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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release]Communication is key when dealing with aging parents

Communication is key when dealing with aging parents 

elderly stubbornness iStock Squaredpixels_0

From the 27 January 2015 Penn State press release By Marjorie S. Miller

The goal of the research was not to identify whether individuals are “stubborn,” but rather to understand perceptions of older parents and their adult children regarding such behavior.

Recent findings suggest that both adult children and their aging parents identify stubbornness in the parents, and that a new approach to conversation may be the answer.

Aging parents may respond to advice or help with daily problems from their grown children by insisting, resisting, or persisting in their ways or opinions — being stubborn. Until now, research has not examined how frequently such behaviors occur and what factors are associated with these behaviors.

The researchers demonstrated that individual and relationship-based factors are linked to the perceived expression of stubbornness by parents and that there is discordance in perceptions within families. Findings suggest a need for intervention to increase understanding.

“Finding better ways to have that conversation is really important,” Zarit said.

The researchers found that stubborn behaviors are reported to have occurred in the past few months at least once, but usually more often for more than 90 percent of families interviewed.

Three-fourths of children and two-thirds of aging parents in the sample say that at least one of the behaviors — insisting, resisting or persisting — is happening sometimes. The children in these families are not providing caregiving support — high levels of support with daily activities or basic needs — but rather the family members are providing everyday support to one another.

A second finding, Heid said, is that adult children link perceptions of parent stubbornness with how children see their relationships with their parents, but parents link their perceptions to who they are as people. If parents see themselves as more neurotic or less agreeable, they report more stubbornness.

….

There are often basic differences within families about day-to-day goals that could impact how families provide care or support. It is likely, Heid says, that these differences are a barrier to providing support within families.

“Helping families learn how to talk about older adults’ preferences and about goal differences may be important in helping families best support older adults,” she said. “However, this may mean we need to do additional work and research to develop the best strategies to do so.”

“For families providing support to an older adult, this work confirms that these behaviors happen, but also that there is room for continued communication to ensure that there are shared goals in care and support,” Heid said.

 

 

 

January 31, 2015 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release} UCLA scientist uncovers biological clock able to measure age of most human tissues

From the 20 October press release via EurkAlert

Study finds women’s breast tissue ages faster than rest of body

 IMAGE: A newly discovered biological clock measures aging throughout the body.

Click here for more information. 

Everyone grows older, but scientists don’t really understand why. Now a UCLA study has uncovered a biological clock embedded in our genomes that may shed light on why our bodies age and how we can slow the process. Published in the Oct. 21 edition of Genome Biology, the findings could offer valuable insights into cancer and stem cell research.

While earlier clocks have been linked to saliva, hormones and telomeres, the new research is the first to identify an internal timepiece able to accurately gauge the age of diverse human organs, tissues and cell types. Unexpectedly, the clock also found that some parts of the anatomy, like a woman’s breast tissue, age faster than the rest of the body.

“To fight aging, we first need an objective way of measuring it. Pinpointing a set of biomarkers that keeps time throughout the body has been a four-year challenge,” explained Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “My goal in inventing this clock is to help scientists improve their understanding of what speeds up and slows down the human aging process.”

To create the clock, Horvath focused on methylation, a naturally occurring process that chemically alters DNA. Horvath sifted through 121 sets of data collected previously by researchers who had studied methylation in both healthy and cancerous human tissue.

Gleaning information from nearly 8,000 samples of 51 types of tissue and cells taken from throughout the body, Horvath charted how age affects DNA methylation levels from pre-birth through 101 years. To create the clock, he zeroed in on 353 markers that change with age and are present throughout the body.

Horvath tested the clock’s effectiveness by comparing a tissue’s biological age to its chronological age. When the clock repeatedly proved accurate, he was thrilled—and a little stunned.

 IMAGE: This is Steven Horvath, Ph.D., UCLA geneticist and biostatistician.

Click here for more information. 

“It’s surprising that one could develop a clock that reliably keeps time across the human anatomy,” he admitted. “My approach really compared apples and oranges, or in this case, very different parts of the body: the brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidney and cartilage.”

While most samples’ biological ages matched their chronological ages, others diverged significantly. For example, Horvath discovered that a woman’s breast tissue ages faster than the rest of her body.

“Healthy breast tissue is about two to three years older than the rest of a woman’s body,” said Horvath. “If a woman has breast cancer, the healthy tissue next to the tumor is an average of 12 years older than the rest of her body.”

The results may explain why breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Given that the clock ranked tumor tissue an average of 36 years older than healthy tissue, it could also explain why age is a major risk factor for many cancers in both genders.

Horvath next looked at pluripotent stem cells, adult cells that have been reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell–like state, enabling them to form any type of cell in the body and continue dividing indefinitely.

“My research shows that all stem cells are newborns,” he said. “More importantly, the process of transforming a person’s cells into pluripotent stem cells resets the cells’ clock to zero.”

In principle, the discovery proves that scientists can rewind the body’s biological clock and restore it to zero.

“The big question is whether the biological clock controls a process that leads to aging,” Horvath said. “If so, the clock will become an important biomarker for studying new therapeutic approaches to keeping us young.”

Finally, Horvath discovered that the clock’s rate speeds up or slows down depending on a person’s age.

“The clock’s ticking rate isn’t constant,” he explained. “It ticks much faster when we’re born and growing from children into teenagers, then slows to a constant rate when we reach 20.”

In an unexpected finding, the cells of children with progeria, a genetic disorder that causes premature aging, appeared normal and reflected their true chronological age.

UCLA has filed a provisional patent on Horvath’s clock. His next studies will examine whether stopping the body’s aging clock halts the aging process–or increases cancer risk. He’ll also explore whether a similar clock exists in mice.

 

 

 

October 21, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just under a third of us will reach 65 “healthy”

 

Write text here…

 

2020health's Blog

Guest blog by Matt Hawkins, Policy and Public Affairs Assistant at the International Longevity Centre-UK

Discussion at an International Longevity Centre-UK, (ILC-UK) event held on Monday, Longevity, health and public policy, revealed that only just short of a third of the UK population will reach retirement “healthy”. Gains in life expectancy have outstripped gains in healthy life expectancy, meaning that potentially over two thirds of people in the UK could find that they are living their retirement years in ill-health.

As a think-tank dedicated to addressing the impacts of our ageing society across generations and throughout the life-course, these findings are of particular concern to ILC-UK. If people are reaching older age in ill-health then this is going to significantly decrease their capacity to remain in work and significantly increase their care needs.

Monday’s event sought to identify the obstacles we face in promoting a healthier older population and…

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July 26, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Statistics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Acceptance of What Cannot Be Changed Predicts Satisfaction in Later Life

From the 11 July 2013 article at Science Daily

When older adults lose control as they move into residential care, they adapt and accept what cannot be changed in order to stay happy. According to a new study, by Jaclyn Broadbent, Shikkiah de Quadros-Wander and Jane McGillivray from Deakin University in Australia, when it comes to satisfaction in later life the ability to accept what cannot be changed is as important as the feeling of being able to exert control.

..

Ageing with satisfaction has been linked to maintaining a sense of control into the later years. Perceived control consists of two components. Primary control relates to the capacity to make changes to the environment to suit your desire or needs — this applies to older adults living independently in the community. Secondary control describes making cognitive changes within yourself to adapt to the environment — for example when older adults move into residential care. In effect, secondary control buffers losses in primary control by helping us to accept what cannot be changed.

Their analyses revealed that the unique relationship between primary control and satisfaction was always larger for the elderly living in the community than those in residential care. Equally, the contribution of secondary control to satisfaction was larger in the residential care group than in the community group. Having a strong sense of control is therefore likely to be more important to older adults living in the community than those living in residential care. In contrast, acceptance is likely to be more important to the well-being of care residents than community dwellers.

The authors conclude: “In order to protect the well-being of older individuals, adaptation involves both a sense of control and the active acceptance of what cannot be changed. Primary and secondary perceived control may predict satisfaction with comparable strength depending on the older person’s situation. Acceptance takes more of a prime position in low control situations.”

 

 

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Longevity, Surprising Study Shows

The correlation between vitamin D levels and longevity seems to be at least partially genetic.
Lowering levels of Vitamin D (as staying away from tanning beds) in itself does not necessarily lead to longer lives.
However, the authors believe further study is needed.

From the 5 November 2012 article at Science Daily

 Low levels of vitamin D may be associated with longevity, according to a study involving middle-aged children of people in their 90s published in CMAJ(Canadian Medical Association Journal).

We found that familial longevity was associated with lower levels of vitamin D and a lower frequency of allelic variation in the CYP2R1 gene, which was associated with higher levels of vitamin D,” writes Dr. Diana van Heemst, Department of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands, with coauthors.

Previous studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased rates of death, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, allergies, mental illness and other afflictions. However, it is not known whether low levels are the cause of these diseases or if they are a consequence…

Full text of the article is at http://www.cmaj.ca/content/early/2012/11/05/cmaj.120233.full.pdf+html

Abstract

Background: Low levels of 25(OH) vitamin D are associated with various age-related diseases and mortality, but causality has not been determined. We investigated vitamin D levels in the offspring of nonagenarians who had at least one nonagenarian sibling; these offspring have a lower prevalence of age-related diseases and a higher propensity to reach old age compared with their partners.

Methods: We assessed anthropometric characteristics, 25(OH) vitamin D levels, parathyroid hormone levels, dietary vitamin D intake and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with vitamin D levels. We included offspring (n = 1038) of nonagenarians who had at least one nonagenarian sibling, and the offsprings’ partners (n = 461; controls) from the Leiden Longevity Study. We included age, sex, body mass index, month during which blood sampling was performed, dietary and supplemental vitamin D intake, and creatinine levels as possible confounding factors.

Results: The offspring had significantly lower levels of vitamin D (64.3 nmol/L) compared with controls (68.4 nmol/L; p = 0.002), independent of possible confounding factors. There was no difference in the levels of parathyroid hormone between groups. Compared with controls, the offspring had a lower frequency of a genetic variant in theCYP2R1 gene (rs2060793) (p = 0.04). The difference in vitamin D levels between offspring and controls persisted over the 2 most prevalent genotypes of this SNP.

Interpretation: Compared with controls, the offspring of nonagenarians who had at least one nonagenarian sibling had a reduced frequency of a common variant in theCYP2R1 gene, which predisposes people to high vitamin D levels; they also had lower levels of vitamin D that persisted over the 2 most prevalent genotypes. These results cast doubt on the causal nature of previously reported associations between low levels of vitamin D and age-related diseases and mortality.

 

 

Background: Low lev

 

November 8, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Longer Old Age but Lower Quality Near the End?

Reblog

(My 80 year old mother is doing well, but she voices concerns in this area from time to time.
These related end of life issues have motivated me to exercise more & volunteer at our local Area Office on Aging…
However, I think there is more we can do collectively, maybe a combination of government and community organizations, and just plain families cooperating more for their most vulnerable members…)

Longer Old Age but Lower Quality Near the End?

http://asourparentsage.net/2012/05/24/9609/

May 29, 2012

A few days ago I added a must read link to Michael Wolff’s New York Magazine article, A Life Worth Ending. It’s an eye-opening piece, detailing long drawn-out decline of his mother. Check it out — it really is a must read.

For our parents there are no easy end-of-life answers. Those of us with older moms and dads still living active and full lives are lucky, but one only has to sit in a Starbucks or linger near the water cooler at work to hear frightening and very sad stories. No one wants to die the long drawn-out way as a helpless invalid,

The single conclusion that I reach is less about my parents lives — we can’t turn the clock back — than it is about my own. At some time in my life, if I reach an advanced age, I need to make some clear and thoughtful decisions about how much medical care I will use … or not use.

Two Quotes from Wolff’s Article  to Make You Want to Read More                         

– By promoting longevity and technologically inhibiting death, we have created a new biological status held by an ever-growing part of the nation, a no-exit state that persists longer and longer, one that is nearly as remote from life as death, but which, unlike death, requires vast service, indentured servitude really, and resources.

– The traditional exits, of a sudden heart attack, of dying in one’s sleep, of unreasonably dropping dead in the street, of even a terminal illness, are now exotic ways of going. The longer you live the longer it will take to die. The better you have lived the worse you may die. The healthier you are—through careful diet, diligent exercise, and attentive medical scrutiny—the harder it is to die. Part of the advance in life expectancy is that we have technologically inhibited the ultimate event. We have fought natural causes to almost a draw.

May 29, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , | Leave a comment

   

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