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Subjective vs Chronological Age

Subjective age (SA) is how a person sees themselves compared to their chronological or real age (the number of years a person has been alive). A person can feel either younger or older than their chronological age. SA has been highlighted as an important predictor of health outcomes for older adults. Some research supports the notion that SA may be stronger at predicting psychological functioning than a person’s chronological age.

A recent study published in the journal Frontiers of Medicine was the first study of its kind to look at the relationship between brain aging and SA. The study involved 68 healthy participants between 59 to 84 years of age. Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) brain scans, researchers recorded data on grey matter volumes (density of cells) in specific brain regions. Grey matter is the “thinking part of the brain” that grows throughout childhood. See this infographic to learn more about grey matter. Regions of the grey matter are involved in muscle control, seeing, hearing, memory, emotions and speaking. Participants filled out subjective age surveys that included the question, “How old do you feel, compared to your real age?” along with tests to evaluate their cognitive function (brain activities that lead to knowledge and include reasoning, memory, attention and language), global health ratings, symptoms of depression and personality traits. The results include:
  • Participants who felt younger than their real age showed larger grey matter volume in the parts of the brain involved in impulse control, hearing/processing sound and verbal/non-verbal communication. Their brains had younger structural characteristics (looked younger), and the differences stayed the same even when other factors were taken into account, such as personality, subjective health (a person’s view of their health), symptoms of depression and cognitive functions. These participants were more likely to score better on a memory test, rate their health as better and were less likely to report symptoms of depression. 
  • Participants who felt older than their real age showed a tendency to have poorer cognitive function and showed greater depressive symptoms. It is possible that those participants who feel older than their actual age may be sensing the aging of their brain because performing cognitive tasks takes more effort. 
These findings suggest that participants who felt older than their age may have faster-aging brain structures, whereas those who feel younger than their age would have better preserved and healthier brain structures. Future studies need to be done over a longer period of time to have a better understanding of this relationship. The authors encourage individuals who feel older than their chronological age to look at their lifestyle habits and activities that contribute to brain aging and take action to improve their brain health.

The results are in line with earlier research finding a relationship between self-perceived age and cardiovascular death. Why might this be the case? One explanation is that people who feel younger will do healthier behaviours. For example, people who feel older may stop being as physically active based on their age – they think that are too old to do an activity. When people feel younger, even if the exercise is seen as challenging, they are less likely to see it as a barrier. If you feel young you may be more likely to eat in a healthful way because you look forward to a healthy future, whereas people who feel older may think that it’s not worth worrying about what they eat because their life is coming to an end.

Researcher Yannick Stephan of the University of Montpellier believes that doctors should be asking all patients about their subjective age, in order to determine who is most at risk of future health problems and to better plan health care. In 2018, he was a co-author of a 2018 study involving data from three large longitudinal studies of middle-aged and older adults. Consistent evidence was found for an association between an older subjective age and a higher risk of mortality. Individuals felt 15 to 16 percent younger on average than their chronological age, but for others who felt older than their chronological age there was a higher risk of mortality (those feeling 8 years older had an 18% higher risk, those feeling 11 years old had a 29% higher risk, and those feeling 13 years older had a 25% higher risk). How to keep a young mindset Dr. Siegel, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, suggests taking the following actions:
  • Challenge your brain. Don’t stop learning. Try a new hobby and develop new skills.
  • Be mindful of the present moment as opposed to regretting the past or being negative about aging in the future.
  • Develop a sense of meaning in life. Set goals for your life. Volunteering is a great way to stay connected and improve your community and the lives of others. Self-Management BC offers volunteer opportunities throughout the province. For more information, visit the website. A great quote by Harvard psychologist Dr. Jennifer Moye is “Think of your life as a gift and strive to make each day meaningful.”
  • Follow a healthful lifestyle.
Bottom line: pursue a healthy, active, and engaged lifestyle. Ideally, do things you find enjoyable because those are the activities that you will be able to maintain. Be socially engaged by doing these activities with like-minded people.

Source: Science Daily website, BBC website, The New Old Age: How the body ages and how to keep it young, Harvard Medical Schoollecture

Never Too Old for Great Sex

Fine wine and classic cars improve with age, so why not your sexuality? Here’s how to keep your love life healthy and hot for years to come.

 

Sure, sex during midlife and beyond may be different than it was when you were younger. But that doesn’t mean your sex life is destined to be dull or disappointing. On the contrary.

Healthy individuals can remain sexually active and interested well into their 70s, 80s, and 90s, if they choose to. And an active sex life may even help you stay young. Some age-related physical changes may be unavoidable, but these changes don’t have to interfere with sexual intimacy.

The fact is, there’s no one “right” way to experience sex. The way you express your sexuality is shaped by your individuality and your personal circumstances. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, disabled or able-bodied, young or old, think of your sexuality as a unique part of who you are. By taking a more personal, less prescribed approach to sexual intimacy, you allow yourself the freedom to adapt your sex life according to your changing needs.

The first step to maintaining an active, fulfilling sex life is getting to know some of the normal physical changes you’re likely to experience as you get older. The next step is making a few simple adjustments to rev your libido and boost your sex life.

 

Age-Related Change #1: Slower Response Time

As you get older, it may take longer for your body to respond to sexual stimulation. Even if you feel highly aroused, it’s normal for older men to need longer, stronger stimulation to achieve an erection.

Although this is not necessarily a sign of disinterest or a lack of attraction, some men, and their partners, may misinterpret it as such. To avoid misunderstandings, keep the lines of communication open. It may not be easy to talk about sex at first, but in the long run, it will benefit both of you.

What to Do About It

Don’t rush things. Spend more time on foreplay. Explore each other’s body: kiss, caress, lick, or give each other erotic massages. Remember that if your partner is about the same age as you, she may also need more time and stimulation to become sexually aroused.

If you are unable to become aroused on a regular basis, speak with your healthcare provider. There could be a treatable underlying condition causing your difficulties.

 

Age-Related Change #2: Weak Erections and Weakening Pelvic Muscles

Many older men find that their erections are different than they were in their younger years. They may not be as hard, they may not last as long, and the experience of ejaculation may not feel as strong as it used to.

This may be due, in part, to weakening pelvic-floor muscles. Pelvic-floor muscles are responsible for drawing blood to the genitals during sexual activity, affecting erection and orgasm.

What to Do About It

For some men, having sex in the morning, when erections are more likely, helps improve their ability to maintain an erection longer. But keep in mind that penetrative sex isn’t the only way to have great sex. Experiment with different sexual activities to figure out what feels best for you at this time in your life.

You can also strengthen your pelvic muscles by doing Kegel exercises every day. You may have heard that these exercises are just for women, but they can benefit men, too.

 

Age-Related Change #3: Longer Time between Erections

It’s common for older men to experience a longer refractory period — the time it takes until your body’s ready for another erection after you ejaculate. In some cases, the cooling off period may be as long as 12 to 24 hours, or more.

What to Do About It

If you’ve climaxed, but you or your partner isn’t ready for the sexual experience to end just yet, focus on meeting your partner’s needs or on activities that don’t require an erection. For example, you don’t need an erection for oral sex or manual stimulation.

Whatever you do, don’t get stressed worrying about your virility. This is a normal change that comes with aging — not a sign that you’re losing your touch. And you will likely find that the different sexual activities you engage in without an erection are still very pleasurable for you and your partner. Just be sure to reassure your partner that the longer time between your erections is not a reflection of how you feel about her.

 

 

From ShareCare, June 2015

This entry was posted on August 1, 2018, in BLOG, Health.

Discover 7 Ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Good news for people who feel a hint of anxiety every time they forget where they put their keys. More than 50 percent of Alzheimer’s cases may be preventable.

In fact, research suggests that there are seven key healthy lifestyle changes people could make to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

 

The Super 7

More research is needed to confirm whether there is a causal link between these seven key risk factors and Alzheimer’s. But there are plenty of other good health reasons to make the following changes:

  1. Get moving.

Inactivity is linked to greater Alzheimer’s risk, so take a daily walk. Walking every day can prevent your brain from shrinking, too.

 

  1. Don’t smoke.

If you do, quit. Smoking may up the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

 

  1. Eat more bananas.

The potassium in this cheap and plentiful year-round fruit can help lower your blood pressure by as much as two to three points! And low blood pressure at middle age may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

 

  1. Go to bed.

 Getting a good night’s sleep can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, so get your ZZZs because research suggests that developing type 2 diabetes may up your chances of getting Alzheimer’s.

 

  1. Walk outside.

People who exercise outside — versus at the gym or inside the home — have less depression. That’s good news for the brain, because depression may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.

 

  1. Take a class.

Higher education is linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s.

 

  1. Drop a few.

Becoming obese at middle age may be connected to higher Alzheimer’s risk.

 

RealAge Benefits

Learning a new game that requires brainpower can make your RealAge 1.3 years younger.

 

This entry was posted on August 1, 2018, in BLOG, Health.

February 2017

Hello Readers!

Classes are scheduled to begin on March 2nd. It may be a smaller group than I would prefer, but interest is growing as I meet more seniors, and slowly but surely spread the word. I have been offered FREE space at a seniors residence (Chartwell’s Cedarbrooke in Mission) which means I am able to lower the price for the series to the benefit of all!

The space is a choice between two depending on the size of the group. The private dining room is marvellous for a small group and will accomodate tea/coffee and cookies along with the necessary charts etc. The second space is the Theatre which is a very good size for larger groups and has PowerPoint capability along with space for tea/coffee and charts etc. The chairs in the Theatre are a tad too comfortable perhaps, but no-one would complain about that.

At this point I need to settle the approximate count according to active registrations and determine where we will begin – dining room or Theatre. We can take last minute registration but this delays the start of the first session so I prefer pre-registration when possible.

Advertising in a local magazine designed as an information guide is attractive and effective! Writing 200-300 words every other month is not difficult and I can gradually educate the readers as to what we are doing. The magazine is glossy, colouful and each ad can be personalized – all great! My thanks go to Cory Cassel and “WhatsOn” for assistance.

WE ARE ON OUR WAY…

Conscious Aging Workshops

The first set of workshops to be offered in the Fraser Valley of BC begin in 2017!

Starting on January 10th and running every Tuesday afternoon until February 28th, the series will be offered at the local Chamber of Commerce in Mission, BC. Those interested should register soon and if the full fee is paid by January 1st, will receive a 25% discount.

Times are 2 pm to 4 pm, and please note there is limited accessibility. The conference room is on the upper level and accessed around the side of the building by a series of stairs. There is good lighting there.

This is an exciting time…the Mission and surrounding area boasts many active and interested seniors, although younger folks are encouraged to join in!

Register with Iris by email or phone…

Charges for shingles Vaccine

Shingles is a painful, debilitating disease. It is also totally preventable.

Please join me in protesting the charge for shingles vaccine in Canada. This a recommended vaccine for older adults as 1 in 3 are likely to get Shingles in older age. Unfortunately many don’t do this due to  either lack of knowledge or the cost charged to them.

In Canada, a patient will pay anything from $150.00 and up for this prescribed prevention. After having their family doctor write the Px, they fill this at a pharmacy and then take the sera to the local Public Health office or back to their doctor’s office for injection.

As this is a highly recommended and effective vaccine, I believe it should be incorporated into the PH vaccine requirements as a FREE service.  Write to  your MLA and MP to apprise them of the above!

Speaking of stress…

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she enquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

Remember to put the glass down.

Thanks to Sheryl Stanton, Mission, BC

5 Steps to Less Stress

 

Author and Director of the Stress Management Society, Neil Shah, shares five tools to help you start a stress-busting daily routine.

What is the point of stress? Why do we have it? The body experiences multiple kinds of stress, some of which it needs in order to respond appropriately to illness or to difficult or dangerous events. One example of this is the “fight-or-flight” state that helped some of our earliest ancestors defend themselves against serious threats. However, even though we don’t usually need to defend ourselves from the same predators our ancestors feared, many of us may still be responding to relatively minor frustrations or unexpected events with an unnecessary amount of stress.

Many of us seem to be living in this fight-or-flight mode every day, when in fact this is not what are bodies are designed to cope with. Why are we living in this state? More importantly, how do we avoid remaining in this state or reduce the stress in our everyday lives?

Answer: The 10-Step Stress Solution!

The following are five of the 10 steps towards a happier, stress-free you!

Step 1: Prioritize Your Health

Many people aren’t tuned in to their body and aren’t aware, until it’s too late, of the effect that stress is having on them. It is important to have a comprehensive understanding of your mind, body and spirit. It is also important to know how to protect your mind and body from stress and the damage it can cause. Stress is a leading cause of poor health and it is up to you to reduce and, where possible, remove unnecessary stressors in your life.

Step 2: Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep is essential to maintaining good mental and physical health. It is nature’s healer; the opportunity for your brain and body to repair themselves from the stresses of the day and build and develop for the future. Yet many adults have insomnia multiple times a week. What is your day like if you have had a poor night’s sleep? Do you find yourself snappy and irritable, overreacting to the most minuscule challenge? What about days when you have slept well? Are you more likely to take things in your stride and stay calm under pressure?

Step 3: Practice Deep Breathing
Humans can only go a few minutes (at most) without oxygen. Oxygen is arguably the most important nutrient of the body – every cell needs it to function efficiently. However, the brain is the body’s largest user of oxygen. Breathing serves two purposes: it helps you take in oxygen to be transported to all parts of the body through the bloodstream, and it helps in the elimination of waste products. Oxygen helps to clear your mind, rejuvenate your skin and energize your whole body.

On the other hand, lack of oxygen can lead to mental sluggishness, lack of focus, depression and anxiety. If you are looking for relief from stress, practicing deep breathing is one of the best services that you could be providing for yourself. Even under normal circumstances, taking a full, deep breath by itself can be deeply relaxing.

Step 4: Stay Hydrated
When we are not hydrated properly enough, we can experience anything from mild headaches and fatigue to seizures, which can be a symptom of severe dehydration. The symptoms of stress and dehydration can be very similar – increased heart rate, nausea, fatigue and headaches.

Try this: Stop drinking all fizzy drinks, caffeinated drinks and juices for a week and replace them with water and see how you feel. If you are a caffeine addict (as I was), you may suffer from withdrawal symptoms if you go cold turkey (symptoms can include headaches), but the more water you drink, the easier it will be to manage. Hang in there!

Step 5: Eat for Well-Being, Not for Stress
Like oxygen and water, food is vital for our health and well-being: It is our energy source and provides our bodies with the nutrients it needs to grow, fight disease and repair itself. Unhealthy food can affect our stress levels in multiple ways. It can be the cause of stress – physical stress caused to the body and its organs as it gamely tries to assimilate and metabolize what we eat and drink. Or, it can aggravate or increase stress from which we are already suffering.

 

Tips For Staying Active, Pain-Free

TIPS of the DAY

1. When you eat until you’re full – or overly full – your metabolism slows down, digestion becomes harder and you age faster. If you only fill 80% of your plate and stop eating when you’re 80% full, your body will promote a metabolism that protects your cells from aging damage.1
  1. Support your body’s detoxification systems with a healthy diet. Strive to eat more whole foods. This means eating foods that are close to their natural state and avoiding highly processed food products that include additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. Eating at least one whole food meal daily is a great start.

 

3.  The liver is the body’s main organ for eliminating waste and toxins. Eating food high in empty calories can increase your weight and cause increased fat to sit on your liver, decreasing its ability to do its job. Increase your intake of foods that may help support liver health such as artichoke, avocado, beets, apples and mushrooms.

 

4. Hair is a pollen magnet, so if your locks are long, consider an updo that you can tuck under your hat when allergy season is in full effect. To further hide from allergy triggers, keep windows in your car and home closed, and chill with the A/C instead. Remember to use the re-circulating mode in your car so you don’t pull pollen-infested air into the vehicle.

5. The nitrate content of beet juice is the muscle behind its blood pressure lowering benefits. Studies have shown that drinking 1 cup a day can help to reduce high blood pressure.

6. Prevent foot callouses from forming by using a healing ointment on the affected area every morning. At night, put it on on your feet before you put on socks. After a week, the thick skin will be soft and you can remove it with pumice stone or other over-the-counter exfoliation tool.

 

  1. Detoxification is the process by which your body filters and removes harmful substances. Support your body’s detoxification systems with a healthy diet. Increase your fiber intake by adding plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Additionally, nutritional supplementation that includes milk thistle may help support some of your liver’s functions.

8. Moving your joints as much as possible throughout the day helps promote joint health. The more you move, the less stiffness you’ll have. If you’re sitting at a desk all day, take time to get up every now and then to take short walks or climb a few levels of stairs. Our bodies were meant to move and work on a daily basis, so the longer you remain in a fixed position, the more likely you are to suffer from sore muscles or joints.

9. Fruits are a great example of a healthy food that’s naturally sweet and that doesn’t increase your risk for health problems like diabetes or obesity. But sugar has snuck into foods that never used to have it in them, like spaghetti or salad dressing. This applies to most processed and packaged foods. Check the ingredients on the side of the package. If sugar is listed, it’s been added.

10. When the pancreas is overwhelmed and blood sugars are high, this organ isn’t able to burn energy efficiently. This can lead to fat storage, particularly stubborn belly fat. To invigorate your pancreas and eliminate fat, drink a cup of garlic green tea daily!