Aging & Caregiving in the News

Related topics: Health & Wellness, Alzheimer's Disease, Brain Health

Information, updates and interesting tidbits from across the country and around the world.

  • Older Americans Month 2017 theme is "Age Out Loud"
  • A crafty way to protect your brain
  • Seniors missing out on the shingles shot

May Is Older Americans Month 2017

Older Americans Month 2017 logo

Since 1963, Older Americans Month has been a time to celebrate older Americans, their stories, and their contributions. Led by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the annual observance offers a special opportunity to learn about, support, and recognize our nation's older citizens. This year's theme, "Age Out Loud," emphasizes the ways older adults are living their lives with boldness, confidence, and passion while serving as an inspiration to people of all ages. This is a great opportunity to focus on how older adults in our communities are redefining aging—through work or family interests, by taking charge of their health and staying independent for as long as possible, and through their community and advocacy efforts. We can also use this opportunity to learn how we can best support and learn from our oldest community members. Visit the official Older Americans Month website for more information. 

Crafting May Be a Crafty Way to Protect the Brain

Senior woman creating a craft project

Many older adults are using "brain game" computer programs to provide the mental stimulation that has been found to promote brain health. A Mayo Clinic doctor recently noted that we don't have to spend our money on these special products to reap the benefits of mentally engaging activities. Dr. Yonas Geda of the Mayo Clinic's Scottsdale, Arizona campus studied a group of seniors over a period of years, and found that those who took part in certain types of leisure-time activities were less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, the slight memory deficits that might progress to Alzheimer's disease or other dementia. As you might have guessed, playing games and using the computer were found to be helpful—but folks who love to make things will be glad to know that Dr. Geda's study, which was published in JAMA Neurology, also says that doing crafts is beneficial in creating connections between various areas of the brain. So, join a quilting club. Sign up for a woodworking class. Take up knitting or crochet. Get into scrapbooking. Your brain will thank you! (Watch Dr. Geda explain the study here.)

Experts: Many Seniors Missing Out on Protection Against Shingles

Senior woman receiving a vaccine shot

Shingles is a painful, and sometimes debilitating, condition that occurs when the virus that causes chickenpox is reactivated in later life. At the least, shingles causes a painful rash, fever and headache that lasts for several weeks—but it can also cause lasting nerve pain called postherpetic neuralgia. The risk of shingles and serious complications increases with age. In 2006, a vaccine was introduced to protect against shingles, and it is recommended for people age 60 and older. But a recent study published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America found that only 28 percent of people in that age range had received the vaccine. Said study author Dr. Hector S. Izurieta of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "The fact that we found relatively high effectiveness against serious outcomes, such as hospitalization and postherpetic neuralgic, and that protection from these outcomes was sustained over time, adds to the considerable evidence that the vaccine is beneficial and that seniors should be encouraged to be vaccinated in higher numbers than what is happening currently." Medicare requires all Part D drug plans to cover the vaccine, but check ahead of time to be sure you've selected a doctor or pharmacy that is in your plan.

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2017 IlluminAge