Live Life On Your Own Terms ®

How millions of seniors undermine their own independence

undermineThree low-cost, low-tech devices could help some 5 million seniors live independently at home years longer – if only they were willing to use them.

Simple, everyday equipment like bathroom grab bars, shower or tub seats, and raised toilets or toilet seats could help elders with mobility problems bathe and toilet, stand up and sit down, and balance more independently, safely, and easily. But according to a new UC San Francisco study of about 2,600 Medicare recipients, 42 percent just don’t want to.

Projected nationally, that would be 5 million Americans.

It all boils down to self-image and aesthetics.

Is stress good or bad for you? (Yes)

stressConventional wisdom links stress with chronic illness, emotional issues, and other physical risks. But is the oppoite true? Does the absence of stress make you healthier and happier?

Not necessarily, according to a recent Penn State study.

“The assumption has always been that stress is bad,” said David Almeida, professor of human development and family studies. “I took a step back and thought, what about people who report never having stress? My previouswork focused on people who have higher versus lower levels of stress, but I’d never questionedwhat it looks like if people experience no stress. Are they the healthiest of all?”

Before the study, its 2,711 participants took a short cognition test. Then for te next eight consecutive nights, researchers asked them about their mood, any physical symptoms (e.g., headaches or coughs) they’d had, and wat they’d done during the day – specifically including frustrating and stressful experiences and positive ones.

About ten percent of the participants – 200 or so – reported no stressors whatever during the day, along with fewer health issues and better moods.

So far, so good.

How worried should you be about prediabetes? (Less than you might think) 

diabetesTens of millions of Americans have been diagnosed with a condition that’s painless, has no symptoms, and is detectable only from blood-test results.

The condition is prediabetes, and it often comes hand-in-hand with later life, when the pancreas starts cutting down its insulin output.

If you have more than normal glucose in your blood – 5.7% to 6.4% hemoglobin A1C or 100 to 125 mg/dL fasting glucose level – you’ve got it. In theory, as the name implies, it’s just one step away from type 2 diabetes, which can play havoc with your health. Diabetes “damages your kidneys, your eyes, and your nerves,” says geriatrician Dr. Kenneth Lam. ”It causes heart attack and stroke.”

But a study published online in JAMA Internal Medicine this year showed that older people who met those prediabetes criteria were much more likely to return to normal blood sugar levels than to graduate to full-blown diabetes.

Even gut bacteria know that no two seniors are the same

gutbacteriaBacteria are one-cell organisms – and they’re not brain cells. Yet, they’re smart enough to become “increasingly unique (i.e., increasingly divergent from others) as individuals aged,” according to a study of 9,000 people 18 to 101 years old, with particular focus on ages 78 to 98.

Even though they were carrying out the same metabolic functions, the bacteria became “increasingly unique to each individual [person] in healthy aging,” helping them live longer, healthier lives.

Not just in the microscopic world of bacteria, but also in the macro world of older human beings, it’s attention and adaptation to each person’s unique individual differences that can help make life longer and healthier.

Drinking lots of water can be good for your health. Or bad.

waterThere’s an old rule of thumb about drinking eight glasses of water a day. Is that enough? Too little? Or too much?

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend fluid intake of just under a gallon (3.90975 quarts) for men, just under three quarts (specifically, 2.85306) for women – more if you’re sweating from heat or exercise or dehydrated from high altitude.

Anywhere from 45% to 75% of your body weight comes from water – not just water you drink, but also water you eat. Cantaloupe, strawberries, lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach – and, of course, watermelon – are up to 99% water, pizza as much as 49%.