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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Look on the bright side of life

Posted: 25 Jan 2014 02:42 PM PST

LEADING an independent life well into old age and keeping chronic diseases at bay could be as simple as adopting a positive, sprightly attitude and enjoying the smaller things in life.

That's the overarching conclusion of a British study, which found that older adults who reported higher rates of life satisfaction also showed slower declines in difficulty performing daily tasks like getting out of bed, getting dressed, bathing and showering.

Published in the January issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the study followed 3,199 men and women aged 60 years or older in England, over the span of eight years.

"Our results provide further evidence that enjoyment of life is relevant to the future disability and mobility of older people," said study co-author Andrew Steptoe of University College London, England.

"Efforts to enhance well-being at older ages may have benefits to society and healthcare systems."

Filename : shutterstock_11.9b510141715.original.jpg - To go with

A bright outlook on life can help seniors remain physically independent and out of nursing homes, suggests a new study. – AFP Relaxnews

Participants were divided into three age categories and asked to answer life satisfaction questions on a four-point scale, such as "I enjoy the things that I do" and "On balance, I look back on my life with a sense of happiness."

Researchers conducted personal interviews to determine physical impairments for daily activities like getting out of bed, dressing and bathing.

Walking speed was also measured as a barometer of the subject's agility and energy.

Those who reported higher levels of well-being included participants in the 60-69 age bracket, those with a higher socioeconomic status or education level, or those who were married or employed.

Groups who posted lower levels of life enjoyment, meanwhile, were three times more likely than their positive counterparts to develop problems in their daily activities.

A large body of evidence has shown that growing old gracefully can be as simple as reducing sedentary sitting time and increasing physical activity.

Recent research out of Kansas State University, United States, showed that people who make an effort to move more throughout the day can lower their risk of chronic disease after studying a sample of 194,545 men and women ages 45 to 106. – AFP Relaxnews

Music helps elderly remember

Posted: 25 Jan 2014 02:40 PM PST

IT won't cure dementia or Alzheimer's disease, but music can nevertheless help sufferers "wake up" their memories, reveals a moving documentary presented at the Sundance Film Festival.

Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory, the debut feature film by Michael Rossato-Bennett, follows the efforts of one man to convince Americans of the benefits of music on people with dementia or Alzheimer's.

Dan Cohen, founder of the non-profit organisation Memory & Music, arms himself with headphones and music players as he shows – to the surprise of caregivers – how patients locked in silence and lost in the maze of dementia seem to find some memories and feelings when they hear the music they love.

With the cameras watching, many patients begin to talk, smile, sing and even dance, as their families look on, stunned.

"It's not a cure," stressed Rossato-Bennett, whose film went on show at the independent film festival in Utah, United States, recently.

"And there is no way to get (back) these memory cells that have been destroyed."

But he says music has the ability to penetrate into the recesses of the brain less affected by dementia, which affects five million Americans.

Cohen's vision when he founded Memory & Music was a simple one: to bring a better quality of life to the elderly through music.

The fate of the elderly and infirm is one Rossato-Bennett shows an intense passion for.

"We live in a time, in a culture, where we're not really sure how much we care about humanity anymore," he told AFP at Sundance, which runs until Jan 26 in Park City.

"We know we care about industry, progress, commerce. But maybe elders are no longer useful. We're done with them."

He added: "Humanity is at a turning point. With our technology, we're gods. I really think we need to rethink almost everything, and we'll have to, eventually. If we are creating global warming, at some point, we can't ignore it. If we are overfishing our oceans, at some point, we can't ignore it.

"If our elders are not having a human life, at some point, we cannot ignore it. So we will change.

"In 10-15 years in the US, we're gonna need to double the beds in nursing homes if we do it that way. We can't do it. We can barely afford what we have now. Double would literally bankrupt this country. People are gonna have to live at home longer, that's the only solution.

"When you have Alzheimer's or dementia, the world becomes overwhelming, you can't differentiate what's happening outside and inside, you can't do it." – AFP Relaxnews

Sunlight reduces blood pressure risk

Posted: 25 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

SUNLIGHT may help to reduce high blood pressure, a danger factor for heart attacks and stroke, a study published in a specialist journal revealed recently.

British researchers found exposure to sunlight alters the level of nitric oxide (NO) in the skin, dilating blood vessels, and thus, easing hypertension.

"Small amounts of NO are transferred from the skin to the circulation, lowering blood vessel tone," said Dr Martin Feelisch, a professor of experimental medicine at the University of Southampton in southern England.

"As blood pressure drops, so does the risk of heart attack and stroke."

The team analysed 24 volunteers who were exposed to ultraviolet (UVA) light from tanning lamps for two 20-minute sessions.

In one session, the volunteers were exposed to both the UVA rays and the heat of the lamps.

In the second, the UVA rays were blocked, so that only the heat of the lamps affected the skin.

The findings back up data about blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, which are known to vary according to season and latitude.

Higher levels are observed in winter and in countries that are farther from the equator, where ultraviolet from the sun is lower.

"These results are significant to the ongoing debate about potential health benefits of sunlight and the role of vitamin D in this process," Dr Feelisch said in a press release.

"Avoiding excess sunlight exposure is critical to prevent skin cancer, but not being exposed to it at all, out of fear or as a result of a certain lifestyle, could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease."

The investigation appears in the Journal Of Investigative Dermatology. – AFP Relaxnews

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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