Top 2012 apps for 50-plus – Mature Focus
What baby boomers can learn from 100-year-olds
UnitedHealthcare’s 2012 “100@100” survey of 100 centenarians found that the nation’s 100-year-olds are about as physically and socially active as Americans half their age.
More than half of the centenarians surveyed reported exercising nearly every day. Almost 45 percent cited walking as their favorite form of exercise, and 40 percent said they do muscle-strengthening exercises. Eleven percent said they practice a mind/body/spirit activity such as yoga or tai chi, 8 percent ride a bike regularly, 5 percent jog, and 2 percent participate in a sport such as baseball, basketball, soccer or tennis.
The survey also polled 300 adults ages 50-55 and compared those baby boomers’ lifestyles to the lifestyles of those who have reached the century mark. Results showed that:
• Centenarians and baby boomers are equally likely (89 percent each) to talk to a friend or family member every day.
• Centenarians are almost as likely as baby boomers to attend a social event (24 percent vs. 26 percent).
• Most adults in both groups find something to laugh about every day (87 percent of boomers vs. 80 percent of centenarians).
• More centenarians than baby boomers (81 percent vs. 68 percent) eat nutritiously balanced meals.
• More centenarians than baby boomers (71 percent vs. 38 percent) get at least eight hours of sleep per night.
• Centenarians and baby boomers engage in similar activities to keep their minds healthy: communicating regularly with friends, family and others in the community (88 percent of boomers and 82 percent of centenarians), reading (87 percent of boomers and 66 percent of centenarians), and staying physically active (74 percent of boomers and 65 percent of centenarians).
• Both groups believe that longevity is more affected by lifestyle than by heredity, but centenarians think heredity is more important than boomers do.
• While 58 percent of baby boomers have used Facebook and 11 percent have used Twitter, only 3 percent of centenarians have used Facebook, and only one of the centenarians surveyed reported using Twitter.
The 2012 survey showed also that Internet use among 100-year-olds nearly doubled since the 2011 survey – up from 13 percent to 25 percent. Most (56 percent) of centenarians who go online said they had shared photos on the Internet, 48 percent reported sending and receiving email, and 44 percent said they searched for information online. Nearly as many centenarians (4 percent) as boomers (6 percent) said they had used an online dating service.
The majority of boomers (80 percent) and centenarians (62 percent) said they think the Internet will be replaced by something better in less than 25 years. Roughly one-third of each group gave the Internet as we know it a lifespan of 10 years.
Both groups were asked to compile a list of 14 famous people they would most like to invite to a family dinner, and for the third consecutive year, centenarians’ top pick was Betty White (65 percent). Tied for second were George W. Bush and President Barack Obama (56 percent each). Most boomers also chose Betty White (78 percent), Tom Hanks was picked by 75 percent of respondents, and 70 percent of boomers chose Paul McCartney.
Finally, half of the 100-year-olds said “Gone with the Wind” was the greatest movie in the past 100 years, and baby boomers’ top movie pick was “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
There are an estimated 72,000 centenarians living in the U.S. today, and the U.S. Census Bureau has projected that the number will increase to more than 600,000 by 2050.
Online health help for older adults
A website launched late last year offers a unique resource for older adults and those who care for them.
Healthinagaing.org, a site created by the American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Aging, contains information and helpful tips designed to help manage complex health issues that many older adults face. The content is written by geriatrics experts and is easy to understand.
Included on healthinaging.org is:
• information on specific health conditions with an explanation of what is unique about the conditions in older adults
• information about health problems that often co-exist – such as high blood pressure and a type of dementia linked to high blood pressure – and how to manage them
• educational videos
• tip sheets on various health topics
• summaries on the latest research on health in aging
• information on managing medications, making care decisions and making one’s care wishes known
• a free geriatric health care professional referral service
Meds and memory loss
A team of international researchers found that several medications commonly used by older adults might contribute to problems with memory and concentration.
Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, research chairperson at the Montreal Geriatric University Institute, led an investigative study on the effect of certain medications on the memory, attention, concentration and brain performance of senior adults. After her team analyzed results of 162 experiments, Tannenbaum concluded that the episodic use of several medications often used to treat insomnia, anxiety, itching or allergies can negatively impact memory or concentration in the elderly.
Specifically, 68 trials on benzodiazepines, which often are used to treat anxiety and insomnia, showed the drugs consistently were linked to memory and concentration difficulties. A dozen tests on antihistamines and 15 tests on tricyclic antidepressants revealed deficits in the areas of attention and information processing.
Findings from the study support the March 2012 recommendations of the American Geriatric Society’s Revised Beers Criteria, which state that sleeping pills, first-generation antihistamines and tricyclic antidepressants should not be prescribed to the elderly.
Tannenbaum said seniors who are prescribed the above-mentioned drugs should talk to their doctors and pharmacists about alternative treatment options.
Top 2012 apps for 50-plus
Following are some of the best smartphone and tablet applications of 2012 for people aged 50 and older, according to various online sources:
• Big Calculator lets users take advantage of the iPad’s full screen size.
• Crosswords allows users to download the same puzzles many newspapers provide every day online.
• Lumosity Brain Trainer is a series of challenging brain-training games developed in cooperation with neuroscientists from some of the nation’s top universities.
• Magnifying Glass turns an iPad into a digital magnifying glass.
• MedCoach Medication Reminder lets users know when it’s time to take their medications and can connect to the user’s pharmacy for prescription refills.
• My Medical is a record-keeping app for personal medical information and can be used for records of multiple family members. Users can also store emergency contacts, health insurance information, copies of x-rays and more.
• Penultimate is perfect for those who like the convenience of today’s technology but prefer writing on paper. Words written on the screen with the user’s finger are transcribed into text, which can be saved.
• Silver Surf features large navigation buttons, text zoom, high contrast viewing and more to make Web browsing a breeze.
• SmartMoney Retirement Planner lets users visualize their retirement based on various working, saving an spending scenarios.