Will Scientific Advancements and Healthy Lifestyles Increase Longevity?
Medical breakthroughs and technological advances — in combination with healthy lifestyles — will help improve the lives of older Americans during 2010, according to the Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging (MLIA) based in Evanston, Ill.
“Our older adult population continues to expand as each year passes, so more focus is being placed on ways to live a longer, healthier life,” said Linda Hollinger Smith, the group’s vice president. “Progress on extending human life, either through genetic research or living a healthier lifestyle, will be one of the top trends older Americans will witness next year.”
Among the top 2010 trends identified by MLIA are:
1. Scientific breakthroughs will demonstrate that healthy lifestyles can actually repair DNA by boosting a key enzyme, telomerase, that is vital for improving the body’s immune response and may even increase longevity.
2. The movement to more homelike environments for older adults living in long-term care communities will grow. Programs will provide care, support, individuality and promote safety in a residential environment.
3. Improvements in health care will lead to ever slowing rates of aging, increasing the number of adults who will reach the age of 100.
4. There will be an increased focus on positivity and its impact on happiness, health and longevity for older adults.
5. The use of technology among older adults will grow exponentially — whether this means surfing the Internet, joining social networks such as Facebook, or using technologic devices in the home to monitor their health as well as promote independence and safety.
6. Progress on extending human life will be a growing focus of researchers, as we learn more about how substances in our foods – such as resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes and in several other plants – may protect us from some life-shortening diseases such as diabetes.
7. Older adults will play an increasingly important role in “helping the Earth age well”, by working in green jobs, volunteering, gardening, and teaching others about how to help the environment.
8. Significant advances in treatments for diseases including cancer will occur through genetic research efforts that are preventing DNA mutations.
9. Greater numbers of older adults will use the Internet to learn about their health. Health professionals will need to incorporate Beb-based health resources into their patients’ visits to assure that accurate websites are being sought out.
10. Senior living residences will also make “healthy living” a priority as future prospects will be looking towards a variety of programs and amenities that support wellness lifestyles.
11. “The ability to live a longer, healthier life will depend on the right combination of lifestyle choices, technology, advances and medical breakthroughs,” concluded Holliger-Smith. “It’s something we call Aging Well, and the chances of that happening will continue to expand in 2010 and beyond.”
Better Than Viagra, Cialis, Levitra
New erection drug believed to be faster, safer
A still experimental erectile dysfunction drug — avanafil — promises erections in just 30 minutes or less, according to study results announced by the drug’s manufacturer.
The phase 3 study, not yet published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, included 646 men with erectile dysfunction (ED). At the highest dose tested (200 milligrams), nearly 80 percent of sexual attempts resulted in erections good enough for intercourse.
Study investigator LeRoy Jones, associate professor of urology at the University of Texas Health Science Center, said the new drug will offer a new alternative to men seeking “an improved experience” with current erectile dysfunction drugs.
“These data suggesting that avanafil achieves a full effect in 30 minutes or less, with a window of opportunity extending beyond six hours, would be a welcome option for ED treatment,” Jones said in a news release from Vivus Inc., which has licensed the drug from Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp.
In the study, men received either an inactive placebo or avanafil at a dose of 50 milligrams, 100 milligrams, or 200 milligrams. Successful intercourse was reported by:
• 27 percent of men taking placebo (up from 13 percent at the start of the study)
• 41 percent of men taking avanafil 50 milligrams (up from 13 percent at the start of the study)
• 57 percent of men taking avanafil 100 milligrams (up from 14 percent at the start of the study)
• 57 percent of men taking avanafil 200 milligrams (up from 12 percent at the start of the study)
Avanafil’s most frequent side effect was headache, reported by 7 percent of men receiving the drug and by 1.2 percent of men taking placebo. Other common side effects included flushing (4.6 percent of men on avanafil vs. none on placebo) and nasal congestion (2.3 percent of men on avanafil vs. 1.2 percent on placebo).
Avanafil works the same way as the three other ED drugs currently on the market: Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. All these drugs target an enzyme called PDE5; avanafil appears to inhibit this enzyme more selectively than the other.
A Vivus news release suggests that in addition to working faster than Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, the new drug may have fewer side effects.
The current study, dubbed REVIVE, is the first of four phase 3 trials of avanafil. Two of the other studies will look at how well the drug helps erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes and in men who have had prostate surgery. A third study, enrolling 600 men at 40 U.S. medical centers, began in March 2009 and will continue for one year.
Vivus expects to submit avanafil for FDA approval in late 2010 or early 2011.
Study: More Older Americans Abusing Drugs
A new government study indicates a rise in substance abuse in older Americans that is likely to lead to an increased need for mental health treatment in the next 10 years.
The agency said in a statement that substance abuse is dangerous at any age, but physiological and social changes make older adults more vulnerable to the harmful effects of illicit drugs.
The report suggests that an estimated 4.3 million Americans over the age of 50 used illicit drugs in the past year. The agency said 8.5 percent of men aged 50 to 54 used marijuana, as opposed to about 4 percent of women.
In adults over 65 who abuse drugs, nonmedical use of prescription drugs was more common than smoking marijuana.
Volunteering May Prevent the Elderly from Becoming Frail
Frailty is a geriatric condition marked by weight loss, low energy and strength, and low physical activity. UCLA researchers followed 1,072 healthy adults aged 70 to 79 between 1988 and 1991 to determine if productive activities — specifically volunteering, paid work and child care — prevent the onset of frailty.
At the beginning of the study, 28 percent of participants volunteered, 25 percent performed child care duties and 19 percent worked for pay. After three years, participants in all three activities were found to be less likely to become frail. After accounting for levels of physical and cognitive function, however, only volunteering was associated with lower rates of frailty.
The study suggests that participating in volunteer activities may prevent frailty in older adults. A randomized trial is needed to determine whether volunteering itself prevents the onset of frailty, or if there is something about the types of people who volunteer regularly that keeps them from becoming frail.
The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It appears in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences.
Active older adults find haven at North Area YMCA
Although the “golden years” are typically a time to slow down and take it easy, you won’t normally see Baby Boomers doing that at the North Area YMCA in Syracuse.
Active older adults are active indeed. Men and women alike come to the Y for fun, friendship and fitness.
A typical day might begin with a fitness class such as Zumba, Tai Chi or Yoga, a walk on the treadmill or perhaps some water aerobics. Once their exercise is complete, the front lobby is bustling with activity. Five days a week, they exercise together and then sit and enjoy a cup of coffee, an occasional homemade baked treat and good company.
Conversation can get lively with the sound of laughter often heard in the far reaches of the YMCA.
The active older adult population also gets involved in many other YMCA activities.
Once a month, they enjoy their book club. They take turns choosing books and engage in discussion. Book selections range from non-fiction to light romance and historical fiction.
Another monthly activity is the knitting and crocheting club. On the third Wednesday of every month, along with their workout clothes, they tote in bags filled with yarn and their latest project.
While the formal group was initiated by a staff member, the seniors had been showcasing their talents for years and had been giving informal knitting lessons to anyone who was interested.
The most recent activity established at the Y has been dominoes. What began as a small group quickly expanded—one person taught another and then another.
It is such a popular activity that the Y is now featuring a dominoes tournament.
While it may sound like active older adults sit around at their Y all day, quite the opposite is true. In order to encourage seniors to participate, activities and classes are scheduled early in the morning.
When they are not volunteering, they are out seeking other opportunities—such as taking computer classes so they can use the Internet or learning to use a digital camera so they can capture all of their adventures.
“We have a member who lost her husband several years ago. She was alone, isolated and very lonely,” a North Area YMCA spokesperson said. “Finally, she joined the Y and it changed her life. She has a reason to get out of bed in the morning and she knows she will be missed if she doesn’t show up.”
• Submitted by the North Area YMCA in Syracuse.