Aging & Caregiving in the News

Related topics: Alzheimer's Disease, Eating Right, Heart Health, Memory Fitness

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

In this issue:

  • Why coffee drinkers live longer
  • Could worrying about our memory be a self-fulfilling prophecy?
  • Avoiding a "holiday heart attack"

Another Great Reason to Take a Coffee Break

Senior couple enjoying a cup of coffee

Data show that coffee drinkers seem to live longer. But why? The answer may lie in the effect of caffeine on the inflammation process. According to Stanford professor David Furman, Ph.D., "More than 90 percent of all noncommunicable diseases of aging are associated with chronic inflammation." These diseases include many cancers, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and even depression. Furman said, "It's well-known that caffeine intake is associated with longevity. Many studies have shown this association. We've found a possible reason for why this may be so." Furman and his team performed laboratory studies showing that caffeine lessens the effects of certain dangerous substances that are part of the inflammation process. Said co-author Mark Davis, "That something many people drink — and actually like to drink — might have a direct benefit came as a surprise to us." Read more about the study here.

Could Worrying About Our Memory Harm Our Memory?

Neurologists know quite a bit about risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, such as diabetes, smoking, obesity, and certain genetic factors. Now, a research team from Penn State University is investigating whether simply believing we're having trouble with our memory can lead to real memory loss. According to the research team, led by professor Nikki Hill, "Over 20 percent of older adults suffer from subjective memory impairment, where a person reports having trouble remembering things with no evidence of actual memory loss." These seniors may be especially worried if they have a family history of dementia. This erroneous belief can cause anxiety, depression, and withdrawal from social activities — which, in turn, truly do raise the risk of Alzheimer's disease! Said Hill, "Alzheimer's is a slowly progressing disease; often by the time it is diagnosed, it is already having a substantial impact on a patient's daily life. The hope is that early interventions will help delay or prevent the symptoms that are so devastating to patients and their families." Read more about the research here

An Unwanted Holiday Gift

Holiday ornament with an EKG pattern

Why do heart-related deaths in the U.S. increase around the winter holidays? Could cold weather be the culprit, as some experts have speculated? To better understand the factors involved, researchers from New Zealand examined the data in their own country, and discovered that even though they celebrate those holidays during the warmest months, there is still a slight increase of heart attacks over the holidays. Why? The research, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, speculated that over the holidays, people consume more food and alcohol. Hospitals and medical facilities may be understaffed. People who would ordinarily seek help for troubling symptoms might not do so during the holidays — maybe they're too busy, or perhaps they're visiting relatives out of town, and decide to wait until they get home. The most likely top factor is increased stress. During the holidays we can be so busy, and dealing with family dynamics can certainly raise our stress level. So give yourself a truly valuable holiday gift: Lower your stress, and be alert to signs from your body that something's not right. Visit the American Heart Association website to find more tips for avoiding holiday heart attacks

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2017