By (SBWIRE) -- 04/01/2013
Canadian senior citizens may soon be outnumbering youngsters of Canada, according to a Statistics of Canada projection. The statistics also show that the country's overall population will be above 40 million by 2036.
Seniors are the happiest demographic in Canada, according to a survey released Monday, with people 66 and older outshining all other age groups in terms of overall contentedness, optimism about aging, the sense that "age is just a number," and the belief that you should never stop living life to the fullest.
Despite this positive outlook, however, the study finds seniors continue to battle unflattering stereotypes about loss of independence, reduced mobility, diminished mental capacity and inability to keep physically active. In fact, nine in 10 Canadians associate aging with something bad.
"The research consistently tells us that as we get older, we get happier. ... And yet, the vast majority - 89 per cent of people - hold some negative stereotype about aging," said Amy D'Aprix, a gerontologist from Toronto. "If we can blow these myths out of the water, it will change everything."
The survey, conducted by Leger Marketing for Revera and the International Federation of Aging, draws on responses from 1,501 Canadian adults, including Gen Y (18 to 32), Gen X (33 to 45), boomers (46 to 65), seniors (66 to 74) and older seniors (75-plus).
Across the board, negative connotations about aging were more common than positive ones: 45 per cent cited mobility hurdles while 36 per cent said "more time to do the things I love;" 43 per cent noted loss of independence, but just 32 per cent envisioned increased wisdom; 42 per cent cited reduced mental capacity, while 19 per cent said self-assurance; and a mere 15 per cent linked old age with "a better version of myself."
Sixty-five per cent of older seniors, and 64 per cent of seniors, reported feeling happy with their life right now, compared to 53 per cent of boomers, 41 per cent of Gen Xers and 37 per cent of Gen Y. Older Canadians were also the most likely to think that age is just a number.
So what are seniors smiling about that younger Canadians, apparently, are overlooking? The top responses among those 66 and older were being comfortable in their own skin (68 per cent), being surrounded by friends and family (62 per cent), and having time to do things that are important to them (61 per cent).
The online poll was conducted Aug. 24 to Sept. 4, 2012. A probability sample of that size would yield a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/Seniors+happier+than+other+generations+Canada+survey+finds/8118487/story.html#ixzz2OJMuJ9Jz
Is walking part of your regular routine? If it is, then you are doing your brain and memory a favour. There is mounting evidence that regular walking benefits the brain health of older adults.
The Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois recently reported the results of a study involving 120 sedentary people aged 55-80, which found that walking increased the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is critical for new learning and creating long-term memories.
Study participants, who hadn’t engaged in more than 30 minutes of exercise in the six months prior to the beginning of the study, took part in exercise groups for a year. Half were assigned to walk three days a week, starting out at just 10 minutes per day and gradually increasing to 40 minutes as their fitness levels improved. The other half did stretching and toning exercises for the same amount of time.
Participants were assessed at the start of the study, at six months into the study, and at the end of the year. The assessments included a test of spatial memory (memory related to one’s environment and spatial orientation), a brain scan, measures of fitness level, and a blood test to measure levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF can be thought of as an essential fuel for the growth of new neurons (cells) in the brain.
Size of the hippocampus area of the brain increased in walking group.
“The results of the study are compelling,” says Dr. Nicole Anderson, Baycrest senior scientist and Associate Professor, Departments of Medicine (Psychiatry) and Psychology, University of Toronto.
“Fitness levels improved more in the walking than in the stretching and toning group, and this improvement in fitness level was associated with an increase in the size of the hippocampus. Although spatial memory improved and levels of BDNF increased over time comparably in both groups, only in the walking group were these changes related to increased size of the hippocampus,” explains Dr. Anderson.
“While these results may seem complicated, they in fact are quite straightforward. Had these people continued to sit around inactive for the year, their hippocampus would have shrunk by one to two per cent. Engaging in something as simple as walking three times a week boosted their memory, increased the size of their hippocampus, and these changes were related to changes in fitness level and quite possibly the growth of new neurons.”
What about people who can’t walk 40 minutes a day due to bad hips or knees? While the University of Illinois researchers focused only on walking, there is good reason to believe that any aerobic activity (workouts in a pool, for example) would afford the same benefits. If you find that you can’t get out for a walk due to cold, slippery conditions in the winter, try walking on a treadmill or mall walking as an alternative.
“A final point is that the participants in both the walking and stretching/toning groups worked out together in groups,” notes Dr. Anderson. “We don’t know if the same benefits would have accrued had these people worked out alone, but there is lots of evidence supporting the beneficial effects of social interaction on brain health.”
The bottom line? Get out there with other people and move.
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