Topic: Aging

A Rosy Outlook Is Healthful

Thursday, May 17th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!


A recent analysis of more than 200 studies found that optimism appears to lower the risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. The Harvard School of Public Health review was published online in the journal Psychological Bulletin. Positive feelings were also associated with lower blood pressure, better blood-fat levels and desirable body weight.

In a news release, lead author Julia Boehm said, "The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive. We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction and happiness are associated with reduced risk . . . regardless of such factors as a person’s age, socioeconomic status, smoking status or body weight. For example, the most optimistic individuals had an approximately 50 percent reduced risk of experiencing an initial cardiovascular event compared to their less optimistic peers."

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Have a Laugh

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Take a few minutes to do your heart good by watching this humorous video presented by CaregiverStress.com. Here is how that website describes what you’re about to see:

"A friend of the couple who founded Home Instead Senior Care, Mary Maxwell was asked to give the invocation at the company’s 2009 convention. Initially it seemed like a normal prayer, but it soon took a very funny turn. Her deadpan delivery and lines like ‘…This is the first time I’ve ever been old… and it just sort of crept up on me…’ soon had the franchise owners rolling in the aisles. With the timing of a professional comedian, Mary shines a very funny light on the foibles of aging, to the delight of this audience of senior-care experts."

To view, click here.

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Rapid Cognitive Decline Near Life’s End

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Researchers have long pondered this common phenomenon: when the decline in mental functioning speeds up dramatically during the last two or three years before an elderly person dies. It is still unclear whether this is caused by Alzheimer’s disease, aging itself, or the dying process. However, recent research led by Robert Wilson of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is casting some light on the subject.

The work, published online in Neurology, included an analysis of the lives of 174 priests and nuns who became medical research subjects in 1997. On the average, at about two-and-a-half years prior to death, their memory and thinking capabilities slumped at rates eight to 17 times faster than before that end-of-life stage.

Researchers ascertained that whereas Alzheimer’s may spur cognitive decline earlier during the aging process, other factors appear to come into play causing more rapid loss during those years just preceding death. Since the deterioration during this phase involves several aspects of brain functioning — not just memory — scientists reason that more than one disease is behind it.

On a brighter note, related research published simultaneously suggested that activities such as socializing, playing bridge, reading, working crossword puzzles, and playing board games might help to protect the brain from declining during advanced age. The researchers hope to pursue further study in both areas.

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Fitness Beyond 50

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

The American Senior Fitness Association recently received a practical and easy-to-read soft-cover book (copyright 2012) from the Langdon Street Press.Its publisher has this to say about the new release Fitness Beyond 50: Turn Back the Clock:

"As resolve in our well-intentioned habit changes starts to fade, we might take a day off from the gym, have that late night slice of pizza, or return to relying on our cup of morning joe to get the day started. But author Harry Gaines reminds us that getting in shape, and staying that way, is not just a New Year’s resolution, it’s a booster shot to our quality of life, especially for those of us over 50.

"Fitness Beyond 50: Turn Back the Clock is the definitive baby boomer’s guide to fitness covering strength training, aerobics, and healthy eating, as well as the power of support groups, and the impact that exercise has on the brain. Written in a conversational style, Gaines combines easy-to-follow fitness plans and current research with over 125 real-life motivational anecdotes aimed at the quickly expanding ‘young seniors’ market.

"Here’s what the experts are saying about Fitness Beyond 50:

At last, a really helpful, easy-to-use guide to a healthy lifestyle for those if us past the ‘middle years.’ It provides motivation, education and behaviors to enhance lifestyle changes in a fun and very engaging format. I couldn’t put it down! — Caroline Nielsen, PhD, Former Chair and Emeritus Professor, Graduate Program in Allied Health, University of Connecticut

"’This book is not just a how-to,’ says Gaines, ‘it is first and foremost a why-to, and that’s what makes it different. Older adults need the powerful combination of structure, science, motivation, and support in order to meet their fitness goals. Many of the broader exercise books out there are not designed with them in mind. The idea with Fitness Beyond 50 is that it’s focused on health and overall fitness that is attainable at any age.’

"Fitness Beyond 50: Turn Back the Clock is distributed by Itasca Books and is available through Ingram and Baker & Taylor. For more information, click here.

"Harry Gaines writes for fitness website dotFIT and the Commons Club Fitness Center Newsletter in Bonita Springs, FL. When he’s not writing, he’s logging one of his 5,000 plus miles cycling in SW Florida or Bucks County, PA."

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Aging in America 2012

Monday, December 5th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Senior health-fitness professionals, be sure and make note of the following announcement from the American Society on Aging (ASA):

What – 2012 ASA Aging in America Conference;
When — March 28-April 1, 2012;
Where — Washington, D.C.

Following is ASA’s description of this upcoming national event:

“Aging in America, the 2012 annual conference of the American Society on Aging, is the largest multidisciplinary aging conference in the country. It is recognized as the leading platform for sharing knowledge, perspectives, best practices and replicable models that help participants enhance their skills and be more effective in their work with older adults. There’s no better professional development opportunity for the people and organizations whose missions support quality of life and care for elders.”

For more information, click here.

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Who’s Who in Senior Fitness

Monday, October 31st, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Kay Van Norman, MS, is an internationally known writer, speaker and wellness consultant. She directed the Keiser Institute on Aging for three years, and serves on both the International Council on Active Aging and American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) boards.
She’s written two books, several chapters and scores of journal articles on aging well, and her educational resources won a Best Practice Award from the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Kay is the founder and president of Brilliant Aging, a consulting firm committed to promoting lifelong vitality and inspiring brand loyalty for companies interested in bringing positive lifestyle strategies to senior consumers.

Kay is a thought leader on the topic of ageism and has been a catalyst for action through national and international organizations. She wrote a 2006 issue brief on ageism for NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging, co-authored a chapter for the World Economic Forum — 2011 Global Action Council on Aging monograph titled Media Portrayal of Aging, and has been instrumental in the International Council on Active Aging Rebranding Aging Movement. Her books, speeches and field-tested wellness resources have helped older adults around the world confront ageism and take consistent action to support well-being, regardless of challenges.

Kay is well known for her ability to translate research findings from multiple disciplines into actionable tools and innovative solutions for diverse industries and audiences. As Director of the Keiser Institute on Aging she worked with world renowned researchers, industry leaders and practitioners to bridge the gap between research and practice in the fields of gerontology, senior housing, fitness and older adult wellness. Her mission and passion is tapping into the universal desire for lifelong vitality and mobilizing it into action — for both individuals and companies.

Kay believes that each individual should receive the opportunity to reach his or her personal potential. She likes to remind people that “age has less to do with who a person is and what they’re capable of than almost any other single factor.”

“I also encourage people who work with older adults to take a close look at the successes of the disability movement derived from looking at possibilities rather than disabilities,” she says. “Young people with disabilities receive resources, opportunities and social support to overcome disabilities and excel in spite of them. Yet adults who are challenged with a disability later in life are often simply given tools to cope with disabilities. There’s a profound difference between a mindset of coping with, versus overcoming, challenges – one that directly impacts expectations, interactions and outcomes. As individuals and as an industry we can work to change expectations and opportunities for older adults challenged by disabilities and functional limitations.”

Kay elaborated on those principles in an article that appeared in the August 4, 2010, issue of SFA’s Experience! newsletter. To view, click on Senior Living Models Revisited.

“I believe the health care crisis is not going to be solved by government programs,” Kay continues, “but instead by individuals inspired into action for their own well-being, and by companies worldwide who mobilize resources to reach out to their customers with healthy lifestyle strategies.”

Kay and her family enjoy living in Montana, where she has seven horses! She can be reached at (406) 587-0786. Learn more at www.kayvannorman.com.

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Boomers

Monday, October 31st, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, represent a huge demographic bulge in the American population. It is a generation that has been provided with — some might say bombarded with — extensive health and fitness information. And yet when we take a careful look at its characteristics, we find widespread obesity.

A recent survey shows that boomers are more obese than the members of either the generation preceding or following them. Whereas about one-fourth of both younger and older Americans are obese, about one-third of boomers are, according to the Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com poll. While not classified as obese, another 36 percent of boomers are overweight.

Concern arises because overweight and obesity can cause unhealthy senior years, increasing the risk for arthritis, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. With America’s 77 million baby boomers now beginning to turn 65, Medicare costs could be badly affected.

However, there is still some cause for cautious optimism. Most boomers report performing a little aerobic exercise at least once a week. They just aren’t doing nearly enough. Meanwhile, 37 percent do no strength training at all. Approximately 60 percent report that they are on weight-loss diets. Many say they are cutting down on dietary cholesterol and salt, and increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables.

As a group, boomers need to find and follow the proper combination of good nutrition and effective exercise. Senior fitness professionals, your work is cut out for you!

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The Curious Upside of Growing Older

Monday, October 31st, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

SFA member Caroline Anaya, MS, is someone you would love to know and call a friend! Earlier this year she produced a wise and witty book that shares her can-do insights about the experience of growing older. It has already received 5-Star reader-reviews on Amazon.

Describing Caroline’s book, the Editor’s Choice review in Caregiver Solutions magazine of Canada said it best:

"A 78-year-old fitness professional, Caroline Anaya, wrote and self-published this quirky and optimistic outlook on aging to encourage seniors to get fit both physically and mentally. The Curious Upside of Growing Older reveals seven ‘keys’ to ‘embrace’ life: thinking, eating and sleeping well, knowing yourself, staying active, being social and stimulating the brain. The relaxed, personal style and large print make this book straightforward and accessible."

The editors here at Experience! couldn’t agree more. In addition, we’d like to suggest to our readers that The Curious Upside of Growing Older would make a fine, inspirational gift for your "special someones" during the upcoming holiday season. For ordering information, click on www.great-senior-fitness.com.

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Be Afraid, Very Afraid!

Monday, October 31st, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

On All Hallows Eve folks of every age can get in on the fun, as depicted by this playful quip:

"A grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Halloween."

— Erma Bombeck

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Short-Term Memory Loss and Alzheimer’s

Friday, September 30th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

A study of screening tests for Alzheimer’s disease was recently published in the Archives of General Psychiatry and discussed by MedlinePlus, a publication of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Somewhat surprisingly, the Spanish researchers who conducted the investigation found short-term memory loss to be a stronger predictor of Alzheimer’s disease than variables known as "biomarkers" (for example, changes in the composition of cerebrospinal fluid or in brain volume).

Short-term memory loss is an important indication of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Persons with MCI may find it difficult to recall what they did the day before, may frequently lose their train of thought, and/or may feel challenged when trying to find their way around places that are actually familiar to them. These traits may also be accompanied by depression, anxiety, or uncharacteristic irritation and aggression. MCI does not necessarily progress to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and persons with MCI often can function in a satisfactory manner despite some minor degree of memory loss.

The study involved more than 500 subjects, as follows:

  • 116 with MCI who developed Alzheimer’s within two years;
  • 201 with MCI who did not develop Alzheimer’s;
  • 197 with no cognitive problems.
  • The methods undertaken included:

  • Conducting measures of delayed memory;
  • Analyzing cerebrospinal fluid samples collected at baseline and then annually for two years;
  • Analyzing blood samples collected at baseline for genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease;
  • Assessing brain volume and cortical thickness through the use of magnetic resonance imaging.
  • Findings included the following:

  • The presence of MCI at baseline was a stronger predictor of Alzheimer’s disease than were most of the biomarkers;
  • Two measures of delayed memory — as well as the cortical thickness of the left middle temporal lobe — were linked with a higher risk of MCI developing into Alzheimer’s disease.
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