Healthy Aging For Dummies book cover

Healthy Aging For Dummies

By: Sharon Perkins Published: 01-10-2008

Look to this book for advice, techniques, and strategies to help people stay vigorous and healthy as they grow older.

People are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about managing their health as they age. Healthy Aging For Dummies explains how people can embark on a healthy lifestyle that will enable them to feel young, both mentally and physically, even as they’re getting older. It covers tips and advice on choosing the ideal physician; starting an exercise program; learning to meditate; taking the right vitamins and herbs; dealing with or preventing heart disease, cancer, and dementia; replacing negative thinking with positive thinking; and building memory and learning skills.

Articles From Healthy Aging For Dummies

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10 results
Healthy Aging For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-27-2016

It’s never too late (or too early) to start taking care of yourself. Cut out unhealthy practices and include nutritious foods in your diet. Add a few supplements to ward off disease and keep your body running well. Review some formulas to figure out your optimum weight and to know now how many calories you should burn to live a longer life.

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Looking at Bone Degeneration and Loss

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Both men and women start having age-related bone loss at about age 50, but bone loss can be accelerated in individuals who didn't develop maximum peak bone mass. There are two levels of bone loss that can occur and are associated with an increased risk for fractures: Osteopenia: Osteopenia, which is loss of bone mineral density (BMD), is the warning siren that the bones are thinning. This phase begins when existing bone breaks down faster than the body can replace it. Preventing transition into osteoporosis takes the combination of exercise, calcium, and possibly some medications prescribed by your doctor. Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis — Latin for porous bone — takes years to develop as bones slowly lose minerals, density, and structure, which makes them weaker. If left untreated, osteoporosis can lead to stooped posture, loss of height, and broken bones. The good news is that not everyone ends up with osteoporosis and there are tests to determine how dense your bones are. The news may not be that bad if you've made lifestyle choices that help and not hinder bone strength. Making good choices still can't guarantee that you won't develop osteoporosis, but it significantly helps your odds. After you've been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you still have options to maintain bone density, but prevention is your best bet for preserving bone. All bones aren't created equal. Women's bones are smaller and less dense than men's, and women are four times more likely than men to suffer from osteoporosis. This is because men in their 50s don't experience the rapid loss of bone mass that women do in the years following menopause. By age 65 or 70, however, men and women are losing bone mass at the same rate, and the absorption of calcium decreases in both sexes. Excessive bone loss causes bone to become fragile and more likely to fracture.

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How Nutritional Needs Change As You Age

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

As you age, changes occur in your body that can affect your nutritional needs. The aging process affects the body's absorption of many nutrients. For example, you're less able to absorb nutrients such as calcium. This change occurs because as you age your stomach secretes less hydrochloric acid, which may reduce the amount of calcium absorbed. Your body also excretes, or eliminates, more nutrients. For example, hormonal changes may result in more calcium being excreted through the kidneys. So with these examples in mind, you need to take in more nutrients to absorb the same amount, or you may become deficient in that vitamin or mineral. As you age, focus on increasing the levels of the following nutrients: Calcium: Hormonal changes may decrease calcium absorption as it increases loss of calcium through the kidneys. In addition, you may become lactose intolerant (lose some of your ability to digest lactose, the sugar in milk). Because of this condition, some people decrease their intake of dairy products, which are good sources of calcium. But you still need to get the calcium from somewhere. Most people don't eat enough dairy products or veggies to get adequate calcium from their diet and should consider supplementation. The amount of calcium can vary with age or medical conditions, but in general adults should have about 1,000 mg a day, and if you're over the age of 50 increase the dose to 1,200 mg daily. Iron: Iron is necessary to carry oxygen to your cells, but it's difficult to get all you need because most foods contain only a little iron. The best source of iron is in red meat, but you can also get iron from poultry, fish, whole grain or enriched breads and cereals, dry beans, and some fruits and vegetables. Women over age 50 should get 50 mg of iron a day where as men only need 10 mg. Vitamin C helps you absorb more iron from foods, so be sure you include foods with vitamin C (such as citrus fruits, greens, and tomatoes) in the same meal as foods with iron. Taking too many iron supplements can be lethal. Talk to your doctor before taking iron supplements. A less common, but very serious problem, more often found in men, is caused by excessive absorption and storage of iron. This condition is known as haemochromatosis. Over time, iron builds up in body tissues and because the normal body can't increase iron excretion, the absorbed iron accumulates in the body. This excess iron can damage organs like the liver and heart, and may contribute to heart disease.

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Preventing Age-Related Memory Loss

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The brain changes that come with age are inevitable — but they don't have to slow you down or trip you up. There are some medical, natural, and nutritional ways to increase and balance neurotransmitters (natural chemical substances that transmit nerve impulses) when they do get out of balance. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any medications, supplements, or beginning any other therapies for treating any perceived neurotransmitter deficiencies. Check out these ways of staying alert and preventing memory loss: Exercising your mind: Similar to the way your body needs physical activity, your mind needs to be exercised, too. Mental stimulation and exercises can actually protect against cognitive losses. Here are a few ways that you can challenge yourself: • Play a musical instrument. • Do crossword puzzles or other challenging board games. • Socialize with family and friends. • Start a new hobby. • Stay interested and up to date on current events. Staying physically active: Regular exercise can improve blood flow to the brain. Exercise increases your metabolism and energy levels, which can help improve your attention span. Eating brain foods: Neurotransmitter health requires the same balanced diet as the rest of your body — protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Three neurotransmitters are especially important to keep your brain functioning well: • Acetylcholine: Foods rich in this chemical include egg yolks, peanuts, wheat germ, liver, meat, fish, milk, cheese, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. • Dopamine: These foods include all proteins, such as meat, milk products, fish, beans, nuts, and soy products. • Serotonin: Serotonin-rich foods are carbohydrate-based, such as pasta, starchy vegetables, potatoes, cereals, and breads. What else can you ingest to make that brain of yours healthy? Here are some tips: • Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Many of these foods contain antioxidants — substances that protect and nourish brain cells. Antioxidants may help prevent cholesterol from damaging the lining of your arteries and slowing blood flow to your brain. • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and other cold- water fish. Eating fish at least once each week seems to protect against the cognitive decline associated with aging. • Drink plenty of water. The brain is comprised of more water than any other organ in the body, at about 90 percent. A good guideline is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. If you drink coffee or alcohol, you have to add those ounces onto the total. • Eat smaller, more frequent meals to increase your mental alertness. By eating smaller meals, there are less variations in the blood flow to the digestive tract and also more balance in blood sugars. Drinking alcohol only in moderation: People who drink heavily for years are at a higher risk of developing memory problems and dementia. Stopping smoking: Smoking is associated with dementia and one Dutch study found that smokers had twice the risk of developing Alzheimer's compared to those who never smoked. Managing your stress: Stress can cause the release of enzymes and hormones that can affect judgment and memory. Getting enough rest: New evidence suggests that a regular pattern of eight hours of sleep per night helps protect you against age-related memory loss.

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Recognizing the Threat of Oral Cancer

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Oral cancer is the 6th most common cancer in men and 14th in women with more than 30,000 new cases occurring each year. Many types of cancer are frequently publicized in the news, increasing people's awareness of their risk factors and symptoms, but oral cancer doesn't get much press. What's most disconcerting is that the number of new cases and the death rate from oral cancer is up 11 percent from 2006. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 75 percent of the cases of oral cancer are associated with smoked and smokeless tobacco use. If oral cancer isn't diagnosed and treated in its early stages, it can spread, leading to chronic pain, loss of function, irreparable facial and oral disfigurement following surgery, and even death. If found early, oral cancer has a promising survival rate, but a lack of dental care and the vagueness of the symptoms can lead to delay in diagnosis. Many people discover oral cancer only when it has metastasized to another location, most likely the lymph nodes of the neck and beyond, at which point the prognosis is poor. Risk factors for oral cancer Unlike some cancers, oral cancer doesn't have a large list of related risk factors. We can sum up the majority of the risk of oral cancer with two words and neither should be of any surprise — tobacco and alcohol. The good news is you have the choice to remove these major risks and the bad news is too many seldom do. Here are the risks in detail: Tobacco use: The main risk factor for oral cancer is tobacco use. Excessive alcohol consumption: An estimated 75 to 80 percent of people with oral cancer consume alcohol. A large number of smokers also drink heavily, making a direct connection between alcohol and oral cancer harder to prove. Studies at this point indicate a higher risk for those who both smoke and drink heavily. Sun exposure: Lips are also an area where oral cancer can occur; sun exposure is definitely a risk factor for cancer of the lip. Block those rays with sunscreen and/or a large brimmed hat. Age and gender: Another risk factor for oral cancer is age, with greater than 90 percent of cases occurring in people over the age of 45. The average age is around 60. Forty years ago, oral cancer had a 5 to 1 male to female ratio, but now, the ratio is just 2:1. This is directly linked to the increased rate of smoking in women. Common symptoms of oral cancer The most frequent oral cancer sites are the tongue, the floor of the mouth, and soft palate tissues in back of the tongue, lips, and gums. Your dentist probably performs a thorough screening for oral cancer each time you see him — another good reason not to miss your dental appointments! Now that we've brought oral cancer out into the light, here is a list of some of the most common oral cancer symptoms: Non-healing sores: If you have a sore, blister, erosion, or bleeding in the mouth or on your lip that doesn't heal in 2 to 3 weeks, have it evaluated by a medical doctor. Discolored patches: Any white or red patches on the tongue, lips, gums, or lining the mouth should raise suspicion of cancer. These patches require immediate attention. Lumps: Even if you don't see discoloration, a lump needs to be evaluated. If you have any lumps in the lip or mouth, have them looked at so that the doctor can decide whether they need further evaluation. Difficulty swallowing: Any pain that you may have — whether it's in the throat, mouth, or when you move your tongue — should be evaluated.

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What Happens to Aging Muscles

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

As people age, their skeletal muscle mass starts to deteriorate. Your skeletal muscles (also known as lean muscle) are the muscles that attach to your bones and are under voluntary control. As a result of deterioration, people begin to look, well, flabby as they get older. You may see these changes start as early as your 30s, but most people see the biggest changes between their 40s and 50s. A recent study concluded that total muscle mass decreases by nearly 50 percent for people between the ages of 20 and 90. On average, people lose about 30 percent of their strength between ages 50 and 70, and another 30 percent of what's left per decade after that. Generally, people lose about 1 percent of their lean muscle mass per year after age 40. The following four types of muscle weakening (called atrophy) become more common as people age, and each type responds differently to strength training. Sedentary: Muscle deterioration is a natural process, but a sedentary lifestyle can accelerate it. You can rebuild muscle mass lost from a sedentary lifestyle — all you have to do is get off the couch and do something physical! Some sedentary people include those who are bedridden, astronauts, and people with minimal physical activity. Statistics show that people confined to bed can lose around 1 percent of muscle strength for each day in bed. Physical therapy is often prescribed as treatment for people who are bedridden so that they don't have muscle loss. A person's recovery time from being bedridden can be improved if the proper actions are taken to prevent muscle loss. Interestingly, muscle loss also affects astronauts, who spend much time in a weightless state! Age-related: Age-related muscle loss is also called sarcopenia, which means "vanishing flesh." Sarcopenia isn't an inevitable part of aging; it's the result of the loss of around ten ounces of muscle a year that isn't replaced due to a sedentary lifestyle. You can win this muscle back with a strength-training program. Medication-related: Certain medications, such as systemic corticosteroids (often prescribed for people with asthma or inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus), can result in muscle weakness. Disease-related: Muscle atrophy from disease can be more difficult to overcome, especially when it involves nerve damage or disease of the muscle itself. The muscle loss in these situations is more damaging because you have almost no use of the diseased muscles. With the other types of muscle loss, you have at least some use of the muscle groups. Cancer can also result in a muscle wasting syndrome called cachexia. Diseases that cause cachexia often progress rapidly; many have no cure and are progressively disabling. Work closely with your doctor to prevent muscle loss if you have any of these conditions: • Nerve diseases affecting muscles, including polio (poliomyelitis) • Lou Gehrig's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS) • Guillain-Barre syndrome (self-limiting demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy), which can cause short-term muscle weakness or paralysis Other diseases affecting muscles include muscular dystrophy, congestive heart disease, liver disease, and AIDS. If you have any of these illnesses, talk to your doctor about setting up a physical therapy program to help you retain as much muscle mass as possible. In addition to general skeletal muscle loss, the following changes occur as you age: Muscles take longer to respond to brain signals in your 50s than they did in your 20s. As a normal course of aging, you begin to lose the muscle fibers that are responsible for making you move quickly. The speed of transmission of impulses from the brain to the muscles also slows down, so it takes longer to get the signal, "Hey! Move it!" Your muscles also can't repair themselves as quickly as they used to, due to a decrease in enzyme activities and protein turnover. The water content of tendons (the cord-like tissues that attach muscles to bones) decreases as you age. This change makes the tissues stiffer and less able to tolerate stress. Your heart muscle becomes less able to propel large quantities of blood quickly through your body. As a result, you tire more quickly and take longer to recover.

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Healthy Formulas to Remember

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Carrying around extra pounds not only feels uncomfortable and contributes to illness, it can actually take years off your life. The good news is that shedding the extra weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can add years to your life. Keep these formulas handy to figure out the amount of fat in your food, how to determine a healthy weight, and the amount of calories you need to lose the pounds and keep them off: To calculate the fat percentage of food You want 30 percent or less of your total daily calorie intake to come from fat (less than 10 percent from saturated fats). To calculate the percentage of fat, you need to know the calories per serving and total grams of fat per serving. One gram of fat has 9 calories, and the total fat grams will be on the food label. 1. Multiply the number of fat grams by 9. 2. Divide this number by the total calories per serving. 3. Multiply by 100. The result is the percentage of fat calories in the food. Note: A food has to have less than 30 percent of its calories from fat to be considered “low fat.” To calculate your body mass index Your body mass index (BMI) is an approximate measure of body fat based on your height and weight. The BMI is an approximation and is used as a tool to assess body weight and identify overweight and obese individuals. 1. Calculate your weight in kilograms: # of lbs × 0.454 (kg/lb) = # of kg 2. Calculate your height in meters: # of inches ×× 0.0254 (meters/inch) = # of meters Divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in meters) squared. To determine your basal metabolic rate Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of calories you’d burn if you stayed in bed all day. Calculations are different for men and women: Adult male: 66 + (6.3 × body weight in lbs.) + (12.9 × height in inches) – (6.8 × age in years) Adult female: 65 + (4.3 × weight in lbs.) + (4.7 × height in inches) – (4.7 × age in years)

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A Health-Promoting Grocery List

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Put the following foods on your grocery list; they have properties that promote health and boost your immune system (which weakens as you age): Blueberries Broccoli Dark chocolate Egg whites (any way you like ’em) Extra virgin olive oil Fish with omega-3 fatty acids Green tea Mozzarella string cheese Nuts Oats Soy foods Strawberries Tomatoes Vinaigrette salad dressing Whole wheat pasta Yogurt

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Ten Healthy Habits

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

You can’t prevent the passage of time, but making smart life choices can control some of the risk factors associated with illness and disease. Some simple choices may have the most profound impact on your health. Follow these tips and you’re on the path to preventing disease and living a long life: If you smoke, stop! Maintain a healthy body weight, as determined by your BMI. Exercise daily for 30 minutes. Eat five or more servings of fruits or vegetables daily. Avoid refined sugars and starches. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation (no more than two drinks per day for men, one per day for women). Keep your blood pressure under control. Have your cholesterol checked yearly. Keep your blood sugar in normal range. Have a mammogram/prostate check yearly.

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Health Boosting Supplements

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Taken with a nutritious diet, supplements can improve and maintain your overall health as you age. So when you stock up the medicine cabinet, try a few of these supplements to boost nutrition, ward off illnesses, and slow the aging process. Supplement Benefit Fish oil Lowers cholesterol Probiotics Support colon, intestinal, vaginal health Saw palmetto Promotes prostate health Calcium Strengthens bones Glucosamine and chondroitin Aid in joint health; lessen arthritis pain Melatonin Promotes sleep Chromium Helps manage insulin health and blood sugar levels Calcium and magnesium Control heartburn Coenzyme Q10 Supports cardiac health Zinc Reduces the severity and duration of the common cold

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