Health Info & Resources for Seniors
New Research Shows a Daily Baby Aspirin Does Not Benefit Healthy Older Adults
A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that taking a daily low-dose aspirin had no benefits for healthy older adults.However, studies have found that aspirin can help some people prevent a second heart attack or stroke. Heart diseases and stroke are the leading causes of death and disability in older adults in the United States.
These are often caused by blood clots forming in the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart or the brain. Aspirin helps thin the blood to avoid further blood clots. There is also evidence that aspirin may help prevent a first heart attack or stroke in people who are at high risk for these conditions. The ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial was started in 2010. According to the ASPREE study, the rates of major cardiovascular events—including coronary heart disease, nonfatal heart attacks, and fatal and nonfatal ischemic stroke—were similar in the aspirin and the placebo groups. So were the rates of physical disability and dementia.
Aspirin was associated with an increased risk of bleeding—a known risk of regular aspirin use. Clinically significant bleeding (hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding in the brain, gastrointestinal hemorrhages, or hemorrhages at other sites that required transfusion or hospitalization) occurred more in those taking aspirin (3.8%) than placebo (2.8%).
In the meantime, older adults should continue to follow the advice from their health care professionals about daily aspirin use.
Heart to heart talks, hugs and kisses are all important to our health. Scientists are finding that our links to others can have powerful effects on our health. Whether with romantic partners, family, friends, neighbors, or others, social connections can influence our biology and well-being.
Wide-ranging research suggests that strong social ties are linked to a longer life. In contrast, loneliness and social isolation are linked to poorer health, depression, and increased risk of early death.
Studies have found that having a variety of social relationships may help reduce stress and heart-related risks. Such connections might improve your ability to fight off germs or give you a more positive outlook on life. Physical contact—from hand-holding to sex—can trigger release of hormones and brain chemicals that not only make us feel great but also have other biological benefits.
Here are 5 tips for getting involved with others:
Join a group focused on a favorite hobby, such as reading, hiking, painting, or wood carving.
Take a class in yoga, tai chi, or another new physical activity.
Help with gardening at a community garden or park.
Volunteer at a school, library, hospital, or place of worship.
Join a local community group or find other ways to get involved in things you care about.
Tips for Healthy Eyes When You Have Diabetes
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you know the importance of monitoring your blood glucose level, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol. You also should stop smoking, check your kidneys yearly, and get your flu shot and pneumonia vaccine every year. And don’t forget to take care of your eyesight.
Have yearly eye exams. High blood sugar can lead to problems like blurry vision, cataracts, glaucoma, and retinopathy. In fact, diabetes is the primary cause of blindness in adults ages 20 to 74. Finding and treating eye problems early may keep your eyes healthy.
You can use the following checklist as a guide for keeping your eyes healthy:
Protect your eyes from too much sunlight by wearing sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) radiation and a hat with a wide brim when you are outside.
Make smart food choices.
Be physically active and maintain a healthy weight.
Maintain normal blood pressure.
Control diabetes (if you have it).
If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focused on one thing, you can forget to blink. Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet for 20 seconds to prevent eye strain.
Sources: NIH, webmd.com
Positive Emotions Help Lead to a Longer, Healthier Life
Do you tend to the glass half full or half empty? A growing body of research suggests that having a positive outlook can benefit your physical health. NIH-funded scientists are working to better understand the links between your attitude and your body. They’re finding some evidence that emotional wellness can be improved by developing certain skills.
Having a positive outlook doesn’t mean you never feel negative emotions, such as sadness or anger. “Positive emotions expand our awareness and open us up to new ideas, so we can grow and add to our toolkit for survival,” explains Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson, a psychologist and expert on emotional wellness at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
“But people need negative emotions to move through difficult situations and respond to them appropriately in the short term. Negative emotions can get us into trouble, though, if they’re based on too much rumination about the past or excessive worry about the future, and they’re not really related to what’s happening in the here and now.”
People who are emotionally well, experts say, have fewer negative emotions and can bounce back from difficulties faster. This quality is called resilience. Another sign of emotional wellness is being able to hold onto positive emotions longer and appreciate the good times. Developing a sense of meaning and purpose in life—and focusing on what’s important to you—also contributes to emotional wellness.
Research has found a link between an upbeat mental state and improved health, including lower blood pressure, reduced risk for heart disease, healthier weight, better blood sugar levels, and longer life. But many studies can’t determine whether positive emotions lead to better health, if being healthy causes positive emotions, or if other factors are involved.
Among those who appear more resilient and better able to hold on to positive emotions are people who’ve practiced various forms of meditation. In fact, growing evidence suggests that several techniques—including meditation, cognitive therapy (a type of psychotherapy), and self-reflection (thinking about the things you find important)—can help people develop the skills needed to make positive, healthful changes.
Being open to positive change is a key to emotional wellness. “Sometimes people think that emotions just happen, kind of like the weather,” Fredrickson says. “But research suggests that we can have some control over which emotions we experience.” As mounting research suggests, having a positive mindset might help to improve your physical health as well.