senior with dog on paddle board

Senior health news roundup

This week we’ve been taking a look at what senior health issues have been making the headlines around the globe. Here’s our selection of the senior health stories that caught our eye.

Doggy power!

According to a new study in the US, seniors who regularly walk dogs have better health and get more exercise. Researchers at Miami University, Ohio and the University of Missouri studied data from the 2012 Health and Retirement Study and found that dog walking seniors enjoy:

  • Lower body mass indexes
  • Fewer limitations in daily activities
  • Fewer chronic conditions
  • Fewer visits to the doctor
  • More regular and vigorous exercise

The study also showed that those who owned dogs but didn’t take them on walks had much poorer health.

Air pollution linked to dementia risk

A recent UK study has found an association between dementia and exposure to air pollution. Researchers from the University of London focused on 131,000 patients aged between 50 and 79, tracking their health over an average period of 7 years.

Of the tracked group, 2181 patients (1.7%) were diagnosed with dementia over the 7year period. Of these patients:

  • 39% had Alzheimer’s disease
  • 29% had vascular dementia

None of them had been diagnosed with dementia previously.

These diagnoses were found to be linked to ambient levels of nitrogen dioxide, and microscopic particles known as PM2.5. Those living in areas with high nitrogen dioxide levels had a 40% increased risk of being diagnosed with dementia compared with those living in areas with the lowest. A similar increase was seen with levels of PM2.5.

Dr David Reynolds, Chief Scientific Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“While the researchers tried to account for factors like wealth, heart disease and other potential explanations for differences in dementia rates … It is difficult to rule out other explanations for the findings.”

A note of caution

Diseases which instigate dementia can begin in the brain up to 20 years before symptoms start to show. As a result, Alzheimer’s Research UK has urged that the results of this University of London study are treated with caution. However, they do recognize that the study highlights the importance of carrying out further studies.

Memory loss – not just a senior issue

If you were lucky enough to catch the CBC-TV documentary, The Memory Mirage, on Sunday, October 28, you’re probably still asking yourself, “Can I really trust my own memory?”.

Many of us think of our memories as being recorded in our brains, a little like a video which can be played back at any time. However, new research is showing us that our memories are vulnerable to change over time.

Most of us can’t accurately remember key events, like special family holidays or even our own wedding day. Indeed, two people may remember the same event quite differently. Research now shows that each time we recall a memory, we are actually only remembering the last time we recalled it. As a result, we may introduce new details that never occurred in real life.

For further fascinating insight on ‘partial recall’, you can catch up on The Memory Mirage here.

Healthy living adding life to years

At The Manor Village, we firmly believe that regular exercise provides great health benefits for seniors. That’s why we have mobility specialists on hand to help all our Residents on their way towards a more active lifestyle. We also know that a high percentage of senior memory loss is preventable. Why not take a look at our 7-step program for prevention? Alternatively, arrange your personalized visit to any of our Calgary senior living communities today and see our team of experts in action.