Category Archives: Global

It is crucial to know how societies view and treat older adults. This category compares continents and regions, including countries in different continents. The goal is to identify and examine the challenges and opportunities of population aging across cultures.

Are These Issues With Age Becoming More Common?

Health issues often seem like a fact of life, particularly as we get older. Some health conditions common in older people include high blood pressure or diabetes, depression, and oral health problems. Here are three issues to be aware of and how they impact our lives.

Hearing Loss

As you age, it is common to develop issues with hearing. However, it’s worth noting that these days, hearing issues are becoming a lot more common and developing far earlier than they used to. For instance, research shows that personal listening devices, even during our younger years, can negatively impact hearing. Loud noises can also cause sudden or permanent hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss is painless and usually happens over time. Symptoms of hearing loss are increased concentration, muffled sounds, and avoidance of social events. Without treatment, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, hearing loss will get gradually worse over time. 

Chronic Pain 

Chronic pain is a common, complex, and distressing problem that has a profound impact on society and individuals. It is now a concern in developed countries due to lifestyle choices and work environments. One of the most common forms of chronic pain during work time is repetitive strain injury, also known as RSI and repetitive motion disorder. RSI is a general term used to describe the pain felt in muscles, nerves, and tendons caused by repetitive movement and overuse. Companies and corporations should provide ergonomic furniture options, such as standing desks, laptop stands, and monitor stands, that could provide a tremendous benefit to employee health and wellness.

Obesity

Obesity is becoming more of a problem for every country because most people are not getting the right diet that their body needs to stay at a healthy weight. Communities are continuing to buy into the myth that healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food, regardless of evidence. While chia-seed smoothies are expensive luxury food, basic nourishment like carrots, lentils, potatoes is cheap. There are also socio-economic factors (income, education, employment, community safety, and social supports) at play that affect our ability to make healthy choices. For instance, people on low incomes are more likely to buy calorie-dense foods instead of fruit or vegetables because they are more filling. Raising awareness of the health risks associated with obesity while still treating people with dignity and respect can encourage ALL people to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

This is part of a series about aging in the twenty-first century.

The Changing Face Of Global HealthCare

The world of healthcare has changed enormously in the past few years. Many people are now prioritizing their health and wellness, from using exercise apps and wearable technology to raising awareness about specific health conditions. As the healthcare sector continues to evolve in so many different ways, health professionals must understand these crucial changes for continued effective treatment and all-around healthy living.

There are so many things at the moment that are impacting global healthcare, in both positive and negative ways. And the more health professionals can do to improve this, the better it will be moving forward. Here are just a few ideas to impact the healthcare landscape.

Technology In Healthcare

The healthcare industry is constantly changing and evolving with new technologies, practices, and innovations. Technological advancements, in particular, and illness trends all have an impact on w help improve the way patients are cared for, treatments are delivered, and hospitals are run. From policy to patients and everything in-between, technology plays such a major role in the future of healthcare. For instance, robot technology caring for the aging population is on the rise, and this is something that looks set to increase in the coming years, especially as technology grows rapidly. 

COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the healthcare industry. It has led to many problems with patients getting ill and hospitals becoming overwhelmed. Though in some areas, the number of cases does seem to have reduced. But we are still amid a pandemic, and it could be a long while before the world returns to a degree of normalcy. The strain of COVID-19 on healthcare systems around the world should not be overestimated, and this is something that looks set to change the way a lot of countries run and operate their healthcare systems. 

More Essential Healthcare

There is now a greater emphasis on essential healthcare, and one change in recent times includes the important elements of running a successful and fully operation hospital or doctor surgery. For instance, companies like Premier Anesthesia have played a major role in helping with this moving forward. For over nineteen years, Premier Anesthesia has carefully and intentionally developed hospital-based anesthesia practices.

There are a lot of ideas that play a massive part in essential healthcare, and it is vitally important for health professionals to come up with ideas that can play a role in delivering care and enabling health. Health professionals can continually improve their understanding of how the healthcare process works. With change comes the opportunity to play a crucial role in finding ways that can impact the world of healthcare.

This is part of a series about aging in the twenty-first century.

The Rise Of Gray Divorce In Today’s World

Gray divorce is a worldwide phenomenon, yet many individuals have never heard of it. When someone over the age of 50 gets divorced, it is known as Gray divorce. Recent data shows that among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s.

Gray divorce because it has different effects than divorce earlier in life. The impact of gray divorce affects not only the individual but the family system as well. Therefore, it is critical to investigate the reasons why some couples over 50 may decide to get a divorce.

A study reported that the onset of an empty nest, retirement, or chronic illnesses was not linked to gray divorce. Instead, the authors found that the reasons for this phenomenon are very similar to that of younger divorce. Some examples are marital quality, marital duration, homeownership, and wealth. Couples who are socially and economically disadvantaged are more likely to go through a gray divorce. If an older couple is experiencing social or economic hardship, or if they are just afraid of a gray divorce, they can work to avoid it. Some practices that could help include working on communication, spending time bonding together, and keeping their marriage a focus even while there are still children in the home. Another part of strengthening marriage to avoid gray divorce is to understand the models of marriage and divorce.

There are two models of marriage in today’s world. The first is the Expressive Individualistic Model, which states that couples only value their marriage if it helps them grow personally and achieves their individual goals. Under this model, individuals would consider gray divorce if they felt that their expressive individualistic goals were not being achieved or if they have experienced long periods of unhappiness with their partners. The second is the Commitment-Based Model of marriage, which states that binding and romantic love will hold couples together unless there is a severe strain on the relationship. Couples who fit into this model tended to experience gray divorce when they were experiencing severe relationship strain.

Marital problems are common and happen for a variety of reasons. Some examples are flawed reasoning to initially marry, physical/emotional abuse, or communication problems. Other challenges that could lead to divorce are lack of emotional mutuality, affairs, and alternative relationships. Once a couple gets divorced, their life can change dramatically.

Adults who go through gray divorces face many new challenges, including deciding to date again and finding a new partner for economic and health benefits and social ties. According to a 2019 study, 22 percent of women and 37 percent of men re-partnered within ten years of gray divorce. Re-partnering could mean being remarried or cohabitating. Re-partnering through cohabiting occurred more than remarriage, especially for men. Surprisingly, the rate of divorce is 2.5 times higher for those that have been remarried.

More research needs to be done on the gray divorce. It is an important topic of study for individuals going through a gray divorce or supporting others experiencing marital strain that could lead to divorce.

Logan Nuttall is a senior at Brigham Young University. Connect with Logan via email.

How Can We Be Proactive About Mental Health As We Age?

We are all aware of the importance of looking after our physical health as we age – taking regular exercise, supplementing our diets, taking the time to book the medical appointments that we need. We know that taking care of our health is the key to feeling good and looking good as we get older. 

What’s less discussed is how to protect our mental health through the aging process. Some organizations have found that one in five older people experience poor mental health or depression – rising to two in five for those elders living in care homes. It’s vital to be able to take proactive steps in guarding our mental health as we age. 

Facing Issues Head-On

Too often, we sweep the mental challenges that come with aging under the rug or dismiss them as something ‘everyone goes through.’ That attitude can be dangerous. Issues such as age discrimination, personal relationships, the impact of physical health issues, financial problems, and lack of fulfilling daily routines can affect how we age. If we try to minimize these issues, they can lead to worsening mental health and related problems such as alcohol and substance abuse. If you experience this or you know someone who is, getting the right support in place is vital – organizations such as Enterhealth Ranch Addiction Treatment, can help. Check them out! https://enterhealth.com/outpatient-ocoe/

Welcome Change 

Aging can involve a lot of changes, so learning how to be comfortable with change is something that can support older people. Issues such as dealing with retirement, setting a purposeful existence and daily routine, being assured of financial security, and being able to cope with altering health circumstances, new physical limitations, or changes in appearance are vital. Older people can often benefit from keeping an open mind on therapies, such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), which can support keeping an open mind and reframing your thinking. 

Keep Talking

Having someone to talk to can make a huge difference. A close friend, a trusted family member, even visiting a professional counseling service if you need it – can all make a significant difference in how you feel. As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. Managing difficulties and getting the input of other perspectives can help us to make sense of the challenges we encounter as we age, see new solutions, and feel less alone. 

Make A Plan

Having a plan for what lies ahead with aging can make the process manageable. Things to consider include events like retirement – and what comes after – staying active, overcoming mobility issues, retaining independence, dealing with loss and grief, access to the right facilities, and maintaining a social life as they are frequently areas that cause troubles in older age. Plan for your time and plan positive things to focus on and do. Life is what you make it, so if you approach the aging process well-informed and proactive, it’s likely to be a lot smoother. 

Edited by Global Health Aging

Redefining Your Excellent Style As You Age

Many people have different thoughts on ageing and what it means to them. While all of us have the same number of hours in a day and the same number of days in a year, what we choose to do with that time, and how we relate to it can be vastly different. For instance, there are huge industries that are supported by offering the antidote to ageing’s effects, for instance, how we may grow wrinkles or lose the color of our hair.

Of course, some people decide to take part in cosmetic surgery or other practices to help them look and feel younger, and that’s for every individual to decide. But how can we more easily redefine our style as we age, and what universal principles are worth knowing as you move into middle age and beyond? While it’s hard to give strict advice to apply to everyone, there are some worthwhile considerations we can make that aren’t necessarily platitudes or moral judgments in any way, shape, or form.

Let us consider what those are, and the value they might hold:

New Accessories

New accessories can make a major difference in how you tailor your outfit and how you can present yourself to the world. Accessories can become ephemeral additions to your outfit or perhaps long-standing sentimental pieces you love to wear. Sometimes, they can even look great and serve a real purpose, such as getting frames from eyeglasses.com

As you age, your taste in accessories may change. Perhaps you’ll love to wear more or less jewelry but invest in better items. Perhaps you’ll have jewelry crafted to celebrate milestones in your life. Maybe an investment in a watch you know will last a decade is an important gift to yourself. Don’t be afraid to tailor your accessory collection, as this can be great fun.

Color Tones & Shifts

The color tones and shifts in your outfits can be lovely to consider, particularly if you begin to stop dying your hair or if you wish to move into deeper, more confident, nobler, and dignified tones. For instance, in the autumn, deep maroons, crimsons, browns, and ochres can be worn to help elevate an outfit. It can make a nice change to switch up your color palette as you move into your wiser years, helping you bring a theme to your inward growth.

Beautiful Investments

A fantastic investment can serve as a reward to yourself. However, you may wish to invest in a beautiful tattoo or maybe investing in better grooming and skincare for mental health and self-care. Little pampering sessions can help you feel rejuvenated no matter how much you work all week. All this adds to how fresh and confident you feel, which, in turn, helps you feel much better in your skin.

Taking Inspiration & Setting It

Taking inspiration and setting it is a good means of staying motivated to remain stylish and to enjoy fashion and what that means to you. It might be that opening an Instagram account and following some of your style icons can help you feel inspired to put certain outfits together. Maybe you can take a few photos of your outfit of the day, and more. Feeling as if you can share, join the conversation, and listen to others gives you a sense of connection. That helps you feel as if people are with you, and that style is something to be shared, not just ruminated over.

It can also feel quite nice to get compliments or to wear something you are proud of and glad to own. In these times, perhaps going out and showing our outfits isn’t as wise as it once was, and so this can give you that social sense of style-setting that you can appreciate yourself and with others.

To conclude, it is critical to understand that age is no barrier to style, and if anything, it just opens up an array of alternate, wonderful options. If you choose what makes you happy and ensure that your clothes fit well, and do not worry about yourself changing with the years (everyone does), you will no doubt look classier, more beautiful, and more approachable than you ever have before.

Here’s to your magical journey of style!

Edited by Global Health Aging Editorial Team

Are You Afraid Of Getting Older?

If you have a fear of getting older, then you are not alone. Globally, just one in three are looking forward to old age, according to a 2019 Ipsos study. America falls slightly above the global average at 40 percent. Other countries feel much more positive about old age, including three quarters (73 percent) in India and two thirds (67 percent) in Turkey. Still, there’s room for improvement.

Better representation in the media, more inclusive design to solve social problems and better preparation for later life are needed to reduce the fear of getting older.

Aging is still viewed negatively in different societies. The fact is that we are ALL aging – from the moment we take the first breath to our last. Researcher Becca Levy, a professor of epidemiology and psychology at the Yale University School of Public Health, states that thinking positively about aging can improve our health and longevity.

Research focusing on rapid increases in longevity shows why we do what we do – sharing information and educating both older and younger audiences, who are current and future older adults! We started Global Health Aging to empower people to take charge of their longevity by exploring what it means and will look like for them. Our previous work mostly focused on today’s older adult, and while that is still a core part of our mission, we expanded it to include younger people. Aging happens to all of us, and the earlier we practice healthy habits (this will look different for everyone), the better. It’s still never too late to live a healthy lifestyle. For example, learning about menopause is crucial for both older and younger women.

Younger women should not lack awareness and education about an inevitable condition until they are older. In fact, did you know that menopause can start earlier, before age 40?

We’ve always said that issues affecting aging (nutrition, caregiving, menopause, etc.) are not only for older adults or initiatives focused on older people. For instance, some caregivers are children, people in their 30s with dementia, etc. It’s all about inherited genes or if there’s a life event like caregiving. Our “Five Questions” interview series is one of several projects that features people of different ages in their quest for a longer and healthier life. Let’s challenge our stereotypes around aging by exchanging and engaging in scientific and social dialogue!

What, if any, are your fears about getting older? Tell us!

A Poem About Covid-19

Together Apart by British artist Banksy

Lockdown
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able to touch across the empty square, Sing.

Brother Richard Hendrick is a Capuchin Priest living in Ireland.

Five Questions With Medical Scientist Aisha Bassett

Name: Aisha Bassett
Job: Pediatric Clinical Researcher
Country: United States, England, Bermuda
Age: 33

Aisha Bassett is a Senior Post-Doctoral Research Fellow working in clinical research in Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She was born and raised on the island of Bermuda. She obtained a BSc. Psychology at McGill University in Canada and her medical degree from Norwich Medical School in England. Her research interests include maternal-infant immunityvaccine efficacy and the maternal-infant microbiome. Her hobbies include singing, song-writing, composing on the piano and art. Dr. Bassett has had a vegan diet for over three years. She enjoys cooking and curating new plant-based recipes which combine her knowledge of nutrition and its role in disease prevention and health. She is passionate about using her knowledge and experience to help people live healthy and full lives by incorporating tasty and nutritional recipes into their diets. Find her on Instagram, and LinkedIn.

On why she chose to study medicine:    

“I remember being fascinated at a young age by this magical place called the hospital where my mom, who was a nurse, would disappear and then emerge with interesting stories about the people she met. After loosing my grandfather to a preventable disease, I became interested in how diseases develop, their complications and how they could be prevented. At age 13, I started volunteering at a hospital in Bermuda and did so until I graduated high school. I enjoyed getting to know the patients and felt natural compassion towards them, several of whom had become resident in the hospital due to chronic diseases. The stories they would tell me made each patient and their condition memorable and fueled my desire to understand the underlying mechanisms of the diseases I was seeing.

Seeing first-hand preventative disease such as diabetes, that particularly affected Blacks and minorities, and the plethora of complications that developed further fueled my desire to study medicine. As a medical student, I began to learn that most deaths in the western world were due to preventable diseases. I became interested not only in how to treat the disease but how to stop or reverse the disease process and how we develop protection from diseases starting in infancy, the topic of my current research.

The research I am performing in the Pannaraj Lab at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is investigating how to make vaccines work better. One such vaccine that we are researching is the Rotavirus vaccine. Rotavirus is a leading cause of diarrhea in children and results in roughly 130,000 deaths in children worldwide every year. While the vaccine is very effective in high-income countries, it is much less effective in low- and middle-income countries. We are looking at the role of breast milk and the infant microbiome, the trillions of organisms that live in us, in how the vaccine works in different parts of the world.”

On her experience in medicine across countries: 

“The clinical experience I have has come from working in various healthcare settings, namely in Bermuda, Canada, Belize, England and the US. Each healthcare system had similarities in terms of leading causes of mortality and morbidity that were preventable through diet and lifestyle factors such as Type II Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, strokes and certain cancers. Across all countries, differences in access to the resources, socioeconomic status, and patient education play a role in access to health resources. In some countries, the cost of healthcare is a deterrent to seeking medical attention, in others, the understanding of when and where to seek healthcare impacts utilization of resources. Working in various settings has taught me the importance of the cultural and socioeconomic factors involved in the health of individuals and communities. These experiences solidified my desire to work to reduce global health outcome disparities.”

A couple of plant-based meals that Dr. Bassett cooks and curates on her Instagram.

On the role our diet plays in disease prevention:    

“When thinking of disease prevention, I adopt a holistic approach. There are several factors that play a role in prevention including diet, daily exercise, dental hygiene and attending regular checkups with your doctor. Many of the top causes of deaths such as heart disease, stroke and cancers are due to lifestyle factors including diet, that include consumption of processed food, refined sugars, and animal products such as meat and dairy as a main source of nutrition.”

Scientists are discovering more about the role of the microbiome in disease prevention and development. The hygiene hypothesis explains the role of the microbiome in eczema and allergies and explains why there has been an increase over the last few decades in allergic diseases, such as respiratory, skin, and food allergy. It explains that modern living conditions are very clean and so there is less microbe exposure early in life. This results in the immune system not being taught to be able to recognize and fight foreign organisms. In addition, an imbalance of the microbiome is known to affect the skins immune response in a way that predisposes to immune conditions, such as eczema. On the other hand, a healthy microbiome is reported to have a protective influence on the immune system. The development of the infant microbiome has been found to be influenced by early life exposure such as delivery method, breast milk ingestion, infant nutrition, and antibiotic use.

On the science behind the benefits of plant-based meals:

“Plant-based meals focus on foods primarily from plants. It means proportionally choosing more foods from plant sources such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, beans and more. Plant-based meals are beneficial for many reasons. Some vegetables and fruits can reduce inflammation in our bodies. This is important for our health because inflammation, when it goes on for a long time, can lead to certain diseases. Eating foods that reduce inflammation or avoiding foods that cause inflammation, can promote health in the body. There are also substances in fruits and vegetables called phytonutrients. These phytonutrients have different roles. Some can actually ‘turn off’ gene that lead to cancer, which is simply an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. Other phytonutrients can repair damage in our cells that would usually lead to disease states.

I have met so many people who have said to me, “I want to eat healthier, but I don’t know where to start.” People who want to make that change can often have a lot of information to sort through before they feel comfortable adding new foods to their diet. I started curating plant-based meals on Instagram to help people make food choices that would help them live a healthy life. As a doctor and researcher who has had a plant-based diet for over 2 decades, I enjoy sharing the meals I have created while also sharing nutritional facts about the foods I eat.

Regarding meal prepping and recipe development, the foundation of each meal is first ensuring it is balanced – that it has good portion of protein, carbohydrate, and healthy fat as well as vitamins and minerals. Then I consider what flavors, spices and textures would complement the meal. Next, I create something new or put a healthy spin on a well-known recipe by replacing certain ingredients with healthier ones. Lastly, I also consider how to make the meal colorful and appealing. This is important because so much of what we choose to eat is influenced by our senses, that is, how food is presented and how it tastes. Making nutritional meals that people want to eat is my goal, so that their bodies can have the fuel it needs for them to function at their best.”

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is fimmu-09-00361-g001.jpg
Diagram from a journal article showing factors that influence maternal breast milk microbiome and proposed mechanism of how breast milk may alter the infant gut microbiome and health outcome. The article was co-authored by Dr. Bassett and her colleagues. Learn more.

On her best advice to new mothers: 

“Motherhood can be an exciting time, but it can also come with navigating all the surprises that come with being a new mother. Many moms have concerns about what is normal for their baby from how much their baby is feeding to the changing colors of their stool. The best advice I have given to new moms is that I encourage them to use the resources around them to navigate challenges as they come so that concerns don’t build up. This includes talking with breastfeeding consultants, doctors, more experienced mothers as well as making use of their support systems so that they can engage in self-care while caring for their baby. Some moms just need to be reminded that every mother’s journey is different because every baby is unique and has its own special personality. I remind them that they are doing a good job even when they hit speed bumps on the road of motherhood.

For example, it is especially helpful for mothers to learn how breastfeeding and the microbiome are linked to health and longevity. Breast milk is a specialized secretion that provides many nutrients, antibodies, and microbes. Breast milk helps establish the gut microbiome. This microbiome plays a role in our metabolism, that is how well we can get the nutrients we need from the food we eat. It is also vital to educating the body’s natural defense system, the immune system. Breastfeeding also provides protection against respiratory and gastrointestinal infections and is associated with a reduced risk of diseases such as asthma, diabetes, and obesity. Having a healthy gut microbiome and immune system is a key part of health and longevity.”

I started curating plant-based meals on Instagram to help people make food choices that would help them live a healthy life.

Aisha Bassett, MBBS

Healthy Brain, Healthy Heart

FirstCare Nursing Homes are leading nursing homes in Ireland. FirstCare has provided nursing home care for older adults and frail patients for over 14 years. A project coordinator for dementia care, Jane Bryne, discusses improving brain and heart health.

How are the brain and heart connected?

The brain and heart are two vital organs in the human body. Unknown to many, the brain and heart are more connected to one another than previously thought. A study confirmed that ensuring optimal health of the two organs will lead to the efficiency of the other. This means that having a healthy heart is related to lower dementia risk and a slower rate of cognitive decline.

It was also found that the cardiovascular system, operating in peak performance, supports the proper functioning of the brain, thus leading to sharper memory and best use of one’s intellectual capability. Also, failing to maintain optimal cardiovascular health damages the brain’s fundamental anatomic structure, which can eventually lead to various mental health conditions like dementia.

What’s the link between dementia and heart health?

A new study found that people who have good cardiovascular health are less likely to get dementia. The study concluded that leading a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol and smoking, are sure-fire ways to reducing the tendency of suffering from dementia later in life.

In another study published in the journal Neurology, doctors researched 1,200 older adults who gave consent to brain autopsies after death. The findings were surprising because those who had high blood pressure showed signs of dementia.

Is there hope for people with dementia?

Dementia is not a dead end for older adults who have the condition. They can live the healthiest life possible even with dementia.

How can older adults have a good quality of life?

Housing has a huge effect on older adults’ mental health. Easy access to health infrastructure and recreation centers have been shown to be crucial to physical and mental health.

What’s your take on embracing the aging process?

A change of mindset is needed and research has shown that those who have positive views of aging are less likely to develop later the brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.