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Expert Insights

Analysis of trends in senior care, advice for people coping with an aging patent, and health advice for seniors.

Tips for family financial caregivers

Financial caregivingDiscussions around family caregiving often focus on providing assistance with chores and errands, as well as looking after a loved one’s physical and emotional health. But an equally important aspect of family caregiving is financial caregiving.

Many adult children become responsible for their parents’ finances so gradually, they often don’t realize it’s happened. Yet, managing a loved one’s finances can be one of the most stressful aspects of caregiving. Especially as lay fiduciaries, assuming responsibility for another person’s finances and acting in their best interests can be challenging, despite your best intentions.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the American Bar Association offer these tips to financial caregivers:

Childhood music lessons have lasting health effects

Childhood music lessons have lasting health benefitsA new study suggests that your brain may still be reaping benefits from those childhood music lessons you took so many years ago.

The Northwestern University study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, examined adults aged 55 to 76 to determine whether a link exists between limited musical training in childhood and the way the brain responds to sound as we age.

Participants listened to a recorded speech sound while the researchers measured electrical activity in the part of the brain that processes sound. Those participants who took music lessons during childhood had a faster brain response to the speech sound than those who did not. And the more years participants had spent playing an instrument, the faster their brains responded. Participants with four to 14 years of music training had the fastest response times.

The healthy caregiver hypothesis

Many articles on caregiving discuss the stress that caregivers bear, and subsequently offer coping and stress management tips. With this in mind, it is surprising that a recent study, published in The American Journal of Epidemiology, suggests the opposite—caregiving makes people healthier.

David Roth, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, and his team compared 3,500 family caregivers aged 45 and older with non-caregivers of the same age, gender, education level and health. The caregivers studied included spouses and adult children, as well as people caring for other family members.

Six years after the beginning of the study (known as “the healthy caregiver hypothesis”), the researchers found that the non-caregivers had significantly higher mortality rates, much to Roth and his team’s surprise. Compared with non-caregivers, the caregivers had a nine-month increase in life expectancy.

Relax! Stress may increase seniors’ risk for falls

We’ve discussed before that falls pose a serious hazard to the elderly. One-third of all seniors slip and fall every year. These falls may result in a simple bruise or more serious injuries, such as fractures or even disability, compromising a senior’s ability to maintain independence.

One of the reasons seniors are at an increased risk for falls is because balance tends to decline with age. However, according to a new study by researchers at the Veteran’s Administration in Minneapolis, stress may also be a contributing factor.

The researchers studied approximately 5,000 men, aged 65 and older. They asked these participants whether or not they had experienced stressful events, such as:

Can you reverse aging?

Reverse agingWould you believe it if someone told you healthy lifestyle changes could reverse the aging process? According to a recent study, it might be true!

Researchers at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and the University of California, San Francisco, found that adopting a healthy lifestyle can prevent the cell damage brought on by aging—it can even increase the life span of cells.

During the five-year long study, participants made the following lifestyle changes: