Aging Research Part 2

Frist of all, thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts about a shopping restriction. I will return to this topic soon, but today I am going to say something about my own research, as I have promised previously. If you did not read my first post about aging research, you can read about it here. Before speak about my research, let me just say that I have worn my purple dress again, and as a style blogger I am very proud of when I wear and show the same clothes over and over again. To me it means that I have been able to select a piece that I like, that fits me, is versatile, and that the quality is good. This time I styled the dress with a thin pink belt and beige flats for a normal day at the office.

As I said in my last post about aging research, I think that most persons are aware that we live longer than we used to. Most of us also know that more persons across the world are being overweight or obese than ever before. In fact, more than 50% of the European adult population is overweight or obese, including persons aged 65 and above. The situation is even worse in the United States. During the last decade I and other researchers have shown that persons that being overweight and especially persons being obese are not only at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, but that negative effect of excess weight also extends to an increased risk of dementia, a disorder that cause memory problems, dependency, and in the long run death. The bad news is also that among those who don’t get dementia, overweight and obesity also seem to cause memory and thinking problems and a steeper decline in these abilities.

Although the negative effect of midlife overweight is well-known, the implication of overweight on late life health is less well understood and need to be further researched. In late life being underweight or being normal weight are more often associated with  an increased dementia risk or low cognitive function than being overweight. This might seem very contradictory, and it is often referred to as the obesity paradox. That also seem to be true for other outcomes, for example mortality. Researchers are not 100 percent sure why we see the reversed association, and one of my aims with my research is to get a better understanding of why we see this change. There is several possible explanations, but one very likely explanation is that persons with dementia lose weight, due to reasons that they forget to eat, they may walk a lot due to anxiety, changes in the metabolism, etc. It has actually been shown that persons with dementia lose weight before the dementia onset. In other words weight loss in late life might be an early sign of dementia, and spontaneous weight loss is for sure not a good thing in late life (or seldom in younger ages too).

I also want to know if the current weight recommendations, to obtain a normal weight (defined as a BMI between 18-25 kg/m2), apply to old persons or not. I and many other researchers thinks that a little overweight (but probably not obesity) in late life might not be as negative as in midlife. I know that everyone now wonders when late life starts. The general definition of old age is that it starts at the age of 65 years, but of course there are big individual variations and biological age (for example, how old our cells and tissues are) can be very different from chronological age. Just to be cautious I want to say, that I don’t recommend older persons to gain weight. I think there is a lot of more research to be done before any firm conclusions can be drawn and health recommendations can be developed, but maybe the health goal in late life should be to obtain your weight.

Let me say, that although we know that life style factors such as midlife obesity or smoking might increase the risk of dementia, the main risk factor of dementia is still our genetic set up. If we have a close relative (parent, grandparent, sibling) that have got diagnosed with dementia unfortunately our risk of dementia are higher. However, there are studies showing that persons with an increased risk of dementia would especially benefit of a healthy life style. And if I would give you only one health advice if you would like to decrease your risk of dementia it would be to exercise. We don’t know what the optimal dose of exercise is, but light and moderate exercise is better than being sedentary. Exercise decrease the risk of so many other risk factors of dementia (such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes), and increase the blood circulation, etc. I usually ends my lectures about what we can do to keep a healthy brain in late life with;

What is good for your heart is also good for your brain!

Dress – Jan Rasco; Camisole – Triumph; Flats – Mjus; Watch – Emporio Armani

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6 Responses to Aging Research Part 2

  1. Lisa Walter says:

    First, I want to compliment your dress. The color is so vibrant and pretty on you and the pink camp peeking out at the neckline give a special little color splash.

    Thank your for posting about issues facing the aging population. I think aging issues are still not given enough attention and we need to keep the topic in the forefront of people’s mind. You bring up some important things to consider.

    I’m planning on taking a look at some of your research..as soon as I settle into a routine with the new school year!

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      Thank you Lisa! I am very glad that there are other younger persons than me that are willing to go into the field of gerontology. Especially young female researchers need to support each others, so I am very happy about that we have found each others!
      Good luck with the new school year, no mater how much you prepare there always seem to be things that have to be done in last minute and that you can’t prepare for!

  2. Joni says:

    Actually it’s good to know that I’m benefiting my brain when I’m jumping around. My 84 yr old mom just had knee surgery and I’m wondering if her weight loss is due to the surgery or the onset of dementia. It’s a hard thing to watch our parents age. I think with each generation we’re becoming a bit more aware of what we can do to increase our end of life quality. I just adore Jane Fonda books for that reason.

    thanks for sharing your research!

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      Thank you Joni! There could be a lot of reasons for weight loss in late life, and especially if you mom just had surgery, the surgery might be the reasons. However, tell her that she should eat what ever she likes and not worry about gaining weight (if she does), as if you lose weight in late life you lose a lot of muscle mass, and that is really hard to retain in late life. I hope she will feel better soon!

  3. Kaffesoester says:

    You look too lovely for office! The belt addition is perfect, you really have the best waist for this!

    I’m kind of relieved to know that I’m not genetically loaded with dementia risk. Most women of my family grow very old, my grand mother is 92, like her mum was when she died. So good genes. Now, good lifestyle… That’s where things are lagging! This ever present weight issue just plagues my conscience all the time! I guess I should stick to all strawberries and no cream! A bit sad.

    Although the messages can be tough your work is important and impressive! Thank you so much Anna, for taking the time to explain it to all of us!

  4. Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

    Thank you Tine! I am so glad to hear that you have good genes, because I want us to grow old together and be like one of those cool ladies that are over 70 years of age and have style blogs, if it is still popular then (I doubt it)! But we could be cool cats anyhow and keep up with the technology!
    I am actually cheating a little I both wear a camisole that helps me with my problem area and hold in my tummy when I take the photo. But I have done some walking to and I think that has helped a little bite. I am trying to live as I learn.

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