Currently viewing the tag: "elderly"

Have you ever fallen?  Think it can’t happen to you?  Falls are not as uncommon as you might think, and for the elderly they can be deadly.  But new research shows that balance and movement exercises combined with music do more to prevent falls.  This post is not just for seniors. One out of every three adults age 65 and older falls each year; and of these, tens of thousands die from injuries sustained from falls.  Almost two million seniors visit emergency rooms every year as a result of falling.
Because of these staggering numbers, experts in fall prevention are continuously looking for ways to help the elderly (and others) stabilize themselves. There are effective ways of training people of all ages to maintain balance, including proprioceptive exercises like rocker and wobble boards, yoga, and other movements.  But now a recent study shows that adding music to these workouts can increase these already powerful practices.
Swiss researchers looked at 134 Swiss adults, mostly women, average age 75.5 years, who were at increased risk of falling. They were assigned to either an intervention group that did a music-based multitask exercise program or a control group that did normal exercises. The intervention program used an instructor-led one-hour weekly exercise class that featured multitask activities, including movements that were designed to challenge balance and become increasingly difficult over time. These exercises included walking in time to piano music and responding to changes in the music’s rhythm. People in the intervention program showed a greater improvement in balance and had 24 falls (a rate of 0.7 falls per person per year), compared with 54 falls in the control program (a rate of 1.6 falls per person per year).  It increased participants’ walking speed and stride length while performing one task at a time, and increased stride length and decreased stride length variability while performing multiple tasks at the same time.  This improvement in gait (manner or style of walking) and balance helped reduce the risk of falls.

Not bad, not bad.  I do balance or proprioceptive training with many of the clients at my Los Angeles sports chiropractic office.  Not only do these exercises prevent falls, but they improve athletic performance, add grace to the gait, and believe it or not, help reduce low back pain (check out the article here to find out how). So whether you are a chiropractor, physical therapist, or other movement therapist, try adding music to your training program.  If you are just into working out and keeping fit, then do so to the rhythm of your favorite music.  Moving rhythmically to the beat will improve your balance by syncing your proprioceptors, muscles and brain.  Trust me when I say this is the greatest thing you can do for yourself physically.  Balance, in all areas is the name of the game.



It’s been a while since I touched on the subject, but a new survey shows that people over 45 are having less SEX, and feeling less satisfied than they were ten years ago. They also happen to be more open to sex outside of marriage…hmmmm. The survey conducted by the AARP was completed by 1,670 Americans, 45 years and older. The results were compared to the same survey given in 1999 and 2004. Ten years ago 41% of respondents said non-marital sex was wrong, while only 22% said so on the new survey. Despite this openness among the middle aged and elderly, as a whole, their sexual activity has decreased by 10% since 2004. Further, five years ago 51% of this set responded that they were satisfied with their sex lives; however, only 43% said so on the new survey. As an interesting twist, unmarried people in relationships had sex more frequently and with more satisfaction than respondents who were married. According to the AARP’s sex and relationship expert, sociologist Pepper Schwartz, “Long-term married couples may get a little less interested. Older people in non-married relations work harder at it and enjoy it more.” As far as gender differences go, no surprises here: Men think about sex and engage it more often than women, and are about twice as likely as women (21 percent versus 11 percent) to admit to sexual activity outside their primary relationship. Men are more than five times as likely as women to say they think of sex at least once a day, and nearly three times as likely to say they engage in self-stimulation at least once a week. But unfortunately, only 12 percent of the survey’s sexually active single males reported using condoms. Tsk, tsk geezers–no glove, no love applies to you, too. The clap shows no age preference. So now you know. Finally, when asked what would improve their sex lives:

  • 20% of the women and 37% of the men said better health
  • 14% of the women and 26% of the men said better personal finances.

Ah, always the struggle between cash and capability. I find these survey results very interesting, and we can speculate in every kind of direction as to what is causing the trend. For instance, Ms. Schwartz, the sociologist evaluating the survey believes that the decrease in sexual activity is due to the recent economic downturn. And judging by the small number of responses to the affirmative (mentioned above), one could make that connection. But perhaps there is more. Maybe the growth of the internet, and the availability of sexually explicit material make it easier for people (men, mostly) to have their urges and desires satisfied. Since I know from the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy) that nothing is ever really missing, then sexual energy must also be conserved. Hmmm…people over 45 aren’t having sex with each other, then where are they having sex? Further, with privacy being factored into the equation, it would make sense that men (the gender increasingly more satisfied with their sex lives, compared to women according to Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago), more than ever before, can engage in sexual activity (albeit with their computers) without the possibility of embarrassment. And according to experts, men are not the only ones consuming online porn. Women also consume pornography, although they increasingly prefer written material. Increased use of online pornography could be at least one factor accounting for this survey’s findings…including the increased liberalism toward non-marital sex. Nothing wrong with that, just a transformation of where and how people are experiencing sex, if my thoughts are correct, that is. If I am right, then we can all rest securely knowing that we are operating within universal laws of conservation. Now that’s something to be satisfied with.


Want a new tool in your anti-aging arsenal? Try gaming. Video gaming that is. New research suggests that playing video games might just help slow down the effects of aging on mental function. And you thought Grand Theft Auto was just for psychos.

According to experts, playing video games can improve older adults’ reflexes, processing speed, memory, attention skills and spatial abilities. Not bad, not bad. And gaming systems like Nintendo’s Wii could even provide seniors with some physical activity. For those who don’t know, the Wii has special controllers requiring hand and arm movements. Although not an ideal form of physical fitness in my humble opinion, some movement is certainly better than nothing.

Saying that, one study did find that seniors playing the Wii bowling game had boosted heart rate during the activity. The study’s participants were between 60-80-years-old.

As far as improved cognitive function, a 2008 study which looked at 60-70-year-olds playing the computer game, Rise of Nations, found that the participants had increased performance on tests of memory, reasoning and cognition. Especially notable were improvements in planning, scheduling, dealing with ambiguity and multi-tasking. Now that’s pretty darn substantial in my book.

Associate professor of psychology at North Carolina State University, Jason Allaire is co-director of its Gains Through Gaming Lab. The Lab has received $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation for further research and how gaming can boost memory and thinking skills in the elderly. Bravo to that!

Researchers plan to focus on three fundamental areas of cognition:

  • Attention demand–most video games require deep attention and focus, useful skills to every area of life
  • Novelty–learning new things creates new dendritic formation, a must in keeping mentally sharp
  • Social interaction–video gaming is often done with others, and now with online gaming…well, a new social outlet is here for the taking

My regular readers know how much I value maintaining mental sharpness. As long as your brain is firing, you are interacting as a conscious life form (I know that’s debatable, but play along). And when you are firing on all cylinders, watch out! Do I think playing video games is better than learning a language, mathematics or an instrument–no, I don’t. But as a supplement, or for people who just can’t bring themselves to become more academic, heck play a video game–they’re fun!

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