Women, more than men, say they expect to live past the age of 90. In fact, nearly twice the number of women said they expected to live a long life compared to men in a recent retirement survey. But despite having expectations of living longer, many women haven’t planned adequately for the financial requirements associated with increased longevity. For example, more than half of surveyed women said they respond to financial emergencies by dealing with them when they occur rather than planning for possible scenarios. But though women participants said they didn’t plan in advance, more than 70 percent admitted to being very or somewhat concerned about providing for their long-term care needs. The study highlights the need for women to be properly prepared for their financial needs in retirement. More here.
New research from the University of Hertfordshire found that women with Alzheimer’s disease tend to deteriorate faster than men with the disease. The paper, published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, discovered men consistently scored higher on a series of cognitive tests and outperformed women in verbal and visuospatial tasks. Keith Laws, professor of psychology, said Alzheimer’s specifically disadvantages women, unlike with normal aging where women tend to decline more slowly than men. Alzheimer’s disease, according to current estimates, affects 30 million people worldwide with 4.6 million new cases every year. Women are more prone to the disease than men, though the reason behind the gender-based differences in decline are unknown. More here.
Research from the Monash School of Biological Sciences and Lancaster University found that genetic variations in mitochondria may explain why women outlive men by an average of five to six years. Mitochondria exist in almost all animals and help to convert food into energy. But the study found numerous mutations to mitochondrial DNA that affected the speed at which males aged and how long they lived but had no similar effect on women. The researchers said that the difference could be explained by the way genes are passed from parents to their children. Researcher Dr. Damian Dowling said children only receive mitochondrial genes from their mothers, which means any mutation that only harms males will go unnoticed due to evolutionary quality control or natural selection. More here and here.
Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes at the end of chromosomes that serve as protection against deterioration. Shortened telomeres have been linked to biological or cellular aging, as well as increased risk of cancer, heart disease, dementia, and mortality. And now, according to a recent study from researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, shortened telomeres have been linked to stress and phobic anxiety in middle-aged and older women. The study, which looked at blood samples from 5,243 women between the ages of 42 and 69, found that participants that reported higher levels of anxiety had significantly shorter telomere lengths than women who reported less stress. The difference in telomere length between participants who reported anxiety and those who didn’t was similar to the effects of an additional six years of aging. Olivia Okereke, the study’s author, said the results were notable for showing a connection between a common form of stress and a plausible mechanism for premature aging. More here and here.
Research from Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that 50 percent of patients hospitalized for a heart attack or heart failure made a mistake with their medication within a month of being discharged from the hospital. Among 851 participants, 50.8 percent had one or more clinically important medication errors, with 22.9 percent of them judged to be serious and 1.8 percent life threatening. Surprisingly, the numbers were as high among people who received guidance from a pharmacist as those who didn’t. Individuals who had a strong support system were least likely to make a mistake with their medication, primarily due to the fact that they were more likely to have a caregiver helping them with their recovery. The study highlights the need for more effective ways to help patients familiarize themselves with their drug names, interactions, and doses. More here and here.
The majority of Alzheimer’s patients are women, as are the majority of people serving as caregivers to Alzheimer’s patients. That is the basis of a new study from the Working Mother Research Institute which seeks to measure the toll of Alzheimer’s on women. The study, titled The Caregiver’s Crisis, found that 82 percent of current caregivers are providing care in their home or the patient’s home. Among them, 39 percent say they feel they have no choice. Also, nearly half of women caregivers say they feel overwhelmed and 65 percent say they have not had a vacation in the past year. Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media, said too many women are fulfilling a role they didn’t anticipate and it’s taking a great toll on their health as well as their families and careers. Almost 40 percent of current caregivers say they’ve passed up promotions because of their caregiving duties. More here and here.
A new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that, in addition to being bad for the heart, saturated fat is associated with worse cognitive function over time. The research looked at 6,000 women over the age of 65 and found those who ate the most saturated fat, which comes from animal fats such as red meat and butter, had more memory problems and worse cognitive function compared to women who ate the least amount. Also, the women who consumed the most monosaturated fats, such as olive oil, scored better on cognitive tests than those who ate the most saturated fats. Olivia Okereke, MD, MS, of BWH’s Department of Psychiatry, said the total amount of fat intake didn’t matter as much as the type of fat did. According to Okereke, substituting good fat in place of bad fat is a fairly simple dietary modification that could help prevent memory decline. More here and here.
New research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found not getting enough sleep or having disrupted sleep leads to an increased risk of diabetes. The study followed 21 participants for six weeks. For the first three weeks, they were told to spend 10 hours a night in bed. For the next three weeks, they moved into suites inside the laboratory and had their sleep disrupted, only getting about five hours every 28 hours. The data revealed that, during the experiment, participants experienced a significant drop in pancreatic insulin secretion and had increased glucose levels after eating. They also experienced an 8.0 percent drop in their resting metabolic rate, which is linked to weight gain. The findings suggest that poor sleep or not getting enough sleep can lead to obesity and an increased diabetes risk. More here.
A new report based on the Elder Economic Security Standard Index has calculated the economic needs of seniors in every county in the country. The report, from Wider Opportunities for Women, measured the median income of older adults against the amount seniors would need to be able to afford basic living expenses. The results found that Massachusetts is the state most economically insecure for seniors, followed by New York, D.C., Connecticut, and Hawaii. The Northeast and Southeast populated most of the top 20 states where seniors have difficulty affording basic needs. Donna Addkison, president and CEO of WOW, said growing old in America is getting more and more expensive and working hard is no guarantee that you’ll be able to afford basic expenses when you retire. More here and here.
Research examining medical records for more than 11,000 men and women found women reported higher levels of pain than men did. Men and women were asked to rate their pain on a zero-to-ten scale with 10 being the worst pain imaginable. The results found that women rated their pain up to a full point higher than men with the same condition. The greatest differences in reported pain were found in patients with musculoskeletal, circulatory, respiratory, and digestive disorders. Dr. Atul Butte, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at Stanford university and senior author of the study, said though a one-point difference may not seem like much it can be an indication of whether or not a pain treatment is working effectively. More here and here.