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Mature Focus: News and Notes


Longevity linked to income

A Stanford University study found the life expectancy of the wealthiest Americans is significantly longer than that of those with the lowest household income.

A Stanford University study found the life expectancy of the wealthiest Americans is significantly longer than that of those with the lowest household income.

In the U.S., higher income and longer life expectancy seem to go hand in hand, according to a report published by JAMA.

Stanford University researchers analyzed available data from 2001-2014 on household income and mortality among adults aged 40-76 in the U.S. They got their income data from tax records and their mortality data from Social Security Administration death records.

Following are some highlights of their findings:

• Higher income was associated with greater longevity, with the life expectancy gap between the wealthiest 1 percent and poorest 1 percent 14.6 years for men and slightly more than 10 years for women.

• As time progressed, the inequality in life expectancy increased. During the study period, life expectancy for the wealthiest 5 percent increased by 2.3 years for men and nearly 3 years for women. During the same period, life expectancy for the poorest 5 percent increased only 0.3 years for men and 0.04 years for women.

• Geographic differences in life expectancy for the poorest 25 percent were strongly correlated with behaviors such as smoking but not with access to healthcare, environmental factors, income inequality or labor market conditions.

Games for seniors

The 37th annual St. Louis Senior Olympics will be held this year on Memorial Day weekend, May 26-31, with more than 1,100 athletes aged 50 and older and more than 200 volunteers expected to participate.

For 2016, duplicate bridge and cornhole have been added to the 90-plus events offered. Tennis tournaments are moving to a new venue: Forest Lake Tennis Club in Chesterfield.

A schedule of events, entry form, volunteer sign-up information and more can be found at www.stlouisseniorolympics.org.

• • •

The 2016 Missouri State Senior Games for adults aged 50 and older are scheduled for June 10-12 in Columbia.

The 21st annual Olympic-style festival once again will feature competition in a variety of National Senior Games Association-approved events, including archery, badminton, basketball (3 vs. 3), bowling, cycling, golf, horseshoes, race walk, road race, shuffleboard, softball, swimming, triathlon, track and field, and volleyball. Darts, shooting, skills contests, soccer and washers events also will be held.

To learn more about participating in the games or working as an event volunteer, visit www.smsg.org.

Retirement confidence declining

Fewer than one in four baby boomers recently surveyed are confident they have saved enough for retirement.

For the past six years, the Insured Retirement Institute [IRI], a not-for-profit association for the retirement income industry, has surveyed baby boomers about their retirement confidence. This year’s survey showed the lowest confidence level since 2011, when 37 percent of respondents felt their retirement savings were sufficient.

Responding to this year’s survey, conducted last month:

• Slightly more than half [55 percent] of baby boomers said they have savings for retirement.

• Among those with retirement savings, 42 percent said they have saved less than $100,000.

• One in five respondents said they were concerned they will not be able to cover their basic costs of living.

• Slightly more than one in five [22 percent] expressed confidence with their retirement savings; 27 percent said they are confident they will have enough for healthcare costs; and 16 percent said they are confident they will be able to pay for long-term care.

• About 60 percent of respondents reported planning to retire at age 65 or later, including 26 percent who think they will work until they are at least 70.

• Three in 10 baby boomers surveyed said they were no longer contributing to a retirement account; 16 percent reported taking premature withdrawals from their retirement accounts.

• Fewer than half [46 percent] said they think it is important to leave money to heirs, a drop from 67 percent in 2013.

• Among those who work with a financial professional, more than 80 percent said they are better prepared for retirement as a result and 78 percent have saved at least $100,000 for retirement.

According to IRI President/CEO Cathy Weatherford, only about 25 percent of baby boomers are seeking retirement planning assistance from a financial professional.

“Time is running out,” Weatherford said. “Unless boomers begins to focus on their long-term needs now and commit to savings, they will need to work longer and make steep cutbacks to make ends meet in retirement.”

For information and a link to the entire report, “Boomer Expectations for Retirement 2016,” visit www.myirionline.org.

Sleep, stroke and cognitive problems

Elderly people who experience poor sleep are at increased risk for hardened blood vessels or oxygen-starved brain tissue.

Researchers examined blood vessels from the autopsied brains of more than 300 elderly adults [average age of 90] who prior to death underwent sleep monitoring. Results showed that those whose sleep was interrupted by frequent awakenings had 27 percent higher odds of having severe arteriosclerosis, also called hardening of the arteries. More frequent arousals during sleep were associated with visible signs of oxygen deprivation in the brain.

Both arteriosclerosis and oxygen-starved brain tissue can increase the risk of stroke and cognitive impairment.

“The forms of brain injury that we observed are important because they may not only contribute to the risk of stroke but also to chronic progressive cognitive and motor impairment,” said lead investigator Dr. Andrew Lim. “However, there are several ways to view these findings: Sleep fragmentation may impair the circulation of blood to the brain, poor circulation of blood to the brain may cause sleep fragmentation, or both may be caused by another underlying risk factor.”

Study findings were published in Stroke, a journal of the American Heart Association.

On the calendar

“The Importance of Fire Safety and Having an Escape Plan” is from 1:30-3 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1 at St. Peters City Centre, One St. Peters Centre Blvd. The session is part of BJC HealthCare’s “Showcase on Seniors” program for adults aged 60 and older. Lectures are free after paying a one-time, $5 annual fee. Registration is required. Call 928-9355.

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