Our Friday Song of the Week – Daydream Believer
Our Friday Song of the Week – Daydream Believer
Poor Sleep Quality Increases Suicide Risk for Older Adults – Stanford UniversityIn a study, participants who reported poor sleep had a 1.4 times greater chance of death by suicide within a 10-year period than those who reported sleeping well.
Older adults suffering from sleep disturbances are more likely to die by suicide than well-rested adults, according to a study led by a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
“This is important because sleep disturbances are highly treatable, yet arguably less stigmatizing than many other suicide risk factors,” said Rebecca Bernert, PhD, lead author of the study. Bernert is an instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Suicide Prevention Research Laboratory at Stanford.
Bernert said older adults have disproportionately higher rates of suicide risk compared to other age groups, making suicide prevention in elderly populations a pressing public health challenge.
Using data from an epidemiological study of 14,456 adults aged 65 and older, Bernert and her colleagues compared the sleep quality of 20 who died by suicide with the sleep patterns of 400 similar individuals over a 10-year period.
They found that participants reporting poor sleep had a 1.4 times greater chance of death by suicide within a 10-year period than participants who reported sleeping well.
The study confirmed the relationship between depression and suicide risk, while also assessing poor sleep as an independent risk factor. “Our findings suggest that poor sleep quality may serve as a stand-alone risk factor for late-life suicide,” Bernert said.
Other co-authors of the study are affiliated with the University of Iowa, the University of Rochester and Florida State University.
This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants F31MH080470 and K23MH093490), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Information about Stanford’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, which also supported the research, is available at http://psychiatry.stanford.edu.
UK Study: Brains of Those Who Regularly Go Online Decline More Slowly Than Those Who Don’t
Surfing the internet and sending emails can prevent memory loss in the elderly and may already be helping in the fight against dementia in Britain, say scientists. An eight-year study of almost 6,500 Britons aged from 50 to 90 found that the brains of those who regularly go online are declining more slowly than those who do not. The study was conducted by Brazilian researchers using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and published in the Journals of Gerontology.
Over eight years, the mental abilities of the 6,442 people were measured alongside other factors that could affect their ‘cognitive decline’ such as illness, wealth and education. They were given recall tests on a series of words with different amounts of time in between being asked to remember them.
The researchers said that those who were current users of email and the internet were 3 per cent better at recalling the words than non-internet users.
Digital literacy – defined as the ability to plan activities online – employs more of the brain’s cognitive networks, exercising the muscles in the brain to keep them healthy.
Dementia Risk Quadrupled in People with Mild Cognitive Impairment
In a long-term, large-scale population-based study of individuals aged 55 years or older in the general population researchers found that those diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) had a four-fold increased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (AD) compared to cognitively healthy individuals. Several risk factors including older age, positive APOE-ɛ4 status, low total cholesterol levels, and stroke, as well as specific MRI findings were associated with an increased risk of developing MCI.
“Mild cognitive impairment has been identified as the transitional stage between normal aging and dementia,” comments M. Arfan Ikram, MD, PhD, a neuroepidemiologist at Erasmus MC University Medical Center (Rotterdam). “Identifying persons at a higher risk of dementia could postpone or even prevent dementia by timely targeting modifiable risk factors.”
To be diagnosed with MCI in the study, individuals were required to meet three criteria: a self-reported awareness of having problems with memory or everyday functioning; deficits detected on a battery of cognitive tests; and no evidence of dementia. They were categorized into those with memory problems (amnestic MCI) and those with normal memory (non-amnestic MCI).
Of 4,198 persons found to be eligible for the study, almost 10% were diagnosed with MCI.
Our Friday Song of the Week – I’m Not Your Steppin Stone
Running Better Than Walking for Older Adults
A study reveals that seniors who regularly run for their exercise can slow their aging process more so than those who prefer walking.
Running mitigates the age-related deterioration of “walking economy,” the metabolic cost to perform an motion. Metabolic cost is defined as the amount of energy consumed as the result of performing a given work task; usually expressed in calories.
Walking for exercise has a minimal effect on age-related decline, says the study from researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder and Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif.
“Walking performance typically deteriorates with advanced age, and impaired walking performance is a key predictor of morbidity among older adults,” writes the study’s lead author Prof. Justus Ortega of Humboldt University.
A distinctive characteristic of impaired walking among older adults is a 15-20% greater metabolic cost for walking compared to young adults, Ortega added.
It was found that older runners had a 7-10% better walking economy than older walkers over the range of speeds tested and had walking economy similar to young, sedentary adults over a similar range of speeds.
In contrast to older runners, researchers found that older walkers had similar walking economy as older, sedentary adults, and approximately 26% worse walking economy than young adults.
Let’s boil it down. I think what they are saying is that it actually take more energy to walk than run and the long-term benefits of running include a healthier heart that can perform more efficiently.
The Charlotte Today Show – Caregiver Stress. How to Spot It. How to Relieve It.
Clogged Arteries Associated with Mild Cognitive Impairment
In a study of nearly 2,000 adults, researchers at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center found that a buildup of plaque in the body’s major arteries was associated with mild cognitive impairment.
“It is well established that plaque buildup in the arteries is a predictor of heart disease, but the relationship between atherosclerosis and brain health is less clear,” said Christopher D. Maroules, M.D., radiology resident at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “Our findings suggest that atherosclerosis not only affects the heart but also brain health.”
Atherosclerosis is a condition in which fat, cholesterol and other substances collect in the arteries, forming a substance called plaque that can build up, limiting blood flow. It can occur in any artery of the body, including the carotid, which supplies blood to the brain, coronary arteries and the aorta, which carries oxygenated blood from the heart through the abdomen to the rest of body.
In the study, researchers analyzed the test results of 1,903 participants (mean age, 44 years) in the Dallas Heart Study, a multi-ethnic population-based study of adults from Dallas County, Texas. The participants included both men and women who had no symptoms of cardiovascular disease.
After adjusting for traditional risk factors for atherosclerosis—including age, ethnicity, male sex, diabetes, hypertension, smoking and body mass index—they found independent relationships between atherosclerosis in all three vascular areas of the body and cognitive health.
“These results underscore the importance of identifying atherosclerosis in its early stages, not just to help preserve heart function, but also to preserve cognition and brain health,” Dr. Maroules said.
A study by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, revealed that long-term care insurance makes financial sense only for the richest 20 to 30 percent of unmarried people. For the rest, it makes more sense to spend down assets and then letting Medicaid pick up the tab.
The caveat to this is that the study focuses on nursing home care and for that foregoing LTC insurance may make sense. The average nursing home stay for a man was less than a year; for women, 17 months. And 45 percent of patients don’t stay more than three months. Many of those short nursing homes stays end in death. Those visits are often covered by Medicare following a hospitalization.
Previous research showed that some 30-40 percent of elderly single individuals should optimally purchase long-term care insurance, far higher than the actual 13-percent coverage rate. Although it is optimal for only a small percentage of single individuals to buy insurance, this study shows that many more would be willing to purchase a supplemental policy that could transform Medicaid into comprehensive, non-means-tested insurance. But policymakers have yet to devise a means of permitting such policies while at the same time containing Medicaid costs.
Looking at the other side of the coin, Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance speaking to Bloomberg says that “most customers see long-term insurance as “nursing home avoidance insurance.” “They want to remain in their own home,” and private insurance gives them more options for home health care than Medicaid. Long-term care insurance was never meant to be universal, he says.
I think nursing homes and assisted living homes will become more irrelevant over time and aging in place will be the norm. Even if we don’t necessarily take good care of ourselves physically as a nation, technology and pharmaceuticals and other supports will allow us to live in our homes longer. To pay for that care long term care insurance could make sense. And remember assisted living is by and large an out of pocket expense. I say get the insurance if you can afford it.
Our Friday Song of the Week – Sherry