Posts tagged with "AARP"

Report: Brain health supplements are ‘a massive waste of money’

June 12, 2019

Most of us have seen the TV ads for Prevagen and have heard about the protective effects of ginkgo biloba—and those are just a couple of the dietary aids that Americans swallow in the hope and belief that they will make our brains stronger.

In fact, more than one-quarter (26%) of U.S. adults age 50 and older are taking at least one brain-health supplement, according to the findings of the  2019 AARP Brain Health and Dietary Supplements Survey

And research by the Nutrition Business Journal indicates that fully 69% of U.S. adults age 50 and older are taking a dietary supplement at least three times a week—with 8% saying they’re taking one to “reverse dementia.”

But now we are hearing that those supplements are “a massive waste of money”—and that warning comes from people who should know these things: On June 11, the Global Counsel on Brain Health (GCBH) in partnership with AARP released a report concluding that dietary supplements do not improve brain health or prevent cognitive decline, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, yet 49% of older adults believe otherwise, Prevention magazine reports.

“The GCBH reviewed the scientific evidence on various supplements and determined it could not endorse any ingredient, production, or formulation designed for brain health,” the AARP said in a press release.

Under FDA law, it’s illegal for dietary supplement companies to make any claim that their product can treat, prevent, or cure a disease. If a supplement marketer wants to say their product can reduce the risk of a disease, they must notify the FDA first and get authorization before such a claim can go on a product label, Prevention notes.

Yet, the companies continue to market using misleading claims—among those currently in print or on-air:

  • Clinically shown to be safe and support memory and brain function
  • Clinically proven natural ingredients
  • Supports neurotransmitter development to promote a feeling of mental sharpness
  • Helps your brain maintain healthy neurons to support learning and recall
  • 13 scientifically proven nutrients for a healthier brain
  • Keeps your mind sharp and memory strong
  • Has shown statistically significant improvements in memory and recall in as little as four weeks when taken as directed
  • Designed to help improve memory while increasing focus and concentration
  • Comprehensive blend of vitamins, amino acids, and herbal extracts that support the brain’s structure and function to deliver amazing improvements in memory and concentration!
  • Help lessen the frequency of episodes of forgetfulness and brain fog
  • Improve your ability to retain and recall various kinds of information
  • For cognitive health, memory improvement, memory enhancement
  • These key nutrients have a powerful effect at reducing the inflammatory fires that destroy our brain tissue.

In addition, because dietary supplement companies aren’t regulated by the FDA, neither are their ingredients or dosages. The report warns that supplements “may have too much, too little, or, in some cases, none of the ingredients [consumers] think they’re buying.”

This can have dire consequences. The AARP cites a 2013 report from the U.S. government which found that the FDA received more than 6,000 reports of health problems due to dietary supplements between 2008 and 2011. They included 92 deaths and more than 1,000 series injuries. As part of the FDA’s investigation, the agency’s researchers found “dangerous fungi, pesticides, environmental pollutants, and heavy metals in some products.”

Worse yet, the FDA found that more than 700 dietary supplements contained prescription drugs, including steroids and antidepressants.

“It’s tempting to think you can pop a pill and prevent dementia, but the science says that doesn’t work,” Sarah Lenz Lock, AARP SVP for Policy and Executive Director of the GCBH told Prevention. “We know what will keep your brain healthy: exercise, a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, challenging your thinking skills, and connecting with others.”

Research contact: @AARP

Keeping the flame alive: Sex after 65

May 29, 2018

Many American seniors feel young at heart—and in other meaningful ways—based on findings of a National Poll on Healthy Aging released in early May. Specifically, the researchers say, 40% of U.S. adults between the ages of 65 and 80 are sexually active; and 73% are satisfied with their sex lives.

The nationally representative pol of 1,002 seniors was conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center.

Among the respondents, nearly three-quarters said that they currently are in a romantic relationship—and 54% of elderly couples reported that they still are sexually active.

But, whether or not they have an active sex life at the moment, about two-thirds of older adults say that they still are interested in sex, and more than half say that sex is important to their quality of life.

Among those who still are—or who want to be—sexually active, some need a little advice or help to get the job done. In all, 18% of older men and 3% of older women say they have taken medications or supplements to improve sexual function within the past two years.

However, just 17% of seniors said they had talked with a healthcare provider about their sexual health during the past two years. Most who had engaged in such discussions said they brought the topic up—suggesting, the researchers said, the need for more proactive conversations by clinicians with their older patients.

“Sexual health among older adults doesn’t get much attention but is linked closely to quality of life, health and well-being,” says U-M’s Erica Solway, Ph.D., co-associate director of the poll. “It’s important for older adults and the clinicians who care for them to talk about these issues and about how age-related changes in physical health, relationships, lifestyles and responsibilities (such as caregiving) affect them.”

Factors: Gender, age and health 

Relationships aside, there are a few other factors—gender, age, and health—that may affect a senior’s sex drive.

For instance, compared with the 45% of respondents with excellent, very good, or good health who reported that they were sexually active, only 22% of those who said they are in fair or poor health could say the same. Indeed, just 28% of seniors who are in fair or poor health said they were extremely or very satisfied with their sex lives.

Those respondents between the ages of 65 and 70 were nearly twice as likely as those in their late 70s to be sexually active. One-third of those in their late 60s said they were extremely or very interested in sex, compared with 19% of those in their late 70s.

What’s more, as they age, men and women look at sex differently. Women are a little less likely than men to be sexually active—31% overall, vs. 51% of men—but were more likely to be extremely or very satisfied with their sex lives.

While 84% of older men said sex was an important part of a romantic relationship, fewer older women (69%) said the same. But that still means that over two-thirds of women remain passionately in love, whatever their age or the length of their relationship.l

Research contact:  healthyaging@umich.edu

33% of U.S. adults take sleeping pills

November 22, 2017

America’s chronic insomnia is enriching pharmaceutical companies. In fact, according to a study conducted by BCC Research, Americans spent an estimated $41 billion on sleep aids and remedies—everything from ZzzQuill to Melatonin, to Ambien to Valium— back in 2015; and that number is expected to increase incrementally to $52 billion by 2020.

That’s not even counting the money that U.S. families spend on pillows, mattresses, white noise machines, and whatever else conceivably could work.

Now, researchers from the University of Michigan have found that 33% —one in three —adults in the United States uses medicine of some sort to help induce sleep.

What’s more, the researchers say, many U.S. adults do it without the knowledge of their doctors, according to new findings of a poll broadcast.

The poll was based on an online survey of 1,065 people, 65 to 80 years of age, nationally, who answered many questions, according to a report released in mid-November by the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan; along with sponsors AARP and U-M’s academic medical center Michigan Medicine.

Overall, 46% of respondents said they had problems sleeping once or more each week. Fifteen percent of poll respondents said they experienced difficulty sleeping three nights or more in a week.

Among those who reported sleep disorders three or more nights a week, 23% said they used a sleep aid prescription; which is not advisable for the long-term, according to the medical community.

“Although sleep disorders can occur in people in any age and for many reasons, the problem cannot be treated by taking pills, whether prescribed, without a prescription or herb, no matter what the ad says on TV,” Preeti Malani, a University of Michigan doctor trained in a Geriatric Medicine, stated.

“Some of these drugs can create big concerns in older adults, from falls and memory problems to confusion and constipation, even if they are sold without a prescription,” she said.

What the poll does not offer is advice on what to do, if the pills are not recommended—except to exercise earlier in the day.

Lack of sleep also is dangerous. In fact, the university said, sleeplessness has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in adults and children.

Research contact: kegavin@med.umich.edu