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Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: How Perceptions of Aging Affect Our Later Years

“Whether you think you can,
or you think you can’t—you’re right.”

– Henry Ford

Perceptions of aging, or attitudes toward one’s own aging, have important implications for the health and well-being of older adults. Throughout the life span, people encounter many positive and negative stereotypes of older adults and the aging process. Some stereotypes portray common age-related changes, whereas others promote misconceptions about aging. As people grow older, age stereotypes become increasingly self-relevant; these stereotypes are reflected inward and they become incorporated into older adults’ self perceptions of aging.

THE PERCEPTIONS OF AGING LENS

Perceptions of aging can be thought of as a lens that shapes how older adults interpret their daily experiences and establish cause-and-effect explanations for events. For instance, older adulthood can be viewed as a time of continued development and learning (positive perception of aging) or as a time of physical and mental decline (negative perception of aging). Self-perceptions of aging tend to influence thoughts and behaviors without people being consciously aware that this is happening.

Imagine that two older adults, Diane and Nora, slipped on an icy sidewalk and they each sprained an ankle. Throughout her recovery, Diane diligently completed physical therapy, eager to return to full strength and resume her normal daily activities. Her mobility was limited for a while, but Diane took this opportunity to catch up on some books that she wanted to read and she learned new ways to keep in touch with family and friends on her tablet. When Nora fell, she knew that life was just going to get worse from there. Nora didn’t really see the point of the rehabilitation exercises, because she didn’t believe that a full recovery was possible. It was difficult to get around, so Nora started to keep to herself more and she stopped taking her regular walks even after her ankle was healed. Diane made a full recovery, but Nora’s physical health continued to decline because she never returned to the same level of activity. Despite experiencing the same injury, Diane’s and Nora’s perceptions of aging influenced how they responded to the injury and led to a very different chain of events.

OUTCOMES RELATED TO PERCEPTIONS OF AGING

The story above illustrates how self-perceptions of aging can create self fulfilling prophecies leading to long-term consequences for the well-being of older adults. Researchers have found Self-perceptions of aging tend to influence thoughts and behaviors without people being consciously aware that this is happening.

Negative perceptions of aging have harmful consequences for older adults’ bodies, minds, and healthy behaviors, as outlined below:

Longevity. In a 23-year study, older adults who reported more positive self-perceptions of aging lived 7.5 years longer than older adults with more negative self-perceptions of aging . Additional research supports this connection between perceptions of aging and longevity, leading the researchers to conclude that “…those who develop positive perceptions of aging over the life course enter late life with a distinct advantage that may be protective against negative consequences of health change”.

Illness. In a study of 1,286 people (average age of 57 at baseline), participants who indicated that aging is a time of continued learning and development reported decreases (or slower increases) in physical illnesses six years later . In contrast, participants in the same study who believed that aging is a time of physical loss displayed increases in physical illness over six years.

Functional Health. Older adults with more positive perceptions of aging report better future functional health, such as the ability to do household chores and climb stairs, compared to older adults with more negative perceptions of aging. Consistent with these findings, older adults with more negative perceptions of aging displayed greater limitations in activities of daily living (e.g., feeding, bathing) and instrumental activities of daily living (e.g., shopping, managing finances) three years later. None of those participants reported any limitations at the beginning of the study (ages 65 to 70).

Brain Health. Compared to people with more positive views of aging, people who endorsed more negative age stereotypes displayed greater signs of risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease when their brains were examined decades later. The hippocampus, an area of the brain related to memory, decreased in size at a faster rate and there was an increased presence of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

Psychological Well-Being. Older adults with more negative perceptions of aging reported greater increases in depressive symptoms three years later, but high levels of optimism helped protect against this effect. The researchers concluded that positive emotions and optimism may help buffer the harmful effects of negative perceptions of aging. In another study, positive perceptions of aging contributed to better self-reported health and life satisfaction six years later, even for participants who reported a serious health event.

Healthy Behaviors. Older adults with more positive perceptions of aging tend to engage in more preventive health behaviors and physical activity compared to older adults with more negative perceptions of aging. For example, older adults with positive self-perceptions of aging reported engaging in more preventive health behaviors over 20 years. Evidence also links negative perceptions of aging with declines in walking speed two years later. Furthermore, older adults with more positive views of aging reported more frequent walking and sporting activities.

Overall, these findings support the conclusion that perceptions of aging create self-fulfilling prophecies. Older adults who associate aging with ongoing growth and pursuit of meaningful activities are more likely to engage in behaviors and view experiences in adaptive ways. As a result, these beneficial thought and behavior patterns further reinforce older adults’ positive perceptions of aging.

Older adults with positive self-perceptions of aging
reported engaging in more preventive health behaviors
over 20 years.

 

CHANGING PERCEPTIONS OF AGING

Changing perceptions of aging is a challenging issue, because it involves both individual perceptions of aging as well as age stereotypes that are conveyed at societal and cultural levels. Kotter-Grühn (2015) identified several strategies that could be effective at improving perceptions of aging. For example, at a societal level, increasing the presence of older adults in the media and reducing the use of age stereotypes could improve perceptions of aging. In addition, creating more opportunities for intergenerational interactions could help people develop more realistic expectations of aging. Finally, older adults could develop more positive perceptions of aging by learning more about the aging process—correcting misconceptions and increasing awareness of positive age-related changes.

Changing older adults’ expectations related to aging can lead to important behavioral changes. Here are two examples of research studies that increased physical activity in older adults through an intervention designed to improve their perceptions of aging:

  • Example 1. Older adults completed a four-week course designed to change their expectations that people become less active with age. Instructors taught that sedentariness is not a natural part of aging and there are things that the participants can do to control their physical activity levels. Participants also attended an exercise class after each meeting. Three weeks after the last session, participants reported more positive expectations about aging and they also walked approximately 2.5 miles more each week (compared to before the course). In addition, participants reported decreases in limitations to activities of daily living and increases in mental health.
  • Example 2. This study expanded upon a typical physical activity intervention by adding in two behavior change techniques aimed at changing perceptions of aging research-based information on common misconceptions about aging and the connection between positive perceptions of aging and health outcomes; and guidance on how to recognize and counter negative automatic thoughts. Participants who completed this intervention displayed more positive views of aging (e.g., greater satisfaction and optimism related to aging) and increases in physical activity compared to other participants who completed a standard physical activity intervention or who spent time volunteering (the control condition).

If negative perceptions of aging are preventing people from enrolling in programs, positive aging messages may need to be conveyed in recruitment materials or earlier.

CHANGING PERCEPTIONS IN YOUR COMMUNITY

When developing or implementing a program to encourage healthy behaviors, it is important to consider how older adults’ perceptions of aging may influence their thoughts and behaviors. Based on the research described above, here are four recommendations for how to promote more positive perceptions of aging during programs for older adults:

  1.   Identify older adults’ age-related expectations about their ability to complete or benefit from the program. How do the expectations of people with positive perceptions of aging differ from people with more negative views? Keep an eye out for differences in feelings of control and beliefs about the possibility of change.
  2.   Develop communications to counter negative perceptions of aging. Start by focusing on the gap between the positive and negative expectations. Is accurate information needed? Do you need to encourage different patterns of thought? Keep the message targeted to information relevant to the specific healthy behavior that is being promoted.
  3.   Incorporate the message into your program. If negative perceptions of aging are preventing people from enrolling in programs, positive aging messages may need to be conveyed in recruitment materials or earlier.
  4.   Measure the effectiveness of the message. If possible, assess key program outcomes before and after introducing the positive aging messages. Depending on the program, outcomes could include enrollment rates, completion rates, behavior change, attitude change, knowledge attained, and satisfaction levels.

People are often unaware of the extent to which their views of aging shape their expectations and actions. Creating more positive perceptions of aging can motivate people to engage in healthy behaviors. The benefits gained as a result of these healthy behaviors further reinforces positive perceptions of aging and encourages people along the path to wellness.

 

REFERENCES
Kotter-Grühn, D. (2015). Changing negative views of aging:Implications for intervention and translational research.
Annual Review of Gerontology & Geriatrics, 35, 167-186. 
Levy, B. (2009). Stereotype embodiment: A psychosocial approach to aging. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 332-336.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: How Perceptions of Aging Affect Our Later Years Levy, B. R., Ferrucci, L., Zonderman, A. B., Slade, M. D., Troncoso, J., & Resnick, S. M. (2016). A culture–brain link: Negative age stereotypes predict Alzheimer’s Disease biomarkers. Psychology and Aging, 31, 82- 88.
Levy, B. R., & Myers, L. M. (2004). Preventive health behaviors influenced by self-perceptions of aging. Preventive Medicine, 39, 625-629.
Levy, B. R., Slade, M. D., & Kasl, S. V. (2002). Longitudinal benefit of positive self-perceptions of aging on functional health. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 57B, 409-417. Levy, B. R., Slade, M. R., Kunkel, S. R., & Kasl, S. V. (2002).
Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 261-270.
Moser, C., Spagnoli, J., & Santos-Eggimann, B. (2011). Self-perception of aging and vulnerability to adverse outcomes at the age of 65-70 years.
The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 6, 675-680.
Robertson, D. A., Savva, G. M., King-Kallimanis, B. L., & Kenny, R. A. (2015). Negative perceptions of aging and decline in walking speed: A self-fulfilling prophecy. PLoS ONE, 10, e0123260. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123260
Sargent-Cox, K. A., Anstey, K. J., & Luszcz, M. A. (2014). Longitudinal change of self-perceptions of aging and mortality. Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 69, 168-173.
Sarkisian, C. A., Prohaska, T. R., Davis, C., & Weiner, B. (2007). Pilot test of an attribution retraining intervention to raise walking levels in sedentary older adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 55, 1842-1846. Wolff, J. K., Warner, L. M., Ziegelmann, J. P., & Wurm, S. (2014).
What do targeting positive views on ageing add to a physical activity intervention in older adults? Results from a randomised controlled trial.
Psychology & Health, 29, 915-932. Wurm, S., & Benyamini, Y. (2014). Optimism buffers the detrimental effect of negative self-perceptions of ageing on physical and mental health. Psychology & Health, 29, 832-848. Wurm, S., Tesch-Römer, C., & Tomasik, M. J. (2007). Longitudinal findings on aging-related cognitions, control beliefs, and health in later life. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 62B, 156-164.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: How Perceptions of Aging Affect Our Later Years Wurm, S., Tomasik, M. J., & Tesch-Römer, C. (2008). Serious health events and their impact on changes in subjective health and life satisfaction: The role of age and a positive view on aging. European
Journal of Ageing, 5, 117-127. Wurm, S., Tomasik, M. J., & Tesch-Römer, C. (2010). On the importance of a positive view on ageing for physical exercise among middle-aged and older adults: Cross-sectional and longitudinal findings. Psychology and Health, 25, 25-42.

 

By Jennifer L. Smith, PhD, Senior Research Manager    Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging
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10 Secrets to Living a Long, Healthy Life

Super agers are a group of older adults who have cognitive abilities on par with people decades younger than them. From what you should eat to how you should exercise and who you should spend your time with, these are things they’re doing on the regular.

Never smoke

Smoking will trim off up to a dozen years of your life, suggests 2013 research in the New England Journal of Medicine. In fact, if you never smoked, you’re twice as likely as a current smoker to see 80 candles decorate your birthday cake. What’s more, the habit is linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, says research. If you smoke, there’s no better time than now to quit.

Dine on fish and chicken

When Thomas Perls, MD, MPH, the director of the New England Centenarian Study and a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Boston Medical Center works with patients, he tells them to go easy on the beef and pork. Not only is a high intake of red meat linked with cancer, but the saturated fat in the meat may also harm your brain, per 2012 research in the Annals of Neurology. It’s fine if you’d like to eat it on occasion, of course, but limit it to twice a week, he advises. The rest of the week, lean toward fish, poultry, and heaps of veggies.

Lift weights

Rather than focusing on burning calories with cardio equipment, build strength with weights. There are at least a dozen feel-good benefits that kick in when you pick up a dumbbell. But lifting also maintains muscle and bone mass to protect against frailty—and prevent falls—when you get older. It also keeps your mind limber. One randomized-controlled study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that when women having memory problems did twice-weekly weight training for six months, they improved measures of attention and memory compared to those who did balance exercises.

Pal around

It’s not enough to simply exercise, you have to stay active in general. And one of the ways you can get the most out of it is to pick those that you can do with others. Because taking an evening stroll with neighbors offers far more benefits than stretching your legs: “Socialization is cognitively stimulating,” says Dr. Perls. Chatting with friends, challenging each other, and offering support helps your brain lay down new neural networks that keeps your brain young.

Check your eating

It sounds so boring, right? But if you have a healthy weight, you’re already so far ahead. “Obesity is such a potent and important cause of numerous age-related diseases, like adult-onset diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke,” says Dr. Perls. What’s more, obesity has also been linked with dementias and Alzheimer’s disease, as having a greater fat mass is associated with higher blood levels of amyloid proteins, which are linked to cognitive decline.

Play a mind game

There’s a lesson in always learning something new: It doesn’t just keep life exciting, but it keeps you sharp as you age, studies suggest. Try one of these 14 brain challenges—because “use it or lose it” seems to apply to your brain as much as your muscles. A study in 2013 asked one group of older adults to quilt, another learned digital photography, and a third did both activities for 16 hours a week over three months. Those who took up the “cognitively demanding” task of learning digital photography sharpened their memory more so than those who honed their old quilting skills. What have you always wanted to do but thought you weren’t going to be good enough? That’s exactly what will keep your brain young for years to come.

Eat more berries

Berries are one of the cornerstones of the MIND diet, a hybrid between the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet that can keep your brain 7.5 years younger, shows research. Among all the other fruits, they’ve been singled out thanks to past research that showed intakes of blueberries and strawberries were associated with better brain health. The sweet little fruits are rich in anthocyanins, antioxidant plant compounds that preserves neuronal pathways involved in memory and cognition. Aim to eat at least two servings per week. And if you’re looking for new ways to eat berries, try them in a delicious fruit smoothie.

Ease stress

Stress is a given, but know you have a choice to change your circumstances and limit the bad vibes from festering. “Stress that continues for a long time, a condition known as chronic stress, is toxic to your brain – it literally eats away at critical brain regions,” writes neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, in the Guardian. (She’s one of the authors on a new study on super agers published in the Journal of Neuroscience.) Barrett suggests leaving negative things behind. It can be as little as changing jobs or taking relaxing vacations.

Tipple lightly

Do you need these 17 tips to help cut back on alcohol? Consider this: In a study on cognitively healthy 65-year-olds published in PLOS Medicine in 2017, those who reported light or moderate drinking scored higher on a test measuring cognitive functioning compared to teetotalers. The key is light. Another study showed that people who have 14 to 21 drinks per week experienced more shrinkage in the hippocampus, an area of the brain related to memory. What’s more, their research didn’t show that light drinking was protective. Until the research is definitive, stick to the recommended one drink a day for women and two for men.

Keep perspective

It’s all about your attitude, right? It’s easy to brush off health issues as being all about your genes, and something that’s not under your control. But Dr. Perls says the decisions you make every day can have a huge impact on your lifespan. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is about 79 years old, but he says that can be much longer. “I think the vast majority of the reason someone lives to 90 is lifestyle behaviors. That’s a really optimistic view of aging, but it’s possible,” he says. Knowing that your daily choices matter—and can tack on almost a dozen good, sharp years on your life—can help you build on habits that will get you well into your golden years.

BY JESSICA MIGALA
source: www.rd.com


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The Fascinating Way Age Will Improve Your Personality

There are three things that naturally happen to people’s personality with age.

People get nicer as they get older, in contrast to the stereotype of the grumpy senior.

The finding may be a surprise to those that believe people never change.

They do — even if only a little.

The three main changes to personality that occur, on average, with age are that people get:

  • more conscientious,
  • more agreeable,
  • and less neurotic (moody).

The study examined the brain scans of 500 volunteers.

The researchers found that typical changes in brain structure that occur with age were linked to changes in personality.

Dr Roberta Riccelli, the study’s first author, said:

“Our work supports the notion that personality is, to some degree, associated with brain maturation, a developmental process that is strongly influenced by genetic factors.”

aging

These changes in personality suggest a genetic influence, explained Professor Nicola Toschi, a study co-author:

“Of course, we are continually shaped by our experiences and environment, but the fact that we see clear differences in brain structure which are linked with differences in personality traits suggests that there will almost certainly be an element of genetics involved.
This is also in keeping with the notion that differences in personality traits can be detected early on during development, for example in toddlers or infants.”

Dr Luca Passamonti, a study co-author, said:

“Linking how brain structure is related to basic personality traits is a crucial step to improving our understanding of the link between the brain morphology and particular mood, cognitive, or behavioural disorders.
We also need to have a better understanding of the relation between brain structure and function in healthy people to figure out what is different in people with neuropsychiatric disorders.”

The study was published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Riccelli et al., 2016).
 
source: PsyBlog


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Tired? Weak? You’re Not ‘Just Getting Old’; Something is Wrong

When Dr. Christopher Callahan examines older patients, he often hears a similar refrain.

“I’m tired, doctor. It’s hard to get up and about. I’ve been feeling kind of down, but I know I’m getting old and I just have to live with it.”

This fatalistic stance relies on widely-held but mistaken assumptions about what constitutes “normal aging.”

In fact, fatigue, weakness and depression, among several other common concerns, aren’t to-be-expected consequences of growing older, said Callahan, director of the Center for Aging Research at Indiana University’s School of Medicine.

Instead, they’re a signal that something is wrong and a medical evaluation is in order.

“People have a perception, promulgated by our culture, that aging equals decline,” said Dr. Jeanne Wei, a geriatrician who directs the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

“That’s just wrong,” Wei said. Many older adults remain in good health for a long time and “we’re lucky to live in an age when many remedies are available.”

Of course, peoples’ bodies do change as they get on in years. But this is a gradual process. If you suddenly find your thinking is cloudy and your memory unreliable, if you’re overcome by dizziness and your balance is out of whack, if you find yourself tossing and turning at night and running urgently to the bathroom, don’t chalk it up to normal aging.

Go see your physician. The earlier you identify and deal with these problems, the better. Here are four common concerns that should spark attention — only a partial list of issues that can arise:

Fatigue. You have no energy. You’re tired all the time.

Don’t underestimate the impact: Chronically weary older adults are at risk of losing their independence and becoming socially isolated.

Nearly one-third of adults age 51 and older experience fatigue, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. (Other estimates are lower.) There are plenty of potential culprits. Medications for blood pressure, sleep problems, pain and gastrointestinal reflux can induce fatigue, as can infections, conditions such as arthritis, an underactive thyroid, poor nutrition and alcohol use.

All can be addressed, doctors say. Perhaps most important is ensuring that older adults remain physically active and don’t become sedentary.

“If someone comes into my office walking at a snail’s pace and tells me ‘I’m old; I’m just slowing down,’ I’m like no, that isn’t right,” said Dr. Lee Ann Lindquist, a professor of geriatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
“You need to start moving around more, get physical therapy or occupational therapy and push yourself to do just a little bit more every day.”

Woman with photo of elderly woman's eyes on hers'

Woman with photo of elderly woman’s eyes on hers’

 

Appetite loss. You don’t feel like eating and you’ve been losing weight.

This puts you at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies and frailty and raises the prospect of an earlier-than-expected death. Between 15 and 30 percent of older adults are believed to have what’s known as the “anorexia of aging.”

Physical changes associated with aging — notably a reduced sense of vision, taste and smell, which make food attractive — can contribute. So can other conditions: decreased saliva production (a medication-induced problem that affects about one-third of older adults); constipation (affecting up to 40 percent of seniors); depression; social isolation (people don’t like to eat alone); dental problems; illnesses and infections; and medications (which can cause nausea or reduced taste and smell).

If you had a pretty good appetite before and that changed, pay attention, said Dr. Lucy Guerra, director of general internal medicine at the University of South Florida.

Treating dental problems and other conditions, adding spices to food, adjusting medications and sharing meals with others can all make a difference.

Depression. You’re sad, apathetic and irritable for weeks or months at a time.

Depression in later life has profound consequences, compounding the effects of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, leading to disability, affecting cognition and, in extreme cases, resulting in suicide.

A half century ago, it was believed “melancholia” was common in later life and that seniors naturally withdrew from the world as they understood their days were limited, Callahan explained. Now, it’s known this isn’t so. Researchers have shown that older adults tend to be happier than other age groups: only 15 percent have major depression or minor variants.

Late-life depression is typically associated with a serious illness such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis or stroke; deteriorating hearing or vision; and life changes such as retirement or the loss of a spouse. While grief is normal, sadness that doesn’t go away and that’s accompanied by apathy, withdrawal from social activities, disturbed sleep and self-neglect is not, Callahan said.

With treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and anti-depressants, 50 to 80 percent of seniors can expect to recover.

Weakness. You can’t rise easily from a chair, screw the top off a jar, or lift a can from the pantry shelf.

You may have sarcopenia – a notable loss of muscle mass and strength that affects about 10 percent of adults over the age of 60. If untreated, sarcopenia will affect your balance, mobility and stamina and raise the risk of falling, becoming frail and losing independence.

Age-related muscle atrophy, which begins when people reach their 40s and accelerates when they’re in their 70s, is part of the problem. Muscle strength declines even more rapidly — slipping about 15 percent per decade, starting at around age 50.

The solution: exercise, including resistance and strength training exercises and good nutrition, including getting adequate amounts of protein. Other causes of weakness can include inflammation, hormonal changes, infections and problems with the nervous system.

Watch for sudden changes. “If you’re not as strong as you were yesterday, that’s not right,” Wei said. Also, watch for weakness only on one side, especially if it’s accompanied by speech or vision changes.

Taking steps to address weakness doesn’t mean you’ll have the same strength and endurance as when you were in your 20s or 30s. But it may mean doctors catch a serious or preventable problem early on and forestall further decline.

By Judith Graham, Kaiser        Health News       Fri December 16, 2016
 
source: www.cnn.com


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Life is More Enjoyable After Retirement

Enjoyment of everyday activities increases after retirement, a study from Australia has found.

The heightened level of enjoyment lasts at least a year after a retiree stops working full time, researchers report in the journal Age and Ageing.

There is conflicting evidence about changes in enjoyment and happiness when people retire, coauthor Tim Olds of the University of South Australia told Reuters Health by email.

On the one hand, people may lose social connections and their sense of purpose in life when they retire, he said. On the other hand, retirement offers a chance to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.

“We found that you’re likely to be happier when you retire,” he told Reuters Health in an email.

That’s not because retirees spend more time doing things they like and less time doing things they don’t like, Olds noted.

Rather, it could be that retirees get more pleasure from even mundane daily activities “because they have more autonomy and time-flexibility,” Olds said.

The 124 study participants all intended to retire within three to six months. The group was roughly half men and half women, with an average age of 62.

At the start of the study and again three, six and 12 months afterward, Olds and his colleagues asked participants to recall their activities in the last 24 hours. They grouped activities into eight categories: physical activity, social, self-care, sleep, screen time, quiet time, transport, work and chores.

Participants also completed surveys about their health, wellbeing, sleep quality and loneliness.

happiness

Compared to pre-retirement levels, average enjoyment ratings were significantly higher throughout the study.

“Changes were partly due to shifts towards more enjoyable activities . . . but were mainly due to retirees getting more enjoyment out of doing the same activities post-retirement,” the authors found.

Overall, enjoyment ratings were associated with wellbeing and better sleep quality.

Physical activity and social activity had the highest enjoyment ratings while work and chores had the lowest, according to the report.

Still, participants who continued to work part-time after retirement reported that their enjoyment of it increased substantially, the authors noted.

“People have a different experience when working after retirement,” said Kenneth Shultz, a social gerontologist and professor of psychology at California State University in San Bernardino.
“You don’t have to deal with the pressure of a career job, and people tend to not be emotionally invested in it,” said Shultz, who was not part of the study.

For those on the edge of retirement, however, work appears to be an unpleasurable drag, according to Olds and colleagues.

During those last few months before retirement, they write, “enjoyment decreased when the trip to work began, was momentarily elevated during work breaks, and rose again at the end of the working day.”

The study participants, they conclude, “were . . . working for the ‘eternal weekend’ of retirement.”

BY LINDA THRASYBULE
SOURCE: bit.ly/28NKanG      Age and Ageing, online      June 7, 2016         www.reuters.com


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How to stay strong in adulthood? Eat protein often, study says Diet

Graham Slaughter, CTVNews.ca    Published Thursday, April 21, 2016

A new study suggests that adults should eat significantly more protein than national guidelines currently recommend, and that portions should be split evenly throughout the day.

The high-protein diet, outlined in a joint study by the University of Mississippi and researchers at McMaster University, could help stave off muscle and strength loss in aging adults.

Researchers say the sweet spot is 30 grams to 45 grams of protein eaten one to two times per day – but one researcher suggests a person could see benefits with three to five meals at that amount. (For scale, an average chicken breast contains about 25 to 30 grams of protein.)

“That’s a pretty big dose of protein,” said researcher and professor Stuart Phillips, who studies protein and physical activity at McMaster University.

“But the more times people consume that dose, the greater their retention of muscle and the greater their strength that they measured using at least their legs, which is arguably the most important muscle that you want to preserve.”

The findings are based off information from 1,081 Americans between the ages of 50 and 85 collected from 1999 and 2002 by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES.

Researchers zeroed in on the relationships between participants’ leg strength and how much protein they consumed. From that, they found a positive relationship between protein consumed in multiple meals and overall leg lean mass and strength.

‘A big jump’ from the norm

The conclusion may sound obvious – more protein, more strength – but the amount of protein researchers recommend far exceeds today’s national guidelines.

For example, a man weighing 80 kilograms (176 lbs.) requires 64 grams of protein under the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), a common benchmark in the U.S. and Canada. But Phillips suggests that such a person would benefit by boosting that protein intake to between 90 grams and 135 grams across three meals.

That’s more than double the national standard, but Phillips insists the suggestion isn’t “radical.”

“I think that it might shock some people and it’s definitely a big jump from the RDA, but I think that … there’s enough science now that’s beginning to emerge that challenges the adequacy of the RDA for older persons,” he said.

protein
A new study suggests that adults should eat significantly more protein
than national guidelines currently recommend,
and that portions should be split evenly throughout the day.

The study itself did not consider the type of protein consumed, but Phillips says the diet could be followed with either plant- or animal-sourced protein.

And the message isn’t simply that more protein is better, Phillips insists.

“It’s that you should probably distribute it in a balanced fashion. So take some of the protein that you’re eating at dinner and maybe consume a smaller portion there and consume more protein at breakfast and lunch time meals.”

The study did not specify the timing between meals, but Phillips suggested at least three hours.
He also point outs that the research is a step forward, but it’s not the final word on protein.

“This is a hypothesis generator rather than bona fide as fact,” he said.

Works for ‘anybody’

Phillips says the diet could work for “just about anybody,” and it becomes increasingly important for people to eat more protein in their forties and fifties when they may begin to lose muscle mass.
But people who don’t exercise often may experience muscle loss sooner in life and require a high-protein diet earlier.

“If you assume a fairly sedentary lifestyle and you have a fairly sedentary workplace, then you’re going to lose muscle mass at an earlier and probably more rapid rate than somebody else,” Phillips said.

Phillips compared muscle loss to bone mass loss in women going through menopause. Rather than fight the problem when it strikes, Phillips says it’s better to prepare with the appropriate diet.

“It’s definitely preventative. There’s no question,” he said.

Too much protein?

There are a couple “myths” associated with high-protein diets, Phillips says, including an increased likelihood of kidney failure or that it causes bones to “dissolve” by leeching calcium.

“Neither of those have any scientific basis,” says Phillips, whose research pertains particularly to protein. “I don’t see the smoking gun.”

But eating more protein could tip the scale on consumption of other nutrients, like carbohydrates and fiber, so Phillips says it’s important to keep a balanced diet and not “blindly” eat more protein.
Maintaining an active lifestyle is just as important as eating a balanced, protein-rich diet, Phillips says.

“I won’t say that one trumps the other … but I think you can cure a lot of evil from a disease and poor diet standpoint from a lot of good exercise,” he said.

The study will appear in the international journal Clinical Nutrition in the next few weeks.


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7 Nutrients To Help Protect Your Brain From Aging

Flavanols, Fish, Nuts, And Blueberries May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

Apr 21, 2015      By Lecia Bushak

Eating certain nutrients, like cocoa flavonals and magnesium, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, help boost your cognitive function and brainpower.

While genetics and exercise play a large role in your brain health and risk of developing dementia, diet is quite influential, too. There is no magical elixir that can cure or completely prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but scientists have been able to pinpoint certain nutrients that are associated with improved cognitive function or memory. Keeping your diet full of the foods that contain them, then, can help you protect your brain.

Cocoa Flavanols

Cocoa flavanols are found naturally in cocoa and can be beneficial to your brain health; they make dark chocolate healthier than regular chocolate, which has been washed out with milk and sugar. A 2014 study examined the impact of eating a high cocoa flavanol diet over the course of three months. The researchers focused primarily on the dentate gyrus (DG), a part of the hippocampal formation in the brain that, when it declines, is often associated with aging. Scientists believe this part of the brain is linked to memory loss. After eating a lot of cocoa flavanols, the researchers report that the participants experienced “enhanced DG function.”

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, are going to not only help your heart health, but they’ll also give you a boost in brainpower. According to a 2014 study, mice that were given supplements of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid showed improved cognitive function while they aged — showing better object recognition memory, spatial and localized memory, and aversive response retention.

nuts

Nuts

Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids like fish, so adding nuts to your diet in addition to fish will provide you with solid amounts. Walnuts, in particular, have been shown to fight memory loss. In one recent large-scale analysis, researchers found that a diet supplemented with walnuts — which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, folate, antioxidants, and melatonin — improved adults’ performances on a series of six cognitive tests.

Magnesium

Scientists believe that a magnesium deficiency may play a role in cognitive decline, brain aging, and ultimately, dementia. So taking magnesium supplements — or eating foods that contain magnesium, like chard, spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, almonds, black beans, avocados, figs, dark chocolate, or bananas — can help you fight off the effects of the aging brain.

Blueberries

Blueberries are delicious, but they also help in boosting your memory. According to a 2010 study, blueberries were shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They also contain anthocyanins, compounds that are associated with increased neuronal signaling in the brain’s memory areas. In the study, researchers found that participants who drank wild blueberry juice on a daily basis had improvements in paired associate learning and word list recall; they also found lower depressive symptoms and glucose levels.

Cruciferous Vegetables

According to the National Institute on Aging, eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help stave off cognitive decline as well as other chronic diseases, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Green, leafy, cruciferous vegetables in particular (like broccoli and spinach) have been shown to reduce the rate of cognitive decline. The Mediterranean diet, in particular (vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, fish, olive oil, mild amounts of alcohol — as well as low consumption of saturated fats, dairy, meat, and poultry) has shown in studies to be beneficial for cognitive health compared to more “Western” diets that are high in fats, carbs, and meat.

Green Tea

Green tea is good for a lot of things — but it’s also going to help you protect your brain. In a recent study completed at the University of Basel, researchers found that green tea extract enhances your thinking process and working memory. Participants scored higher for working memory tasks after they received the green tea extract, and an MRI showed a boost in connectivity between the parietal and frontal cortex of the brain, meaning that green tea “might increase the short-term synaptic plasticity of the brain,”  said Professor Stefan Borgwardt, an author of the study.