We all have hopes of living long lives- and as time goes on, many of us have hopes to outlive the lifespan of our parents before us. New research released last month by the National Center for Health Statistics confirms that the average life expectancy- the expected average number of years of life remaining- continues to lengthen for people in the US. For example, the 2012 mortality data research found that average life expectancy at birth now reaches 78.8 years and life expectancy for the average 65-year-old American has risen to 19.3 years.  This is great news for the average American, but we must also recognize the cost of our longer lives and what we must do to protect them.

Because we are living longer, the causes of death are changing as we are seeing more conditions that usually only come about with old age- a century ago we wouldn’t have lived long enough to see these diseases develop. Knowing which conditions or diseases associated with the highest mortality rates allows us to target life-extending interventions in a more rational manner. In 2012 the leading causes of death accounted for nearly 74 percent of all deaths within the U.S. Heart disease led the pack followed by cancer, strokes, unintentional injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

Knowing what causes death helps us to know what sort of preventative care to take. As experts in Alzheimer’s and dementia research, Senior Helpers takes special interest in Alzheimer’s.  New research suggests that about one-third of Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide might be linked to potentially-modifiable risk factors: diabetes, midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, physical inactivity, depression, smoking, and lower levels of education (Lancet Neurology). Research shows that 27 percent of people aged 65 and older in the U.S. have diabetes, and studies show that people with diabetes, especially Type 2, are at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. It’s no wonder that November is National Diabetes month as well as National Alzheimer’s Awareness month since the two seem to go hand-in-hand. Researchers have found that people with high levels of insulin resistance have a reduced ability to use glucose to fuel normal brain function. Diabetes can also cause damage to the blood vessels, reduce or block blood flow to the brain, which in turn can lead to vascular dementia.

Here are a few simple steps to keeping yourself healthy, because a healthy brain begins with a healthy body:

-- Control your blood sugar- Avoid a meat and potatoes diet.

-- Limit consumption of trans fats and saturated fats.

-- Omega 3 is found in fish oils and is commonly cited as a good dietary choice for healthy brain function.

-- Exercise.

Part of this new phenomenon of our longer lives includes having to adapt to our aging communities and offering the care that it requires to keep our seniors safe and comfortable. That might mean something as simple as ensuring a healthy diet for your senior, but it could also mean as much as ensuring safety and comfort through a caregiver. Senior Helpers of Moraga provides companion and personal care for seniors in the East Bay spanning from Danville to Alameda and everywhere in-between. For more information on how you or your senior could benefit from a Senior Helper’s Caregiver, visit our website or call our office at (925) 376-8000.

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