Effects of Stopping Driving

Effects of Stopping Driving

It’s often a wrenching decision for Zoomers and their loved ones. When should an older driver stop getting behind the wheel? Now a study out of Columbia university finds that when that happens, people are more likely to feel depressed and to develop other health problems than their peers who remain on the road. The work analysed 16 different studies and found giving up the car keys was linked to an almost doubled risk of depression, which the researchers believe might be at least partly due to the social isolation or lack of independence that can ensue when elderly people can no longer get around by car. One of these studies, for example, found ex-drivers had a 51 percent reduction in their social network of friends and relatives over 13 years. Two studies concluded driving cessation had an impact on life expectancy. One found ex-drivers four to six times more likely to die over three years than continuing drivers, while the other found the five-year mortality risk 68 percent higher for non-drivers. The studies were not able to show whether giving up driving caused the problems, or vice versa. The bottom line – The findings highlight the need for more research to pinpoint how taking car keys away from elderly adults may influence both physical and mental...
The new Higher Fat DASH Diet

The new Higher Fat DASH Diet

Over the years, I’ve talked about the highly recommended heart-healthy DASH diet on several occasions. It stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and the original DASH, was high in fruits and vegetables, and also recommended low fat dairy food. But the diet designers have had a re-think on the issue of fat. Researchers ran a clinical trial to see what would happen if they substituted full fat dairy products for the low-fat ones and reduced carbohydrates – mostly by cutting down on fruit juices and other sugars. Their findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a higher fat DASH diet lowered blood pressure to the same extent as the original, and also reduced triglycerides but did not significantly raise LDL or (“bad” cholesterol). The bottom line – the researchers say, the modified HF-DASH diet presents an effective alternative to the old DASH diet, with less stringent dietary fat constraints.And that means more people may be able to stick to...
Blood Pressure Check both Arms

Blood Pressure Check both Arms

The next time you get your blood pressure checked, make sure it’s measured on both arms. According to a study in The Lancet, this could save your life. The work shows that differences in blood pressure readings between a patient’s right and left arm could be a sign of vascular disease. The researchers reviewed 28 studies measuring differences in systolic blood pressure readings. That’s  the top number in a reading. Although seemingly minor, a difference of 15 points was associated with a higher risk. The risk of peripheral vascular disease – the narrowing of arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet,  was two and a half times greater. The risk of cerebrovascular disease, which affects the blood supply to the brain was 1.6 times greater. What’s even more alarming is that inconsistent blood pressure readings increased the risk of death by a whopping 70 per cent. It’s the difference between the two measurements — not which arm is higher or lower — that counts. The authors figure that it’s a sign of the narrowing or hardening of a person’s arteries, particularly on one side of the body. They say measuring blood pressure on both arms should be the new standard in doctors’ offices and...
Fibre and Longevity

Fibre and Longevity

Here’s another reason to make sure you eat lots of fibre. If you do, you might be less likely to die prematurely from a range of illnesses — including heart disease, cancer, and infection, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. We already know that fibre promotes weight loss, lowers cholesterol, and protects against heart disease. This work suggests that it has broader health benefits and  may  prevent other common killers. Researchers followed 400,000 people for 9 years, and found that people who ate the most fibre were 22 percent less likely to have died of any cause during the study than people who ate the least, when they took into account age as well as health and lifestyle factors. Fibre is found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans. Most Canadians get only half of the recommended amount. After the age of 50, women should get 21 grams, men 30. For example, a half cup of raw almonds has nearly 9 grams, a cup of cooked oatmeal has 4 gramsand half a cup of pitted prunes has about 6 grams. The researchers say the bottom line is: eat as much fibre as...
Multiple Meds

Multiple Meds

Is your medicine cabinet bursting at the seams? A new study shows that almost two-thirds of Canadians over the age of 65 are taking five or more prescription medications. That includes one in five who are taking 10 or more drugs and one in 20 who are on a staggering 15 or more meds to manage a variety of conditions, from high blood pressure through to Alzheimer’s. This, according to data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Doctors say this is a big concern because prescription drugs are rarely tested on older Zoomers, and multiple medications greatly increase the risk of dangerous drug interactions. There is little co-ordination of care and tracking of prescription drugs, in large part because electronic health records are a rarity in Canada. In other words, some doctors who are prescribing drug number 10 have no idea what the other nine drugs are. Statins, used to treat high cholesterol, are the drugs most commonly prescribed to people over 65; 40 per cent are taking them. Next are drugs used to treat high blood pressure and gastro-esophageal reflex disease. Bottom line if you or a loved one are on multiple meds – make sure your doctor knows about all of...
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement

Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement

It’s said that one of the joys of being a Zoomer is taking pleasure in your grandchildren, but an English research study begs to differ. A University of Greenwich team found that an active social life, being married and having a partner who is also retired all make a huge difference in Zoomers’ enjoyment of life, but having children or grandchildren matters little. No one denies that grandchildren are a source of pride, but according to the researchers, there are trade-offs. They say having children and grandchildren imparts a sense of purpose and meaning, but the frequent commitment for child care can interfere with the sense of freedom and autonomy that is at the heart of a positive retirement. Study participants answered questions about family, friends and their life in retirement. The researchers found no difference in life satisfaction between retirees who have children and grandchildren and those who don’t. But a strong social network tended to have a major positive effect on their enjoyment of life. So did having a spouse or long-term partner who was also retired. Single Zoomers reported lower levels of life satisfaction . And those whose partner was still working enjoyed their life less than those who have been joined in retirement by their spouse.. Bottom line: the researchers say older adults are very interested in their grandchildren and want them to succeed, but really, but they derive most of their happiness and psychological well-being from their...