were similar, no matter where people lived, their age, or weight.

You can learn more about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet from our first article on it.

Read more about the new study here.

Staying Safe During Coronavirus While Having Dementia

Staying Safe During Coronavirus While Having Dementia

As far as the information shows at the time of writing this, dementia doesn’t increase your chances of developing Covid-19. Though those with dementia are still vulnerable to the virus if they have chronic conditions. They can forget to do crucial things like washing their hands to stay clean.

Staying Safe During Coronavirus While Having Dementia

Staying Safe During Coronavirus While Having Dementia

 

If you have a loved one with dementia, make sure to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

For example, more confusion than usual is the first symptom of any illness. Unless your loved one is having a hard time breathing or high fever, call your health provider first instead of going to an emergency room. Health providers are trying to treat people without them coming in.

Write out some reminders for your loved one, so they can remember to practice proper hygiene. Put a note in the bathroom reminding them to wash their hands for twenty seconds. If your loved one isn’t able to access a sink, using a hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol is a good alternative.

See if your pharmacist is willing to fill prescriptions for a longer amount of time to minimizes trips to the pharmacy.

Also, make sure to come up with backup plans in case adult daycare or other activities are canceled due to the virus. Remember a backup plan in case the primary caregiver should get sick.

If your loved one is in assisted living, make sure that they are following proper protocols. Check to make sure that they have your contact info and someone else as a backup in case you don’t answer.

As hard as it may be, don’t visit your loved one if you have any signs of illness. There may be other ways of contacting them.

Read more here.

How Ageism Hurts Seniors’ Health

How Ageism Hurts Seniors' Health

It’s proven over and over again that ageism hurts seniors. A new Yale study shows that ageism hurts seniors’ health. As much as you liked to think that doctors don’t have unconscious age-based discrimination, they are humans too.

How Ageism Hurts Seniors' Health

How Ageism Hurts Seniors’ Health

 

The Yale study was lead by epidemiology and psychology professor Becca Levy. Researchers looked at a wide range of past studies looking for a connection between ageism and health outcomes. The studies were done in 45 countries over 25 years.

The focus of the study was to look at structural ageism instead of individual instances. Structural ageism is a bias against older adults that’s reinforced by institutions like the government, schools, and hospitals. An example would be that aches and pains are always thought of as part of the aging.

Researchers went through 13,000 papers with analyses of ageism’s effects on a wide range of problems. They found that in 95.5 percent of the studies, ageism hurt seniors’ health significantly across different countries throughout the years.

Despite how well-known ageism is and how hurtful it is, it’s not widely recognized as discrimination. Studies on this topic are a small amount as well. It’s not considered a priority of public health research.

Read more here.

How the Aging Baby Boomers are Going to Change 2020

How to Build Healthy Habits

We need to talk numbers. Ten years from now, all of America’s 74 million aging baby boomers will be 65 or older. People on the oldest end of the spectrum will be close to 85. By 2025, the number of seniors will outnumber children 13 or older.

How the Aging Baby Boomers are Going to Change 2020

How the Aging Baby Boomers are Going to Change 2020

 

These numbers are important. Our society will have to change, and these numbers will have an impact on a variety of things.

Caring for Seniors

We’ve been talking for a long time about how there will not be enough care to go around for the older population. While this is a stressful situation, it’s oddly because of a good thing.

People have never lived so long before.

Even with scientific advances, there is still a lot of things to worry about. Things like costs, workforce, and service delivery arrangement will be strained under the baby boomer’s numbers. Families with aging loved ones will also be under pressure. The average family will not be able to afford quality care.

Speaking of care, the workforce has been an issue for a long time. Being in the senior care field is hard mentally, emotionally, and physically. A lot of the time, the pay is on the lower end. So the people who are there are either extremely dedicated or they leave after a while.

By 2025, we will need 7.8 million workers, and many jobs may go unfilled.

Living Longer

As mentioned before, people are living longer than ever. On the other side of the coin, the older you get, the more vulnerable you are healthwise.

Can we extend the healthy lifespan along with our regular lifespan?

For example, Japan has the healthiest older population in the world. Many people, 70 and older, still have a healthy and active lifestyle. Currently, the US, it’s we tend to go downhill around 68.

Luckily, Americans as a whole have been exercising more and eating better. So hopefully, this will increase our healthspan.

Changing Society’s Infrastructure

This part is key. We need to change how we do things in the country to provide proper care. Experts are hoping for transportation to be easier to get, being able to affordably modify homes for aging at home, and creating more programs that allow older and younger people to interact.

Also, integrating technology will be crucial in this process, as well.

Creating “age-friendly” communities is already in motion all over the country and will only get bigger.

Getting Older Isn’t Bad

America, as a whole, tends to have a negative attitude towards aging, and that needs to change. The World Health Organization has already launched a global campaign to fight ageism.

Experts think the sheer amount of baby boomers will force changes in attitude.

Advances in Science

Science has been making leaps and bounds in the past decades, and it will only go farther. The most significant impact could be around dementia and Alzheimer’s research.

Read more here.

How to Protect Yourself from Pharmacists’ Mistakes

How to Protect Yourself from Pharmacists' Mistakes

Pharmacy errors are becoming more common as pharmacists break under company pressure. Many pharmacists are worried about patients’ safety, but there’s only so much they can do. Here’s how to protect yourself from pharmacists’ errors.

How to Protect Yourself from Pharmacists' Mistakes

How These Mistakes Happen

 

If you haven’t read our previous article breaking down concerns pharmacists have, we’ll give you a quick recap. Basically, there’s too many tasks expected of pharmacists and not enough people or time to do them. Pharmacists have been trying to get their companies to hear their concerns, but it seems like nothing has changed.

How to Protect Yourself from Pharmacists’ Mistakes

 

You can start by talking to your pharmacist. They probably look busy, and they are, but they know the most about the drugs they are giving out.

Pharmacy errors don’t mean that pharmacists are your enemy. It just means they are overworked.

Ask them about side effects and whether it’s safe to take with the other medications you have. By asking questions, you increase the chances of the pharmacists taking a second look at your prescription, therefore catching any mistakes.

Open the Bag

Before you leave, open your bag and check the contents. It’s easy just to leave and assume everything is correct. Make sure each bottle has the right name, address, and birthdate. While the papers on the outside have the right info, the bottles could not.

Along those lines, check the pills as well. For the most part, you’re probably familiar with what your medication looks like. If they look different, speak up, and ask questions. Don’t assume they switched to a generic version or used a new supplier.

Report Errors

Make sure to let the pharmacy know there was a mistake. You may feel bad, but not only were you put at risk, but another patient was as well. Reporting mistakes will also alert the doctor too, and every once in a while, the error could come from them.

Errors can also be reported to state pharmacy boards and lets them know what’s going on.

Read more here.

Could Beta-Amyloid Plaque Not Be the Cause of Alzheimer’s?

Could Beta-Amyloid Plaque Not Be the Cause of Alzheimer's?

For the longest time, it was thought that beta-amyloid plaque buildup was the cause of Alzheimer’s. According to a new study from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, that may not be the case.  Instead, the study is saying that it does have an association of the disease, but may not be the cause.

Could Beta-Amyloid Plaque Not Be the Cause of Alzheimer's?

Could Beta-Amyloid Plaque Not Be the Cause of Alzheimer’s?

 

The study had 747 participants with different levels of cognitive health. They agreed to have neuropsychological assessments, PET, and MRIs.

305 participants were considered cognitively healthy, 289 had mild cognitive impairment, and 153 had Obj-SCD. This stands for “objectively-defined subtle cognitive difficulties.” Researchers define this as a measurement of experienced, subtle cognitive functioning problems that happen without any apparent brain damage.

Beta-amyloid did build up faster in those with Obj-SCD. They also had a thinning of brain matter in a region that has to do with memory.

Though while people with mild cognitive impairment had more beta-amyloids at the beginning of the study, the protein actually didn’t build up any faster than in those who are cognitively healthy.

What does this mean?

It means that changes in the brain could be happening before amyloid builds up in any significant way. It means that the focus of scientists should be on other treatment targets. Changing targets mean more studies can be done on less expensive biomarkers.

Read more here.

AARP is Taking on High Prescription Prices

AARP is Taking on High Prescription Prices

It’s no secret that the cost of prescription drugs is ridiculously high. It seems like pharmaceutical companies are too powerful to take on. AARP has had enough and is going to use its huge membership and the power it has to take on high prescription prices. The organization wants answers as to why Americans are paying so much compared to the rest of the world.

AARP is Taking on High Prescription Prices

AARP is Taking on High Prescription Prices

 

No one has enough savings for retirement, and they end up relying on social security to survive. According to the State Director of AARP-NH, Todd Fahey, the average Social Security benefit in NH, is around $1,350 a month. The average older adult takes at least four or five pills a day. It seems impossible to be able to afford those medications and have enough money to live.

The average prescription price has increased by around 57.88 percent between 2012 and 2017. Social Security only increased by 13.2 percent during that same time.

Many people end up rationing their medications to try to save money.

There’s been a massive shift in how insurance works, and most of the time, the price falls on the patient. Even generic drugs are rising in price too.

Doctors and pharmacies are doing their best to help patients by negotiating with drug companies, getting grants, or manufacturer rebates.

AARP has had enough and has started their own program, StopRxGreed.

“AARP has three main goals to our program. We want to be able to explore the importation of drugs from other countries, and we want transparency to know why there has been such a tremendous increase in the cost of the drugs that people need. We need to understand the reasoning that makes these companies feel justified in charging such prices. ” Todd Fahey

The program wants to start with allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription prices.

Read more here.

Rise of the “Gray Gamers” and How Video Games Improve the Brain

Rise of the "Gray Gamers" and How Video Games Improve the Brain

There are more older adults playing video games than ever. The rise of the “Gray Gamers,” as they’re known, are making video games part of their daily routine. What started out as a way to bond with grandchildren has opened up a whole new world for older adults. Video games can even improve the brain and make reaction speeds faster.

Rise of the "Gray Gamers" and How Video Games Improve the Brain

Rise of the “Gray Gamers”

 

Forty-four percent of adults fifty and older play video games at least once a month, and that number is growing. In 2016, there was only 38 percent. That means that the Gray Gamer population has grown from 40.2 million people to 50.6 million.

People between 50 and 59 are the biggest population of older gamers at 49 percent. It then slowly tapers downward from 60 and older.

Online gaming seems more popular than the traditional console gaming because most older gamers use their smartphones or other mobile devices.

Though there are many older gamers that buy games or accessories, overall spending on gaming has increased since 2016.

Gaming Improving the Brain

 

Playing video games improves older adults’ brains in a variety of ways. More than half of gamers say that playing video games relieves stress and anxiety. It’s a great way for those who can’t go out or struggle to move to have enjoyment every day.

Games also keep their minds engaged and sharp through different types of missions and reactions. A favorite genre of games for those fifty or older are puzzle/ logic and card/tile games. The least popular is education and sport-oriented games.

There are many types of games that promote physical and mental health as well.

Playing games online keeps seniors more social. Many online systems allow for chatting so that people can connect to friends all over the world.

Read more here

New Ultrasound Technology Could Help with Parkinson’s Symptoms

How Ageism Hurts Seniors' Health

A new study has shown that a minimally invasive procedure may be able to help with Parkinson’s symptoms. Using magnetic resonance-guided focus ultrasound (MRgFUS), researchers can focus sound energy beams. The energy beams can target parts of the brain.

New Ultrasound Technology Could Help with Parkinson's Symptoms

New Ultrasound Technology Could Help with Parkinson’s Symptoms

 

Until now, deep brain stimulation has been the most commonly used procedure to help with Parkinson’s symptoms. It has been somewhat successful. The problem is that it can cause bleeding and infections. A surgeon has to put a small electrode into the brain. The implant connects with a pacemaker-like device in a person’s chest.

With this new procedure, MRgFUS, there doesn’t need to be any incision and has fewer risks.

But how does this work?

The machine is placed on the opposite side of the body where tremors are. So if you have tremors on your right side, the device goes on your left. The machine will then relieve the tremors using focused sound energy.

While this technique is a form of therapy, it’s not readily available. It’s only done in a few places around the world. As this study on MRgFUS spreads throughout the world, patients will be able to advocate for the therapy to be more readily available.

Read more about the study and the machine here.