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News

Mediterranean style diet may prevent dementia

Meals from the sunny Mediterranean have been linked to stronger bones, a healthier heart and longer life, along with a reduced risk for diabetes and high blood pressure. Now you can add lowering your risk for dementia to the ever growing list of reasons to follow the Mediterranean diet or one of its dietary cousins. New research being presented at the Alzheimer's Association International conference in London this week found healthy older adults who followed the Mediterranean or the similar MIND diet lowered their risk of dementia by a third.

"Eating a healthy plant-based diet is associated with better cognitive function and around 30% to 35% lower risk of cognitive impairment during aging," said lead author Claire McEvoy, of the University of California, San Francisco's School of Medicine. McEvoy stressed that because the study was conducted in a nationally representative older population "the findings are relevant to the general public."
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"While 35% is a greater than expected decrease for a lifestyle choice, I am not surprised," said Rudolph Tanzi, who directs the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and recently co-authored a book with Deepak Chopra on genes and aging called "Super Genes." "The activity of our genes is highly dependent on four main factors: diet, exercise, sleep and stress management," said Tanzi, who was not involved in the study. "Of these, perhaps diet is most important."
McEvoy's study investigated at the eating habits of nearly 6,000 older Americans with an average age of 68. After adjusting for age, gender, race, low educational attainment and lifestyle and health issues -- such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression, smoking and physical inactivity -- researchers found that those who followed the MIND or Mediterranean diet had a 30% to 35% lower risk of cognitive impairment.
The more people stayed on those diets, said McEvoy, the better they functioned cognitively.
Those who marginally followed the diet also benefited, but by a much smaller margin. They were 18% less likely to exhibit signs of cognitive impairment.

What are the Mediterranean and MIND diets?

Forget lasagne, pizza, spanakopita and lamb souvlaki -- they are not on the daily menu of those who live by the sunny Mediterranean seaside.
The true diet is simple, plant-based cooking, with the majority of each meal focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, with a few nuts and a heavy emphasis on extra virgin olive oil. Say goodbye to refined sugar or flour and fats other than olive oil, such as butter, are consumed rarely, if at all. Meat can make a rare appearance, but usually only to flavor a dish. Instead, meals may include eggs, dairy and poultry, but in much smaller portions than in the traditional Western diet. Fish, however, are a staple. The MIND diet takes the best brain foods of the Mediterranean diet and the famous salt-reducing DASH diet, and puts them together. MIND encourages a focus on eating from 10 healthy food groups while rejecting foods from five unhealthy groups. MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, with DASH standing for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. MIND was developed by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center in the US.
 
Those who follow MIND reject butter and stick margarine, red meats, cheeses, fried or fast food and sweets. Instead, they eat at least six servings a week of green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale, and at least one serving a day of another vegetable. Three servings a day of whole grains are a must. They also add in at least three servings of beans, two or more servings of berries, two servings of chicken or turkey, and once serving of fish each week. Olive oil is their main cooking ingredient, and they drink a glass of wine a day. Morris has some powerful stats behind her diet.
In 2015, she studied 923 Chicago-area seniors and found those who say they followed the diet religiously had a 53% lower chance of getting Alzheimer's, while those who followed it moderately lowered their risk by about 35%. Follow-up observational studies showed similar benefits. Morris and her colleagues are currently recruiting volunteers for a three-year clinical study to try to prove the link.

Additional evidence

A second study presented at the conference also examined the impact of the MIND diet. Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine followed 7,057 women, average age 71, over almost 10 years and found those who most closely followed the MIND diet had a 34% reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer's.
 
A third study at the conference looked at the dietary habits of 2,223 dementia-free Swedish adults over six years who followed the Nordic Prudent Dietary Pattern (NPDP) diet, which avoids sweets and fatty and processed foods. Instead, the diet emphasizes eating non-root vegetables, apple/pears/peaches, pasta/rice, poultry, fish, vegetable oils, tea and water, and light to moderate wine intake.
Swedes who stuck to the diet at a moderate or higher level preserved their cognitive function better than those who ate more processed and fatty foods.
Lastly, a fourth study examined MRI brain scans of 330 cognitively normal adults, with an average age of 79, and found eating foods that raise inflammation in the body -- such as sweets, processed foods and fried and fatty foods -- raised the risk for a shrinking "aging" brain and lower cognitive function. That comes as no surprise to neurologist Rudy Tanzi. "Foods that keep blood pressure normal, provide us with antioxidants, and maintain healthy bacteria in our gut, or microbiome, will serve to help keep chronic inflammation in check in the brain and entire body," said Tanzi. Despite the similarities of the results, experts point out that all of this research is observational, meaning that it is based on reports by individuals as to what they eat. To prove the connection between diet and dementia risk, said McEvoy, researchers will need to move to scientifically controlled experiments.
"I think the studies, taken together, suggest a role for high quality dietary patterns in brain health and for protection against cognitive decline during aging," said McEvoy. "Diet is modifiable, and in light of these studies we need clinical trials to test whether changing diet can improve or maintain cognition."
 
Until that definite proof is available, say experts, there's no harm in using this information to makes changes in your diet and lifestyle that could help protect your brain.
"Although the idea that a healthy diet can help protect against cognitive decline as we age is not new, the size and length of these four studies demonstrate how powerful good dietary practices may be in maintaining brain health and function," said Keith Fargo, Alzheimer's Association Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach. Tanzi agrees. "It's about time we started placing a greater emphasis on what we eat as we strive to have our 'healthspan' keep up with our increasing 'lifespan'."
 
For original Post by Sandee LaMotte at CNN:
 

Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors

Healthy eating begins with you! Giving your body the right nutrients and maintaining a healthy weight can help you stay active and independent. You’ll also spend less time and money at the doctor. This is especially true if you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease.

The definition of healthy eating does change a little as you age. For example, as you grow older, your metabolism slows down, so you need fewer calories than before. Your body also needs more of certain nutrients. That means it’s more important than ever to choose foods that give you the best nutritional value.

Tips for Picking Healthy Food as You Get Older

Here are 6 tips to help you find the best foods for your body and your budget.

1. Know what a healthy plate looks like

You might remember the food pyramid, but the USDA recently unveiled a simpler way to help people see what they should eat each day. It’s called MyPlate. The simple graphic shows exactly how the five food groups should stack up on your plate. These are the building blocks for a healthy diet.

2. Look for important nutrients

Make sure you eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you need. Your plate should look like a rainbow—bright, colored foods are always the best choice! A healthy meal should include:

  • Lean protein (lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans)
  • Fruits and vegetables (think orange, red, green, and purple)
  • Whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta)
  • Low-fat dairy (milk and its alternatives)

Remember to choose foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium or salt. Also, look for Vitamin D, an important mineral as we age.

3. Read the Nutrition Facts label

The healthiest foods are whole foods. These are often found on the perimeter of the grocery store in the produce, meat, and dairy sections. When you do eat packaged foods, be a smart shopper! Read the labels to find items that are lower in fat, added sugars, and sodium.

4. Use recommended servings

To maintain your weight, you must eat the right amount of food for your age and body. The American Heart Association provides recommended daily servings for adults aged 60+.

5. Stay hydrated

Water is an important nutrient too! Don’t let yourself get dehydrated—drink small amounts of fluids consistently throughout the day. Tea, coffee, and water are your best choices. Keep fluids with sugar and salt at a minimum, unless your doctor has suggested otherwise.

6. Stretch your food budget

Want to get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck? The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help you afford healthy food when you need it. Over 4 million older Americans use SNAP to buy food, and the average senior receives $113 each month. Visit BenefitsCheckUp.org/getSNAP to see if the program can help you.

 

For original post at National Council of Aging:

https://www.ncoa.org/economic-security/benefits/food-and-nutrition/senior-nutrition/

Secrets to Living a Longer (Happier) Life

We already know that a healthy lifestyle is a major factor in living a long life, but studies now show that having hobbies and staying socially active are equally important.

Learn more from these secrets to living a longer life, which show how mental and social activity are just as critical as physical activity when it comes to healthy aging.

Longevity in Seniors

What does it mean to have a healthy lifestyle as we age? Scientists are finding that if seniors want to live longer, it’s more than a matter of just eating right and staying fit — but we can’t forget that those are still important.

In fact, for seniors in a study conducted in Sweden, those who were physically active — getting regular exercise through gymnastics, swimming and walking — lived more than two years longer on average, and those who didn’t smoke lived a year longer than smokers. Diet is important too — those who are overweight or underweight are at greater risk of mortality as they age.

In the study on Swedish seniors, scientists also looked at factors that haven’t been studied as closely; namely, whether mental activity and social engagement also affect longevity.

The group of 1810 seniors age 75 and older were followed over an 18-year period and quizzed on their activities, and those who lived the longest had a number of characteristics in common:

  • They did not smoke
  • They engaged in a range of mental activities, productive hobbies and social activities
  • They experienced regular physical activity
  • They had a rich social network of family and friends

All told, the seniors who were active mentally, physically and socially were the most likely to live past the age of 90, and lived an average of 5.4 years longer than inactive seniors, reports the Assisted Living Federation of America.

Secrets to Living a Long Life

The researchers listed a wide range of leisure activities that are associated with health and longevity, aside from physical exercise.

The National Institute on Aging further notes that these activities can increase seniors’ sense of well-being as well as lowering the risk of some health problems, including dementia.

1. Mental Activities

  • Doing crossword puzzles
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Reading books
  • Reading newspapers
  • Studying
  • Writing

2. Productive Activities

  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Knitting
  • Volunteering at a hospital or library
  • Working a part-time job

3. Social Activities

  • Going to concerts or performances
  • Joining a senior center
  • Playing cards
  • Playing games
  • Starting a book club
  • Taking a class or course
  • Traveling
  • Visiting art museums

How active are the seniors in your lives? We want to hear your secrets to living and suggestions for longevity in the comments below.

Secrets to Living a Longer (Happier) Life posted by 

For original post at a Place for Mom:

http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/secrets-of-healthy-aging/

9 Commonly Overlooked Fall Risks

At any age, falling can lead to injury, sometimes severe. We all know environmental risks for falls — ice in the winter, slippery rain surfaces and strong winds. But there are risks in your own home that you may be overlooking.

The following tips can help you stay upright and avoid costly and painful trips to the hospital:

1. Be careful around pets that can get underfoot and cause tripping.

Exercise caution when bending down to serve food, as pets can become excited and accidentally knock you over. Keep toys in a basket when your pet is not playing with them so you don’t trip on them. If your dog has a tendency to bolt on walks, evaluate whether or not you can handle their sudden strength.

2. Avoid highly waxed/shiny flooring.

Waxed floors can be slippery, and shiny floors can play tricks on the eyes.

3. Know how a new medication or medication change might affect balance or cause dizziness.

Ask your physician if dizziness is a side effect of any new medications or combinations of medications. Dizziness increases risk for falls and makes other tasks like driving more dangerous as well. If the prescription is necessary and dizziness may affect you, ask your doctor to recommend fall prevention strategies or ways to counteract your side effects.

4. Avoid placing frequently used items in low drawer storage.

Bending over (or getting on a stepladder) can be dangerous. It’s best to put the things you use frequently in a drawer or cabinet at a level that doesn’t require you to move up or down regularly.

5. Sit on a firm chair instead of sitting on the edge of the bed to get dressed or put on shoes.

It might be tempting to sit on the edge of your bed, but beds on wheels can slip and most mattresses do not provide a stiff enough surface for optimal balance.

6. Change positions slowly.

Rising too quickly can lead to a feeling of faintness due to blood pressure change, so get up gradually to stay clearheaded and balanced.

7. Reach back to make sure your chair is close to you before sitting.

It’s important to make sure that any edge you’re about to sit on is close behind you. Don’t rely on your memory or spatial judgment. Make it a habit to reach behind yourself.

8. Create a flow in your furniture so you do not have to navigate around tables and cords.

When you have to turn sideways to get around at home, especially in a hurry or in the dark, it is easy to accidentally trip and fall. It’s also easy to forget to step over the cord to the TV unless it is secured against a wall. Make sure your furniture is situated to give you enough space to easy navigate at any time during the day.

9. Discuss fear of falling with your physician and/or therapist.

Fear of falling is a fall risk itself because fear may cause an individual to withdraw due to anxiety or not participate in important physical activities. A clinician can help manage concerns so that an individual can reduce their worry and participate in activities that improve balance.

 

For original post at a Place for Mom:

http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/commonly-overlooked-fall-risks/

9 Enjoyable Activities for Seniors with Limited Mobility

Seniors with limited mobility can still enjoy a variety of activities

Many older adults lose mobility due to conditions like stroke, severe arthritis, or injuries from falls. When that happens, activities and hobbies they used to enjoy might now be too difficult.

But loss of mobility doesn’t mean the end of good times. There are many ways to have fun without needing to move around too much.

We rounded up 9 wonderful activities for seniors with limited mobility. You’re sure to find something that suits your older adult as well as things that can be done together with other people.

 

9 great activities for seniors with limited mobility

1. Spend time reading
Reading is a fantastic activity for older adults. It’s a fun way to spend time and keep the brain engaged. It can also improve memory, reduce stress, improve sleep, and delay cognitive decline.

Whether your older adult likes reading physical books, magazines, using an e-reader, or listening to audiobooks, they can immerse themselves in a well-told story, look at photographs, or learn about an interesting new topic.

Organizing a book club among their friends is another way for seniors to enjoy reading and socializing.

2. Explore a variety of hobbies
Hobbies are great for older adults with limited mobility. Activities that don’t require a lot of moving around include cooking, baking, birdwatching, knitting, crochet, indoor or container gardening, playing a musical instrument, or practicing languages.

This is also a perfect time to learn something new – maybe there are hobbies or interests they’ve never had a chance to explore before. Learning is also a great way to stay sharp and keep boredom at bay.

3. Exercise regularly
Even if your older adult isn’t very mobile, there may still be exercises they can do to get their bodies moving. Whether they’re sitting or standing, they can still get the health and mood benefits, especially from chair exercises or chair yoga routines.

There are also exercise routines that can be done using a walker for stability or just focused on the feet and ankles to reduce swelling.

4. Get creative
Getting in touch with their creative side is another fun way for seniors to spend time.

Drawing, coloring, painting, and sculpture are all wonderful ways to be creative. Fun projects might include creating scrapbooks, organizing family photo albums, or making a family recipe book.

As a plus, being creative also comes with health benefits. Research has found creative activities can help people who are battling chronic illness to decrease negative emotions and increase positive ones, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve medical outcomes.

5. Spend time outdoors
Getting outside to spend a little time in nature is relaxing and a great mood booster.

Even if their limited mobility means that your older adult can only get to the porch or sit next to a big window, getting some fresh air or viewing the scenery is a great everyday activity.

6. Have fun with happy visitors
Asking family or friends with babies or friendly pets to stop by for a visit is another fantastic way to engage an older adult.

Almost everyone perks up in the presence of young children. And playing with pets is another surefire way to bring cheer and reduce stress.

7. Play games!
Games and puzzles are a fantastic source of fun times. There are so many to choose from and most can be played in groups with visitors, one-on-one for quality time together, and solo.

Try some classic games or card gamesjigsaw puzzles, or crossword puzzles.

8. Enjoy movies, TV shows, or music
Watching TV all day isn’t a healthy pastime, but a movie or a couple of TV shows can be an enjoyable part of the day or week.

Watching TV could even intersect with a hobby. For example, your older adult might be interested in watching a documentary on a topic they’re learning about. Or, channels like the Food Network or the Travel Channel could inspire new recipes to try or travel destinations to learn about.

Listening (or singing along!) to music they like is another great activity. Music has the power to reduce stress, anxiety, and pain. It also improves immune function and sleep as well as helping memory.

9. Participate in charitable works
Even if your older adult isn’t very mobile or is homebound, they can still give back to the community. This is a wonderful way to stay engaged and feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Contact local charities, hospitals, or religious organizations to find out if they have any projects your older adult could contribute to. That could mean knitting or crocheting blankets or hats, creating no-sew blankets, or helping to assemble care packages.

For original post at Daily Caring:

http://dailycaring.com/9-enjoyable-activities-for-seniors-with-limited-mobility/

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