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Health Matters

A roundup of relevant news about health, fitness and care for seniors.

Back to school: The benefits of lifelong learning

Lifelong learningMany kids are getting ready to head back to the classroom, but there’s no reason they should be the only ones. The desire to learn does not fade with age, and in fact, pursuing lifelong learning opportunities helps promote healthy aging. 

Many studies have shown that keeping the brain active helps us maintain our reasoning skills and the ability to quickly process information. Other researchers have found that stimulating the brain even has the potential to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, helping many individuals maintain their memories and independence longer.

Smartphones promote seniors’ health

smartphone apps for seniorsIncreasingly, smartphones are being used to promote health and wellbeing, particularly among aging adults. Currently, there are more than 40,000 health-related apps available through the Apple iPhone alone. These apps have helped many seniors better understand, monitor and improve their overall health.

“Pharmacy” apps can help seniors and their caregivers manage their medications. The forthcoming GetMyRx app, for example, allows users to conveniently have their prescriptions delivered to their home. They simply scan a prescription into their smartphone and they’ll receive their order within a few hours. The app helps address issues of unfulfilled prescriptions and a common tendency to put off visits to the pharmacy, where the average wait time is 45 minutes.

Dance improves seniors’ health

National Dance DayDid you know that July 26 marks National Dance Day? Initiated in 2010 by the Dizzy Feet Foundation, National Dance Day is celebrated the last Saturday of July to encourage Americans to embrace dance as a fun way to maintain good health.   

Travel promotes healthy aging

Travel and healthy agingNow that we’re in the thick of summer, many people have vacations on their mind. Recent studies suggest that vacations are more than simply relaxing and fun – they can even improve your health. Now that’s some good news!

The Global Coalition on Aging surveyed adults’ perspectives on travel. More than 70 percent said vacations are mentally stimulating, 75 percent said they help improve stress levels and even physical health, and a whopping 86 percent reported boosts in mood and overall happiness as a result of travel.

Perhaps the most obvious explanation for the powerful impact of travel is that it’s relaxing by nature – as such, it helps reduce our stress and subsequently, reduce stress hormones that speed up the aging process.

Boost heart health for brain health

Heart and brain healthRecently, the American Heart Association released “Life’s Simple 7,” an assessment tool measuring cardiovascular health.

As the name suggests, the assessment tool zeros in on seven areas of our lives – usually behaviors linked with heart health. The test asks questions related to your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, smoking status, body mass index, physical activity and diet. Sample questions include the level of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and sodium consumed per day, as well as the level of moderate and vigorous exercise you engage in per week.

If you score high on the assessment – congratulations! Your cardiovascular health is in tip-top shape. As an added bonus, you’re also less likely to develop cognitive impairment later in life. 

 
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