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April 17, 2015
by Samantha Jeckewicz

Exercise benefits your brain too!

n-FEMALE-RUNNING-large570There are things people can do to preserve their brain function as they age, a report released Tuesday from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggests.

“Changes in mental functions and capabilities are a part of aging and occur with everyone,” report committee chair Dan Blazer, a professor of psychiatry emeritus at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., said in an IOM news release.

“The extent and nature of these changes vary widely and are gradual, and aging can have both positive and negative effects on cognition [thinking skills]. Wisdom and knowledge can increase with age, while memory and attention can decline,” he said.

But the committee said there are things people can do to promote brain health. These include being physically active, and reducing and managing heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.

It’s also important to have regular discussions with a health care professional about any health conditions and medications that might harm brain function, they added.

Other actions that may help protect an aging  brain include being socially and intellectually active, and always trying to learn new things. Getting enough sleep and seeking help for sleep disorders if necessary can also make a difference, the report found.

People should also carefully evaluate any products – including medications, supplements and training programs – that claim to improve thinking, the committee advised.

There is conflicting evidence about the possible brain benefits of crossword puzzles, joining a book club, playing card games or learning to play a musical instrument, the committee found. And there is little evidence that vitamins and supplements marketed for brain health do any good.

“We are only really beginning to understand how the brain changes with age,” Victor Dzau, president of the IOM, said in the news release. “As the population of older Americans grows, so will the effects of cognitive aging on society. By calling attention to this issue, we can learn more about the risk and protective factors and needed research so older adults can better maintain their cognitive  health to the fullest extent possible.”

The IOM is an independent organization that  provides the U.S. government with expert guidance on health issues.

– Robert Preidt


April 16, 2015
by Samantha Jeckewicz

Senior Health: Routine Medical Tests

senior_eye_testWhat are some of the routine medical tests for seniors?

A wide range of screening and preventive measures are available and recommended for people over the age of 65. These guidelines follow the recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and are based on extensive clinical data.

The following lists some of the important preventive and screening measures for seniors.

  • Influenza vaccination
  • Pneumonia vaccination
  • Vaccination against shingles (60 and older; some doctors recommend starting at age 50)
  • Colon cancer screening for adults between ages 50 and 75 (younger starting age in high risk groups)
  • Breast cancer screening with yearly mammogram for females between 40 and 75 (younger starting age for high risk groups)
  • Prostate cancer screening with annual rectal exam and PSA (prostate sensitive antigen) in males above age 50
  • Osteoporosis screening with bone density scan in women above age of 65
  • Lipid disorder screening yearly for men above 35 and women above 45
  • Diabetes screening in people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, or previous high blood sugar levels with or without symptoms of diabetes
  • Blood pressure screening at least once a year
  • Smoking cessation counseling

Other screening tests may be recommended by doctors are:

  • vision and hearing exams
  • skin cancer screening
  • cardiac stress tests
  • thyroid function tests
  • mental status exam
  • peripheral vascular disease screening

It is worth noting that even though these are general health maintenance guidelines, primary care doctors may draft an individualized plan for each person based on their personal history.

Many of these tests are recommended to be performed periodically. As people get older, the benefits of detecting certain diseases may diminish, obviating the need for further screening. Accordingly, the patient’s primary physician may help guide patients with their decisions regarding recommended health screening tests.

Sometimes the possible risks associated with certain tests may outweigh the potential benefits. Therefore, there are times when the right decision for an individual is to not have further testing for certain conditions.



April 14, 2015
by Samantha Jeckewicz

Many U.S. Shoppers Choose Low-Salt Fare

too_much_salt_360About a third of Americans say they specifically buy foods labeled “low” or “reduced salt or sodium” when they’re grocery shopping, a new study finds.

The results are encouraging, nutrition experts say, because too much salt in the diet can raise heart risks. However, more must be done to educate consumers on smart shopping and eating when it comes to salt.

“Despite what you might think, use of the salt shaker is not the main cause of excess sodium in the diet — in fact, the majority of sodium consumed from the US diet comes from packaged and restaurant foods,” said Danielle Staub, an outpatient clinical dietitian at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“This tells us that we need to be savvy consumers when purchasing food away from the home,” she said.

Another expert agreed.

Consumers “need to understand that they should be trying to keep their intake to roughly 2,000 milligrams [about a teaspoon] daily, and they need to then interpret label information based on number of servings per container, number of servings consumed, etcetera,” said Rebecca Blake, director of clinical nutrition at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York City.

“This can definitely be a daunting process for the average grocery shopper,” said Blake, who was not involved in the new research.

The study was led by Jessica Lee Levings, who’s with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. Her team looked at data from a survey of more than 3,700 adults conducted in 2010.

The study found that more than half of shoppers said they knew how to use the information on food nutrition labels to keep track of salt intake, and that nearly half checked the labels for sodium content to lower the salt in their diet.

About one-third of shoppers said they specifically bought foods labeled low or reduced salt or sodium, the study found. Nutritional Facts Label, Close-up

However, just under one-fifth of shoppers said they were confused trying to figure out how much salt is in the foods they eat, according to the report, published April 9 in the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

“Food manufacturers can meet this demand [for low sodium foods] by producing food items that are lower in sodium and including this information on the front of their packages,” Levings’ team wrote.

Educating consumers will help, too.  When it comes to lowering the amount of salt in people’s diet, “we have more work to do in providing education to school-aged children and teens, older adults, and in minority populations,” said Jill Ashbey-Pejoves, lead clinical dietitian at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y.

She believes that “increased availability of lower sodium foods would be a huge step in the right direction.”

But Blake said food labeling must be clearer, too, and she offered up tips for consumers.

“It is always a good idea for food manufacturers to provide easy-to-understand labeling,” she said. “Consumers must always keep in mind that just because a food is labeled “lower sodium” or “25 percent less sodium” — this does not make it a low-sodium food.”

Blake noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published guidelines for industry that define how salt-oriented terms can be used.  These include:

  • salt/sodium-free: less than 5 milligrams [mg] of sodium per serving,
  • very low sodium:  35 mg of sodium or less per serving,
  • low sodium:  140 mg of sodium or less per serving,
  • reduced sodium: at least 25 percent less sodium than in the original product (keeping in mind the original product may be extremely high in sodium, as in soy sauce and many soups),
  • light in sodium or lightly salted: At least 50 percent less sodium than the regular product (again, keeping in mind this may still leave you with a “high sodium” product, depending on the content of the regular product),
  • no-salt-added or unsalted: no salt is added during processing, but not necessarily sodium-free.

“The bottom line is that consumers need a context for these numbers,” Blake said.

– Robert Preidt


April 9, 2015
by Samantha Jeckewicz

Senior Health: Social Issues

senior_citizens_in_india_lonely_and_resigned_1358494845_540x540How can social issues affect the life and health of seniors?

Social issues can have a significant impact on life and both physical and mental health of seniors. Some of the major contributors to social and psychological problems for seniors are as follows:

  • Loneliness from losing a spouse and friends
  • Inability to independently manage regular activities of living
  • Difficulty coping and accepting physical changes of aging
  • Frustration with ongoing medical problems and increasing number of medications
  • Social isolation as adult children are engaged in their own lives
  • Feeling inadequate from inability to continue to work
  • Boredom from retirement and lack of routine activities
  • Financial stresses from the loss of regular income

These factors can have a negative impact on overall health of an older individual. Addressing these psychosocial problems is an integral component of seniors’ complex medical care.

What are lifestyle changes seniors can make to lead a healthy life as they age?

A balanced diet and participation in regular exercise are paramount in maintaining a healthy life for people of all ages. Routine exercise and healthy diet in seniors can have an even more noticeable impact in their general well-being.

Many diseases in seniors may be prevented or at least slowed down as a result of a healthy lifestyle. Osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressures, diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, depression, and certain cancers are some of the common conditions that can be positively modified in seniors through diet, exercise, and other simple lifestyle changes.

In addition to diet and exercise, other important life style modifications to lead a healthier life in seniors include:

  • Limiting alcohol intake to one drink daily
  • Smoking cessation
  • Using skin moisturizers and sun protection
  • Brushing and flossing teeth once or twice a day
  • Staying proactive in own healthcare and participating in decision making
  • Going to the primary care doctor routinely
  • Reviewing list of medications with their doctor(s) often
  • Following recommended instructions for health screening, preventive tests, and vaccinations
  • Visiting a dentist annually or biannually
  • Following up with eye doctor and foot doctor, especially for people with diabetes
  • Being aware of potential medication side effects anddrug interactions including over-the-counter drugs, herbals, and alternative medicine
  • Adhering to routine sleep schedule and using good sleep hygiene
  • Engaging in routine and scheduled social activities
  • Taking vacations


April 7, 2015
by Samantha Jeckewicz

The top 6 types of activities for seniors to maintain healthy living

seniors_get_social_t670x470There is an old saying: “Youth is wasted on the young and retirement is wasted on the old.” Well, whether you were active in your youth or not, there is no excuse to be inactive as you age into becoming a “senior.” In many ways, age can become as much a battle of your will as it is your body. One of the quality of life factors that can have an impact on the quality of your aging years is what, if any, activities you are doing.

Previously, we pointed out that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. An active lifestyle consisting of hobbies, work, volunteerism, family and friends, culture, and nature is more meaningful and healthy than being a couch potato. One of the keys to people who live long lives is that their life continued to have meaning. Staying engaged in activities and bringing meaning to others will help bring meaning to you. Many people continue to work or take on second careers in later life. Hobbies, volunteer work, learning new skills, or getting more involved with your family are all paths to an active and meaningful life.

Here are six categories of activities ideally suited to promote a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle as we are aging:

1) Physical activities that will keep your body on the move and allow you to engage nature on your own or in the company of others

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Sailing
  • Dancing
  • Exercise

2) Games that will help keep your mind sharp, your competitive juices flowing and you socially engaged

  • Cards
  • Chess
  • Backgammon
  • Cribbage
  • Bingo

3) Technical pursuits that keep your mind engaged, your eye-finger coordination strong and can keep you both socially connected and possibly even making some spare money

  • Wood working
  • Mechanical tinkering
  • Writing
  • Computer skills (and staying connected through email and social media like Facebook)

4) Clubs with a purpose that will keep you socially engaged, mentally stimulated and learning new information or skills

  • Book clubs
  • Movie clubs
  • Investment clubs
  • Scrap-booking (cropping) clubs
  • Gardening clubs
  • Coffee clubs
  • Card and Game clubs

5) Mindful activities that can uplift your spirit, mind and body

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Tai Chi
  • Fly Tying
  • Dating/Romance
  • Religion

6) Lifestyle activities that will enrich your life that you can engage on your own, with your spouse, or with family and friends

  • Travel
  • Cooking
  • Academic Classes
  • Gardening
  • Volunteerism
  • Art
  • Music

Now take the Active Lifestyle Test by circling which activities you are currently pursuing in your life. If you score one or more in at least half of these categories you are fairly active. If you score in more than half of these categories or all of them, congratulations you are very active and it will contribute a great deal towards your continued healthy living.



April 3, 2015
by Samantha Jeckewicz
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Senior Health: Diet

What role does diet play in senior health? healthy-senior-living-diet

A good and healthy diet has numerous potential benefits in the health of  seniors.

Heart disease, vascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, strokes, memory problems, osteoporosis, certain cancers, skin, hair and nail diseases, and visual problems are examples of conditions which can be impacted by diet.

Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water are all essential nutrients that make up most cells and tissues in human body. Thus, these essential components need to be provided in moderation through the diet for maintenance of good health.

A balanced diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fiber is generally recommended to provide these necessary nutrients. Avoidance of saturated fats (animal fat), supplementation with minerals and vitamins, and consumption of plenty of fluids are considered an important component of a healthy diet.

Although the quality of food is important, its quantity should not be overlooked. A large portion of a very healthy diet can still lead to a high caloric intake. Moderate portion sizes to achieve daily caloric goals of 1500 to 2000 are generally advised. Avoiding empty calories are also important. These are foods which lack good nutritional value but are high in calories. Examples include sodas, chips, cookies, donuts, and alcohol.

Special dietary restrictions for certain conditions are also important to follow. Restricted salt and fluid intake for people with heart failure or kidney disease, or carbohydrate controlled diet for people with diabetes are general examples of such guidelines.

Is exercise important in health of the elderly?

Benefits of exercise in disease prevention and progression cannot be overemphasized.

Regular physical activity and exercise can help manage or even prevent a variety of health problems in the elderly.

Heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, certain cancers, depression, and stroke are some the common medical conditions which routine physical activity and effective exercising may greatly benefit the patient.

Some of the numerous health benefits of exercise for seniors include:

  • Weight maintenance and burning excess calories
  • Improving the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol
  • Building up physical endurance
  • Optimizing health of the heart, lung, and vascular system
  • Better delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues
  • Maintaining bone and muscle health
  • Reducing fall risks and arthritis
  • Mood enhancement
  • Better sleep quality and duration

Regular exercise 3-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes is strongly advised for seniors. An effective exercise is one which would increase the heart rate adequately to about 75% of maximum heart rate. A person’s maximum heart rate is roughly calculated by subtracting age from the number 220.

Walking, swimming, and exercise machines are generally safe and can help achieve these goals. Balance exercises, flexibility exercises, and resistance exercises (weight lifting) can also be beneficial.

As a general precaution, if symptoms such as chest pain or tightness, shortness of breath, or fainting or dizziness occur during or after exercising, it is important for the individual to stop the exercise and notify their physician promptly.


March 31, 2015
by Samantha Jeckewicz
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How to Spot Signs of Elder Abuse


Five million Americans are affected by some form of elder abuse each year, according to The Elder Justice Roadmap, a report by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Though the government has focused attention on the issue, abuse of the elderly may be difficult to pinpoint. That’s because its signs could appear to symptoms of dementia or the natural results of frailty that come with age.

In fact, many of the warning signs do overlap with symptoms of mental and physical degeneration. Additionally, seniors may be hesitant to talk openly about abuse, especially if it is coming from a loved one. (Contrary to popular belief, elders are more likely to be abused by their loved ones than by paid workers.)

Keep in mind, elder abuse does not have to be physical. Other categories are sexual, psychological, financial, and abandonment and neglect. Any time a senior is not being treated correctly constitutes elder abuse.

So how do you know when abuse is happening, and what can you do about it?

Recognizing The Signs

Pay attention to the elderly people you know. Be on the lookout for some of these common signs that abuse may be happening:

  • Frequent arguments between caregivers and the patient, whether they are professional caregivers or family members
  • Changes in a senior’s personality or behavior
  • Unexplained injuries such as burns, bruises, welts, cuts or scars
  • Broken bones, dislocations and sprains
  • Failure to take medication or overdose of medication
  • A caregiver’s refusal to let you see the patient alone
  • Appearing disheveled, in torn or soiled clothes or not appropriately dressed for the weather
  • Appearing hungry, malnourished, disoriented or confused
  • Unexplained charges or a suspicious drain of money beyond daily living expenses
  • Unexplained weight loss that could indicate lack of proper nutrition or neglect

It’s important to be an advocate for the elderly people you’re close with. As people age, they become more physically frail and less able to stand up to bullying. Waning sight, memory and hearing can allow seniors to be easily taken advantage of.   The same ailments and conditions that make seniors frail can also create stress for caregivers, who may lash out in frustration.

What To Do

If you do notice something strange, like bruises or uncalled for cautiousness around you, it is important to notify authorities.

If you are the family member of someone you believe is being taken advantage of, don’t hesitate to report it to Adult Protective Services (APS). There are APS agencies all over the country, and each has regulations governing confidentiality. In some states, you can submit a report of abuse anonymously.

In the U.S., more than half a million reports of abuse are recorded each year, but there are many more that never reach authorities.

When reporting abuse, you don’t necessarily need “hard evidence” and in many situations, abuse can be gradual with very subtle changes. The more details you provide to Adult Protective Services the better.

Provide Moral Support, Too

Seniors do have the right to refuse aid unless they are unable to make decisions for themselves. This means that even if you do report signs of abuse, there may be no way to help. Even sadder, some seniors may view an abusive caretaker as better than no caretaker at all.

In situations like these, it is important to stay supportive and tell the senior they have other alternatives.

Even if you don’t think your report will help or the elderly person refuses help, each reported instance provides a catalogue of what is going on. The more information provided, the better the chance you can get through to the senior and get him/her the care they need.

Older people can become very isolated from the rest of the community since they aren’t working or going to school, so no one may recognize the subtle changes that are apparent only through daily contact. It is very easy for abuse to go unnoticed for long periods.

If you have a loved one in an institutional setting like a nursing home, visit regularly so you’re better able to catch any signs of abuse and encourage fair and kind treatment.

Jacob Edward is the founder and manager of Senior Planning, in Phoenix, Ariz., which has helped many Arizona seniors and their families navigate the process of long-term care planning.


March 26, 2015
by Samantha Jeckewicz
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Milk could be good for your brain


New research conducted at the University of Kansas Medical Center has found a correlation between milk consumption and the levels of a naturally-occurring antioxidant called glutathione in the brain in older, healthy adults.

In-Young Choi, Ph.D., an associate professor of neurology at KU Medical Center, and Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., professor and chair of dietetics and nutrition at KU Medical Center, worked together on the project. Their research, which was published in the Feb. 3, 2015 edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests a new way that drinking milk could benefit the body.

“We have long thought of milk as being very important for your bones and very important for your muscles,” Sullivan said. “This study suggests that it could be important for your brain as well.”

Choi’s team asked the 60 participants in the study about their diets in the days leading up to brain scans, which they used to monitor levels of glutathione — a powerful antioxidant — in the brain.

The researchers found that participants who had indicated they had drunk milk recently had higher levels of glutathione in their brains. This is important, the researchers said, because glutathione could help stave off oxidative stress and the resulting damage caused by reactive chemical compounds produced during the normal metabolic process in the brain. Oxidative stress is known to be associated with a number of different diseases and conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and many other conditions, said Dr. Choi.

“You can basically think of this damage like the buildup of rust on your car,” Sullivan said. “If left alone for a long time, the buildup increases and it can cause damaging effects.

Few Americans reach the recommended daily intake of three dairy servings per day, Sullivan said. The new study showed that the closer older adults came to those servings, the higher their levels of glutathione were.

“If we can find a way to fight this by instituting lifestyle changes including diet and exercise, it could have major implications for brain health,” Choi said.

An editorial in the same edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition said the study presented “a provocative new benefit of the consumption of milk in older individuals,” and served as a starting point for further study of the issue.

“Antioxidants are a built-in defense system for our body to fight against this damage, and the levels of antioxidants in our brain can be regulated by various factors such as diseases and lifestyle choices,” Choi said.

For the study, researchers used high-tech brain scanning equipment housed at KU Medical Center’s Hoglund Brain Imaging Center. “Our equipment enables us to understand complex processes occurring that are related to health and disease,” Choi said. “The advanced magnetic resonance technology allowed us to be in a unique position to get the best pictures of what was going on in the brain.”

A randomized, controlled trial that seeks to determine the precise effect of milk consumption on the brain is still needed and is a logical next step to this study, the researchers said.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Kansas Medical Center. The original article was written by Andy Hyland. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

March 25, 2015
by Samantha Jeckewicz
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Aging and ADHD

older_man_60-s_tsADHD isn’t just for kids. Here’s what it’s like later in life.

ADHD doesn’t just affect kids or young adults. If you’re an older adult who often feels distracted and disorganized and struggles to complete tasks, it may be worth finding out if you’ve been living with undiagnosed ADHD.

“I have patients in their 50s, 60s, and early 70s who were never diagnosed before and were prompted to consider ADHD after their child or grandchild got diagnosed. It’s highly genetic,” says David W. Goodman, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Center of Maryland in Lutherville, Md.

Your doctor will need to take a careful history to find out whether you have ADHD or if your symptoms might be due, for example, to a psychiatric condition such as depression or anxiety.

But if you receive the correct diagnosis and pursue therapy for ADHD, you can manage your symptoms better at any age. “Effective treatment will significantly improve your daily functioning and productivity, which enhances your quality of life,” Goodman tells WebMD.

Here’s what you need to know about seeking treatment for ADHD later in life.

Is It ADHD, Aging, or Something Else?

Certain medical problems, drug side effects, and even changes related to aging, can mimic the symptoms of ADHD.

Some women feel distracted or forgetful, for instance, during perimenopause or menopause. If menopause-related hormonal changes are the cause of those symptoms, they tend to improve over time.

People with a history of stroke or with hyperthyroidism due to Graves’ disease or another condition, or who are taking thyroid medication, may also have trouble paying attention.

And a number of medications — such as some of those used to treat high blood pressure, pain, or sleep problems — may cause side effects like memory and concentration problems.

Many psychiatric diagnoses can also mimic the symptoms of ADHD.  It’s important to discuss any potential issues with anxiety and depression, or any symptoms, like insomnia, with your doctor.

Though forgetfulness is a potential symptom of ADHD, it can also be a normal part of the aging process — or a sign of a more serious disorder like mild cognitive impairment or dementia. If your memory problems started occurring relatively recently — for instance, within the last couple of years — then they’re less likely to be due to ADHD.

In fact, ADHD always begins in childhood. So if you have ADHD as an older adult, “the symptoms would have been lifelong and persistent over the course of your life,” Goodman says. In addition to forgetfulness, those symptoms can include being easily distracted, disorganized, fidgety, restless, impulsive, and having trouble focusing, prioritizing, and completing tasks.

When to See a Doctor

“Talk with your primary care doctor if you suspect you may have ADHD and the symptoms are affecting your quality of life,” says Paul Y. Takahashi, MD, a geriatrician and associate professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn. Your primary care doctor may be able to evaluate you for ADHD or may refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist for additional testing.

As part of your evaluation, you’ll be asked questions about your symptoms, whether they started in childhood, and how they’re impacting your current life. Your doctor will investigate whether your symptoms could be due to something other than ADHD. He or she may do neuropsychological tests and a CT scan or MRI to check for signs of cognitive decline, says Lenard Adler, MD, professor of psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry and director of the Adult ADHD program at the New York University School of Medicine.


If possible, ask your spouse, adult child, or even your parent (if they’re able) to go with you to your evaluation. “It’s important to have someone who can help provide additional observations about the symptoms and impairments that have occurred over a long period of time,” Goodman says.

depression-elderlyConsidering Treatments

Once you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, your doctor may recommend medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Medications such as Adderall XR, Concerta, Quillivant XR, Focalin XR, Strattera, and Vyvanse are commonly used to treat ADHD in adults. Side effects of these drugs can include insomnia, jitteriness, decreased appetite, and weight loss. In addition, these medications can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to go up slightly.

Takahashi suggests weighing the potential benefits and risks of medication with your doctor. “The side effects from ADHD medications can be worse for older adults if they already have, for example, high blood pressure, heart disease, or problems with sleeping,” he says. Also, be sure to let your doctor know if you are taking medications for other conditions, as they could interact with ADHD drugs.

A number of different types of psychotherapy are useful for treating ADHD in adults. Adler says cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, can be quite helpful when used alone or in conjunction with medication. This type of therapy focuses on changing negative thought patterns, solving problems, and developing skills to handle challenges.

Living Better With ADHD

In addition to exploring treatment options with a doctor, the following strategies can help older adults with ADHD manage their daily lives better:

  • Keep a daily schedule: Write out a schedule each day with tasks and appointments allocated to specific times and follow through with it. Also, break big tasks or goals into smaller steps. “People with ADHD tend to get more easily overwhelmed and to avoid things that require sustained mental effort,” Goodman says. “But if you break a task down and get it done over the course of several days, it’s easier.”
  • Put technology to work for you: Use the alarm on your cell phone or watch, for example, to help you remember deadlines and appointments. Smartphones can be equipped with applications to manage and synch your schedule, organize tasks, even remind you to take your medication.
  • Automate tasks so you have fewer things to remember: Goodman suggests signing up, for example, for automatic prescription refills or setting up automatic bill payments so you don’t have to keep track of when bills are due or risk running up late fees.
  • Reach out for support: “I strongly encourage people to share their diagnosis of ADHD with their friends and family if they feel comfortable,” Takahashi says. “We all need support to keep us moving forward.” There are also a number of national and local organizations and resources that provide support.

March 23, 2015
by Samantha Jeckewicz
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New MIND diet may significantly protect against Alzheimer’s disease


A new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, even if the diet is not meticulously followed, according to a paper published online for subscribers in March in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Rush nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, PhD, and colleagues developed the “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay” (MIND) diet. The study shows that the MIND diet lowered the risk of AD by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.

“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for AD,” said Morris, a Rush professor, assistant provost for Community Research, and director of Nutrition and Nutritional Epidemiology. “I think that will motivate people.”

Morris and her colleagues developed the MIND diet based on information that has accrued from years’ worth of past research about what foods and nutrients have good, and bad, effects on the functioning of the brain over time. This is the first study to relate the MIND diet to Alzheimer’s disease.

“I was so very pleased to see the outcome we got from the new diet,” she said.

The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, both of which have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, like hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Some researchers have found that the two older diets provide protection against dementia as well.

In the latest study, the MIND diet was compared with the two other diets. People with high adherence to the DASH and Mediterranean diets also had reductions in AD — 39 percent with the DASH diet and 54 percent with the Mediterranean diet — but got negligible benefits from moderate adherence to either of the two other diets.

The MIND diet is also easier to follow than, say, the Mediterranean diet, which calls for daily consumption of fish and 3-4 daily servings of each of fruits and vegetables, Morris said.

The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups” — green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine — and five unhealthy groups that comprise red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

With the MIND diet, a person who eats at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine — snacks most days on nuts, has beans every other day or so, eats poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week and benefits. However, he or she must limits intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three), to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of AD, according to the study.

Berries are the only fruit specifically to make the MIND diet. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” Morris said, and strawberries have also performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.

The MIND diet was not an intervention in this study, however; researchers looked at what people were already eating. Participants earned points if they ate brain-healthy foods frequently and avoided unhealthy foods. The one exception was that participants got one point if they said olive oil was the primary oil used in their homes.

The study enlisted volunteers already participating in the ongoing Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP), which began in 1997 among residents of Chicago-area retirement communities and senior public housing complexes. An optional “food frequency questionnaire” was added from 2004 to February 2013, and the MIND diet study looked at results for 923 volunteers. A total of 144 cases of AD developed in this cohort.

AD, which takes a devastating toll on cognitive function, is not unlike heart disease in that there appear to be “many factors that play into who gets the disease,” including behavioral, environmental and genetic components, Dr. Morris said.

“With late-onset AD, with that older group of people, genetic risk factors are a small piece of the picture,” she said. Past studies have yielded evidence that suggests that what we eat may play a significant role in determining who gets AD and who doesn’t, Morris said.

When the researchers in the new study left out of the analyses those participants who changed their diets somewhere along the line — say, on a doctor’s orders after a stroke — they found that “the association became stronger between the MIND diet and [favorable] outcomes” in terms of AD, Morris said. “That probably means that people who eat this diet consistently over the years get the best protection.”

In other words, it looks like the longer a person eats the MIND diet, the less risk that person will have of developing AD, Morris said. As is the case with many health-related habits, including physical exercise, she said, “You’ll be healthier if you’ve been doing the right thing for a long time.”

Morris said, “We devised a diet and it worked in this Chicago study. The results need to be confirmed by other investigators in different populations and also through randomized trials.” That is the best way to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the MIND diet and reductions in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, she said.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging. All the researchers on this study were from Rush except for Frank M. Sacks MD, professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Department of Nutrition, at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Sacks chaired the committee that developed the DASH diet.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rush University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Martha Clare Morris, Christy C. Tangney, Yamin Wang, Frank M. Sacks, David A. Bennett, Neelum T. Aggarwal. MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.jalz.2014.11.009