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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.

Creating a Coronavirus Vaccine that Works for Everyone

Creating a Coronavirus Vaccine that Works for Everyone

A Coronavirus vaccine is critical to stop the spread of this new virus. Ofer Levy, a physician-scientist at Boston Children’s Hospital, is worried whatever vaccine is created won’t work on seniors. Seniors are one of the most vulnerable to this disease. Levy is trying to develop a vaccine that will work for everyone.

Creating a Coronavirus Vaccine that Works for Everyone

Creating a Coronavirus Vaccine that Works for Everyone

 

“Whatever we develop, we’ve got to make sure it works in the elderly. Otherwise, we don’t have our eye on the ball. And right now, the way vaccines are developed, the isn’t on the ball.”– Ofer Levy

They have hundreds of samples of cells donated by older patients treated at the nearby Brigham and Women’s Hospital before the outbreak.

They want to add an adjuvant, which is a substance that boosts the vaccine’s effectiveness at the lowest dosage.

Having these samples let the team test vaccine-adjuvant combinations directly on cells from older people. Using cells makes the whole process faster and allows them to try many different combinations.

Most vaccine research starts with cells from young mice. Though once Levy and his team find the correct combinations, they will move onto mice, which is a needed step to get federal approval.

It could take more than a year to get a vaccine ready and approved.

There at least 40 other companies around the world working on their own Coronavirus vaccines.

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.

Stores Offering “Elderly Hours” Amid Covid-19 Concerns

Stores Offering "Elderly Hours" Amid Covid-19 Concerns

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has become a serious problem in more ways than one. One problem is that people panic buy supplies, leaving seniors stuck with whatever is left if there is anything left. To solve this problem, certain stores are offering “elderly hours”

Stores Offering "Elderly Hours" Amid Covid-19 Concerns

Stores Offering “Elderly Hours” Amid Covid-19 Concerns

 

This is a good thing because seniors are especially vulnerable to this virus. Also, if you go shopping, reusable bags have been temporarily banned, so stores will only offer paper or plastic bags. Here is a list of stores offering special hours:

  • Target- 8-9 AM on Wednesdays
  • Whole Foods Market- 9-10 AM every day
  • Walmart 7-8 AM Tuesdays from March 24 through April 28
  • Dollar General- 8-9 AM every day
  • Safeway- Tuesdays and Thursdays 7-9 AM
  • Stop & Stop- 6-7:30 AM every day
  • Market Basket-5:30-7 AM Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays
  • Hannafords- 6-7 AM Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays from March 24
  • Shaws- 7-9 AM Tuesday and Thursday

Taxi Driver Saves Senior from Being Scammed Out of $25,000

Taxi Driver Saves Senior from Being Scammed Out of $25,000

The senior population is notoriously vulnerable to scam artists. In California, a taxi driver thought something was wrong when his older passenger said she needed a ride to take out $25,000. By listening and caring, he saved the senior from being scammed out of a large amount of money.

Taxi Driver Saves Senior from Being Scammed Out of $25,000

Taxi Driver Saves Senior from Being Scammed Out of $25,000

 

Rajbir Singh, the taxi driver, picked up a 92-year-old woman and started to talk to her. She told him that she had to settle a debt with the IRS and told him about the large amount of money she planned to take out.

He warned her that it might be a scam. As the 92-year-old passenger chatted with him, she told Singh that someone called her and asked for money. He asked if it was a family member.

It turns out it wasn’t, and she gave Singh the number of the person who claimed to be an IRS employee. When he called, the person said they didn’t know the woman. When Singh pressed the phony employee, they ended up hanging up on him and blocked him.

She still wasn’t convinced it was a scam, so Singh convinced her to stop by a police station to talk to them. The police agreed that it was most likely a scam.

Singh is an incredible man because, at any point, he could have given up and let her go on her way. He didn’t, though.

The IRS scam is one of the most common that the senior population has to be wary of. In another article, we discuss the top ten scams to be aware of.

Read more about this incredible story 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.

Hiring Comedians for Loved Ones with Dementia

Hiring Comedians for Loved Ones with Dementia

When you think of comedians, you probably imagine them on stage with a single spotlight on them. While you aren’t wrong, there’s a new picture of comedians coming to light—as a source of joy for those with dementia. People have started to hire comedians for loved ones with dementia to visit weekly.

Hiring Comedians for Loved Ones with Dementia

Hiring Comedians for Loved Ones with Dementia

 

It makes sense in a way. While dementia can take away brain functions involving memory and logic, it doesn’t take away emotion. In fact, in some people, it enhances their range of emotion and sensitivity.

Dani Klein Modisett created Laughter on Call after seeing what a comedian did for her mother. Modisett moved her mother from Manhattan to Los Angeles when her mother developed dementia. Modisett did this so she could be close by.

The only problem was, her mother caved into herself and was no longer the person she used to be.

Enter the comedian. After one visit, her mother became more engaged, ate, and started laughing.

Laughter on Call pairs comedians with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. It also puts on laughter workshops and live comedy shows in communities.

Fees are between $25 and $50 for an hour-long visit.

While Laughter on Call is mostly in California, other states have been looking into it. Some comedians have clients in other states, and Modisett gets inquiries from all around the country.

It’s not just the older adults who get benefits from these meetings. Many comedians say they’ve developed more empathy and feel fulfilled doing this.

Read more here.

Major Insurers are Trying to Lower Generic Drug Prices

Major Insurers are Trying to Lower Generic Drug Prices

A group of major insurers said they would invest 55 million to create cheaper versions of expensive generic drugs. This is another sign that the pharmaceutical industry pricing is angering the general population. Even an assumed ally, like insurance companies, are starting to stand against it and want to lower generic drug prices.

Major Insurers are Trying to Lower Generic Drug Prices

Major Insurers are Trying to Lower Generic Drug Prices

 

The decision was made by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and 18 of its member organizations. All of which covers around 40 million people. They also partnered with Civica Rx, a nonprofit already selling drugs used in hospitals to health systems around the nation.

While not announcing the specific drugs that would be targeted due to not wanting to alert potential rivals, they said they want to start with seven to ten products. Some of these projects could be out as early as 2022.

While generic drugs are usually less expensive than brand names, they can get costly when there is no other competition. No competition means that the price can go up and people have no other choice but to buy it.

Federal prosecutors have been investigating price-fixing schemes done by pharmaceutical companies. The only problem is that the process to catch and punish these companies is long.

CivicaRx says they can get lower prices because they can guarantee companies a market, so whatever they don’t make themselves, they are hoping to get lower prices for.

Read more here.