Category Archives: Senior Health

Study: You Can Delay Alzheimer’s Disease

by Matilda Charles

 

You can forestall dementia by many years by staying mentally engaged and

challenged, according to a long-term Mayo Clinic study.

 

The study began in 2004 with nearly 2,000 participants ranging in age

from 70 to 89 years old. Most of them had no dementia, and nearly 300 had

mild cognitive impairment. The study focused on the role of the subjects’

previous education, occupation and life enrichment.

 

After a baseline measurement was taken, participants in the study followed

an “intellectual enrichment program” and were periodically re-evaluated

for functioning, memory, cognitive skills and language.

 

Lifelong intellectual enrichment was seen as a protective strategy to

delay cognitive impairment by nearly 9 years. This was true even in

those participants who carry the APOE4 gene, which is a risk factor for

Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Specifically, cognitive impairment was delayed 8.7 years in those with

high lifetime enrichment. Higher education alone brought a five-year

delay. For those who carry the APOE4 gene, even beginning cognitive

activity late in life brought three years of delay. Late beginning for

those without the gene brought seven years of delay.

 

Staying mentally engaged and stretching our brains can even help those of

us who didn’t have higher education or challenging occupations, or who

carry the APOE4 gene.

 

Here are some suggestions: Take a few art classes, or try arts and crafts.

Did you play a musical instrument as a child? Take lessons again. Read.

Dip into authors and topics you haven’t explored before. Play games you

enjoy, and learn new ones. Try video games! Do a crossword puzzle every

day. Sign up for classes at the senior center.

 

While there’s no sure-fire cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s disease,

these studies show ways we can help ourselves.

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Comparing Hospital Infection Rates

by Matilda Charles

 

The Medicare Hospital Compare website now provides information about

hospital safety into two areas that are especially important to seniors:

prevention of Clostridium difficile infections and methicillin-resistant

Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections. It gathered this

information through the National Healthcare Safety Network at the Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

C. diff, as it’s called, can be life-threatening, as it causes severe

diarrhea, which causes dehydration. It can develop after taking a course

of antibiotics or being in a hospital. The spores that cause the illness

can stay on surfaces — bed railings, counters, telephones — for months.

According to the Mayo Clinic, more than a half million people get C. diff

every year, and it’s very difficult to treat. Seniors age 65 and older are

10 times more susceptible to C. diff.

 

MRSA isn’t a walk in the park either. It’s a staph infection that resists

the antibiotics usually used to treat it. The infection can spread all

over the body. It’s usually seen in people who have been in hospitals or

health-care settings, or who have had invasive procedures.

In other words, both of these illnesses are serious and potentially life-threatening.

 

If you have your choice of hospitals for a procedure, don’t you want the

one that’s more likely to keep you safe from infections?

 

Go to the Hospital Compare site (www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare) and

enter your ZIP code. You can click up to three hospitals to compare. Click

Compare Now and then click Readmissions, Complications and Death. Click

Healthcare Associated Infections.

 

The information that’s posted now only covers the first three months of

2013, but check back in April 2014 for updates on the next six months.

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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