Positive Aging Newsletter Tidbits

29 Jul

***Preventing Cognitive Decline***

Often in this newsletter we have reported on small research studies that have made claims that various forms of activity, such as playing bridge or walking briskly will improve one’s cognitive capacities, or at least prevent some cognitive decline. Trying to ferret out the really significant scientific findings from the wishful thinking variety, NIH (National Institute of Health) called together a panel of 15 experts across a range of fields from various medical fields, nursing, psychiatry, mental health, family caregiving, and more, plus 20 experts who presented their data to the panel. Among the conclusions: – There was no compelling evidence of a relationship between cognitive decline and childhood socioeconomic status, education, past alcohol use, or the use of pharmaceutical agents or dietary supplements to prevent cognitive decline. – A robust association exists between the loss of a spouse and cognitive decline. This finding supports numerous other research reports in this Newsletter pointing to the beneficial effects of social participation on well-being and longevity. – There is a beneficial impact of physical activity and other leisure activities (such as club membership, religious services, painting, or gardening) on cognitive function. Increased involvement with cognitive activities in later life may also be beneficial. It should be noted, however, that there are difficulties in drawing firm conclusions, especially because there are neither standardized definitions of decline nor common measuring practices. Researchers may variously define and measure decline in several ways: Memory of various sorts, planning, integrating information,
focused attention, imagination, creativity, and more, and what is the case for one study may not be for another. From: NIH State-Of-The-Science Conference Statement on Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and Cognitive Decline Vol 27, Number 4, April 26-28, 2010, National Institute of Health, Office of the Director (

Living Long and Well

Engage in physical activity. In a recent study done with over 8,000 adults in Australia over a six year study, the benefits of movement on longevity proved to be immense. On the other hand, for each daily hour of television watched, there was an 18% increase in deaths from heart disease and an 11% increase in overall mortality. The researchers controlled for prior heart disease and other risk factors, such as diet and smoking. Interestingly, being overweight, itself, was not a significant factor.

*** Benefits of Internet Use

The common stereotype is that older people have no interest in computers and the internet. Surveys do show that the younger population is more involved with the internet, and social networks, in particular. But the trend is shifting, and each year, increasing numbers of older people are becoming wired. What are the benefits of this involvement? In this study, Galit Nimrod from the Center for Multidisciplinary Research in Aging, Ben-Gurion University, examined the contents and characteristics of messages exchanged by seniors’ online communities. Data from 14 leading online communities was examined, including over 700,000 messages. During this one year period, the level of activity constantly increased. The major points of discussion included, from highest to lowest:
• fun on line
• retirement
• family health
• work and study
• recreation
• finance
• religion and spirituality
• technology
• aging
• civic and social relations
• shopping
• travel
There were also ample exchanges involving political and intellectual issues and those that invited creativity. The benefits from being on-line were many, and especially for those physically unable to be out in the world with ease. As the researcher concluded, on-line communities can provide social
support and self-preservation; they can serve as an opportunity for self-discovery and growth. From: Seniors’ Online Communities: A Quantitative Content Analysis by Galit Nimrod, The Gerontologist, 2010, 50, 382-392

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Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Articles


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