Notes on Healthy Aging

Graceful Aging Exercises for Everyone

You can’t stop aging, but you can slow down the process with the help of an exercise routine. Even a small amount of activity can help you keep joints mobile, maintain muscle strength, and improve stability. And the best news of all: It’s never too late to start an exercise routine.

The first step in starting an exercise program is to check withy your doctor, who will tell you if there are any activities you should avoid. Certain conditions such as diabetes may also affect the timing of when to take medications and when to exercise.

Begin an exercise program slowly and listen to your body. If a particular exercise is difficult for you or causes you pain, ask your doctor if another exercise might be better for you. And it’s important to start out with a little bit of exercise and gradually increase the amount and intensity.

The easiest exercise to begin with, after checking with your doctor, is walking, which improves cardiovascular fitness, bone strength, and joint mobility. Physiologists recommend aiming for 30 minutes of walking five days a week, but, as with all exercise programs, start with a small amount and gradually build up to longer and more frequent sessions.

In addition to cardiovascular activities such as brisk walking or swimming, a complete exercise program also includes resistance training, such as lifting weights, during two or three of your exercise days each week. These exercises build muscle strength and improve balance, important considerations for avoiding falls.

Tai chi can help build strength, relieve pain

Many senior centers and retirements offer classes in Tai chi, a modified form of an ancient Chinese martial art that emphasizes slow, gentle movements. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that Tai chi could be an effective exercise suitable for middle-aged and older adults, even those who may have multiple health conditions.

Tai chi is a set of exercises that emphasize breathing control, whole body exercises with bent knees and slow, flowing movements. In addition to strength, it can help to improve posture, balance and concentration, the researchers note.

Hearing Loss Costs Far More Than Ability to Hear

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting adults, and the most common among older adults. An estimated 30 million to 48 million Americans have hearing loss that significantly diminishes the quality of their lives — academically, professionally and medically as well as socially.

In this article New York Times health writer Jane E. Brody reports that, while one in three people over age 60 has life-diminishing hearing loss, most people wait between five and 15 years to seek help. A large survey by the National Council on the Aging found that those who had hearing aids tended to be more socially active and less depressed, worried, paranoid, or insecure than people without hearing aids.

People without hearing aids also tend to have an increased risk of dementia over those with the devices. Hearing aids may improve cognitive functioning by maintaining auditory input into the brain that are diminished by hearing loss.

Is It Old Age, or A.D.H.D.?

Those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s never heard of ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. While ADHD is nowadays a diagnosis given to children who have trouble paying attention in school, back when we were in school children who struggled were told to settle down, quiet down, or stop daydreaming out the window.

In 2012, in one of the only epidemiological studies done on A.D.H.D. in older adults, a large Dutch population study found the condition in close to 3 percent of people over 60.

Although there’s little data on the prevalence of ADHD in older adults, increased awareness of the condition, now thought to persist throughout one’s lifetime, is bringing more older adults to specialty clinics for diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. [Thomas] Brown [associate director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders at the Yale School of Medicine] said, “Most doctors are not thinking of A.D.H.D. as a characteristic of somebody who is 60 or over.” Hence, the condition may be overlooked in the 80-year-old who has trouble staying engaged at the senior center, despite a lifelong history of inattention. “They figure it’s just cognitive decline from aging” or diagnose depression or anxiety in such patients, which may or may not be the case, he said.

Many older adults who have trouble paying attention or sitting still are thought to have cognitive impairment caused by aging. But if the person has had the same symptoms throughout life, diagnosis and treatment for ADHD may greatly improve their condition.

4 thoughts on “Notes on Healthy Aging”

    1. Thanks for the comment. Another thing that often scares people is that they think it’s too late to start an exercise program (or anything else, for that matter). I got my doctorate on my 63rd birthday, so I like to promote the notion that it’s never too late to start down new paths.

      Liked by 1 person

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