Aging & Caregiving in the News

Related topics: Health & Wellness, Family

Information, updates and interesting tidbits

In this issue:

  • Video chatting with grandparents is good for kids
  • More seniors are binge drinking
  • Oral health affects more than the mouth

Little girl having screen time with grandparents

Does Video Chatting With the Grandparents Count as "Screen Time"?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting the time that children spend interacting with digital and electronic devices. If you are a grandparent, you've probably been cautioned not to allow the grandchildren to spend hours glued to the TV, playing video games, or other "screen time."

But here's some good news for grandparents. The AAP says that video chatting with relatives is an exception to the rule, and time spent in that way need not be limited. A study that appeared in the International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction found that video chat fosters important relationships and a continuum of familiarity between grandparents and grandchildren—most notably if they live at a distance, but also for those who are just chatting from across town.

So plan to regularly connect with the younger generation in this way. Read a story, look at their latest drawings or watch them practice their piano lesson. The next time you meet in person, it will take much less time for the kids to become reacquainted and comfortable with you.

Study Says More Seniors are Binge Drinking

So appropriate for the season of holiday toasts, a study from New York University School of Medicine reports that more older adults are binge drinking on a regular basis. The researchers estimate that 10% of people 65 and older routinely binge drink—defined as having more than five drinks on one occasion for men, or four for women. Even for seniors who don't have a classic drinking problem—consuming more alcohol every day than advised—overdoing it upon occasion can still take a toll.

"Binge drinking is a risky behavior, particularly for older adults due to aging-related physical changes," warns study author Dr. Benjamin Han. "Binge drinking, even episodically or infrequently, may negatively affect other health conditions by exacerbating disease, interacting with prescribed medications, and complicating disease management." Binge drinking also raises the risk of falls and sends a lot of seniors to the emergency room. If you're still creating your New Year's resolutions, put alcohol moderation at the top of the list!

Expert Calls Oral Health "A Mirror to Your Body"

We routinely encourage children to brush and floss every day—but experts say mouth care is even more important as we grow older! We've long known that missing teeth and inflamed gums can make it hard for seniors to eat well. These problems also contribute to social isolation. And experts now know that this is only the beginning!

University of Connecticut experts say that as many as 64% of older adults have periodontitis—a serious infection that damages the gums and can destroy the bone that supports the teeth. According to study author Dr. Patrick Coll, "Periodontitis is associated with a variety of medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes." Gum disease has been linked to dementia, as well. Chronic oral infection can even spread to artificial joints. Coll and his team recommend that all seniors have their teeth professionally cleaned and examined twice a year. Treatment is available for gum disease; the sooner it's begun, the better.

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2020 IlluminAge