aging

Late kids, long life?

Attention, 30-something single ladies: If you’re tired of people dropping not-so-subtle hints about having kids while you still have the eggs and energy, you can (probably, politely) tell them to back off.

A Boston University School of Medicine study found that women who can still give birth naturally after age 33 have a higher chance of living to extreme old age than those who had their last child before age 30.

advocate.com
LGBT Seniors Shouldn't Die Penniless and Alone
Systemic inequities, which are finally changing, still meant a disadvantaged life now for many LGBT seniors.

At 68 years old, having led a responsible and productive life, I find myself living in poverty with the prospects for the final third of my existence only getting worse. I wake each day only to hope that I will die before my funds and limited resources run out completely. I also find that I am in the company of hundreds of thousands of other LGBT seniors who, through no fault of their own, are in the same tragic and inhumane situation.

Putting aside any pride that I once may have had, I share my story in an effort to create an awareness of these inequities that have devastated the current generation of LGBT seniors.

CLICK THE HEADER LINK TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

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Questions Young Lesbians Have For Older Lesbians

I am convinced that most people do not grow up…We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias.
—  Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter
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Joyful Portraits of Centenarians That Are Happy at One Hundred

UPDATE: We’re elated to announce that Karsten’s “Happy at One Hundred” photos are one of 25 photo stories featured in our new book For Love, published by Chronicle Books! The official release date is March 15, 2016, and the book is currently available to pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indie Bound.

Scientists think they can fight aging by clearing the body of damaged cells

In a study recently published in the journal Nature, researchers at the Mayo Clinic were able to improve mice’s health and increase their lifespans by up to 30% by wiping out a type of damaged cell (senescent cells) from their bodies.

The mice seen above are same age. The mouse on the left did not have its senescent cells wiped out, while the mouse on the right did. But could it work in humans?

Follow @the-future-now

Age cannot manage to empty either sensual pleasure of its attractiveness or the whole world of its charm. On the contrary … at twenty … I was less satisfied with life. I embraced less boldly; I breathed less deeply; and I felt myself to be less loved. Perhaps also I longed to be melancholy; I had not yet understood the superior beauty of happiness.

(Image caption: This is an artistic representation of the take home messages in Lunghi and Sale: “A cycling lane for brain rewiring,” which is that physical activity (such as cycling) is associated with increased brain plasticity. Credit: Dafne Lunghi Art)

Physical activity may leave the brain more open to change

Learning, memory, and brain repair depend on the ability of our neurons to change with experience. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on December 7 have evidence from a small study in people that exercise may enhance this essential plasticity of the adult brain.

The findings focused on the visual cortex come as hopeful news for people with conditions including amblyopia (sometimes called lazy eye), traumatic brain injury, and more, the researchers say.

“We provide the first demonstration that moderate levels of physical activity enhance neuroplasticity in the visual cortex of adult humans,” says Claudia Lunghi of the University of Pisa in Italy.

“By showing that moderate levels of physical activity can boost the plastic potential of the adult visual cortex, our results pave the way to the development of non-invasive therapeutic strategies exploiting the intrinsic brain plasticity in adult subjects,” she adds.

The plastic potential of the cerebral cortex is greatest early in life, when the developing brain is molded by experience. Brain plasticity is generally thought to decline with age. This decline in the brain’s flexibility over time is especially pronounced in the sensory brain, which displays far less plasticity in adults than in younger people.

Lunghi and colleague Alessandro Sale of the National Research Council’s Neuroscience Institute were inspired to explore the role of physical activity in brain plasticity by experiments that Sale conducted previously in laboratory animals. Those studies showed that animals performing physical activity–for example rats running on a wheel–showed elevated levels of plasticity in the visual cortex and improved recovery from amblyopia in comparison to more sedentary animals.

To find out whether the same might hold true for people, the researchers measured the residual plastic potential of the adult visual cortex in humans using a simple test of binocular rivalry. Most of the time, our eyes work together. But when people have one eye patched for a short period of time, the closed eye becomes stronger as the visual brain attempts to compensate for the lack of visual input. The strength of the resulting imbalance between the eyes is a measure of the brain’s visual plasticity and can be tested by presenting each eye with incompatible images.

In the new study, Lunghi and Sale put 20 adults through this test twice; in one deprivation test, participants with one eye patched watched a movie while relaxing in a chair. In the other test, participants with one eye patched exercised on a stationary bike for ten-minute intervals during the movie. The results were clear: brain plasticity was enhanced by the exercise.

“We found that if, during the two hours of eye patching, the subject intermittently cycles, the perceptual effect of eye patching on binocular rivalry is stronger compared to a condition in which, during the two hours of patching, the subject watches a movie while sitting on a chair. That is, after physical activity, the eye that was patched is strongly potentiated, indicating increased levels of brain plasticity.”

While further study is needed, the researchers think that this effect may result from a decrease with exercise in an inhibitory neurotransmitter called GABA. As concentrations of this inhibitory nerve messenger decline, the brain becomes more responsive.

Regardless of the mechanism, the findings suggest that exercise plays an important role in brain health and recovery. They come as especially good news for people with amblyopia, which is generally considered to be untreatable in adults.

“Our study suggests that physical activity, which is also beneficial for the general health of the patient, could be used to increase the efficiency of the treatment in adult patients,” Lunghi says. “So, if you have a lazy eye, don’t be lazy yourself!”

Lunghi and Sale say they now plan to investigate the effects of moderate levels of physical exercise on visual function in amblyopic adult patients and to look deeper into the underlying neural mechanisms.

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Hula Hoop, Laugh a Lot: Essential Advice From @10secondswithgma

To learn more about Grandma Pat’s adventures in Orange County, follow @10secondswithgma on Instagram.

Prepare to crave a squeeze from Patricia Kubera, better known as Grandma Pat (@10secondswithgma), who lives in Orange County, California, with her husband, “Papa Al.” Pat is 83, a breast cancer survivor and Candy Crush addict, and has three adult granddaughters who started making videos of her musings in secret. Now the cat’s out of the bag.

Instagram: What’s your secret to aging gracefully?
Grandma Pat: No gluten. Acupuncture. Meditation. Hula-hooping. And ice cream.

IG: What’s the best advice you’ve given your grandchildren?
GP: Have an open heart and an open mind. Find someone special like your Papa Al. We just asked Papa Al what he would say, and it was, “Do onto others before they do onto you,” and, “Beware of the man that feeds you.” 😂 He keeps me laughing nonstop.

IG: Has your husband always been a willing participant in these videos?
GP: My husband is not very enthusiastic, but he knows how happy it makes me, so he is supportive.

IG: How will you be celebrating the holidays?
GP: The holidays are my favorite time of the year. It takes me about a week to get down all my 30-plus Christmas boxes with decorations. I have quite the collection!

To be an aging woman in America is to be constantly bombarded by imagery and media that distance your younger feminist sisters from you, because the idea of no longer resembling those youthful images of femininity and becoming invisible terrifies them. I look like a typical 51-year-old, and it is just bizarre realizing that my appearance is something many young women dread.
—  Day, L. 2015, “Aging while female is not your worst nightmare”, Feminist Current, March 10, viewed 17 December 2015 <http://www.feministcurrent.com/2015/03/10/aging-while-female-is-not-your-worst-nightmare-2/>
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How to age gracefully – intergenerational advice from people ages 7 to 93. Stay with it through the end – it’s worth it – then see Grace Paley on the art of growing older, the wisest words on aging ever written. 

For a similarly spirited project, see artist Susan O’Malley’s wonderful Advice from My 80-Year-Old Self