ANTIDOTE TO FRAILTY: DIET AND EXERCISE--Linda P. Fried’s focus called the Cycle of Frailty bears close scrutiny. Dr. Fried (geriatrics), at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, is part of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network. She studied frailty in the elderly and discovered something quite important. Her conclusions now are called the Frailty Syndrome. This is similar to the Metabolic Syndrome of obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and high glucose that, when present in middle age, accelerate a downslide in health.
RETIRE HAPPY: Stan Hinden’s fourth edition of How to Retire Happy brings his years of retirement reporting up to date. If the title promises a rosy picture, this recent edition is cautious. We’ve been through an economic downtown. Medicare spending is rising. Social Security induces political jitters. And the meager savings of many baby boomers is cause for alarm.
BOOK REVIEW--SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN HEALTHY AGING BRAIN--Some authors are so compelling, it’s worthwhile to give a synopsis of their books and recommend them. Judith Horstman is a science writer who was asked by Scientific American magazine to write one article on how our brains work. Her article stretched into story after story and eventually compiled into a book: The Scientific American Healthy Aging Brain.
THE NORMAL AGING BRAIN: As we age, our brains need a rich environment to continue learning, a strong social network and support from loved ones. We often develop an improved vocabulary and communication skills, insight and compassion (the components of aging wisdom) and what is called domain-specific knowledge. This simply means that we have mastered what we have spent a lifetime honing, whether it’s finance, gardening or teaching.
WELL-BEING, A GUIDE TO HAPPINESS: We are social creatures, creative individuals and supportive friends. And in following our instincts we set the foundation for well being--with our families, friends and communities. Happiness, or well-being, contributes to a strong immune system at any time in our lives. Those who describe themselves as happy live longer and healthier lives.
AGING AND WOMEN'S HEALTH: Dr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor is associated with the study of hormone replacement therapy for mid-life women. She discovered through a longitudinal study, the Women's Health Initiative, that long-term hormone replacement therapy does not benefit women and has a high correlation to stroke. We now know that hot flashes are heart healthy and an important process of strengthening our cardiovascular system. She has other recommendations, too, and often speaks on health issues as they relate to women.
AGING AND SLEEP LOSS: One of the most baffling changes that accompanies aging is the alterations of sleep patterns. Dr. Sonja Ancoli-Israel researches our sleepy brains and notes that sleep habits are directly related to our age.
BOOK REVIEW--A LONG, BRIGHT FUTURE: Laura L. Carstensen's book, A Long Bright Future, sets out to debunk false assumptions right away. Aging people are happier, often healthier and more engaged in their communities than younger people. She erases many of the prejudices and myths of aging that continue to prevent a genuine understanding of fundamental changes in our society. Carstensen is the founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity.
SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR WIDOWS-- Michelle Davison was making a cup of tea when a police car pulled in front of her Niwot, Colorado, house. The officer's face was lined with sorrow, so her first instinct was to ask about her children. "No, it's your husband," was his reply. Michelle joined the more than half a million women in the United States that year widowed under the age of 45. If you've been widowed or you're the friend of a widow, this is essential reading.
How to investigate a nursing home -the second part of a series. Many nursing homes are ailing, which makes the decision to find the right one all the more difficult. It's now possible to search for facility ratings on the Internet. We'll give you step-by-step instructions.