Aging & Caregiving in the News

Related topics: Alzheimer's Disease, Safety, Senior Lifestyles

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

In this issue:

  • Senior safety on the bus
  • Understanding the results of Alzheimer's tests
  • Can yoga lower the risk of falls?

Senior Safety on the Bus

Senior man on the bus

Vision problems, arthritis, slower reflexes and other changes of aging make many older adults unsafe behind the wheel. Yet transportation is vital for keeping them independent and active in the community, able to access the support services they need. Many seniors take advantage of public transportation, such as the bus or subway. But others hesitate, concerned about safety and the risk of falling while boarding or riding. To help public transit agencies and senior service organizations serve the needs of older passengers, the National Center on Senior Transportation recently partnered with several other organizations to create the Falls Prevention Awareness in Public Transportation. The guide includes tips for senior passengers: take your time, look for priority seating, use handrails, watch out for packages in the aisle, and don't be afraid to ask the driver for help.

You're At Higher Risk of Alzheimer's — Now What?

Today, sophisticated brain imaging can detect certain changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease. One of these is an elevated level of beta amyloid protein plaques, substances in the brain which researchers can see with a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. University of Pennsylvania professor Dr. Jason Karlawish surveyed a group of seniors who had been told they had this risk factor, and found that doctors need to do a better job of explaining the results. According to the study results, "For many of these seniors, being told that their amyloid levels were 'elevated' on brain scans led to frustration and a desire for more detailed information." Some seniors thought they had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, even though most elderly people have some degree of amyloid plaque, and it doesn't necessarily lead to the symptoms of Alzheimer's. Says Dr. Karlawish, who is co-director of the Penn Memory Center, "In the future, learning this kind of information will be a normal part of going to the doctor, like finding out you have a high cholesterol level. The challenge is to anticipate what it will be like for seniors to learn this and to develop effective strategies to help them cope with problems that may result, such as being stigmatized socially or losing their usual sense of well-being." Learn more about the study here.

New Study Confirms Yoga Is a Good Balance Exercise

Yoga is often recommended as part of a balance training program. Is it effective? In November 2017, researchers from University of Wisconsin–Madison conducted a study of a group of participants whose average age was 70, to see if improved balance from yoga training could reduce their risk of falls. Twice a week for eight weeks, the participants took a class in hatha yoga, a practice originating in India which features a series of poses that can be performed on the floor or standing. The researchers found that the number of falls among the group of seniors dropped 48 percent over the six months after they'd completed the classes. Reported Anne Bachner, a member of the study's community advisory board, "Yoga makes you have a strong core, so when moving around in your daily life, you are not just flapping around. You are stable, in control." Read more about the study here.

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2018