“Sitting Disease” and the Dangers of a Sedentary Lifestyle

Posted by Cameron Moore in Health and Fitness.

Thanks to some of the comforts and conveniences of modern life, a bug is going around. Scientists are calling it “sitting disease,” and you may be at risk.

Technically speaking, this affliction is not really a disease, but rather a phrase coined by the medical community to address our modern lifestyles and the associated dangers of sitting. The message coming loud and clear from many in the medical community is that, whether it’s in our cars, at our desks, or in front of the TV, people these days simply sit too much —and it can potentially have far-reaching and adverse effects on our health down the line.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys studied the daily habits of Americans and declared that the average amount we sit drastically lowers life expectancy. The dangers of sitting and an overly sedentary lifestyle include increased risk for heart disease, Type II diabetes, and even certain cancers.

Additionally, sitting too much over time initially causes smaller problems, like decreased flexibility and mobility, which can lead to much larger issues as we age. Particularly relevant to the older adult population is the fact that decreased hip flexibility, a problem associated with sitting disease, is one of the most common factors in falls in the elderly. Add this to back pain, weak bones and muscles, and it’s clear that seniors—and people of all ages— have plenty of reasons to get up and get moving.

Our advice: even if something requires long bouts of sitting, find ways to break up these sedentary periods. Try standing occasionally while watching TV or reading something at your desk, and set reminders at regular intervals to remember to get up and take a stroll. On top of these simple tips, talk to your doctor about the types of exercise that are appropriate for you and to find out whether or not you’re including enough activity into your days.

The Prevalence and Risk of Diabetes in the Elderly

Posted by Cameron Moore in Mind and Spirit.

There’s no sugar-coating these facts. According to the latest statistics released by the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects over 29 million Americans – that’s just over 9 percent of our population. However, diabetes in the elderly is even more prevalent; Americans aged 65 and over account for about 11.8 million of those with diabetes, meaning that about 1 in 4 seniors suffers from the disease. What may be even more sobering is the fact that, by-and-large, individuals with elderly diabetes could have taken action to prevent or delay the condition, which is caused in part by lifestyle choices.

There are two types of diabetes that typically affect different portions of the population: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 was previously known as juvenile diabetes, as it is typically diagnosed in children and younger adults, and is caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin, a hormone that allows the body to use sugar as energy. Type 1 diabetes accounts for only about 5 percent of diabetes cases. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, accounts for the overwhelming majority of diabetes in the elderly and other age groups. This form of diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, which is when the body does not properly use the insulin that it creates. Many doctors believe insulin resistance has a possible link to risk factors like obesity and high blood pressure.

Those who are risk for developing type 2 diabetes often have “pre-diabetes,” or higher than normal blood sugar levels that are not quite high enough to warrant a diabetes diagnosis. For older adults whose lifestyles may leave them at risk for diabetes, it is imperative to schedule regular blood sugar level checks with their doctor. If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, the Centers for Disease Control also recommends losing 5 to 7 percent of one’s body weight and getting at least two and a half hours of weekly exercise, steps that previous successful studies have shown can delay or even prevent type 2 diabetes.

When it comes to preventing type 2 diabetes in the elderly, those at risk truly play the most important role. If this includes you, talk to your doctor today about how you can begin to combat the risk of diabetes.

The Heart of the Matter: Heart Disease Preventions & Risk Factors

Posted by Cameron Moore in Mind and Spirit.

Valentine’s Day hearts serve as a reminder of love to many; for others, they’re a reminder of an organ in need of more than a box of chocolates. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women, and often the number one topic of conversation in regards to the health of older adults. When it comes to combating heart disease, being aware of heart disease risk factors and the potential strategies for effective heart disease prevention is the first step toward a happier, healthier heart.

Heart Disease Risk Factors
The underlying cause of most heart diseases is a dangerous process involving a build-up of plaque on the walls of the arteries. Known as atherosclerosis, this build-up can lead to a number of problems as the plaque blocks blood flow to important parts of the body. Among many complications caused by atherosclerosis lies the most common type of heart disease, known as either coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease (CAD). Significant risk factors for developing this disease and other forms of heart disease include diabetes, being overweight or obese, excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a poor diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Heart Disease Prevention
Heart disease prevention largely boils down to making lifestyle choices that limit or avoid these heart disease risk factors. This, of course, begins with being aware whether you’re already at risk for heart disease. Have a conversation with your doctor about how you can personally approach heart disease prevention, which may include seeing if you should be tested for diabetes, or finding out if your blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels are within a healthy range. If these levels are not in a good place, your doctor can help put together a plan to change that. Such a plan should include quitting smoking if you do, maintaining a balanced diet, exercising frequently, and working towards a healthy weight, if necessary.

Over 600,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, and taking simple steps now is the best means of preventing future loss. Above all, heart disease prevention starts with acknowledgement of its danger, and continues with a conversation between you and your doctor. Get to the “heart of the matter” today with these first steps toward reducing your risk of heart disease.

Preventing Pneumonia in the Elderly

Posted by Cameron Moore in Health and Fitness.

Learn about the specific risks for pneumonia in elderly adults. Senior Lifestyle discusses tips for preventing pneumonia in the elderly.

The name pneumonia may be familiar to many, but plenty may not fully understand the true extent of this disease’s danger. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about one million people each year seek hospital care because they have contracted pneumonia. Pneumonia in the elderly is both common and dangerous. Along with children under the age of 5 and those who smoke or have medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, senior adults are more likely than most to contract pneumonia. Through an understanding of the infection itself and a look at prevention methods, you can better protect yourself from becoming ill with pneumonia.

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection that affects one or both lungs. Typically it is caused when bacteria, fungi, or viruses enter the lungs and cause inflammation within air sacs in your lungs called alveoli. This inflammation may cause the alveoli to fill with fluid, which can cause difficulty breathing as well as a fever. Common causes of pneumonia include a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae and viruses such as the flu. While pneumonia can be contagious and contracted from these viruses and bacteria, pneumonia in elderly population is often contracted through other means.

Why is pneumonia in the elderly more common?
For one, older adults more often lack the strength to clear secretions from the lungs and respiratory tract that can hold germs. These bacteria can end up in the lungs air sacs and cause infections. Furthermore, seniors are more likely to have weakened immune systems which may render them incapable of fighting off some infections.

How can pneumonia in the elderly be prevented?
The most important step to take towards preventing pneumonia in elderly adults is vaccination. Even if vaccination on occasion does not fully prevent the pneumonia, it still tends to lessen the severity of the pneumonia, shorten the time that the infection lasts, and helps prevent severe—and potentially dangerous—complications caused by pneumonia. There are several vaccines that can help prevent pneumonia, many of which are received when one is young, like the Measles and Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines. However, the CDC recommends that all older adults receive 2 pneumococcal vaccines to help prevent bacterial pneumonia in the elderly. Getting an annual flu vaccine can also support this prevention, as many people who get the flu also get pneumonia.

Additionally, you should maintain typical approaches to good health and hygiene, like regularly washing hands with soap and water, quitting smoking, getting adequate rest and exercise, and keeping a healthy, well-balanced diet.

As stated by the CDC, many people are needlessly affected by pneumonia infections each year, because these infections are preventable. Spread the word and follow the above advice to help prevent pneumonia in the elderly and assist in staying healthy yourself.

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