HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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These results suggest lower odds of probable dementia or cognitive impairment in older women whose caffeine consumption was above median for this group. They are consistent with the existing literature showing an inverse association between caffeine intake and age- related cognitive impairment.

Ladies, take your time enjoying that cup of coffee. It may be working in your favor.


Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found in a large group of older women, those who consumed higher amounts of caffeine had lower rates of dementia than women who consumed lower amounts over as many as 10 years of follow-up in the study. The results are based on 6,467 community-dwelling women age 65 years and older who self-reported their daily caffeine consumption upon enrollment in the Women’s Health Initiative and Memory Study (WHIMS), funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.


The WHIMS study recognized excessive memory decline or dementia affects an increasing number of women as they grow older. The frequency of dementia doubles every five years beginning at age 60, making the discovery of ways to prevent or slow the disease imperative. Previous studies have indicated changes in memory may be associated with the female hormonal decline that occurs after menopause, but more research is needed to establish the link between meno- pause and poorer memory function. Researchers believe taking the female hormones estrogen and/or progesterone may protect women against memory decline. This study evaluated the effects of female hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on the development and progression of memory loss in older women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) research investigation.  

COFFEE OFFERS WOMEN SOME BENEFITS

Dr. Ira Driscoll and his research team published their findings in The Journal of Gerontology. Growing evidence of caffeine consumption as a potentially protective factor against cognitive impairment is exciting, given that caffeine is also an easily modifiable dietary factor with very few contraindications. What is so unique about this study is the researchers had an unprecedented opportunity to examine the relationship between caffeine intake and dementia incidence in a large and well-defined, prospectively studied cohort of women.


After more than a decade of follow-up, the women received annual assessments of their cognitive function, and 388 of them were diagnosed with probable dementia or some form of cognitive impairment. After adjusting for a number of risk factors, including age, hormone therapy, sleep quality and depression, researchers found women who consumed above-average levels of caffeine (more than 261 mg per day) were 36 percent less likely to develop incident dementia. To provide perspective, the study said an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains 95 mg of caffeine; 8 ounces of brewed black tea contain 47 mg; and a 12-ounce can of cola contains 33 mg.

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP



Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.