Divorced? Widowed? Over 50? You’re not alone. The number of mature men who are “Suddenly Solo,” by choice or not, has grown remarkably in the past few years. No matter what the underlying circumstances, many Suddenly Solos find themselves searching for real-life coping skills as they enter into this new (and yes, exciting!) single phase of their lives. Suddenly Solo has real-world answers to questions about dating, housekeeping, finances, sex (by the way, there are more single women out there then there are single men!) and so many other issues that will likely be on your mind. Told in a light-hearted way (but backed by extensive, original research), Suddenly Solo is a welcome traveling companion for the mature divorced or widowed man as they transition into their new world.
By Christine S. Moyer, Three in four adults 65 and older say they would tell their primary care physicians about feelings of anxiety or depression. But doctors don’t always provide appropriate care to older patients with those conditions, says a survey of more than 1,300 seniors issued Dec. 13 by the John A. Hartford Foundation.
Appropriate, evidence-based care for anxiety and depression includes educating patients about their condition, engaging them in medical care and following up to ensure they’re responding properly to treatment, said Christopher Langston, PhD. He is program director at the foundation, which works to improve the well-being of seniors.
“Depression is one of the most common and burdensome issues in older individuals,” Langston said. It’s unfortunate “that so many older people are still receiving mental health care that does not measure up.”
Forty-six percent of older adults who received mental health treatment said their primary care physician didn’t follow up after prescribing treatment. Thirty-eight percent reported not being told about possible treatment side effects of any medications, and 34% received no information on what to do if they felt worse.
Contributing to the problem is that physicians have limited time to attend to mounting demands, said Indiana internist Christopher Callahan, MD. Another challenge for doctors is that seniors often have multiple health problems and various medications that need to be addressed and adjusted during an office visit, he said.
Primary care physicians “are feeling a little burdened by the magnitude of their responsibility for a whole range of conditions, and sometimes it’s hard to get the [physician’s] attention for this very serious condition,” said Dr. Callahan, director of the Indiana University Center for Aging Research.
He encourages doctors to pay the same kind of attention to mental health problems as they do to chronic diseases such as diabetes. And he recommends that physicians involve older patients in decisions about their health.
“There has been a notion in geriatrics that older adults are less demanding of their care than baby boomers” and that they prefer to leave health care decisions to the physician, Dr. Callahan said. “Those days are fading fast.”
Researchers conducted a survey between Nov. 16 and Nov. 26 on a nationally representative sample of 1,318 adults 65 and older. Survey questions focused on participants’ attitudes toward and experiences with mental health issues.
Researchers found that 20% of respondents had been diagnosed with a mental health problem at some time. Of those individuals, 14% were told they had depression, and 11% were diagnosed with anxiety (jhartfound.org/file/MjQ2/Hartford_MH_Poll_Memo_FINAL_121211%20%282%29.pdf).
More than one in four incorrectly believed that depression is a natural part of aging, and 56% didn’t know that depression doubles the risk of developing dementia.
Among the encouraging findings is that most older adults seem comfortable talking about depression and anxiety, Dr. Callahan said. Two decades ago, that wasn’t the case, he added.
“This survey shows us that older adults are asking for help, and it shows that a lot of primary care physicians and other doctors are initiating treatment,” Dr. Callahan said.
But those who live alone not at increased risk, study shows Feeling lonely, as distinct from being/living alone, is linked to an increased risk of developing dementia in later life, indicates research published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. Various factors are known to be linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, including older age, underlying medical conditions, genes, impaired cognition, and depression, say the authors.
But the potential impacts of loneliness and social isolation – defined as living alone, not having a partner/spouse, and having few friends and social interactions – have not been studied to any great extent, they say. This is potentially important, given the ageing population and the increasing number of single households, they suggest. They therefore tracked the long term health and wellbeing of more than 2000 people with no signs of dementia and living independently for three years. All the participants were taking part in the Amsterdam Study of the Elderly (AMSTEL), which is looking at the risk factors for depression, dementia, and higher than expected death rates among the elderly.
At the end of this period, the mental health and wellbeing of all participants was assessed using a series of validated tests. They were also quizzed about their physical health, their ability to carry out routine daily tasks, and specifically asked if they felt lonely. Finally, they were formally tested for signs of dementia.
At the start of the monitoring period, around half (46%; 1002) the participants were living alone and half were single or no longer married. Around three out of four said they had no social support. Around one in five (just under 20%; 433) said they felt lonely.
Among those who lived alone, around one in 10 (9.3%) had developed dementia after three years compared with one in 20 (5.6%) of those who lived with others. Among those who had never married or were no longer married, similar proportions developed dementia and remained free of the condition. But among those without social support, one in 20 had developed dementia compared with around one in 10 (11.4%) of those who did have this to fall back on. And when it came to those who said they felt lonely, more than twice as many of them had developed dementia after three years compared with those who did not feel this way (13.4% compared with 5.7%).
Further analysis showed that those who lived alone or who were no longer married were between 70% and 80% more likely to develop dementia than those who lived with others or who were married. And those who said they felt lonely were more than 2.5 times as likely to develop the disease. And this applied equally to both sexes. When other influential factors were taken into account, those who said they were lonely were still 64% more likely to develop the disease, while other aspects of social isolation had no impact. “These results suggest that feelings of loneliness independently contribute to the risk of dementia in later life,” write the authors.
“Interestingly, the fact that ‘feeling lonely’ rather than ‘being alone’ was associated with dementia onset suggests that it is not the objective situation, but, rather, the perceived absence of social attachments that increases the risk of cognitive decline,” they add. They suggest that loneliness may affect cognition and memory as a result of loss of regular use, or that loneliness could itself be a sign of emerging dementia, and either be a behavioural reaction to impaired cognition or a marker of undetected cellular changes in the brain.
— With a new app, seniors can rate the “age-friendliness” of restaurants, libraries, crosswalks, shopping centers, and public transit—and share their ratings with others.
“It empowers older adults to evaluate what’s senior-friendly and what’s not,” says one of the app’s creators, Alex Mihailidis, an associate professor of occupational science and occupational therapy at the University of Toronto.
Users rate locations on things like general accessibility, availability of seating, lighting levels, staff attitudes, and background music levels. Age-CAP (Age-friendly Communities Assessment ApP) then produces an overall rating, based on the World Health Organization’s age-friendly cities guidelines.
The app uses GPS to pinpoint the user’s location, no matter which city they live in worldwide and is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. People can simply browse the database to see which locations and services in a neighborhood are considered “age-friendly” and why.
“This is a new way for seniors to create a crowd-sourced database of age-friendly locations,” says Mihailidis, who is also a core faculty member of the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Computer Science.
The team hopes the app will promote “active” aging and encourage seniors to get out and about in the community. Social isolation in the elderly can lead to depression and physical problems, such as loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping.
There’s also a safety dimension.
“Already, people are using the app to warn others about dangerous crosswalks, and subway stops that don’t have elevators,” says Mihailidis.
Some of the features users can rate, by indicating agreement or disagreement on a scale of one to five, include:
•Restaurants: “The menu and bill were written in a legible font and size.”
•Community centers: “A senior’s discount is offered on classes and memberships.”
•Libraries: “Advertisements for seniors programming were readily displayed.”
•Crosswalks: “I had enough time to cross at the crosswalk during the allotted time.”
•Shopping centers: “There were areas to sit and rest.”
•Public transit: “There was appropriate shade available during my wait.”
People can also offer general comments, and create new categories for locations or services they wish to rate.
Will seniors embrace the app? Mihailidis points to an upward trend in mobile technology use among seniors, citing statistics that suggest between 30 and 70 percent are using smartphone devices.
As the app’s database grows, it can be used to advocate for improvements that make cities more senior-friendly, says Mihailidis. He hopes businesses, including restaurants, and municipal politicians will take note of the ratings.
The app was developed by researchers at University of Toronto and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute with funding from Toronto Rehab, and is owned by Toronto Rehab-UHN.
written by Kyle. J. Norton
About 5-8% of all people over the age of 65 have some form of dementia, and this number doubles every five years above that age. Dementia is the loss of mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with people’s every life and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia in aging people. American typical diet contains high amount of saturated and trans fat, artificial ingredients with less fruits and vegetable which can lead to dementia and other kind of diseases
I. Causes of Dementia
H. Life Style causes of Dementia
1. Unhealthy diet
Unhealthy lifestyle choices lead to an increasing incidence of obesity, dyslipidemia and hypertension–components of the metabolic syndrome. These disorders can also be linked to AD. Recent research supports the hypothesis that calorie intake, among other non-genetic factors, can influence the risk of clinical dementia.(1)
2. Psychological and Neurological effects
Researchers at the G.J. Patel Ayurved College, showed that Mind and body are inseparable entities and influences each other until death. Many factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, negative thoughts, unhealthy life style, unwholesome diet etc., disturb mental and physical wellbeing. Senile dementia is the mental deterioration, i.e, loss of intellectual ability associated with old age. It causes progressive deterioration of mental faculties, e.g., memory, intellect, attention, thinking, comprehension and personality, with preservation of normal level of consciousness.(2)
3. Excessive alcohol drinking
Moderate alcohol drinking of less than 2 cups for men and 1 cups for women are said to offers possible health benefits(3), but Binge drinking in midlife is associated with an increased risk of dementia, according to the follow-up, 103 participants had developed dementia. Binge drinking (ie, alcohol exceeding the amount of 5 bottles of beer or a bottle of wine on 1 occasion at least monthly), as reported in 1975, was associated with a relative risk of 3.2 (95% confidence interval=1.2-8.6) for dementia. Passing out at least twice as a result of excessive alcohol use during the previous year, as reported in 1981, was associated with a relative risk of 10.5 (2.4-46) for dementia in drinkers.(4)
Smoking is a risk factor for several life-threatening diseases, but its long-term association with dementia is controversial and somewhat understudied.In a studyof a total of 5367 people (25.4%) were diagnosed as having dementia (including 1136 cases of AD and 416 cases of VaD) during a mean follow-up period of 23 years. Results were adjusted for age, sex, education, race, marital status, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, body mass index, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and alcohol use, Dr. Rusanen M, and the team at the University of Eastern Finland, said ” heavy smoking in midlife was associated with a greater than 100% increase in risk of dementia, AD, and VaD more than 2 decades later. These results suggest that the brain is not immune to long-term consequences of heavy smoking”(5).
By Janice Wood The molecular structure of a protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease — and the surprising discovery that it binds cholesterol — could lead to new therapies for the disease, according to new research.
Charles Sanders, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry, and colleagues at Vanderbilt University recently determined the structure of part of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) — the source of amyloid-beta, which characterizes Alzheimer’s disease.
Amyloid-beta clumps together into oligomers that kill neurons, causing dementia and memory loss. The amyloid-beta oligomers eventually form plaques in the brain, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, the researchers note.
“Anything that lowers amyloid-beta production should help prevent, or possibly treat, Alzheimer’s disease,” Sanders said.
Amyloid-beta production requires two “cuts” of the APP protein, he said. The first cut, by the enzyme beta-secretase, generates the C99 protein, which is then cut by gamma-secretase to release amyloid-beta. The Vanderbilt researchers used nuclear magnetic resonance and electron paragmagnetic resonance spectroscopy to determine the structure of C99.
The researchers said they were surprised to discover what appeared to be a “binding” domain in the protein.
Based on previously reported evidence that cholesterol promotes Alzheimer’s disease, they suspected that cholesterol might be the binding partner.
The researchers used a model membrane system called “bicelles” that Sanders developed as a postdoctoral fellow to demonstrate that C99 binds cholesterol.
“It has long been thought that cholesterol somehow promotes Alzheimer’s disease, but the mechanisms haven’t been clear,” Sanders said. “Cholesterol binding to APP and its C99 fragment is probably one of the ways it makes the disease more likely.”
Sanders and his team propose that cholesterol binding moves APP to special regions of the cell membrane called “lipid rafts,” which contain “cliques of molecules that like to hang out together,” he said.
“We think that when APP doesn’t have cholesterol around, it doesn’t care what part of the membrane it’s in,” Sanders said. “But when it binds (to) cholesterol, that drives it to lipid rafts, where these ‘bad’ secretases are waiting to clip it and produce amyloid-beta.”
The findings suggest a new strategy to reduce amyloid-beta production, he said.
“If you could develop a drug that blocks cholesterol from binding to APP, then you would keep the protein from going to lipid rafts,” he said. “Instead it would be cleaved by alpha-secretase — a ‘good’ secretase that isn’t in rafts and doesn’t generate amyloid-beta.”
Drugs that inhibit beta- or gamma-secretase to limit amyloid-beta production have been developed and tested, but they have toxic side effects, the researchers note.
A drug that blocks cholesterol binding to APP may be more effective in reducing amyloid-beta levels and in preventing, or treating, Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers conclude.
by Amy Morin, LCSW Marrying someone whose first spouse passed away is much different than marrying someone who has simply been divorced. It’s important to be aware of your spouse’s needs when entering into a marriage with a widow or widower. Unlike when there’s been a divorce, the first marriage didn’t end because it didn’t work out. Therefore, there are some extra things to take into consideration.
Accept Your Spouse’s Past
Don’t pretend your spouse’s first marriage didn’t exist. You’ll need to embrace your spouse’s previous life. In fact, many people who marry a widow say they feel like their marriage includes the first spouse in some way.
In a divorce, the ex-spouse takes their possessions. When someone is widowed, their first spouse’s belongings are still around. It’s important to recognize that years after someone is widowed, their first spouse’s belongings may still be present.
Recognize the sentimental value in these item. Try to refrain from demanding that they be removed or thrown out. Instead, communicate with your spouse about your needs. For example, if your husband insists of keeping his late wife’s dinner plates and you want to use your own, discuss your options. Perhaps saving the former set for a special occasion or using both sets might be a good compromise. Don’t insist he throw them out or get rid of everything.
Educate Yourself About Grief
Your spouse will grieve even after getting remarried. This isn’t a reflection of not having enough love for you. Instead, it is important to recognize that grief is a process. It is normal to experience grief after the loss of a loved one, even when falling in love with someone else. It is possible to grieve one person and love another simultaneously.
Learn as much as you can about stages of grief and what to expect. Read books about grief. Do some online research. Consider seeing a counselor for yourself if you have questions or concerns.
It is important to know what to expect. For example, although holidays may be a joyous occasion, it may also be hard for your spouse at times. There are also going to be days that you may not be familiar with, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and the anniversary of the death, that may initiate a lot of grief for your spouse. Be patient and ask what you can do to be helpful. Sometimes a spouse may want extra support and at other times, may want extra space.
Give Your Spouse Permission to Talk about Grief
It is important that your spouse be allowed to talk about the grief process and the loss of their first spouse. Your spouse may not feel comfortable bringing this up, so by asking questions sometimes you may be giving your spouse permission to begin talking about it. It may be difficult to hear at times, but know that it can be very helpful to your spouse.
Be Patient with Extended Family
If your spouse has children, they may struggle to accept you. It likely has nothing to do with you. It just may be a difficult part of their grief process.
Be aware that extended family members may struggle to accept you as well. This is especially true of your spouse’s former in-laws. They may have a hard time seeing their son or daughter-in-law in a new marriage.
Fight the Urge to Compete
Remember, that it isn’t a competition. Try not to compare yourself to your spouse’s first husband or wife. Know that you may have to endure hearing stories about how “Jan was the best cook” or “Bill was so funny.” Don’t be offended when you hear these stories. Instead, recognize that it is a good sign that people feel comfortable talking about it and it can be part of the healing process.
It is important to recognize how you may have some similarities but will likely have plenty of differences. It’s unlikely that your spouse was looking for a “clone” of their first spouse. Instead, consider it a compliment that your spouse had such love the first time around that it was worth doing all over again! Know that it’s likely the love and the type of relationship is going to be different and it would be like comparing apples and oranges.
Create New Memories
Don’t be afraid to create new memories with your spouse. If your spouse always vacationed in Europe with his first wife, suggest going to Hawaii instead. Don’t feel pressure to fall into the same old habits. Instead, encourage your spouse to try new things and begin some new adventures together. Create new traditions at holidays and make lots of new memories together.
Communicate About Your Feelings
Be willing to speak up when your feelings are hurt. Discuss how to negotiate certain things that may be bothersome. For example, if you don’t like it when your husband refers to you as his “second wife” or when he often talks about “my first wife” see if you can come up with a plan. Sometimes there are creative yet simple solutions that can solve these problems. If the two of you struggle to talk about these things, consider seeking help from a counselor. A marriage counselor can help you learn how to work together on developing solutions for your marriage.