Studies show that getting the right amount of sleep is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding obesity, which has been linked to colorectal, breast and kidney cancers.
This is not meant to scare you, just another reason to take care of your body.
Struggling to lose weight? It may not have anything to do with your diet or activity level.
Studies show that getting the right amount of sleep is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding obesity. Obesity has been linked to an increased risk for several types of cancer, including colorectal, post-menopausal breast, endometrial, esophageal, kidney and pancreatic.
“How long, how well, how deep we sleep, what time we sleep and what happens during sleep all effect our metabolism,” says Carol Harrison, a senior exercise physiologist.
Sleep and your metabolism
The simple equation for weight loss is to burn more calories or energy than consumed. But anyone who has been on a diet knows that it’s not nearly that simple. Studies show that sleep may be a part of the reason why.
Our internal clocks are called circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythm determines our sleep patterns, our heart rate and blood pressure.
“If our internal timing – in other words, our circadian rhythm – doesn’t match our external timing, then it can have a negative effect on our metabolisms,” Harrison says.
And remember- regular exercise will improve your sleep.
Written by KELLIE BRAMLET BLACKBURN- University of Texas
Sorry to say but, as you age, your muscle mass declines, your flexibility lessens and your balance suffers. A combination of these factors can lead to a dangerous fall — in fact, 2.5 million older people are treated in the emergency room for injuries from a fall each year. One remedy to this risk: regular core training.
According to certain studies, core strength training can be used instead of or in addition to traditional balance or resistance training programs for older adults. As a result of a stronger mid-section (lower back, abdominals and pelvic floor, everyday activities will be easier and the risk of a fall or other injury will decrease.
These clips from our programs that could help you get started....
Retaining the ability to get up and about easily — to walk across a parking lot, climb a set of stairs, rise from a chair and maintain balance — is an under-appreciated component of good health in later life, and one of the goals of functional fitness.
When mobility diminishes, older adults are more likely to lose their independence, become isolated, feel depressed, live in nursing homes and die earlier than people who don’t have difficulty moving around.
Problems with mobility are distressingly common: About 17 percent of seniors age 65 or older can’t walk even one-quarter of a mile, and another 28 percent have difficulty doing so.
But trouble getting around after a fall or a hip replacement isn’t a sign that your life is headed irreversibly downhill. If you start getting physical activity on a regular basis, you’ll be more likely to recover strength and flexibility and less likely to develop long-term disability, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows.
This is not surprising, but it is encouraging. The study entailed people at high risk of mobility problems: men and women between the ages of 70 and 89 who were sedentary and had some difficulties with daily activities but were still able to walk a quarter mile without assistance.
Half of the group attended 26 weekly health education classes followed by monthly seminars. The other half spent about an hour getting physical activity — primarily walking — at a clinic twice a week, followed by at-home exercises.
The goal was to have participants meet the government’s recommended standard of 150 minutes of weekly moderate physical activity and sustain that level over time.
Results confirmed the extraordinary benefits of physical activity, which has been shown in previous research to lower an individual’s risk of heart disease, cognitive impairment, diabetes, depression and some cancers.
The group that focused on walking and strength and balance exercises was 25 percent less likely to experience significant problems with mobility than the group that focused on education over a period of almost three years. Specifically, they recovered faster from episodes of being unable to walk and were less likely to have problems getting around after that recovery period.
The program “was a godsend,” said John Carp, 87, who didn’t make it a point to walk regularly before he joined the study. “There was an improvement in physical feeling and also my mental attitude.”
“If there was a pill that offered comparable benefits, it would be a billion-dollar product and people would be all over it,” said Dr. Thomas Gill, lead author of the new paper and a professor of geriatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, as well as director of Yale Program on Aging.
Gill hopes to convince Medicare and other insurers to adopt the intervention he helped create. But older adults don’t need to wait for that to happen. There are plenty of places — YMCAs and senior centers, for instance — where seniors can take classes. Experts’ practical advice:
It’s never too late. “Older adults may think ‘it’s too late for me — I’m too old or too sick for this,’” said Patricia Katz, a professor of medicine and health policy at the University of California, San Francisco. “The message from this study is it’s never too late.”
“Prescribing exercise may be just as important as prescribing medications,” Katz wrote in an editorial accompanying Gill’s report.
Focus on activity, not exercise. “Older adults, if you talk to them about exercise, will say that’s not for me, that’s for my grandchildren,” Gill said. “But if you talk to them about become more physically active, they’ll say ‘okay, I can do that.’”
“Basically, I walk in the park or around the neighborhood and move my arms and legs around at night in different positions, and try to flex my muscles,” Carp said, describing his daily routine. “It’s not hard, and it makes a big difference.”
Start slow. Some participants could barely make it around a track at the beginning of the study so “we started low and increased slowly,” offering remedial help along the way, Gill said.
“I recommend focusing on smaller and achievable goals, initially, and not trying to do everything at once because we know that tends to make people give up,” said Dr. Anne Newman, chair of the department of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh and co-author of a new study showing that people who eat healthily, maintain a normal weight and are physically active live longer and spend less time being disabled at the end of their lives.
Even small amounts make a difference. Newman’s study tracked more than 5,000 older adults over the course of 25 years. One conclusion: “There’s no threshold for benefit from physical activity,” she said. “Every little bit helps.”
“You don’t need to get on a treadmill, go to the gym, or wear Spandex,” Newman said. All you need to do is start walking for a few minutes every day and gradually build up your strength and endurance.”
Beware of becoming sedentary. The worst thing seniors can do is “sit down and take it easy,” said Susan Hughes, co-director of the Center for Research on Health and Aging at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Make a plan. Craft an individualized plan that covers three questions: What are you going to do and how often, where are you going to do it and who are you going to do it with? You can make a plan yourself, but make sure it’s enjoyable, Hughes said. Otherwise, it’s very unlikely you’ll follow it for any length of time.
By Judith Graham, Kaiser Health News
Kaiser Permanente is a supporter of the Stronger Seniors Chair Exercise Program
Geriatricians are “experts in complexity,” said Dr. Eric Widera, director of the geriatrics medicine fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco.
No one better understands how multiple medical problems interact in older people and affect their quality of life than these specialists on aging. But their role in the health care system remains poorly understood and their expertise underused.
Interviews with geriatricians offer insights useful to older adults and their families:
Basic knowledge. Geriatricians are typically internists or family physicians who have spent an extra year becoming trained in the unique health care needs of older adults.
They’re among the rarest of medical specialties. In 2016, there were 7,293 geriatricians in the U.S. — fewer than two years before, according to the American Geriatrics Society.
Geriatricians can serve as primary care doctors, mostly to people in their 70s, 80s and older who have multiple medical conditions. They also provide consultations and work in interdisciplinary medical teams caring for older patients.
Recognizing that training programs can’t meet expected demand as the population ages, the specialty has launched programs to educate other physicians in the principles of geriatric medicine.
“We’ve been trying to get all clinicians trained in what we call the ‘101 level’ of geriatrics,” said Dr. Rosanne Leipzig, a professor of geriatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
Essential competencies. Researchers have spent considerable time over the past several years examining what, exactly, geriatricians do.
A 2014 article by Leipzig and multiple co-authors defined 12 essential competencies, including optimizing older adults’ functioning and well-being; helping seniors and their families clarify their goals for care and shaping care plans accordingly; comprehensive medication management; extensive care coordination; and providing palliative and end-of-life care, among others skills.
Underlying these skills is an expert understanding how older adults’ bodies, minds and lives differ from middle-age adults.
“We take a much broader history that looks at what our patients can and can’t do, how they’re getting along in their environment, how they see their future, their support systems, and their integration in the community,” said Dr. Kathryn Eubank, medical director of the Acute Care for Elders unit at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. “And when a problem arises with a patient, we tend to ask ‘How do we put this in the context of other concerns that might be contributing?’ ”
Geriatric syndromes. Another essential competency is a focus on issues that other primary care doctors often neglect — notably falls, incontinence, muscle weakness, frailty, fatigue, cognitive impairment and delirium. In medicine, these are known as “geriatric syndromes.”
“If you’re losing weight, you’re falling, you can’t climb a flight of stairs, you’re tired all the time, you’re unhappy and you’re on 10 or more medications, go see a geriatrician,” said Dr. John Morley, professor of geriatrics at Saint Louis University.
“Much of what we do is get rid of treatments prescribed by other physicians that aren’t working,” Morley continued.
Recently, he wrote of an 88-year-old patient with metastasized prostate cancer who was on 26 medications. The older man was troubled by profound fatigue, which dissipated after Morley took him off all but one medication. (Most of the drugs had minimal expected benefit for someone at the end of life.) The patient died peacefully eight months later.
Eubank tells of an 80-year-old combative and confused patient whom her team saw in the hospital after one of his legs had been amputated. Although physicians recognized the patient was delirious, they had prescribed medications that worsened that condition, given him insufficient pain relief and overlooked his constipation.
“Medications contributing to the patient’s delirium were stopped. We made his room quieter so he was disturbed less and stopped staff from interrupting his sleep between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” Eubank said. “We worked to get him up out of bed, normalized his life as much as possible and made sure he got a pocket talker [hearing device] so he could hear what was going on.”
Over the next four days, the patient improved every day and was successfully discharged to rehabilitation.
Finding help. A geriatric consultation typically involves two appointments: one to conduct a comprehensive assessment of your physical, psychological, cognitive and social functioning, and another to go over a proposed plan of care.
The American Geriatrics Society has a geriatrician-finder on its website — a useful resource. Also, you can check whether a nearby medical school or academic medical center has a department of geriatrics.
Many doctors claim competency in caring for older adults. Be concerned if they fail to go over your medications carefully, if they don’t ask about geriatric syndromes or if they don’t inquire about the goals you have for your care, advised Dr. Mindy Fain, chief of geriatrics and co-director of the Arizona Center on Aging at the University of Arizona.
Also, don’t hesitate to ask pointed questions: Has this doctor had any additional training in geriatric care? Does she approach the care of older adults differently — if so, how? Are there certain medications she doesn’t use?
“You’ll be able to see in the physician’s mannerisms and response if she takes you seriously,” Leipzig said.
If not, keep looking for one who does.
By Judith Graham- Kaiser Health News,
Geriatricians Can Help Aging Patients Navigate Multiple Ailments