Healthy lifestyle delays ageing

image

London: Chromosomes of people who lead a healthy lifestyle do not age as rapidly as those who have a poor diet and take little exercise.

A healthy lifestyle may also slow the process of ageing, according to a study conducted by researcher from the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and published in The Lancet Oncology.

“This might be a powerful motivator for many people to beneficially change their diet and lifestyle,” the researchers said.

The diseases of ageing have been linked to a shortening of chromosome components known as telomeres, which protect the ends of chromosomes and keep the DNA in the middle from being damaged.

Over time, telomeres shorten and both cells and DNA become more vulnerable to various forms of damage. Researchers have speculated that this may be one of the primary mechanisms connected to age-related decline. Shorter telomeres have been correlated with an increased risk of both cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Prior studies have discovered that the telomeres of smokers, the obese and those with sedentary lifestyles tend to be shorter than average. This spurred the researchers to investigate if an improvement in lifestyle could be directly connected to telomere protection.

The researchers recruited 24 men and measured their blood levels of telomerase, an enzyme responsible for repairing and adding to telomeres. They then prescribed a variety of healthy lifestyle and measured telomerase activity again after three months.

The lifestyle changes included a moderate aerobic exercise routine, classes in stress management and relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and supplements of vitamins and fish oil.

By the end of the study, telomerase activity had increased among the participants by an average of 29 percent. The level of telomerase increase was also correlated with a decrease in levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and the frequency of intrusive thoughts (a marker of stress).

Don’t talk down to your olders!

New York: “Sweetie”, “Dear” and “What can I do for you today, young lady?” are all phrases that raise the hackles of the otherwise easy-going 83-year-old New Yorker.

“That sort of rhetoric changes me from a “sweet”, “dear” little old lady into a fierce cranky virago,” declared the feisty 5-ft tall retired charity fundraiser, occasional actress and yoga enthusiast.

But the condescending terms that so exasperate Miss Kelly are not just insulting to many elderly people; they can also be bad for their health, according to two ground-breaking studies.

So-called “elderspeak” – defined by researchers as overly caring, controlling and infantilising communication – bears many similar traits to “baby talk”, including simplified grammar and vocabulary and overly intimate endearments.

And such verbal ageism can harm longevity by delivering a self-fulfilling message that older people are incompetent, frail and feeble, sending them into a negative downward spiral, researchers say.

“Elderspeak is indicative of general negative stereotypes of the elderly,” said Becca Levy, a Yale School of Public Health professor. “It is another example of how people are treated differently based on their age in health care, in the workforce and in everyday life. And we have found a clear connection between the how the elderly are treated and their health and functioning.”

In a study that first alerted the academic world to these dangers, she found that older people exposed to negative stereotypes associated with ageing, reinforced by belittling phrases and condescending attitudes, performed markedly worse in memory and balance tests than peers who were not.

Indeed, in one Ohio town, she and her fellow researchers concluded that people aged over 50 who held positive perceptions about ageing lived on average of 7.5 years longer than those who did not, even when other health factors were allowed for. Remarkably, those perceptions – fuelled by even apparently innocuous words and phrases – had a greater impact than exercise or not smoking.

The worst offenders in elderspeak are often health care workers, whether it is doctors telling older patients who question them “You don’t want to upset your family, do you?” or nursing staff who deal with the elderly every day.

Indeed, Kristine Williams, a trained nurse and associate professor at Kansas University, found that nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s who are addressed like children are more likely to resist medical care – with obvious detrimental effects for their health.

Dr Williams and her team filmed the relationship between 20 patients with dementia and nursing staff. When spoken to and treated like children, many pulled faces, yelled or refused to do what they were told or co-operate with care.

Even for older patients receiving medical care for conditions not related to mental health, being spoken to and treated like a child can have a marked impact on their welfare.

“I was in hospital for two months after a fall and the whole time was subjected to condescending treatment and phrases such as “sweetie”, “dear” and “good girl”,” said Elaine Smith, 78, a retired Chicago schoolteacher.

“I often didn’t feel strong enough to answer back. But even worse, I felt that this sort of attitude and message was grinding me down. It reduces your self-esteem and at times I felt it was just easiest to give in to the stereotype that I didn’t know what I wanted or needed.”

Concern about ageism in all its forms, including elderspeak, has grown as the US population greys. The 85-and-over age group is the country’s fastest-growing demographic while Americans turning 65 now will live on average to 83.

Yet, says Dr Robert Butler, president of the International Longevity Centre-USA, that seems to do little to challenge the growth of ageism – the term he first conjured nearly four decades ago. “Daily we are witness to, or even unwitting participants in, cruel imagery, jokes, languages and attitudes directed at older people,” he said.

The current US presidential contest, in which John McCain is hoping to become the oldest candidate to win the presidency for the first time at the age of 72, has also thrust attitudes towards the elderly into the public spotlight.

Late night comics have regularly lampooned him as an angry or doddery old man while the Democratic candidate Barack Obama came under fire from the McCain campaign for allegedly deploying barely-coded language when he remarked that his rival had “lost his bearings”.

As a principle, Miss Kelly now makes clear her objections to patronising forms of address. “I really am a little old lady but there is nothing wrong with my mind and I don’t like being talked down to,” she said.

“When I tell people they have offended me like that, they can be quite indignant and enunciate very slowly that they were just trying to be nice.

“But I believe that the people who heap these endearments upon us are reacting to their own fears of ageing in a youth-oriented culture. My advice, darlings – get over it.”

Women start to worry about ageing from 28

London: Women begin worrying about looking old from the age of 28, according to a new survey by wrinkle cream maker Olay Regenerist.

The teenage years when girls usually try to look older, are followed by a few years in their 20s when they are happy about their looks.

But by he time they hit 28 they want to look younger as the first wrinkles start to appear.

Worries over broken veins and age spots also emerged as starting to trouble women around this time.

The survey asked 4000 women of all ages to pinpoint the stage when they started – or thought they would start – worrying about the ageing process.

Sarah Clarke, from Olay Regenerist, who carried out the survey, said: “This study goes to show that women are seriously worried about their looks and want to make sure they stay looking young from an early age.

“While 28 might not seem that old, for many women, just the fact that the dreaded 30s are approaching can be enough to get them worrying about their skin showing signs of ageing.”

Women listed wrinkles as their biggest fear, followed by losing their hair, going grey and getting crow’s feet.

Other fears included getting broken or thread veins and losing their hair.

It also emerged 84 per cent of women are so concerned about showing the signs of ageing they would spend as much money as necessary to keep their skin looking young.

But that does not come cheap, with the average woman spending ÂŁ483 a year – or ÂŁ40 a month – on anti-ageing creams, beauty treatments and gym membership.

A total of ÂŁ216 a year is spent on anti-ageing creams and beauty treatments such as facials and wraps.

Exercising and going to the gym costs another ÂŁ113 while colouring hair accounts for a further ÂŁ43.32.

Even vitamin supplements and mineral water account for ÂŁ110 spent each year.

However, the poll also found many women will struggle to keep up with the massive cost.

The average 28-year-old has just ÂŁ214 a month – around ÂŁ50 a week – to live on after paying the mortgage or rent and household bills.

Life begins at 60 for Madonna & Co

London: A new report released today reveals a significant shift in the way 50 to 65 year-olds are viewing retirement, showing how role models such as Harrison Ford and Madonna are giving rise to a generation of ‘grandad-olescents’.

The study, by leading pensions’ company AEGON, shows retirement in the ‘noughties’ is becoming a second adolescence, and more likely to include a world trip or a new career, than a carriage clock and a pair of slippers. A clear indication this generation of ‘baby boomers’ has more in common with their teenage grandchildren than their own parents.

Over 2,000 people between the ages of 50 and 65 were surveyed to gauge their attitudes towards retirement and to see what sort of financial provision they have in place.

The survey reveals that 56% expect to carry on working in some capacity after they reach retirement age and, for most, not because they have to. More than one in ten (11%) said ‘love of the job’ made them want to stay in the work force while 14% argued that they were simply ‘too young’ to retire. Interestingly, 12% said they would like to try out a completely different career in their retirement.

For those who don’t plan to keep working, the lure of far flung destinations beckons. The report shows that more than a fifth (21%) plans to use their ‘grandad-olescence’ for a holiday of a lifetime. Taking inspiration from teenagers heading off on GAP years, 14% of all those surveyed said they wanted to take a long-haul touring trip, 15% fancied travelling around Europe and 7% were after an adventure or action holiday.

Improved health and increasing life expectancy mean that many reaching retirement age do not regard themselves as ‘old’, and therefore seek more active interests in their ‘golden years’. Nearly a third of respondents (30%) saw retirement as the chance to do all the things they’ve wanted to do ‘but never had the time’, and a quarter (26%) plan to use their free time to take up new hobbies and leisure activities.

If their role models are anything to go by, these hobbies are going to be anything but sedate. According to the report, young-at-heart celebrities like Sir David Attenborough, Dame Judi Dench and the Queen of Pop, Madonna, are setting the standard for those at retirement age.

So while attitudes to retirement have clearly shifted with a greater emphasis on work, travel and leisure, are people approaching retirement better financially prepared?

Thanks to exceptional social and economic factors, ‘baby boomers’ should be in a better position financially to enjoy retirement than any previous generation. In fact, 42% think they will be better off than their parents in retirement and 32% think they will be better off than their children. Understandably, securing a guaranteed income during retirement is at the top of the wish list, with 87% of respondents saying this is most important to them.

With all these adventurous ambitions, a secure income is going to be essential. Yet the report highlights a significant knowledge gap when it comes to planning, as 42% of respondents have no clear idea about how much income they will have in retirement. Of the remainder, 44% expected to get an income less than ÂŁ15,000 a year and only 14% thought their pension savings would produce over ÂŁ15,000 a year.

Interestingly, 33% are relying on their pension alone, with no other savings or investments and more than half (51%) admit that they could have been better prepared had they thought about planning sooner.

Rachel Vahey, Head of Pensions Development at AEGON, comments: “Retirement isn’t the abrupt cliff edge it once was and, for many of today’s “baby boomers”, retirement age marks a new and exciting chapter of their lives. But if you want to make adventurous life choices and have a more flexible approach to retirement, it requires careful planning. Younger generations should take note and make sure that they have enough income to enjoy their second adolescence.”

Other research findings at a glance:

· 67% of people surveyed have some savings and investments, other than in a pension. 33% say they have no savings or investments outside their pensions.

· 47% of respondents don’t expect to have any outstanding mortgage or other debts at retirement. However 13% expect to have debts greater than £20,000 at retirement.

· 86% say they would at least “get by” financially if they were to stop working at retirement age. However, 14% say they would struggle to cope financially

· 21% of respondents say they will use the tax-free cash sum from their pensions to pay for the holiday of a lifetime. 15% say they will use the money to pay off their mortgage and 14% will use it to support their children financially.

· Over a quarter (27%) of respondents state their biggest fear in retirement is not being able to take care of themselves, while 22% fear running out of money in retirement

· 79% of respondents expect to need access to additional money in retirement for things such as long-term care, health emergencies, their children and home improvements

About AEGON

· AEGON commissioned Onepoll in to carry out research in May 2008, surveying 2,140 people aged between 50 and 65 who have not yet retired.

· In 2010 the number of pensioners will have exceeded the number of children in the population for the first time. Currently there are 11.3m people over state retirement age, projected to reach 12.2m by 2010 (Source: Office of National Statistics, October 2007).

· The proportion of people over the state pension age has grown from 16% in 1971 to 19% in 2004. By 2031, this figure is projected to have increased to 23%. (Source: Office for National Statistics).

· One hundred years after their introduction, British pensions are now the lowest in the European Union. A recent survey found that the basic state pension of £90.70 a week is equivalent to 17 per cent of the average earnings, compared with the EU average of 57 per cent.

· Current legislation dictates that between 2024 and 2026 the retirement age will rise to 68 for both men and women.

· AEGON UK is one of the top 5 life and pension providers in the UK, employing around 4,500 staff and with assets under administration of £53.2 billion. AEGON UK is part of the AEGON group, which is one of the world’s largest insurers and has assets under management of £245 billion.

The Centenarian

Interesting information and articles on living to be 100: www.thecentenarian.co.uk

Is 100 the new 80?

image

Centenarians have become the fastest-growing demographic in Australia, creating a new boom generation of sprightly golden oldies.

At last count, 3154 Australians are currently aged 100 or older, with one-third of them from New South Wales.

But the latest forecasts estimate this will spiral to 12,000 by 2020 and 50,000 by 2050, according to new research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

This will also mean more “super-centenarians” aged 110 or older, as well as more “semi-super-centenarians”, from 105 to 109.

Shattering the stereotype of immobile elderly people, more than half of the centenarians live in their own homes rather than in care homes.

Women are far more likely to reach 100, accounting for 75 per cent of the total, but male centenarians tend to be healthier, more independent and are far less likely to suffer from Alzehimer’s or dementia.

The study, by Professor Robyn Richmond, a NSW University public health expert, found Australia has one of the highest proportion of centenarians.

Japan, with more than 30,000 centenarians, has traditionally been associated with longevity but, according to Prof Richmond’s study, only Norway, Sardinia (Italy) and the US have a similar rate of over-100s to Australia.

Professor Richmond attributed the rising longevity to improved survival from diseases and improving health and lifestyles for the elderly.

“Many Australians are unaware of how many centenarians there are and how little we know about them,” she said. “It is amazing that these extremely enduring old people, whose lives carry a wealth of history, are living among us – and yet we appear to have largely ignored their effect on our society.”

She called for targeted government policies to address the social, medical and financial impact of living to 100 years and beyond.

“The consequences of the demographic transition need investigation by health policy-makers and economists,” she said.

“We need a better understanding of changes in disability prevalence, in order to make estimates of the likely short- and long-term cost implications.”

Declining fertility rates, with low population growth in younger age groups, also helped make centenarians the fastest-growing group.

Over 25 years, centenarian numbers have grown by 8.5 per cent a year.

In comparison, the number of children has grown by a meagre 0.3 per cent. Even the elderly population, aged between 80 and 99, has risen by only 4.9 per cent over the same period, the report showed.

UK MPs highlight abuse of elderly with dementia

image

London: An influential group of MPs is calling on the Government to stop the dangerous over-prescribing of antipsychotic drugs to people with dementia. Up to 105,000 people with dementia are given the drugs inappropriately, according to expert predictions in the new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Dementia report, ‘A Last Resort’, published today.

Antipsychotics continue to be a first resort for dealing with challenging behaviour in people with dementia, such as aggression or agitation, despite causing devastating side effects, doubling risk of death and costing the UK over ÂŁ60 million a year.

‘A Last Resort’ identifies 5 vital steps to reduce antipsychotic use and reveals there is currently no audit or regulation of the issue. It urges the Government to use its new National Dementia Strategy to address the problem and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to conduct a thorough review.

Jeremy Wright, Chairman of the APPG on Dementia, says:
‘A Last Resort shines a light on one of the darkest areas of dementia care. Antipsychotics can double risk of death and triple risk of stroke in people with dementia, heavily sedate them and accelerate cognitive decline.

‘The Government must end this needless abuse and make the 5 point plan a key element of the National Dementia Strategy. Best practice guidelines are not enough – safeguards must be put in place to ensure antipsychotics are always a last resort. We need to include families in decisions, give people with dementia regular reviews and equip care staff with specialist training.Â’

Neil Hunt, Chief Executive of the AlzheimerÂ’s Society, says
‘It is absolutely disgraceful that widespread the abuse of people with dementia has been allowed to continue despite safety warnings on antipsychotics. Urgent action is needed.

‘Safe, effective alternatives to antipsychotics are available. New Alzheimer’s Society research shows specialist dementia training vastly increases quality of life and could save the UK £35 million a year if it was mandatory.’

‘Over 70% of people with dementia experience challenging behavior at some point during illness. More often than not this is an expression of unmet need, not a symptom of dementia, and there is no excuse for reaching for the medicine cabinet.

Lynn Ramsey, whose husband David was prescribed antipsychotics, says
‘My husband David was given antipsychotics without my knowledge. He was unable to make the decision himself because of his dementia. At first it was extremely painful for him and the drugs impacted on his ability to eat and dress. David’s chin became slumped onto his chest and he could only look at the floor for the rest of his life. He died aged 63. These drugs have a major adverse affect on people’s lives, both patients and families.’

The 5-point plan recommended in the report:

1. Specialist dementia training for all care staff
2. Families must be involved in all decisions around antipsychotics.
3. More pro-active support for care home staff from GPs, community psychiatric nurses and psychiatrists.
4. Compulsory medical reviews of people with dementia every 12 weeks
5. A cost effectiveness review by The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence and a national audit by the Care Quality Commission

References

• Up to 150,000 people with dementia in the UK in care facilities are prescribed antipsychotics according to best estimates.’ (Prof C Ballard, APPG inquiry oral evidence). Experts in Old Age Psychiatry predict 70% of prescriptions are inappropriate, therefore up to 105,000 people with dementia are inappropriately prescribed antipsychotic drugs (A Last Resort).
• Alzheimer’s Society funded research estimates antipsychotics cost the UK £60, 792, 263 per annum and specialist dementia training would save the UK £35 million a year if it was mandatory.
• Antipsychotics can treble risk of stroke in people with dementia (Committee on Standards for Medicine, 2004), and double a person’s risk of mortality (FDA 2005).
• Alzheimer’s Society research published in the BMJ found that specialist dementia training reduces disruptive behaviour and the use of antipsychotics by 50%.

More information
• ‘A Last Resort’ collates evidence from stakeholders, experts and people with personal experience, received as part of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia investigation, including the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Alzheimer’s Society and the Commission for Social Care Inspection.
• 244,185 people (two thirds of care home residents) have a form of dementia.
• If we live to over 65, 1 in 3 of us will end ourlives with a form of dementia
• 700,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia. In less than 20 years nearly a million people will be living with dementia and by 2051 there will be 1.7 million
• For support or advice contact Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Helpline number is 0845 300 0336 or visit www.alzheimers.org.uk

World’s oldest person set to turn 115

image

Chicago: American Edna Parker, the world’s oldest known person, will celebrate her 115th birthday tomorrow (Sunday).

Her achievement was recognised by Guinness World Records last August after the death of a Japanese woman four months her senior.

There are only 75 people alive – 64 women and 11 men – that are 110 or older, according to the Gerontology Research Group, a California-based organisation that verifies reports of extreme ages.

Mrs Parker, pictured right, who was born April 20, 1893, has been a widow since her husband Earl died of a heart attack in 1938.

She has also outlived her two sons – Clifford and Earl Jr – but is far from lonely with five grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great grandchildren to keep her company.
Edna Parker

“We don’t know why she’s lived so long,” said Don Parker, her 59-year-old grandson.

“But she’s never been a worrier and she’s always been a thin person, so maybe that has something to do with it.”

Scientists who study longevity hope that Mrs Parker can help unlock the secrets to long life.
Edna Parker

Two years ago, researchers from the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University took a blood sample from Mrs Parker for the group’s DNA database of supercentenarians.

Her DNA is now preserved with samples of about 100 other people who reached the 110-year milestone, and whose genes are being analysed, said Dr Tom Perls, an aging specialist who directs the project.

“They’re really our best bet for finding the elusive Holy Grail of our field – which are these longevity-enabling genes,” he said.

On Friday, a birthday party for Mrs Parker was held at her nursing home in Shelbyville, Indiana.

A smiling Mrs Parker looked on as relatives and guests released 115 balloons into the sky to celebrate her milestone.

Longevity genes hold key to ageing

image

Washington: A new discovery holds out the prospect of keeping old age at bay by targeting “longevity” genes.

Scientists have identified 25 genes that regulate lifespan in two organisms separated by 1.5 billion years of evolution.

They believe at least 15 are likely to have similar versions in humans. Affecting their activity could provide a way to slow down the ageing process and treat age-related conditions.

Dr Brian Kennedy, one of the researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle, US, said: “Now that we know what many of these genes actually are, we have potential targets to go after in humans.

“We hope that in the future we could affect those targets and improve not just lifespan, but also the ‘health span’ or the period of a person’s life when they can be healthy and not suffer from age-related illnesses.”

The two organisms studied by the scientists were yeast and the tiny roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans.

Both are commonly used laboratory tools. The researchers say finding genes that are conserved between them is important because they are so far apart on the evolutionary scale. Yeast and C. elegans are even more widely separated than C. elegans and humans.

Similar types of genes are known to exist in humans. Taken together, the evidence suggests that longevity genes are likely to influence human lifespan as well.

Several of the genes shown to be involved in ageing are also linked to a key nutrient pathway called the Target of Rapamycin, or TOR.

Calorie intake and nutrient response are believed to affect lifespan through TOR activity. Previous studies have shown that drastically restricting the diets of animals ranging from worms to monkeys can prolong lifespan and prevent age-related diseases.

Never mind the Botox – try a face workout!

image

NEVER MIND THE BOTOX – try a face workout!
By Dean Hodgkin

‘Keep young and beautiful, if you want to be lovedÂ’, the old song goes, but thatÂ’s easier said than done when gravity and time take their toll. But you don’t have to resign yourself to the belief that thereÂ’s nothing that can be done about it.

Well, the good news is you can do something and the ideal time is right now. DonÂ’t kid yourself into thinking your porcelain features will last, youÂ’re simply in what the experts call the incubation period, whereby ultra-violet radiation, environmental pollutants and dietary toxins are beginning to silently take their toll but are yet to reveal the cumulative effects. However, before you rush off to buy expensive lotions, let your face become a pin-cushion or call Sharon Osbourne for a recommendation, sit tight, the answer is a lot closer to home. You could say itÂ’s right under your nose (although all around it is a better description).

ItÂ’s somewhat ironic to think that some of us spend time conditioning our tums and bums yet do nothing for the risorious (actions a smile), the zygomaticus (opens/closes the eyes) or the procerus (effects a frown) even though these are the ones on show all the time!?!

So get ready to iron out your frown lines, tone up your turtle neck and lift the jowls with our selection of cheek tricks.

Guidelines:

– Sit in front of a mirror to check technique. Remember, these muscles are untrained so you will need to practice each technique.

– Shoulders and neck need to be relaxed so do a little mobility work and perhaps stretch these areas before your workout.

– Ease into each movement and hold for 6-8 seconds, then slowly release.

– Repeat each exercise 5 times.

– Take a deep breath in between each repetition.

Exercises:

1. Beat the Double Chin

Keep back teeth together, extend chin forwards.
Lift bottom lip over top lip.
Press tip of your tongue against roof of your mouth.

2. Lose the Lip Lines

Thumbs under top lip, thumb nails resting against your gums.
Contract upper lip muscles in small movements to press thumbs.

3. Rock Your Jawline

Head up, chin forward, upper lip gripped between lower teeth.
Feel stretch in front of neck.
Slowly smile without losing grip of top lip.

4. The Eyes Have It

Place index fingers under eyebrows, thumbs on side of head.
Push eyebrows up and hold by pressing against eye socket bone.
Gently close the eyes.

5. For your Eyes Only

Place palms on forehead to fix eyebrows in place.
Gradually open eyes as wide as possible.
Release and look down, as low as you can.

FACE FACTS

– Regular exercise, such as brisk walking, will help to maintain good circulation, which can be seen in your face.

– Sun sensibly by ensuring you always wear block during the summer months.

– Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day to keep your skin hydrated.

– Observe government guidelines for alcohol consumption and note that red wine contains antioxidants so should be preferred to other tipples

– According to market research company Zogby International only 6% of men would like a woman to use Botox rather than have natural wrinkles.

About Dean Hodgkin

A truly international fitness ambassador, having appeared at hundreds of events in 35 countries, Dean collected the Best International Fitness Presenter and Career Achievement awards at the glittering ‘One Body One WorldÂ’ ceremony, in Times Square, New York. He is renowned for offering an incredibly wide range of themed masterclasses and workshops, from mind-body through to dance through to many forms of conditioning……….and even juggling! As an established writer, his articles have been published in The Times, Sunday Times, Daily Express, FHM, MenÂ’s Health, GQ, Esquire, Zest, Health & Fitness, Slimming and WomenÂ’s Health. Dean has a number of broadcast credits to his name, including fitness expert on the Terry Wogan show, a regular slot on Saga Radio and presenting corporate dvds. He has acted as a consultant to Whitbread, Marks & Spencer, Reebok, RAC, David Lloyd Leisure, Norwich Union Healthcare and NIKE. Former 3-times world karate champion, he is now Senior Manager at leading spa, Ragdale Hall.

For information on weight loss visit DeanÂ’s unique website
www.why-weight.co.uk
to download fun workouts, delicious recipes and motivational tips designed to fit around your lifestyle.

Over 50s taking sex risks, says Saga survey

image

London: The over-50s may be retiring from the boardroom, but they are not giving up on the bedroom, reveals a new Saga survey today.

According to the Saga/Populus survey of nearly 8000 people over 50, two thirds of those surveyed said they were sexually active (65 per cent), with almost half of those (46 per cent) saying they got between the sheets at least once a week.

Sex is less pressurised after 50 according to a large majority (85 per cent), and seven out of ten find sex a more fulfilling experience than in younger years.

The survey also dispelled a widely touted myth, with three quarters (76 per cent) saying that sex does not become more boring as you get older.
However, respondents said they had sex less often than in younger years, with 84 per cent having sex less often in their 50s than in their 20s or 30s. A minority (16 per cent) also admitted using performance enhancing drugs such as Viagra to help things along.

Worryingly, over one in ten (12 per cent) sexually active over-50s do not use contraception with their current partner to avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs), while also not knowing about their partnerÂ’s sexual history. Recent research has shown increasing cases of STIs in older age groups*.

These findings came as part of a wider survey into the health of the nationÂ’s over-50s, with other notable findings below:

· 38 per cent of those 65 and over exercise every day, compared to just 29 per cent of 50-54 year olds

· 76 per cent try to eat their ‘five a day’ of fruit and vegetables’

· Problems at work were likely to be the greatest cause of stress followed by relationships, but

· a quarter (24 per cent) would keep any feelings of stress, anxiety or depression to themselves rather than tell their family or seek medical advice

Emma Soames, Saga Magazine editor, said: “These findings shatter the myth that once you hit fifty your sex life is over – there is less pressure than when people were younger and it is likely that you feel more comfortable about your body.

“Forget about the ‘dirty thirties’ or the ‘naughty forties’. The frisky 50s are having the most fun by swapping the boardroom for the bedroom.

“However, while a healthy sex life is a good thing, the over-50s must be wise to their sexual health, as well as their overall health.”

Over 50s are able to contribute to this issue on the social networking site Saga Zone, and receive sexual health advice from SagaÂ’s health webpages at www.saga.co.uk/health

Life expectancy in China continues to grow

image

Bejing: Chinese people are living healthier and longer lives as medical and sanitary conditions in the country have greatly improved, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Health.

Residents’ average life expectancy, a key measurement of economic development and health care levels, increased to 73 years in 2005 from 71.4 years in 2000.

In addition, the infant mortality rate decreased to 1.53 percent in 2007 from 2.55 percent in 2003. Last year, 36.6 people per 100,000 women died during pregnancy or childbirth, compared to 51.3 women per 100,000 in 2003.

According to the report, the improvement in Chinese people’s health conditions was attributed to increased spending on medical care and enhanced medical services provided across the country in the past five years.

In 2007, China was estimated to have spent 1.05 trillion yuan (US$144.43 billion) in healthcare, accounting for 4.82 percent of the gross domestic product, with the per capita medical expenditure standing at 781 yuan.

The government is shouldering more of the medical expenditure in the past five years. Government spending, as a proportion of the country’s total medical expenses, increased by one percent from 2003 to 2006, while residents’ spending dropped 6.5 percent in the same period.

As a result of increased investment in medical care, people are able to enjoy better medical services. By the end of last year, a total of 315,000 medical institutions were established, 24,000 more than that in 2003. The number of medical practitioners, including assistant practitioners, rose to 1.56 per 1,000 people in 2007 from 1.48 per 1,000 in 2003. The number of registered nurses per 1,000 people climbed to 1.12 from one nurse during the same period.

The report adds China has made much effort to improve the public health and medical system in the past five years, covering maternity and childcare, disease prevention and medical insurance in both urban and rural areas.

More 100 year olds than ever before

image

London: The number of people living past 100 in England and Wales reached almost 9,000 last year for the first time, figures show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of centenarians had increased ninety-fold since 1911 when there were only 100 in the country, according to estimates.

The rise is being attributed to dramatic improvements in healthcare and housing conditions over the past century which have have led to people living longer.

While the number of women surviving past the landmark birthday still far outnumber men, the gap has narrowed slightly in recent years, the figures show.

The ONS calculates that there were seven women over 100 for every man in the same age group last year, compared with a ratio of eight to one four years before.

The figures, calculated from mortality rates and other factors, estimate that there were 8,970 people over the age of 100 in England and Wales last year – up from 8,340 in 2005.

The rate at which the number of people in the 100-plus age group has grown has quickened in recent years.

The 7.5% rise last year compares with an average rate of 5.8% for most of the current decade.

The ONS said that before 1940, the average annual increase was 1.9%.

While that rate picked up to 6.4% after the Second World War, it later slowed between 1981 and 2001 – partly as a result of the effects of the First World War and the 1918 flu pandemic on the population.

Scientists verify Vitamin A as wrinkle-buster

New York: A new scientific study has shown it may be possible to reverse skin wrinkling.

The research, published in the Archives of Dermatology, suggests that topical application of retinol, a form of vitamin A, could make older people less prone to skin ulcerations and poor healing of wounds.

Three dozen white people — average age, 87 — had a skin moisturizer laced with retinol applied to one of their inner arms a couple of times a week for six months; a placebo was applied to the other arm. Neither the researcher who rubbed on the lotions nor the participants knew what was being applied.

By the end of the testing period, fine wrinkling — which was assessed on a scale from zero, for none, to 9, for severe — declined considerably on the retinol-treated skin, from an average of 7.25 to 5.61.

The researchers speculated that the retinol increased the production of collagen, which helps make skin elastic, and of glycosaminoglycan, which retains water.

Most of the 36 participants experienced some redness or itchiness where the retinol had been applied, though only three found these reactions severe enough to withdraw from the study.

Retinoic acid, a different form of vitamin A, is used to treat acne and sunlight-damaged skin. Sold under Retin-A and other brands, it is unsuitable for geriatric patients, the researchers noted, because of the irritation it often causes.

Eleven of the seniors who received follow-up exams found the benefits of the drug to be transitory: Six months after the study, the researchers found no significant differences between the retinol-treated skin and the placebo-treated skin.

Four of the authors of the study,are working on patents for treating ageing skin. The National Institutes of Health partially funded the research.

Can humble carrot turn back the clock for ageing men?

London: Ageing men should start munching carrots if they want to attract the opposite sex and turn back the clock.

According to new research by scientists at the universities of Glasgow and Exeter animals use the pigments in carrots to make themselves more colourful to attract mates.

Although many ageing men try to brighten themselves up by buying loud shirts, brightly coloured sports cars and motorbikes, and generally trying to make themselves more ‘interesting’.

Invariably, this fails miserably every time. So perhaps it’s worth taking a trip to your local green grocers to buy half a hundredweight of gnarled root vegetables?

Wrinkles see the light – and disappear – new light rejuvenation from Ellipse

image

London:Wrinkles see the light and disappear with EllipseÂ’s new rejuvenation treatment

A new wrinkle busting treatment using light rejuvenation to increase collagen making skin look young and supple has been launched by the experts at Ellipse.

This new intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment has been shown to improve lines and wrinkles in less than a month. It is a non-invasive two step procedure that consists of applying a spray which contains an advanced liposome, which converts the active ingredient into a pigment called (protoporphyrin IX 2) helping to absorb the light and aiding deeper penetration. This triggers a chemical reaction that is in effect a miniature explosion that damages the skin cell, triggering a cellular repair response. This process improves the skins elasticity resulting in a noticeable 300% collagen production.

Michael Dodd, Managing Director at Ellipse explains: “What is exciting about this new extension of the product in to anti-aging is that it will add another exciting chapter to EllipseÂ’s comprehensive menu of treatments with the likes of ‘Skin textureÂ’ and Photo Rejuvnenation already under its belt. With Wrinkle Reduction we can now provide customers with a one-stop-shop, non-invasive solution to better skin management.”

With the Ellipse IPL Wrinkle Reduction application, people will see lasting results for up to 12 months depending on the individual. In clinical studies it has been found that collagen production peaks at three months. A course of three treatments with three week intervals is recommended by the scientists behind the Ellipse technology but visible results can be seen after just one treatment.

Wrinkle Reduction gradually takes place from one up to twelve months when collagen stimulation is triggered offering the building blocks to smoother, youthful skin. Clinically proven by leading dermatologists Ellipse’s Wrinkle Reduction treatment will offer people either a non-invasive preventative measure or a solution to anti-ageing. Dubbed as the new “lunchtime beauty-fix” it shows significant improvement in wrinkles minus the pain or visible redness associated with comparable alternatives. Find our more at www.wrinkle-reduction.org

Growing elderly population will result in care shortage, warn Swiss researchers

London: The growing ageing population means that there will be a shortage of people to care for them, according to new research published in the British Medical Journal.

Many people fear that population ageing will generate a demand for long term care that will outpace the supply of formal care. So to anticipate the future long term care needs of the oldest people, researchers in Switzerland suggest introducing the “oldest old support ratio.”

Their ratio is based on four age groups – the young, those of working age, younger retired people (aged 50-74), and the oldest people (aged 85 and over) – and provides information on the number of people potentially available to care for one person aged 85 or over.

Based on current trends, they estimate that the young retired generation will have to play a greater caring role in the future.

They illustrate this by using trends in Switzerland and the United States. For example in Switzerland, the oldest old support ratio has fallen from 139.7 in 1890 to 13.4 in 2003 and the same trend applies in the US. These ratios are expected to decrease to 3.5 in Switzerland and 4.1 in the United States by 2050.

These forecasts highlight the large fall in the potential pool of informal carers, say the authors. And they warn that failure to anticipate the consequences of these expected trends today will be a mistake that will be heavily paid for tomorrow.

The use of this new ratio should help make governments realise the implications of the substantial intergenerational changes that are occurring and aid policy makers to formulate adequate policies, they conclude.

“We need to face up to the huge cost of care in both the formal and informal sector,” add experts in an accompanying editorial.

In England it is estimated that 8.5 million people provided informal care in 2000, 3.4 million of whom cared for people over 65 years. Informal care is often unseen and unmeasured and usually falls to families, but as the retirement age increases and families become increasingly fragmented, we do not know if they will be around to help, or indeed, will be willing to help. And with the crisis in pensions, there will be less money for people to buy additional care.

“First world countries have swapped infant mortality and childhood illness for the burden of care of the elderly,” they write. “Caring for the oldest old is the price of affluence.”

World’s oldest person dies at 114

Hartford: The world’s oldest person, Emma Faust Tillman, has died in the US aged 114.

Mrs Tillman, the daughter of former slaves, died “peacefully” on Sunday night, said an official at a nursing home in Hartford, Connecticut.

Mrs Tillman had lived independently until she was 110 and had never smoked or drank, her family and friends said.

She only became the world’s oldest person last week, after the death of a 115-year-old man in Puerto Rico, the Guinness Book of World Records said.

“She was a wonderful woman,” said Karen Chadderton, administrator of Riverside health and Rehabilitation Center in Hartford.

Mrs Tillman had been very religious and had always attributed her longevity to God’s will, according to her family and friends.

She was born on 22 November 1892 on a plantation near Gibsonville in North Carolina.

In an interview with a local historical society in 1994, Mrs Tillman said her parents had been slaves.

Longevity appears to be common in Mrs Tillman’s family – three of her sisters and a brother lived past 100.

Japan’s Yone Minagawa, who was born in 1893, is now believed to be the world’s oldest person.

Britons in denial about growing old

London: Britons are refusing to face the reality of old age and are leaving the UK at the mercy of a caring time bomb.

When it comes to thinking about their care needs, Britons are putting their heads in the sand, with a half (49 percent) of people claiming not to be worried about who will look after them when they are old. While four out of ten (42 percent) are prepared to sit back saying they are too young to care about what will happen to them in older life.

And according to BUPA’s annual Health of the Nation survey, almost one in ten (9 percent) of over-65s are still refusing to believe they should think about their care needs.

The nation’s failure to grasp the true impact of old age and the care required does not stop there. Nearly a third (30 percent) believe they will be able to look after themselves, one in four (27 percent) think their partners should shoulder the burden, while 26 percent expect it to be the responsibility of their children. Just 20 percent say they will look to the state.

A recent survey of 19,000 people living in BUPA Care Homes has shown that most residents, have problems with mobility, suffer from incontinence and are confused and forgetful. The survey also revealed that nine out of ten residents had a medical reason for seeking specialist nursing care and that the average age of a resident in a BUPA care home is 83 years old.

The Health of the Nation research underlines the need for greater awareness of the risks of ageing, only a third (33 percent) of the population have admitted to worrying about getting old and have considered whether they may need to go into a care home.

Money is a major concern of those growing old. Half said they worry about using all their savings for care in their old age. However, four out of ten (44 percent) of people say they would rather be cared for in a residential home than be a burden on their family

Dr Clive Bowman, medical director of BUPA Care Services said:

“It is deeply worrying to see people taking an attitude of ‘it won’t happen to me’ as it encourages a reluctance to face reality. Few people realise that one person in five over the age of 80 develops dementia.

“Ageing well is a success story. Planning for ageing badly is increasingly a necessity. If people think now about how they would wish to be cared for – should the need arise – they will be better prepared for later life.”

To receive BUPA’s free ‘Planning for your needs in later life’ guide or a copy of the ‘Choosing a care home’ checklist, please call 0800 00 10 10 (free from the UK).

Discrimination against older workers grows in UK

London: Britain has the second highest number of unemployed older people in Europe, according to a recent report from the main trade union body.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) which carried out the report also demands that UK companies must ditch sterotypes of older people.

In the report the TUC reveals that more than a million job hunters in the UK in their 50s and 60s are being forced on to state aid because businesses believe they are past their prime.

According to the survey, many businesses simply refuse to hire older workers or
pay to train middle-aged staff.

Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s deputy general secretary, said: ‘ Companies need to
ditch stereotypes of 50 and 60-somethings and capitalise on the value of
experienced staff by offering retraining and flexible working.’

Euopean Union rules aimed at ending age discrimination at work will come into force in October giving those who want to keep on working beyond 65 the right to ask to stay on. But companies can turn them down without giving a reason.

By 2046, the Government wants the state pension age – currently 60 for women and 65 for men – to have gone up to 68 for everybody. But the TUC says any savings will be swallowed up by state handouts to the unemployed

Britain has one of the highest rate of older people who want to work but cannot
find a job, says the report Ready Willing and Able. Only Austria has a greater percentage among the main European economies.

Quality of life can improve in old age, say researchers

London: Increasing age does not necessarily cause a reduction in the quality of life, and in some cases, can even improve it.

Research published online this month in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, describes how researchers looked at indicators of the quality of life, and found that in England it is above average between the ages of 50 and 84, and in some cases increases compared with earlier years.

The researchers from Imperial College London, Karolinska Instituet, Stockholm and City University, London studied the effect of health factors such as long standing illness, social factors like trusting relationships and socio-economic factors on the quality of life.

Dr Gopal Netuveli from Imperial College London, and lead researcher, said: “Although many worry that old age and retirement could be a time of hardship, this study shows that for many their quality of life actually improves as they get older. In particular, social engagement such as volunteering can significantly improve quality of life, even in very old age.”

The researchers found that factors such as a long standing illness, difficulties in moving about and carrying on with every day activities, depression or financial difficulties can all reduce the quality of life.

Factors such as trusting relationships with friends and family, frequent contact with friends and living in a good, safe neighbourhood were all found to increase the quality of life.

The team looked at data from 12,234 individuals aged 50 or over living in 2002 from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

Professor David Blane, from Imperial College London and senior researcher, said: “An increasingly ageing population has raised the possibility of a ‘long and morbid winter’ for many old people, and a potential problem for national economies with more people to support than there are people to work.

“However this study indicates that many of the problems associated with old age may be compressed to the last few years and people are able to lead a fulfilling life after retirement.”

World’s oldest woman found in Chechnya

At 124 years old Zabina Khakimova has been declared the world’s oldest person – and she still does the housework.

Zabina puts her longevity down to hard work, simple food and clean mountain air. Perhaps it also helps that she prays five times a day.

Whatever the secret, Zabani Khakimova was yesterday declared to be the world’s oldest living person at 124.

According to authorities in her native Chechnya, she remains in good health and continues to do housework and even a little babysitting for her huge extended family.

Mrs Khakimova, who lives in the Achkoi-Martan district of the mountainous and war-ravaged Russian republic, has 24 grandchildren, 38 greatgrandchildren and seven great-great grandchildren.

The claim the Chechens are making for her age would make her nine years older than the oldest person cited by the Guinness Book of Records, Kamato Kongo, from Japan, who is 115. She would even exceed the age reached by Jeanne Calment, the oldest ever person to be authenticated by the book’s researchers, who died in France in 1997 aged 122.

Assuming the claim is genuine, Mrs Khakimova has witnessed a century and a quarter of war, famine and revolution. She has lived under three Tsars and was 38 by the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917.

Since then she has seen her country convulsed by more than 70 years of Communism followed by a decade of civil war. She endured the mass deportation of her people to Kazakhstan in Central Asia in 1942 after the Chechens were accused by Stalin of collaboration with invading Nazi troops.

Thousands had died of hunger and disease before they were allowed to return after Stalin’s death, by which time Mrs Khakimova had lost her husband and eight of her ten children.

More recently she has witnessed the appalling devastation that followed Chechnya’s declaration of independence in 1992 and the Russian invasion that followed. Thousands of people died in the ensuing fighting.

Her home town witnessed the terrors of war with separatist troops planting mines and shooting at Russian soldiers, who in turn are accused of mistreating civilians as they hunted down guerikas.! Doctors who have examined Mrs Khakimova say she is in good health considering her age. Her only complaint has been a problem with her hearing over the pastcouple of years.

Her memory is not what it once was, course, and while insisting that she was indeed born in 1879, the Chechens have failed to pin down an actual date of birth.

Her youngest son, Mokhdan, is still alive and has ten children of his own. Another son, Akhdan, died just two years ago but is survived by his 14 children.

Mrs Khakimova’s life is said to have revolved around raising her children and growing vegetables for food.

These days, as well as working around the house, she looks after her great! grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, and never misses her prayer sessions.

The claim for her age was made by the Chechen deputy health minister Sultan Alimkhadzhiyev to a Russian news agency.
j
It would put her way ahead of Kamati Kongo, who”was born on September 1 1887, on Tokunoshima Island, Japan and who took the title aged 114 year and 183 days on the death of American Maude Farris-Luse in March 2002.

Mrs Farris-Luse had credited intake of boiled dandelion greens a fried fish for her longevity.

Last night a spokesman for the Guinness Book of Records said the Chech claim had not yet reached them.

“But if they can send us a birth certificate, medical records or witness sta ments backing up the claim we will investigate it,’ she added.

If official doubts were to be cast Mrs Khakimova’s age, it would not the first time in recent years that Russian longevity proclamations have be discredited.

In January 2001 the southern Russin republic of Dagestan reported that tl world’s oldest man, 134-year-old Gayirkhan Iriskhanov, lived in a local village. Then a Russian census December last year found that a Siberian woman, Pelageya Zakurdayeva, was born on June 6, 1886, making her the longest-living person in the world at 111.