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Special needs of the Super-'agers'
October 19, 2015, 1:46 pm

The medical community has traditionally grouped all aged people under a single category, assuming that what they knew worked for 50-, 60- and 70-year-olds was equally applicable to 80-, 90- and 100-year-olds. New research shows that this is not necessarily the right approach.

Doctors already know that the diseases and treatments for an infant are not the same as for an adolescent or that the health issues for an adolescent are not the same as the issues for a 60-year-old. It is now increasingly becoming clear that we need to apply special strategies in managing the health and maintaining bodily functions of the super-aged among us, those in their 80s and above.

Some of the takeaways from a recent study on this specific geriatric group — those above their 80s — reveal that while it is not good to be overweight when you are young, with every advancing decade through your 70s, 80s, and 90s, it stops being a risk factor and actually becomes a protective aspect for longevity.  Underweight people in the study had a 50 percent increase in their mortality, so obviously being thin is not good when you are old.

Another fact revealed by the study was that people who live longer consume 200 to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is two to three cups of coffee and that people who exercise live longer than those who do not, even if it is only 15 minutes of walking a day.

Increasing the exercise time to thirty minutes a day helped more and 45 minutes helped the most. Mercifully, three hours of walking was not found to be any better than 45 minutes of exercising.

Every additional hour per day that you spend doing something rather than sitting watching TV in your 70s, increased your likelihood of living longer. No matter what form of exercise it was, whether social engagement, going to any kind of religious, political or social gathering, cognitive exercise like crossword puzzles or playing bridge, the important thing was to get out there and do things.

The study also found that while a good diet matters, any individual component did not appear to make a difference when you are past your 70s. So the amount of vitamin C or any other vitamin in the diet did not make a difference nor did any particular food.

The study shows that a good healthy lifestyle, without preference for any single component, specific diet or particular form of exercise, helped to reduce the risk of dementia in old age and helped with longevity. Making sure you get enough sleep and doing whatever you can to limit stress is also important. Using your brain is also really important, although solving crossword puzzles or online cognitive exercises was good, just going out and engaging with other people was even more beneficial. 

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