Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Senior News

Just when I'm about to berate the newspaper industry for its emphasis on today's youth culture, I come upon one or more stories of interest to seniors. Here's what I found yesterday, all in the Tempo section of the February 26 Chicago Tribune.

Good news borrowed from HealthDay News/Newswise:

"Cats may be perfect for reducing stress."

Based on a ten-year study of 4,300 Americans, University of Minnesota researchers declared that "having a cat at home could cut yur heart attack risk by almost a third." Stress relief is the answer. We cat lovers have always known this. Let's fight anti-pet policies in senior communities!

"Cognitive impairment down among seniors."

There's a downward trend in everything from significant memory loss to dementia to Alzheimer's among people 70 and older. The drop was from 12.2 percent in 1993 to 8.7 in 2002, according to a University of Michigan stody. More education and better care are the suspected causes. That's good news.

Then there's "Five behaviors linked to healthy life past 90" by Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times News Service.

In addition to good genes and good luck, factors we can't control, the five behaviors are (1) Abstaining from smoking; (2) Weight management; (3) Blood pressure control; (4) Exercise; and (5) Avoiding diabetes.

A study followed more than 2,300 healthy men for up to 25 years. According the a February 11 article in The Archives of Internal Medicine, 970 of the men survived into their 90's. Smokers had double the risk of death before 90. Diabetics' risk was 86 percent higher; obese men 44 percent; high blood pressure sufferers 28 percent; non-exercisers 20 to 30 percent. Such factors as level of education and degree of social isolation were not included in this study.

It's a bit hard to draw conclusions beyond the obvious here: don't smoke, watch your weight and blood pressure, exercise, etc. According to Dr. Laurel B. Yates, a geriatric specialist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, "The take-home message . . . is that an individual does have some control over his destiny in terms of what he can do to improve the proibability that not only might he live a long time but also have good heath and good function in those older years."

That's good common-sense advice. It's time for me to get on my exercise bike!

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne

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