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Mature Focus: News and Notes

Older adults who wear dentures to bed at night are at heightened risk of developing pneumonia, according to a recent study.

Older adults who wear dentures to bed at night are at heightened risk of developing pneumonia, according to a recent study.

Sleeping in dentures

Elderly people who wear their dentures to bed at night are putting themselves at increased risk for coming down with pneumonia, a recent study found.

Because poor oral hygiene is a known risk factor for pneumonia in the elderly, researchers in Japan investigated various oral health behaviors and incidences of pneumonia among more than 500 adults aged 85 and older. In a three-year period, 48 cases of pneumonia were identified among the study participants, and those who wore their dentures overnight had a little more than double the risk of contracting pneumonia than those who removed their dentures for sleep.

Those who wore dentures while sleeping were more likely also to have tongue and denture plaque, gum inflammation and other oral health problems, researchers said.

The International and American Associations for Dental Research published the study.


Medicare Open Enrollment

With Medicare Open Enrollment underway and running through Dec. 7, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is urging people with Medicare to review their current health and prescription drug coverage options for 2015.

The CMS has projected that for 2015, the average Medicare Advantage premium will be $33.90 and the average basic Medicare prescription drug premium plan will be $32 per month.

Medicare plans, coverage options and costs change each year, so beneficiaries should evaluate their current coverage and select the plan that best meets their needs.

Jerry Callahan, co-owner of the Medicine Shoppe in Chesterfield, said his staff is happy to review current medications of customers and non-customers alike and help them determine which option is cheaper and/or better for their particular situation.

“We’re trying to get people to not just assume that what they have is cheaper for them,” Callahan said. “The majority of people don’t bother to look, and they may be leaving a lot of money on the table.”

To schedule a free appointment to discuss Medicare options with a professional at Medicine Shoppe, call (314) 469-7171. For more information about Medicare Open Enrollment and to compare benefits and prices of 2015 Medicare health and drug plans, visit cms.gov.


Brain game claims 

Dozens of the world’s leading psychologists and neuroscientists have issued a strong consensus statement on the value of computer-based cognitive-training software – commonly called “brain games.” The products are marketed as making people smarter, more alert, faster learners and even as tools for preventing dementia. Often, they are advertised as being designed by neuroscientists at prestigious universities and research centers.

In a Stanford Center on Longevity statement issued last month, “A Consensus on the Brain Training Industry from the Scientific Community,” more than 70 scientists signed and released the following statement about brain games:

“We object to the claim that brain games offer consumers a scientifically grounded avenue to reduce or reverse cognitive decline when there is no compelling scientific evidence to date that they do. The promise of a magic bullet detracts from the best evidence to date, which is that cognitive health in old age reflects the long-term effects of healthy, engaged lifestyles. In (our judgment), exaggerated and misleading claims exploit the anxieties of older adults about impending cognitive decline. We encourage continued careful research and validation in this field.”

The scientists noted also that “no studies have demonstrated that playing brain games cures or prevents Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.”

“Do not expect that cognitively challenging activities will work like one-shot treatments or vaccines,” they wrote. “There is little evidence that you can do something once (or even for a concentrated period) and be inoculated against the effects of aging in an enduring way. In all likelihood, gains won’t last long after you stop the challenge.”

According to the scientists’ consensus, a “moderately effective” way to improve brain fitness is to engage in regular aerobic exercise.

The complete report is available at longevity3.stanford.edu.


Baby boomers and drugs

A study published in Annals of Epidemiology forecasts that as baby boomers age, illicit drug use among seniors will become more common.

Projecting drug use in the year 2020 among adults aged 50 or older, Dr. Wilson Compton, a researcher with the National Institutes of Health, estimated that marijuana use likely will triple and prescription drug misuse will double, primarily due to the shifting percentage of the U.S. population that uses drugs.

Compton said he believes drug use among boomers-turned-seniors could lead to a reduction in memory function, poorer coordination, more accidents and more relationship problems.


Preventive screenings and attitude

People older than 50 who do not have a cynical view of getting older are more likely to take preventive health measures than those who believe physical and mental declines are inevitable consequences of aging, a study found.

Researchers at the University of Michigan looked at questionnaires completed by more than 6,000 Health and Retirement Study participants, a nationally representative sample of Americans older than 50. Adults who reported greater satisfaction with aging – including feeling useful and energized – were most likely to have their cholesterol tested and receive colon cancer screenings. Women satisfied with aging received mammograms and Pap smears more frequently, and men who were comfortable with getting older had more frequent prostate exams. Aging satisfaction levels did not affect participants’ likelihood of getting a flu shot, however.

According to researcher Eric Kim, adults who believe health declines typify old age are less likely to seek preventive health care most likely because they mistakenly believe that lifestyle changes will not make a difference in their overall health.


On the calendar

“Sit and Be Fit,” a chair exercise class for West County senior adults, is from 10-11 a.m. every Thursday at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 15764 Clayton Road in Ellisville. Chair exercises help elderly individuals to exercise and move without putting undue pressure or strain on the body and have been shown to slow mental decline, help prevent falls, strengthen muscles, improve sleep and result in increased ability to accomplish day-to-day physical activities. Admission is free; refreshments socialization follow each session. To learn more, visit stmartinchurch.org, and enter “sit and be fit” in the search box.

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Mobile Technology: “Keeping in Touch,” a free seminar for adults aged 50 and older, is from 9:30-11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 6 at Chesterfield City Hall, 690 Chesterfield Parkway West. The program covers computer basics, such as working with tablets, smartphones, button layouts, features, navigating screens, and apps. To reserve a space, contact Karen Bono at (314) 615-4474 or kbono@stlouisco.com.

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“Knee Replacement: Is It Right For Me?” is from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 13 at St. Luke’s Hospital, 232 S. Woods Mill Road in Chesterfield. An orthopedic physician discusses minimally invasive knee replacement surgery and other treatment options for arthritic knees. Admission is free; registration is required. Call (314) 542-4848, or visit stlukes-stl.com.

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“I Have Hip Pain: What Are My Options?” is from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20 at the St. Luke’s Hospital Desloge Outpatient Center, 121 St. Luke’s Center Drive in Chesterfield. An orthopedic physician discusses the many causes of hip pain and answers participants’ questions. Admission is free; registration is required. Call (314) 542-4848, or visit stlukes-stl.com.

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Missouri Baptist Medical Center presents “Fit for Function” from 10 a.m.-noon on Friday, Nov. 21 at Longview Farm House, 13525 Clayton Road in Town & Country. New research proving basic strength training can reverse age-related muscle loss is explained. Through a screening and presentation, attendees learn what it means to be functionally fit and whether or not they pass the test based on national norms. The free program is for those aged 60 and older. To register, visit missouribaptist.org.


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