ParentCare » Vol. 4

Of Interest

Research, Studies and Findings
By Ellen O’Connor

Wii

This is Your Brain on Games

The latest medical advice on keeping the mind sharp as we age is probably the easiest and least painful to follow: Playing games may help keep the mind active and sharp, according to an article by Marilyn Katz. Games originally tailored toward a younger audience may aid baby boomers and seniors in staying mentally sharp as they age. So-called ‘brain training’ games can help people of all ages develop mental skills that will help memory, cognitive abilities, reasoning abilities, response time, and even mood.

Not all medical professionals are 100 percent behind the idea that game playing will help ‘train the brain’ to stay sharp, but other scientists believe that game-playing can pay dividends — even if they are not exactly sure how the games help. Those who do play such games report that their minds are quicker and clearer, that they are more alert and that their memories improved. Game players even report feeling improved concentration at work.

Free brain training games can be found at the Baby Boomer website, www.boombaby.org. So, give it a try. You have nothing to lose except the game itself.

Helping Aging Boomers Balance Their Checkbooks

Baby boomers are more financially well-off than their parents and are more likely to spend money to help them perform various time-consuming tasks in their lives – hiring nannies to help with the children, housekeepers for household chores, or landscapers for the garden, according to an article by Kathy Swann. These are the kinds of tasks the parents of the boomers would not have thought twice about doing themselves, but boomers have more disposable income. So, as boomers head toward retirement, they will continue to spend money for services that will make their lives easier and give them more free time. Being the person hired to help them balance their checkbooks and organize and pay bills on time is predicted to be an emerging profession as well-to-do boomers edge toward retirement. This new employment position, which is the type of job that can be run as a home-based business, is called the daily money manager.

The daily money manager will not replace the attorney or the accountant, but can help with the more mundane daily tasks of keeping up with bills. Clients could include the elderly who are ill or who have medical issues like arthritis that make it difficult to perform such tasks, seniors who travel frequently, or busy families who simply don’t have the time or don’t want to make the time. It is a field that has been growing over the past 10 years. Those with accounting, finance, banking or social work experience may want to consider it as a part-time job. The one key requirement is to enjoy working with people.

Study Calls for Home Monitoring of Blood Pressure

A new scientific statement calls for patients with hypertension to routinely monitor their blood pressure at home.

“Given the amount of accumulated evidence about the value of home blood-pressure monitoring, it is time to make HBPM a part of routine management of hypertensive patients, especially those with diabetes, coronary heart disease, chronic kidney disease, substantial non-adherence, or a substantial white-coat effect,” writes Dr. Thomas Pickering of the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, chair of the writing committee, and colleagues, in the statement published online May 23, 2008 in Hypertension and the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension. “Additionally, because HBPM is part of evidence-based care, it should be reimbursed.”

The scientific committee, writing on behalf of the American Heart Association, American Society of Hypertension, and Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, notes that regular use of home monitoring will improve the quality and cost of delivering care to the 72 million people with hypertension, as well as improve the control of high blood pressure.

The group cautions, however, that patients should use only monitors that have been validated for accuracy and reliability according to standard international testing protocols. Some devices currently on the market don’t meet these standards, so patients should check to make sure their device meets specifications outlined by professional agencies.

Lift Those Weights

Baby boomers have always been interested in keeping fit and active. And as we age, it is even more paramount to exercise regularly and to watch what we eat and drink. It is also a medical fact that we lose muscle mass as we age, unless we take steps to prevent that loss. Strength training is a great way to stay fit, toned and strong, according to an article by Carolyn Hansen.

It does not matter if you are 70 and have never engaged in a weight-training program of any kind. People who begin such a program can regain lost strength in as little as eight weeks’ time. The bottom line is your muscles will continue to work for you – if you take the initiative and the proper steps to keep your muscles active and strong. Strength training is one key to staying healthy and fit and young. Don’t let your age stop you from reaping the benefits that flow from a good. hard work-out.

Taking Ibuprofen May Not Protect against Alzheimer’s

Contrary to recent reports, SALAs, a subgroup of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that includes ibuprofen — offer no greater protection against Alzheimer’s disease than other NSAIDs.

A pooled analysis that included data from six studies on NSAID use in 13,499 individuals showed those who used these medications had an overall 23% lower risk of developing AD than individuals who never used NSAIDs. However, the reduction in risk was not associated with the type of NSAID used.

“This is an interesting finding, because it seems to challenge a current theory that the NSAID group that includes ibuprofen may work better in reducing a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s,” study investigator Peter P. Zandi, PhD, from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, said in a statement from the American Academy of Neurology.

According to the study’s lead author, Chris Szekely, PhD, from Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, the discrepancy between studies such as this and the negative clinical trials of NSAIDs in the treatment or prevention of AD needs further exploration. The study was published May 28 in Neurology.

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