Sleep Loss & Hearing Aids

• There is growing concern about the impact our diet has on the status of our overall health. Research publications dealing with the effects of diet concluded that certain foods can be correlated with chronic inflammation in patients, often in association with diabetes and heart disease. Foods that enhance inflammation include refined grains, red and processed meats, fried foods, and sugar. On the other hand, foods such as whole grains, fish and poultry, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and olive oil, decrease inflammation. (American Academy of Physicians Assistants, Dec. 11, 2012; thanks to Mike Flood)

• Everyone knows that older adults have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep. Not true, according to a report in the March 2012 issue of the journal Sleep. In a nationwide survey of 150,000 Americans, participants were asked how often they experienced sleep disturbances or daytime sleepiness in the previous two weeks. Older people in their 70s and 80s reported the lowest incidence of sleep disturbances, while young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 reported the highest incidence. Do older people take more afternoon naps than younger ones? Probably, for they have more discretionary time on their hands.

• Almost all adults in the U.S. age 50 and older have some amount of hearing loss, but only one in seven uses a hearing aid. This is unfortunate, because there is strong evidence that loss of hearing diminishes cognitive abilities of senior citizens. Further, older individuals with hearing loss often feel isolated in social settings as conversation continues around them – rather than continually ask “what did you say” or “I didn’t hear that” they sometimes just give up trying to participate. In a recent study, a group of older adults with hearing loss was fitted with hearing aids. After six months these individuals showed significant improvements on tests for cognitive function. The matched control group, where individuals did not receive hearing aids, showed no improvement (Clinical & Experimental Otorhinolaryngology, June 11, 2011). Another study showed that over time, mild hearing loss can double the normal risk of dementia, and severe loss can increase dementia risk by a factor of five (Archives of Neurology, Feb., 2011). Within the past 10 years, hearing aid technology has greatly improved, and some aids are not apparent to the casual observer. Families need to understand the consequences of long-term hearing impairment and consider options for members with hearing loss. (Mind, Mood & Memory, Mass. General Hospital, May, 2012)

The Economist, a highly-respected weekly news magazine, predicts that in 2013 the world will move more decisively toward producing energy in an environmentally sound manner. Over time “renewable power” installations will replace coal, gas-fired, and nuclear plants. Gas-fired plants will of necessity remain in the mix for some time, as wind and solar power gradually become less expensive and hybrid batteries are perfected to efficiently store energy captured from wind and sun. In sunny California, the cost of electricity from solar installations already is comparable to that obtained from certain some natural-gas-fired plants. (The Economist, Dec., 2012)