Blueberries & Alzheimer’s? And more from the week online

From news you can use to finds you might love, take a look at our picks from the week online.

South African Elder Designs Next It Sneakers


Esther Mahlangu was in her 70s when she burst onto the international art scene, but she had been painting since the age of 10. Born in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province in 1935, Mahlangu learned from her mother and grandmother how to paint the exteriors of houses with bold geometric patterns — a woman’s tradition among the South Ndebele people. Recently, the 80-year-old worked with Scandinavian fashion-sneaker brand Eytys to come up with two designs — a terrific international, cross-generational project.

What They Said


“How do I embrace my 70s? What is there of me that I haven’t experienced yet?” — Sally Field, speaking with NPR about herself and her character in the new film “Hello, My Name Is Doris.” (Hear the whole episode below.)


“Social media, in many respects, has reinforced ageist assumptions; viewing elders as being mentally and physically frail. However, social media has the potential to shift the message: (1) Increasing political advocacy towards positive aspects of aging, and (2) Engaging elders in online conversations about ageism and its impact.” Rein Tideiksaar, qouted by Carol Marak in “How Social Media Can Help Stamp Out Ageism


Brain health Blueberries get another boost from new cognitive health research

At the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society this past weekend, researchers presented findings from a new study that suggest blueberries may improve memory and cognitive function in people who have early symptoms of of Alzheimer’s. In the small study, participants who were suffering from memory issues consumed the equivalent of a cup of blueberries a day in freeze-dried powder form, and in follow-up tests showed an increased capacity to memorize and solve problems. But in a second study that involved participants with mild or no cognitive issues, the blueberries had no effect on memory. The takeaway? Researchers believe that the anthocyanin (a form of antioxidant) in blueberries may only be effective for people who are already suffering cognitive impairment. If you’re thinking you may as well eat blueberries anyway (the high level of antioxidants they contain has also been shown to help heart health), you might want to take a look at a study that was presented at the society’s 2010 meeting: “Black rice rivals pricey blueberries as source of healthful antioxidants.” To read the blueberries study, click here.

Election Winning the vote of Florida’s seniors


Money Hearing aids are getting some government attention

Only 20 percent of Americans who need hearing aids actually use them, and one reason is their exorbitant cost and the fact that they’re not covered by Medicare. In a New York Times article last week, Paula Span outlined developments in Congress and the White House that might lead to an easing of regulations and and decrease in prices. Among the changes being recommended or considered are a basic over-the-counter device for people with low to moderate hearing loss and a new look at insurance coverage. What’s driving the attention? In part, it’s research pointing to the effects of hearing loss, which can include an increased risk of falls, cognitive decline and depression. Read it at the New York Times

Lifelong learning A radio show by seniors, for seniors

Next time you’re in Winter Park, Florida, tune in to WPRK 91.5 FM, a student-run radio station out of Rollins College. Older volunteers at the station have been hosting the show A Dialogue With Voice as a way to be involved with the community and encourage others to take in cultural and educational events, stay healthy and learn about senior issues. Listen to this recent talk hour hosted by Jeanine Lee, who’s talking to a local author about writing your life story. Read more about the show at the Orlando Sentinel

Design Involving older people in the process

“Companies take mobile phones and make the buttons bigger, then say they are for the elderly. But those phones make people feel old and stupid. Companies need to create solutions from the perspective of older people, and not just involve them retrospectively.” Singapore is ahead of the US in the aging of its population — by 2030, one in four Singaporeans will be 65 years and older. It might also be ahead of us in its thinking about design for aging. In a recent study. “Empathetic Technology for Ageing,” study lead Jeremy Sun of Singapore’s Orcadesign Consultants (the study was conducted in collaboration with the country’s Health Ministry’s Ageing Planning Office) pointed to the need to stop seeing seniors as one monolithic group and start understanding that  there are many types of senior, each with unique needs, concerns and abilities. By designing with rather than for seniors, companies can learn to see from our multiple points of view and come up with products that serve us well rather than cementing stereotypes. The study has been incorporated into the Health Ministry’s Action Plan For Successful Ageing and was the basis of Singapore’s first Design marathon in January. Read more here.

Entertainment “Hamilton” at the the White House 

The award-winning Broadway musical hit “Hamilton” is perpetually sold out, so it was big news when the White House posted a video of the cast performing songs from the show to YouTube. If you’re in NYC, you can try nabbing $10 same-day tickets via the “Hamilton” ticket lottery; if you’re not, or you’ve given up on the lottery, here’s a taste. Drag along the time bar to 53:48 if you want to skip the President’s short brief remarks (but we recommend that you watch them — they’re both informative and entertaining).

Aging in Place Home monitoring systems — intrusive or practical?

An industry is growing around the desire of older Americans to live in their own homes for as long as possible — and the desire of older Americans’ kids to live apart from their parents. That industry is making sensor-enabled home monitoring systems available at increasingly lower cost, so that your remote children, or perhaps someone at a care agency,  can fire up an app and see whether you opened the refrigerator door, used the bathroom, took a walk…. On her blog Time Goes By, Ronni Bennett took a look at the marketing language the companies making these “Granny Cams” use on their websites and asked, Whose interests are they serving? And would you want your kids spying on you? Read the whole post, as well as the comments under it. Then weigh in. Read “Electronic Home Monitoring of Elders” at Time Goes By

People Sally Field on NPR

“I’ve gathered strength behind my years, I owned them, I’ve earned them, I’ve deserved them, I have a right to have them. And I don’t like my neck, I don’t like a lot of things but it’s OK, it’s OK. Behind my years I have value that doesn’t come when you’re 50 or 40 or 30 or 20, it doesn’t come until you’ve been in that saddle for a number of years.”

Medicare Ask the candidates

What are the candidates’s positions on gaps in Medicare coverage (dental and hearing, anyone?), the rising costs of prescription drugs, the future of Medicare? The Medicare Rights Center has come up with a way to help you focus the candidates around these and other questions by offering a quick and easy way to “Ask the Candidates.” On the nonprofit’s website, you can see a brief explanation of the issue and then link through to each candidate’s email or Twitter page. Of course, you’re likely to a generic response — but you’ll be registering your concern. Click here to access Ask the Candidates at

Aging With Attitude Amy Tan’s Inspiration

Via Digidame


Burning more calories may protect key areas of the brain

A five-year study out of UCLA has concluded that moderate forms of calorie-burning exercise like jogging, swimming, gardening and dancing can increase the volume of grey matter in key brain areas that are responsible for memory,learning and performing complex cognitive tasks. “People with highest calorie expenditure had larger grey matter volumes in key areas on initial brain scans and were half as likely to have developed Alzheimer’s disease five years later,” the researchers reported.The study looked at data from some 875 people 65 year or older. Read more here

Quick Links

Practicing Tai Chi reduces the risk of falling, researchers say

Do men get osteoporosis?

Using the arts to promote healthy aging

And Finally

Happy clicking!

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1 comment
  • Florence Cohen

    I have a question regarding the healthiness of brown and black rice because of the antioxidants. The article was written in 2010. Now I am reading that all rice contains arsenic. That is not very healthy.

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