Popo taught Andrew to post his first BLOG on my website.
So, this gave Popo a good idea. I helped Andrew and Sophia to celebrate their success by putting together a short movie for them:
And you will recognize the famous pianist...none other than Andrew!
05/11/2017 09:07 am ET
PRESENTED BY GREATCALL5 Simple Ways To Sharpen Your Brain As You Age
Most people are concerned with staying physically fit. They eat right to lower their cholesterol levels or practice yoga to improve their flexibility. But what about mental fitness? Exercising the mind is a sure-fire way to boost longevity and independence. A sharper brain relies on several factors, including sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and maintaining hobbies and social activities, all of which researchers say influence brainpower as we age. To keep your mental health in tip-top shape as you age, it’s all about incorporating that mind-body connection into a daily routine that refreshes essential brain functioning.
Yet staying cognitively fit doesn’t need to be a chore—it should be easy and fun! That’s why we’ve partnered with GreatCall to identify the best tips in each of these areas to improve long-term brain health—because a stronger, healthier mind sets you up to live your best life.
1. Catch A Few More Z’s At Night
OJO IMAGES VIA GETTY IMAGESFeeling fully rested from a night of deep sleep is what experts liken to taking a sip from the fountain of youth. Improve memory and lessen the risk of insomnia that increases with age by getting the proper amount of shut-eye, according to a new study in the journal Neuron. The National Sleep Foundation states that the optimal amount is about seven to nine hours a night, dispelling the myth that people need less sleep over the years.
Use earplugs and room-darkening curtains, and avoid bright screens and caffeine before bedtime to achieve a high-quality slumber. Create nighttime rituals like a hot bath or soft music to wind down, and researchers suggest pink noise in particular creates a more peaceful sleep that, in turn, strengthens long-term memory.
2. Eat The Best Food For Thought
JULIJADMITRIJEVA VIA GETTY IMAGESSince the brain is one of the organs with the largest amount of fats, eating foods with a lot of healthy fats is essential to nourishing mental health. A study published in the Aging Health journal suggests that nutrition is crucial to alleviate depression—and older adults may especially benefit from a mood-boosting diet. Leafy greens, fish, beans and nuts are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which research shows calms mood disorders. But avoid those sodas because a new study links sugary drinks to brain shrinkage. Instead, fill up the cart with salmon, spinach and walnuts during the next trip to the grocery store to feel happy and healthy!
3. Get Up And Go For A Vital Mind
HERO IMAGES VIA GETTY IMAGESPhysical fitness also connects directly to brain health and it specifically improves people’s ability to learn. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health suggests that the more an adult exercises, the more his or her brain grows! It significantly enlarges neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to adapt to new experiences. As a result, physical exercise stimulates the growth of neurons in the brain, and research reveals that exercises like Tai chi greatly increase mental agility while also improving balance and mobility. Exercise can trigger a domino effect that motivates one to do other brain boosting activities, too.
4. Commit To A Right-Brained Hobby
RICHARD DRURY VIA GETTY IMAGESConsider getting creative as well: Investing quality time in an artistic activity improves mental concentration. In particular, a creative hobby may prevent dementia, according to a recent study in the journal Neurology of the American Academy of Neurology. Study participants who pursued painting, drawing and sculpture were 73 percent less likely to develop slower cognitive functions. The healing power of arts and crafts also extends to pottery, woodworking, quilting and sewing, which minimize the likelihood of mild brain degeneration by 45 percent.
And bookworms, rejoice! Picking up a book may also increase the ability to focus as well as live longer, according to this study in the Social Science & Medicine journal. Researchers suggest that reading provides several advantages to cognitive health. A chapter a day keeps the doctor away!
5. Smarten Up With Shared Experiences
SOLSTOCK VIA GETTY IMAGESIt’s true—crafts and exercise sharpen your brain, but adults can get an added mental boost from doing these activities with others. A new study in the Aging & Mental Health journal pinpoints how social activity significantly improves mental clarity, since relationships comprise complex and subtle social cues requiring mental attention and flexibility. That means regular interactions with family and friends energize an individual’s thought processes, resulting in clearer reasoning and multi-tasking skills.
Researchers say that strengthening that social support prevents cognitive decline, and group activities like community classes or book clubs are a great way to feel connected. Other forms of support include safe transportation options, pets or social media—even dancing has proven beneficial to neural functions! So grab a friend and reap the benefits of better brain health.
Getting in shape mentally and physically is easier than ever with all of the latest research and high-tech resources available to keep adults healthy. GreatCall offers an array of devices to keep older adults safe, connected and healthy. The Lively Mobile medical alert device offers support at the touch of a button, so older adults can stay active while staying safe. Or choose the Jitterbug Flip, which comes pre-loaded with Brain Games to improve memory and sharpen focus.
Ken's Summer Garden over a 3 week time period. We change our mindset and say, "What vegetable in our garden is ready to harvest? Whatever it is, will be what we will eat!"
The above pictures show the Malabar spinnach, Manoa lettuce, Chinese mustard cabbage or kai choy, choy sum, eggplant, cucumber vines and kale are about to take off!
Below are the green beans and the volunteer bitter melon vines getting ready to fruit, too!
As a nice result we've not only had some very special green salads with young tender greens, but we also had some in soups and steamed. We enjoy our vegan entrees throughout the day, along with our homemade Greek yogurt with honey. We think the plants also like the whey, the by product from yogurt that Ken gives them.
To age better, eat better Much of life is beyond our control, but dining smartly can help us live healthier, longer
May 3, 2017 | Editor's Pick Popular
By Liz Mineo, Harvard Staff Writer
EmailTwitterFacebookFifth in an occasional series on how Harvard researchers are tackling the problematic issues of aging.
A habitually healthy eater, Frank Hu stocks his refrigerator with fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and chicken. His pantry holds brown rice, whole grains, and legumes, and his snack cabinet has nuts and seeds. He eats red meat only occasionally, rarely buys white bread, soda, bacon, or other processed meats. He’ll purchase chips and beer, but only now and then, mostly when entertaining friends.
When it comes to eating smartly in ways that can help us keep fit and live longer, Hu knows best.
“There is no single, fit-for-all diet for everyone,” said Frank Hu of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerHu took over the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in January. His eating habits are greatly informed by his research on what constitutes a healthy diet. While he knows they’re not for everyone, he says people can nonetheless move toward eating patterns that both appeal to them and help them stay well.
“There is no single, fit-for-all diet for everyone,” said Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “People should adopt healthy dietary patterns according to their food and cultural preferences and health conditions. I don’t have a rigid regimen, but I always emphasize healthy components in all my meals.”
And so, according to considerable research, can all those who want to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and other chronic illnesses, and increase both longevity and quality of life in old age.
We become what we eat
To some extent, when it comes to healthy aging, we become what we eat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four deaths results from heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Among the top risk factors are obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and poor diet — with the first three often tied to the last. The rise in obesity has hit the United States hard. More than a third of adults and one-fifth of children and adolescents age 2 to 19 are obese.
Research shows that sustained, thoughtful changes in diet can make the difference between health and illness, and sometimes between life and death. For more than 50 years, researchers who have studied the link between diet and health have extolled the virtues of the Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and fish, and its de-emphasis on red meat and dairy.
“The elements of a healthy diet were readily available in the Mediterranean, where people had to eat local fruits, vegetables, and fish.”
— Walter Willett
Pioneering studies, such as one led by nutrition expert Ancel Keys in the late 1950s, helped establish the Mediterranean diet as the benchmark. Keys’ landmark Seven Countries Study, which promoted diets low in saturated fats (beef, pork, butter, cream) and high in mono-unsaturated fats (avocados, olive oil), showed decidedly lower risks of cardiovascular disease.
Research by renowned Harvard nutritionist Walter Willett, who chaired the Nutrition Department for 25 years until this past January, has confirmed the pronounced benefits of the Mediterranean diet. In his 2000 book “Eat, Drink and Be Healthy,” Willett wrote that the “main elements of the Mediterranean lifestyle are connected with lower risks of many diseases.”
Using data from Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), a long-term epidemiological probe into women’s health, Willett also concluded that “heart diseases could be reduced by at least 80 percent by diet and lifestyle changes.”
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Nurses’ Health Study was established by Frank Speizer in 1976 to examine the long-term consequences of oral contraceptives. In 1989, Willett established NHS II to study diet and lifestyle risk factors. The results of that study have heavily influenced national dietary guidelines and the way Americans think about how they should eat.
Recent studies have found that a healthy diet can also boost the brain and slow cellular aging. Chef Dino Licudine greets seniors at the Center Communities at Hebrew SeniorLife, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer“The picture that has emerged is that the traditional Mediterranean diet promotes health and well-being,” said Willett, the Fredrick John Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology. “The elements of a healthy diet were readily available in the Mediterranean, where people had to eat local fruits, vegetables, and fish. Back then, most people didn’t have much choice in what to eat.”
Researchers also generally approve of both the vegetarian diet and the Asian diet because they also help increase longevity and decrease the risk of chronic disease. But the Mediterranean reigns supreme, because the Asian diet has salt and starch, and the vegetarian lacks important nutrients.
A design for healthy eating
To publicize everyday ways to eat better, researchers at the Harvard Chan School came up with the Healthy Eating Plate. It suggests eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean poultry, and olive oil, and asks people to limit refined grains, trans fats, red meat, sugary drinks, and processed foods. In addition, it touts staying active.
Harvard’s plate was a response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) MyPlate, which, a comparison by Harvard nutrition experts suggested, could have gone further in detailing information about which foods to favor or limit.
Graphic by Judy Blomquist/Harvard Staff. View more information.A 2012 Harvard study found that eating red meat led to increased cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality, and that substituting healthier proteins lowered mortality. As for milk, a source of calcium, Willett said there is no evidence that drinking more of it prevents bone fractures as much as physical activity does. Yogurt, because of its positive effects on the intestinal system, proves even more beneficial than milk.
“Most populations along the world don’t drink any milk as adults,” said Willett. “Interestingly enough, they have the lowest fractures. And the highest bone-fracture rates are in milk-drinking countries such as northern Europe and the United States. Calcium is important all through life, but the amount of calcium that we need is probably overstated.”
What is hard to overstate is the importance of eating healthily and mindfully through life, but the good news is that benefits begin as soon as the improved diet does. “If you’re still alive, it’s never too late to make a change in our diet,” said Willett.
Recent studies have found that a healthy diet can also boost the brain and slow cellular aging. Researchers are examining the role of coffee and berries in improving cognitive function and reducing the risks of neurodegenerative diseases. At the same time, researchers keep circling back to the Mediterranean diet as a model of healthy eating.
“The evidence is very encouraging because, even among old people, when they improve their diet quality, the risks of getting chronic diseases and mortality can be reduced, and longevity can be improved.”
— Frank Hu
In a 2015 study in Spain, seniors who ate a Mediterranean diet, supplemented with olive oil and nuts, showed improved cognitive function compared with a control group. Rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, chemicals that help avert the harm of “free radicals” in the body, the Mediterranean diet may even help prevent some degenerative diseases that, to some degree, are caused by vascular aging and chronic inflammation, Hu said.
“Healthy, plant-based foods can improve vascular health, not just in the heart but in the brain,” he said. “And that can slow down the aging of the brain and cellular aging, and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”
As of now, science says the best prescription to slow the effects of aging is a mix of factors, from regular exercising to a healthy diet to maintaining a healthy body weight. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerClues on biomarkers of aging
The research shows promising paths ahead. In a 2014 study, Hu found a correlation between the Mediterranean diet and telomere length, a biomarker of aging. Telomeres — caps at the end of chromosomes that protect them from deterioration — may hold a key to longevity. Their lengthening slows the effects of aging, and their shortening is linked to increased risks of cancer and decreased longevity.
As of now, science says the best prescription to slow the effects of aging is a mix of factors, from regular exercising to a healthy diet to maintaining a healthy body weight.
“Maintaining a healthy diet for a long period of time is more important than having a yo-yo diet,” said Hu. “The evidence is very encouraging because, even among old people, when they improve their diet quality, the risks of getting chronic diseases and mortality can be reduced, and longevity can be improved.”
Hu said his own diet is a fusion of the Mediterranean, Asian, and vegetarian models, and he tries to combine the healthiest elements of each. In general, he avoids the problematic components of the Western diet: sugary foods, processed meats with high amounts of preservatives, sodium, and saturated fats.
Yet he reminds even healthy eaters that it’s fine to indulge in treats occasionally. After all, a long life should be worth living, and food is one of its joys.
SCIENCE & HEALTH > HEALTH & MEDICINE
Part of Gazette Topic: TACKLING ISSUES OF AGING
The balance in healthy aging To grow old well requires minimizing accidents, such as falling, as well as ailments
April 25, 2017 | Editor's Pick Audio/Video Popular
By Liz Mineo, Harvard Staff Writer
EmailTwitterFacebookFourth in an occasional series on how Harvard researchers are tackling the problematic issues of aging.
The morning light is pouring into the senior living community in Canton, where six residents are performing an exquisite choreography of sweeping, lyrical movements, emulating their Tai chi instructor.
“Wave hands like clouds,” urges Kerry Paulhus, leading them in the classic low-impact and slow-motion exercises of the ancient Chinese martial art. With relaxing music playing in the background, the students shift their weight from one leg to the other, turn their waists, and rotate their arms as if they indeed were clouds.
When class ended, Elaine Seidenberg and Fran Rogovin, both 84 and close friends for four years, were glowing.
“Tai chi calms me down and has lowered my blood pressure,” said Rogovin at Orchard Cove, a facility that is part of Hebrew SeniorLife. “It’s just amazing what Tai chi has done for me.”
“In class, we wave hands like clouds,” agreed Seidenberg, a former Cape Cod resident. “And after class, we walk on clouds.”
While Tai chi may offer senior practitioners inner peace, scientists also value it for its fundamental, physical benefits. In addition to improving balance, flexibility, and mental agility, it also reduces falls, the largest preventable cause of death and injury among older adults. One way to help the aging have long and vital lives, researchers say, is to help protect them from injuries or worse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three older adults falls dangerously each year. In 2014, about 27,000 older adults died from falls, more than 2.8 million were treated in emergency rooms, and 800,000 were hospitalized. Falls are the leading cause of death among adults over 65, and the death rate from them has soared in the past decade.
Over more than 30 years, researchers at the Institute for Aging Research have been studying what causes these falls among the elderly, and how to prevent them. The institute was started at Hebrew SeniorLife 50 years ago to take advantage of the proximity to senior residents living nearby, said Lew Lipsitz, institute director and chief academic officer.
Graphic by Judy Blomquist/Harvard StaffHebrew SeniorLife, a senior health care and housing organization affiliated with Harvard Medical School (HMS), serves 3,000 seniors in nine residential communities throughout Boston. One of a kind, the Harvard affiliate is the only long-term chronic care teaching hospital in the United States. The resulting access by researchers to seniors and their everyday lives provides a major boost to the real-time value of their research.
“Researchers really enjoy working here,” said Lipsitz, who is also chief of the Gerontology Division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of medicine at HMS, “because in fact it is an environment where researchers can identify the problems they want to study and apply studies to solve those problems.”
When Lipsitz began working at the institute in 1980 as one of the first Harvard fellows in geriatric medicine, he noticed that many residents fell frequently. His area of research was born.
Lipsitz directs the institute’s Center for Translational Research in Mobility and Falls. The center has led a number of groundbreaking studies on reducing the risk of falls among older adults, ranging from the benefits of Tai chi, to the role of high blood pressure in falls, to the use of electrical stimulation to the brain to aid executive functions, to the benefit of vitamin D to increase bone density.
Many of these studies over time were funded by the National Institute on Aging of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and the National Institutes of Health.
Lipsitz calls tai chi one of the most “exciting” interventions because it benefits both balance and mobility. It aids the muscular system, coordination, equilibrium, and the brain. In 2010, researchers at the institute ran a 12-week intervention, in which seniors practiced Tai chi twice a week. At the end of the trial, the investigators compared balance and mobility of those who did Tai chi to seniors who just sat in on the classes. “And lo and behold, Tai chi not only their improved gait and balance but improved their overall functional ability,” said Lipsitz. “If we could put Tai chi in a pill, everybody would take it. But unfortunately you actually have to practice it to have an effect.”
A study by Lipsitz, Brad Manor, and other researchers concluded that Tai chi training “may be a safe and effective therapy to help improve physical function.” The Arthritis Foundation now recommends Tai chi because it reduces stress and arthritis pain. (A study led by Fuzhong Li of the Oregon Research Institute, which examined results of a Tai chi program offered in 36 senior centers in 4 Oregon counties between 2012 and 2016, showed a 49 percent reduction in the number of falls and improved physical performance.)
It’s a simple fact that balance — the ability to maintain the body’s center of mass, located in the chest area, over the base of support or the feet — declines with age. Maintaining and bolstering it requires more than strong bones and firm muscles.
“Social stimulation is an important part of our health, and this tends to decrease with aging. The social aspect of Tai chi becomes incredibly powerful, which helps with the enjoyment.”
— Brad Manor
“It’s not just a physical task; it’s also a mental task,” said Manor, director of the institute’s mobility and brain function lab, and an HMS assistant professor of medicine.
“We have to use our memory for the information that tells us how to perform the task of walking,” said Manor, “and we have to make decisions to slow down if there’s an icy road or the lighting is poor. So we need to use our attention, memory, and decision-making, which are all cognitive functions. It’s a very complex system that involves processes that take place in the brain.”
Because Tai chi requires attention, memory, and learning components to master its physical movements, its benefits go beyond improving mobility and reducing falls, the researchers say. It increases cognitive and mental functions and mindfulness. It also promotes social interaction because Tai chi is often practiced in a group setting.
“Social stimulation is an important part of our health, and this tends to decrease with aging,” said Manor. “The social aspect of Tai chi becomes incredibly powerful, which helps with the enjoyment. People really like it. It doesn’t really matter if you have a new intervention that may be more effective if people don’t enjoy doing it.”
In his lab, Manor studies the links between brain function and balance and falls. As part of his research, he monitors movements of participants while they walk and perform other mentally aware tasks such as counting backwards by threes, in what he calls a “dual-task assessment.” Often, falls among older adults happen when they’re walking while performing other tasks, because they get distracted and lose their balance.
“Walking is a cognitive task, and if we’re doing another cognitive task, like talking, one of the tasks will be diminished,” said Manor. “We’re studying how dual tasking interferes with losing balance. In one of the studies, we were able to demonstrate that people who did Tai chi improved their ability to walk and perform an additional cognitive task.”
Balance also depends on the ability to have feeling in the feet, which decreases as people age. Scientists at the institute partnered with the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard to develop a vibratory shoe insole, a device that sends tiny signals to people’s feet, which a study led by Lipsitz showed improved gait and balance. “It’s not available to the public,” Lipsitz said, “but this is a promising area of research.”
Institute scientists are also studying the effects of electrical stimulation to the brain region that control mobility, balance, and dual tasking. “It’s like taking a small battery and applying it to your forehead,” said Lipsitz. “Someday, I’ll be sitting at the desk feeling tired, perhaps after a meal, and all I’d have to do is attach a ‘battery’ to my forehead to get a boost.”
Even as research continues, falls remain a major, rising worry. In 2015, the financial toll from falls among older adults amounted to $31 billion, and the costs are expected to increase as life expectancy grows. In 2014, the population of U.S. seniors was 46 million, and by 2030 more than 20 percent of the country’s population is projected to be 65 and older. Beyond the financial costs, falls can dramatically undercut seniors’ lives in ways ranging to dependence, depression, isolation, and loneliness.
As for Rogovin and Seidenberg, neither has fallen since she began practicing Tai chi, three and two years ago, respectively. Both live an active life at Orchard Cove. While they also practice yoga and meditation, they rave about how Tai chi has enriched their lives.
“It keeps me mindful of what I’m doing,” said Rogovin, who taught students with learning disabilities in Newton and Brookline for 30 years. “It relaxes me and helps my thinking.”
Seidenberg agreed. She especially cherishes the positive effects on her mental wellbeing. Tai chi not only helps her cope with the stress of dealing with her husband’s Alzheimer’s disease, but it makes her feel better.
“When I come out, I feel at peace with myself and the world,” she said. “Somehow when we age, we become less coordinated and a bit more clumsy, but I feel more graceful.”
SCIENCE & HEALTH > HEALTH & MEDICINE
Part of Gazette Topic: TACKLING ISSUES OF AGING
King Tide on Oahu, the highest tide of the year brings peak levels to Kuliouou Beach by everydaytaichi lucy chun, Honolulu
Baby manoa lettuce with other greens from Ken's garden: kale, cucumber, dill, basil, peppers topped with dill vinaigrette.
BRAND NEW 2017 Summer Class
everydaytaichi classes will begin in July 2017
Registration at Kilauea District Park
on the first day of class.
Level 1 Mondays 5:30PM
INTRO to Tai Chi Basics
July 24-Oct. 2
Level 2 Tuesdays 9AM
Yang 24 Form
Aug. 1-Oct. 3
Level 1 Thursdays 9AM
Yang 10 Form
July 27-Sept. 28
Level 3 Thursdays 10AM
Yang 16 Form
July 27-Sept. 28
Next session Oct. 6, 9, 11 thru Dec. 11, 12, 14.
Send me an email to let me know if you are interested in enrolling in the above classes.
Non-Instructional session is ongoing throughout the year, ALL can participate.
Mondays 9-10AM at Aina Koa Park
Fridays 9-10AM at Kilauea District Park
Click here for more info.
Looking ahead: June 2018 we will be touring Hokkaido, Japan. If you are interested in joining us, email me at email@example.com
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