Children who grow up with greener surroundings have up to 55% less risk of developing various mental disorders later in life. This is shown by a new study from Aarhus University, Denmark, emphasising the need for designing green and healthy cities for the future.

A larger and larger share of the world’s population now lives in cities and the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that more than 450m of the global human population suffer from a mental disorder. A number that is expected to increase.

Now, based on satellite data from 1985 to 2013, researchers from Aarhus University have mapped the presence of green space around the childhood homes of almost 1m Danes and compared this data with the risk of developing one of 16 different mental disorders later in life.

The study shows that children surrounded by the high amounts of green space in childhood have up to a 55% lower risk of developing a mental disorder – even after adjusting for other known risk factors such as socio-economic status, urbanisation, and the family history of mental disorders.

Post-doc Kristine Engemann from the department of bioscience and the National Centre for Register-based Research at Aarhus University, who spearheaded the study, says: “Our data is unique. We have had the opportunity to use a massive amount of data from Danish registers of, among other things, residential location and disease diagnoses and compare it with satellite images revealing the extent of green space surrounding each individual when growing up.”

Researchers know that, for example, noise, air pollution, infections and poor socio-economic conditions increase the risk of developing a mental disorder. Conversely, other studies have shown that more green space in the local area creates greater social cohesion and increases people’s physical activity level and that it can improve children’s cognitive development. These are all factors that may have an impact on people’s mental health.

“With our dataset, we show that the risk of developing a mental disorder decreases incrementally the longer you have been surrounded by green space from birth and up to the age of 10. Green space throughout childhood is therefore extremely important,” Engemann explains.

As the researchers adjusted for other known risk factors of developing a mental disorder, they see their findings as a robust indication of a close relationship between green space, urban life, and mental disorders.

Engemann says: “There is increasing evidence that the natural environment plays a larger role for mental health than previously thought. Our study is important in giving us a better understanding of its importance across the broader population.”
This knowledge has important implications for sustainable urban planning. Not least because a larger and larger proportion of the world’s population lives in cities.

“The coupling between mental health and access to green space in your local area is something that should be considered even more in urban planning to ensure greener and healthier cities and improve mental health of urban residents in the future,” adds co-author Professor Jens-Christian Svenning from the department of bioscience, Aarhus University.

 

FDA issues voluntary recall of generic blood pressure drug

The US Food and Drug Administration has announced a voluntary recall of valsartan. a widely prescribed blood pressure medication made in China, and follows a similar alert in the UK.

The New York Times reports that three companies that sell the generic drug, valsartan, in the US agreed to recall it after the FDA said it might be tainted by N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), considered a probable human carcinogen. The agency is still investigating, but said the contamination was believed to be related to changes in the way that valsartan was manufactured.

The report says all of the valsartan that is being recalled was made in China by the same company, Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co. It is distributed in the US by three companies: Major Pharmaceuticals; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries; and Solco Healthcare. Solco, which is owned by Huahai Pharmaceutical, had about 45% of the market in 2017, according to John Brito, of Fore Pharma, the market research firm.

“We have carefully assessed the valsartan-containing medications sold in the US, and we’ve found that the valsartan sold by these specific companies does not meet our safety standards,” said Dr Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research. “That is why we’ve asked these companies to take immediate action to protect patients.”

The report says the agency advised patients taking the drug to look at the manufacturer’s name on the label of their prescription bottle to determine if it is part of the recall. If the information is not there, patients should contact the pharmacy where they got it.

The agency also said that patients taking valsartan, or medicines that use it as an ingredient, should continue taking it until they have a substitute. Their health care provider should be able to offer other treatment options, among them, another valsartan product that is not part of the recall. Other companies that market the drug, not subject to the recall, are Sun Pharma, Mylan, Jubiliant, Aurobindo and Hetero, according to Fore Pharma.

“The recall is huge, based on the volume and the large number of patients it could have impacted,” said Brito, “but we believe this could get offset by other players stocking up in short term. Switch options are available for a hypertension patient.”

The report says Solco declined to comment, but in a news release, acknowledged that the recall stemmed from detection of a trace amount of NDMA. A spokesperson for Major Pharmaceuticals said they were recalling several lots and referred other questions to Teva, which supplies valsartan that they package and sell. Teva did not return calls for comment.

 

The alert concerns seven types of commonly used tablets manufactured by Dexcel Pharma Ltd and Accord Healthcare, says a Daily Mail report carried on the IoL site

It is not known how many patients are taking the pills but the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) issued a total of 424,625 prescriptions for them last year. Patients are being advised to continue taking the medication but to contact their GP to arrange to switch to an alternative.

The report says the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said there was no evidence that patients had suffered harm and insisted the recall was only precautionary. Dr Sam Atkinson from the agency said: “We will communicate the outcome of our investigations and ensure that any other affected products are recalled. Our highest priority is to ensure that the medicines you take are safe.”

Published in Medical Brief- Africa’s Media Medical Digest

Teen boys in the UK to get HPV vaccination

Boys aged 12 and 13 in England are to be vaccinated against the cancer-causing human papilloma virus (HPV). The Guardian reports that the decision announced by the government comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that the HPV vaccination, which protects girls against cervical cancer, should be extended to boys. It followed growing calls for the inoculation programme to be expanded.

The report says HPV has emerged as the leading cause of throat cancers and is linked to 5% of all cancers worldwide, including some that affect only men.

Announcing the decision, the public health minister Steve Brine said: “As a father to a son, I understand the relief that this will bring to parents. We are committed to leading a world-class vaccination programme and achieving some of the best cancer outcomes in the world – I am confident these measures today will bring us one step further to achieving this goal.”

The report says HPV is linked to cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, and oral (mouth and throat) cancers, as well as genital warts.

More than 30 people in Britain are diagnosed with oral cancers every day, with incidence rates increasing by 23% over the last decade. It is one of the fastest rising types of cancer and has a higher incidence among men.

The HPV vaccination was developed a decade ago and has been used to inoculate UK schoolgirls since 2008, saving hundreds of lives, according to Brine. Girls are offered the vaccine from the age of 12 or 13, although there is an opportunity to be given the vaccine up to the age of 18. A vaccination programme was recently introduced for men who have sex with other men.

Dr Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisations at Public Health England, said in the report: “Almost all women under 25 have had the HPV vaccine and we’re confident that we will see a similarly high uptake in boys.

“This extended programme offers us the opportunity to make HPV-related diseases a thing of the past and build on the success of the girls’ programme, which has already reduced the prevalence of HPV 16 and 18, the main cancer-causing types, by over 80%.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said England would become one of a small number of countries to offer the vaccination for both girls and boys. The Scottish and Welsh administrations committed last week to expand HPV inoculations to boys.

Mick Armstrong, the chair of the British Dental Association, said he hoped the decision marked a turning point in the government’s approach to prevention. “When our NHS faces such sustained pressure from so many preventable conditions, from cancers, to tooth decay and obesity, this sort of cost-effective intervention must not be a one off,” he said.

“Health professionals need this breakthrough on HPV to mark the beginning, and not the end, of this government’s willingness to invest in prevention.”

Professor Margaret Stanley, from Cambridge University’s pathology department, is quoted in the report as saying that immunising men would also give additional protection to women as “it takes two to tango”.

Published in Medical Brief- Africa’s Media Medical Digest

Cognitively normal elderly individuals who engage in specific mentally stimulating activities, even in late life, have a decreased risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment, found a Mayo Clinic study.

Mayo Clinic researchers have found that engaging in mentally stimulating activities, even late in life, may protect against new-onset mild cognitive impairment, which is the intermediate stage between normal cognitive aging and dementia. The study found that cognitively normal people 70 or older who engaged in computer use, craft activities, social activities and playing games had a decreased risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.

Researchers followed 1,929 cognitively normal participants of the population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging in Olmsted County, Minnesota, for an average duration of four years. After adjusting for sex, age and educational level, researchers discovered that the risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment decreased by 30% with computer use, 28% with craft activities, 23% with social activities, and 22% with playing games.

“Our team found that persons who performed these activities at least one to two times per week had less cognitive decline than those who engaged in the same activities only two to three times per month or less,” says Dr Yonas Geda, psychiatrist and behavioral neurologist at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus and senior author of the study.

Researchers conducted a neuro-cognitive assessment at the time of enrollment in the study, with evaluations every 15 months. Following the assessment, an expert consensus panel at the Alzheimer Disease Research Centre at Mayo Clinic made the classification of normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment for each study participant, based on published criteria.

“Our previous cross-sectional study had found an association between engagement in mentally stimulating activities in late life and decreased odds of mild cognitive impairment,” says Geda. “However, those findings were considered preliminary until confirmed by a prospective cohort study that we are now reporting in JAMA Neurology.”

The benefits of being cognitively engaged even were seen among apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 carriers. APOE ε4 is a genetic risk factor for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s dementia. However, for APOE ε4 carriers, only computer use and social activities were associated with a decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment.

“Even for a person who is at genetic risk for cognitive decline, engaging in some activities was beneficial,” says Dr Janina Krell-Roesch, the first author of the study and a post-doctoral researcher in Geda’s Translational Neuroscience and Aging Programme (TAP). “So I think the signal is there even for APOE ε4 carriers.”

Abstract

Importance: Cross-sectional associations between engagement in mentally stimulating activities and decreased odds of having mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer disease have been reported. However, little is known about the longitudinal outcome of incident MCI as predicted by late-life (aged ≥70 years) mentally stimulating activities.

Objectives: To test the hypothesis of an association between mentally stimulating activities in late life and the risk of incident MCI and to evaluate the influence of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 genotype.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This investigation was a prospective, population-based cohort study of participants in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Participants 70 years or older who were cognitively normal at baseline were followed up to the outcome of incident MCI. The study dates were April 2006 to June 2016.

Main Outcomes and Measures: At baseline, participants provided information about mentally stimulating activities within 1 year before enrollment into the study. Neurocognitive assessment was conducted at baseline, with evaluations at 15-month intervals. Cognitive diagnosis was made by an expert consensus panel based on published criteria. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs were calculated using Cox proportional hazards regression models after adjusting for sex, age, and educational level.

Results: The final cohort consisted of 1929 cognitively normal persons (median age at baseline, 77 years [interquartile range, 74-82 years]; 50.4% [n = 973] female) who were followed up to the outcome of incident MCI. During a median follow-up period of 4.0 years, it was observed that playing games (HR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.65-0.95) and engaging in craft activities (HR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.57-0.90), computer use (HR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.57-0.85), and social activities (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.63-0.94) were associated with a decreased risk of incident MCI. In a stratified analysis by APOE ε4 carrier status, the data point toward the lowest risk of incident MCI for APOE ɛ4 noncarriers who engage in mentally stimulating activities (eg, computer use: HR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.58-0.92) and toward the highest risk of incident MCI for APOE ɛ4 carriers who do not engage in mentally stimulating activities (eg, no computer use: HR, 1.74; 95% CI, 1.33-2.27).

Conclusions and Relevance: Cognitively normal elderly individuals who engage in specific mentally stimulating activities even in late life have a decreased risk of incident MCI. The associations may vary by APOE ε4 carrier status.

Authors

Janina Krell-Roesch, Prashanthi Vemuri, Anna Pink, Rosebud O Roberts, Gorazd B Stokin, Michelle M Mielke, Teresa JH Christianson, David S Knopman, Ronald C Petersen, Walter K Kremers, Yonas E Geda

 

Melanie Godfrey is a director at Foundations for Life Holistic Family Centre in the Southern Suburbs  Hemyock Road, Plumstead.  It is a multi-disciplinary centre which supports the healing and growth of the family unit through contact with a multi-disciplinary team all contained in one place.  It provides a safe, caring and nurturing environment for healing together with a tranquil garden, art or creative space, play therapy room and other therapeutic rooms. A space has been created where emotional, behavioural and educational growth can thrive.  Apart from the above workshops are also offered- renowned speakers such as Anne Cawood and Nina Mensing are just two.  Focus is placed on parenting and topical issues in the conference / workshop space.  Check out their website – www.foundationsforlife.co.za. for more information.

Contact details:

MELANIE GODFREY

e: mel@foundationsforlife.co.za

www.foundationsforlife.co.za

p: 021 761 8144

https://www.facebook.com/FoundationsForLifeZA/

 

 

Older patients who see the same general practitioner over time experience fewer avoidable admissions to hospital for certain conditions, a large study in England found.

Healthcare systems in many countries are seeking to reduce hospital admissions for patients with conditions manageable in primary care (known as ambulatory care sensitive conditions). Emergency admissions for these conditions accounted for £1.42bn of spending in England (£170,590 for each general practice) in 2009-10.

The focus has largely been on improving access to primary care (for example, by extending opening hours or introducing remote care), but this might have the unintended effect of reducing continuity of care.

In fact, evidence suggests that continuity of care is declining in England – and its link with hospital admissions has been unclear. So researchers at The Health Foundation examined whether continuity of care with a general practitioner is associated with hospital admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions for older patients.

They analysed patient level data from English primary and secondary care records for over 230,000 patients aged between 62 and 82 years between April 2011 and March 2013. They chose to focus on older patients because they account for a high proportion of both GP consultations and potentially avoidable hospital admissions.

They found that continuity of care varied considerably across general practices in England, and tended to be lower in larger practices. Patients who saw the same general practitioner a greater proportion of the time experienced fewer admissions to hospital for ambulatory care sensitive conditions than other patients.

Indeed, compared with patients with low continuity of care, patients with medium continuity of care experienced almost 9% fewer of these admissions, and those with high continuity of care experienced just over 12% fewer. This association was particularly true among patients who were heavy users of primary care (more than 18 visits over the study period).

The authors point to various explanations for their findings. For instance, continuous care might promote a more effective and trusting relationship between patients and doctors, leading to a better understanding of health problems and more appropriate care.

They stress that this is an observational study so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. Nevertheless, they conclude that “strategies to improve the continuity of care in general practice may reduce secondary care costs, particularly for the heaviest users of healthcare.”

In a linked editorial, researchers at the University of Bristol suggest that seeing the same doctor “builds trust and a sense of mutual responsibility between patients and GPs” while a primary care system that is increasingly fragmented “provides the setting for patients to choose to attend an emergency department instead.”

Given the growing body of evidence supporting the importance of continuity of primary care, they call for “further policy initiatives to promote it and more support for general practices to help them improve it.

This would not only have benefits for patients, but would also improve job satisfaction for GPs and very likely reduce pressures on hospitals, they conclude.

Abstract
Objective: To assess whether continuity of care with a general practitioner is associated with hospital admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions for older patients.
Design: Cross sectional study.
Setting: Linked primary and secondary care records from 200 general practices participating in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink in England.
Participants: 230 472 patients aged between 62 and 82 years and who experienced at least two contacts with a general practitioner between April 2011 and March 2013.
Main outcome measure: Number of hospital admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions (those considered manageable in primary care) per patient between April 2011 and March 2013.
Results: We assessed continuity of care using the usual provider of care index, which we defined as the proportion of contacts occurring between April 2011 and March 2013 that were with the most frequently seen general practitioner. On average, the usual provider of care index score was 0.61. Continuity of care was lower among practices with more doctors (average score 0.59 in large practices versus 0.70 in small practices). Higher continuity of care was associated with fewer admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions. When modelled, controlling for demographic and clinical patient characteristics, an increase in the usual provider of care index of 0.2 for all patients would reduce these admissions by 6.22% (95% confidence interval 4.87% to 7.55%). There was greater evidence for an association among patients who were heavy users of primary care. Heavy users also experienced more admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions than other patients (0.36 admissions per patient for those with ≥18 contacts with a general practitioner, compared with 0.04 admissions per patient for those with 2-4 contacts).
Conclusions: Strategies that improve the continuity of care in general practice may reduce secondary care costs, particularly for the heaviest users of healthcare. Promoting continuity might also improve the experience of patients and those working in general practice.

Authors
Isaac Barker, Adam Steventon, Sarah R Deeny

 

http://www.parent24.com/

 

We have a vaccine for six cancers; why are less than half of kids getting it?
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Although it’s been available for more than a decade, as of 2014 only 40 percent of girls had received the full three doses of the vaccine, while only 22 percent of boys had received all three. That is far lower than the 87 percent vaccination rates for the Tdap vaccine, which prevents tetanus, diptheria and acellular pertussis. Rates of uptake are low in all population groups.

Some of the reasons include misinformation about the vaccine and why it’s administered to children. Because it is transmitted sexually in almost all cases, many parents assume their children do not need it until they are sexually active. Some believe that giving it will encourage early sexual behavior. Three separate doses on three separate doctor visits place a burden to many working parents. And, of course, there are those few who believe that vaccines are not good for children.

Now, however, with the approval of a two-dose regimen for children under age 15, we have an opportunity to revisit the conversation with providers and parents and reinvigorate efforts to expand HPV vaccination. If successful, we may save tens of thousands of Americans from cancer every year.

Read: Can your DNA affect childhood cancer?

A common virus with an uncommon risk

Oncologists and cancer control researchers, including my colleagues at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, regard HPV as the leading cause of many cervical, anal, vaginal, vulvar, penile and oropharynx cancers, or head and neck cancers. In fact, studies are now revealing how HPV damages the genes in our cells and triggers the mutations of cancer.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks HPV infections and trends, and the numbers are daunting: 79 million Americans are currently carriers for at least one type of HPV, and about 14 million become newly infected each year. Most infections are benign, and nine of 10 fade within two years. Several strains have been directly linked to cancers, however, inflicting more than 30,000 Americans annually.

HPV is almost universally transmitted through sexual activity, but it can also be transmitted through kissing. For the vaccine to be most effective, immunity must develop well before exposure, which is why it’s important that young people get the vaccine.The full schedule should be completed at an early age, well before engaging in these risky behaviors. Clinical trials have shown that when administered correctly, the HPV vaccine provides close to 100 percent protection against cervical precancers and genital warts, and over the last decade there has been a 64 percent reduction in the HPV infections the vaccine targets.

The first HPV vaccine, Gardasil, launched with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in the summer of 2006. Almost immediately it became embroiled in dangerously incorrect assumptions – even more prevalent at that time – about vaccines, and a persistent political debate that confuses the recommended HPV vaccination age (as young as nine) with when young people become sexually active (much later).

Despite those challenges, the publicity surrounding the vaccine helped health care providers raise awareness, and vaccination rates have grown.

The current formulation, Gardasil 9, requires three doses over six months for young people aged 15 to 26. However, the CDC recently recommended Gardasil 9 as being equally effective in two doses for adolescents nine to 14 years old, with the dosages separated by as much as a year. As parents consider HPV vaccine options, the two-dose approach will likely prove more convenient and easier to provide.

Read: Alternative treatments for child cancer

Two doses, many lives

Recently, the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Centers – 69 world-leading research and treatment facilities distributed across the country – called on Americans to universally endorse the vaccines and follow the CDC’s new two-dose recommendation when appropriate.

The new two-dose push is critical. Any cancer is bad, but many of the cancers caused by HPV are particularly difficult. Head and neck cancers are disfiguring and can cause tremendous problems with swallowing and with speaking. In turn, those problems can render patients unable to eat and can dramatically affect a person’s desire to socialize.

After more than a decade of use, it is clear that HPV vaccines are safe and effective. Providers must talk to parents and patients about the vaccine, understand concerns, and respond with clear information and strong recommendations. Parents and guardians, too, should talk to their health care provider to learn more about the HPV vaccine and its benefits.

There are HPV resources for both patients and physicians, such as a CDC fact sheet for patients and a series of resources for clinicians, but the most impact will come from one-on-one conversations. In trusted communication with patients, providers can emphasize the HPV vaccine’s universal safety – in both clinical trials and widespread global use – and explain why the vaccination must come well before a child is sexually active, not as an adult. Ultimately, as with MMR or the flu shot, this is about a virus, not about sex.

Read: And she will be cancer free

All parents and guardians should have their sons and daughters complete a two-dose 9-valent HPV vaccine series before age 13, or complete a catch-up vaccine series as soon as possible in older children, including three doses in those older than 15. The ideal time is when a child is receiving other childhood vaccines at age 11-12. If this bundling had been done, the HPV vaccination rate would be over 90 percent in cheap levitra online this country.

Young men and young women up to age 26 who were not vaccinated as preteens or teens need to complete a three-dose vaccine series to protect themselves against HPV.

As a cancer control researcher, and as a parent of three boys, I have closely followed the arrival of HPV vaccines. There is no room for equivocation – these vaccines exist, they work and if they can prevent my children from developing cancer later in life, I had them vaccinated. During the last century, vaccines helped bring many diseases under control, and eradicated smallpox. There is a vaccine that may help eradicate several cancers in this century – but only if we act.

Do you think parents are wary of the preventative HPV vaccine because they are misinformed about it? Would you let your child get it? Send us your comments and stories to chatback@parent24.com we might publish your response, inbox us should you wish to remain anonymous.

Electra D. Paskett, Professor of Cancer Research, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

We tend to lump these 2 ideas together when we talk about retirement. But retirement is when we stop doing what we have been doing and we either start doing something else, or we sit back and let the world get on without us. 

Old age refers to a stage when people have limited regenerative abilities and are more susceptible to disease and increasing frailty.

Many of the young-at-heart, physically fit Boomers that I meet, say that they will never retire – and I must confess – I’m one of them. What we have in mind when we say that, is that we will continue working on our projects, running our companies, getting out there and making a difference. We won’t ever slow down because “when my time comes – then I’ll go”.  In other words we will work until the day we die.

And I wish us good luck with getting that right!

We read stories of Nonagenarians running marathons and pumping iron, swimming open water marathons and riding Harleys. One or two of us will beat the odds and become one of those. But for most of us, we have a big challenge ahead. The things we want to do become harder and more demanding on a body that is slowing down.

As we get older our muscle mass decreases, our brain synapses are less plentiful, our bones lose density and our flexibility diminishes. Our eyesight and our hearing start to go. We are injured more easily and it takes longer to recover. We move and react more slowly and the world becomes viagra sans ordonnance a little more scary. This may only happen in our 80s, but happen it will.

And if we don’t recognise these changes and we try to over-ride them with a “gung-ho” attitude, we are setting ourselves up for a lot of heartache.

A month ago I lifted my bike onto its storage rack and felt a tug in my shoulder. A month later it’s still sore and I don’t have full use or strength. A while ago I would have recovered in a couple of days. And I’m just shy of 70. How will I be at 80? And what about 90? 

There is such pressure to stay “hip and happening” in our retirement – but there will come a time when we can’t any more. When that moment arrives it comes with a few “friends” – depression, anxiety, denial and fear. For many women, they have been talking to their friends, probably for years, or perhaps, they’ve been seeing a Counsellor so they’ve got some measure of the beast. 

For most men it is a lonely time – how can we admit that we are feeling lost and useless, we can’t talk to our friends. What would they think of us? All our lives we’ve been told that men don’t cry – so how can we start now. We just suck it up and the “black dog” descends upon us.

It is at this point that we need to find our spiritual connection to the world and to those around us.

That connection may be religious, where we “let go and let God”, or it may be where we find our “oneness” with the world. Our “job” is now … to be. Just to be – in the moment, giving our fullest attention, listening to our inner dialogue, allowing ourselves to feel what we feel without needing to find solutions and “make things right”, allowing silence, allowing our-self to contemplate our history and to forgive our-self for things done and not done, said and not said. And we need to talk about how we are feeling and we need to express our fears. But we need a safe place where we can do that. Sitting

in the pub over a couple of beers with the guys isn’t going to cut it. Some of us may be able to talk to our Church minister, but where else can men and women talk to other men and women?

One place where this could happen would be at the many retirement homes and villages that are springing up around the country – their business is retirement and old age. At present their focus is on their facilities and their social environment. Shouldn’t an important part of their service be to demystify aging? They have (should have?) the knowledge and experience to become the University of the 4th Age. A place where we can talk about the impact of retirement, the challenges of old age, the acceptance of frailty and the inevitability of death – not just for their existing residents, but for all the Boomers out there.

These are common issues, but they come with lots of denial and plenty of shame – and like most things – when they are brought out into the open and shared with others, they aren’t as horrible as we fear. 

Alan Maguire is a Retirement Coach and creator of The Elders Journey – a guide to aging with intention. He can be contacted at alan@theeldersjourney.com and you are invited to join his Facebook Page  Society of Elders.

We tend to lump these 2 ideas together when we talk about retirement. But retirement is when we stop doing what we have been doing and we either start doing something else, or we sit back and let the world get on without us. 

Old age refers to a stage when people have limited regenerative abilities and are more susceptible to disease and increasing frailty.

Many of the young-at-heart, physically fit Boomers that I meet, say that they will never retire – and I must confess – I’m one of them. What we have in mind when we say that, is that we will continue working on our projects, running our companies, getting out there and making a difference. We won’t ever slow down because “when my time comes – then I’ll go”.  In other words we will work until the day we die.

And I wish us good luck with getting that right!

We read stories of Nonagenarians running marathons and pumping iron, swimming open water marathons and riding Harleys. One or two of us will beat the odds and become one of those. But for most of us, we have a big challenge ahead. The things we want to do become harder and more demanding on a body that is slowing down.

As we get older our muscle mass decreases, our brain synapses are less plentiful, our bones lose density and our flexibility diminishes. Our eyesight and our hearing start to go. We are injured more easily and it takes longer to recover. We move and react more slowly and the world becomes a little more scary. This may only happen in our 80s, but happen it will.

And if we don’t recognise these changes and we try to over-ride them with a “gung-ho” attitude, we are setting ourselves up for a lot of heartache.

A month ago I lifted my bike onto its storage rack and felt a tug in my shoulder. A month later it’s still sore and I don’t have full use or strength. A while ago I would have recovered in a couple of days. And I’m just shy of 70. How will I be at 80? And what about 90? 

There is such pressure to stay “hip and happening” in our retirement – but there will come a time when we can’t any more. When that moment arrives it comes with a few “friends” – depression, anxiety, denial and fear. For many women, they have been talking to their friends, probably for years, or perhaps, they’ve been seeing a Counsellor so they’ve got some measure of the beast. 

For most men it is a lonely time – how can we admit that we are feeling lost and useless, we can’t talk to our friends. What would they think of us? All our lives we’ve been told that men don’t cry – so how can we start now. We just suck it up and the “black dog” descends upon us.

It is at this point that we need to find our spiritual connection to the world and to those around us.

That connection may be religious, where we “let go and let God”, or it may be where we find our “oneness” with the world. Our “job” is now … to be. Just to be – in the moment, giving our fullest attention, listening to our inner dialogue, allowing ourselves to feel what we feel without needing to find solutions and “make things right”, allowing silence, allowing our-self to contemplate our history and to forgive our-self for things done and not done, said and not said. And we need to talk about how we are feeling and we need to express our fears. But we need a safe place where we can do that. Sitting

in the pub over a couple of beers with the guys isn’t going to cut it. Some of us may be able to talk to our Church minister, but where else can men and women talk to other men and women?

One place where this could happen would be at the many retirement homes and villages that are springing up around the country – their business is retirement and old age. At present their focus is on their facilities and their social environment. Shouldn’t an important part of their service be to demystify aging? They have (should have?) the knowledge and experience to become the University of the 4th Age. A place where we can talk about the impact of retirement, the challenges of old age, the acceptance of frailty and the inevitability of death – not just for their existing residents, but for all the Boomers out there.

These are common issues, but they come with lots of denial and plenty of shame – and like most things – when they are brought out into the open and shared with others, they aren’t as horrible as we fear. 

Alan Maguire is a Retirement Coach and creator of The Elders Journey – a guide to aging with intention. He can be contacted at alan@theeldersjourney.com and you are invited to join his Facebook Page  Society of Elders.

 

 

About 40% of the top selling sunscreens on Amazon.com don’t meet American Academy of Dermatology guidelines, found a Northwestern Medicine study. Consumers also spend up to 30 times more for products that provide the same sunscreen protection as lower-cost alternatives.

This was largely due to a lack of water or sweat resistance, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study. The study also found consumers spend up to 3,000% more for products that provide the same sunscreen protection as lower-cost sunscreens.

Northwestern investigators wanted to identify high performing products that are affordable and popular to know what to recommend to their patients and, hopefully, increase the likelihood of their using it.

Sunscreen use is low for adolescents and adults. And, if they do wear sunscreen, they don’t use enough or apply it frequently enough. Cost and “cosmetic elegance” of the product – how it feels on the skin, colour or scent – may be factors.

“We are often asked to recommend sunscreens, and we wanted to know what consumers prefer,” said lead study author Dr Steve Xu, a resident in dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This way we are suggesting popular products they will actually use that will protect them.” “You don’t want to wear a chalky, greasy, terrible-smelling product, even if your dermatologist recommends it,” Xu said. “This gave us insight into what consumers prefer, so it can guide our recommendations and be cost conscious.”

Xu said he was surprised at the 3,000% difference in price for products that provided basically the same protection.

To identify the most popular sunscreens, investigators looked at the top rated 1% of the 6,500 sunscreens with four or more stars sold on Amazon.com. They came up with the 65 top-rated products. The goal was to identify high performing products that are affordable and popular to encourage adherence to sunscreen use.

Their median price was $3.32 an ounce; median SPF was 35; 92% had broad-spectrum coverage claims and 62% were labelled as water or sweat resistant. The cheapest sunscreen was 68c an ounce and the most expensive was $24 an ounce.

Sunscreens are particularly important for individuals with certain dermatological conditions such as transplant patients who have photosensitive skin due to the drugs they must take or individuals with certain dermatological conditions, Xu said.

“Dermatologists should have a voice in consumer choices when it comes to skin health, a voice that takes the patients’ best interests at heart and is not influenced by marketing claims,” Xu said.

The AAD recommendations call for products to provide:

  • Broad spectrum protection covering both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30.
  • Water resistance (no sunscreen is water proof).

Dr Roopal Kundu, Northwestern Medicine dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology, is senior author.