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Be Well

Most seniors rely on devices, caregivers for daily tasks

About two-thirds of older Americans depend on other people or devices to complete routine daily tasks, a University of Michigan study found.

The researchers interviewed 8,000 men and women age 65 and older to see how they performed activities such as going outside, getting out of bed, eating, and dressing. They asked whether these activities were completed with any assistance from devices such as walkers, grab bars, or wheelchairs, or whether they received help from a caregiver within the last month.

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Nearly 25 percent said they complete tasks on their own using assistive devices such as walkers, and 18 percent said they use these aids but have trouble performing activities. An additional 21 percent got by with the help of a caregiver, and 6 percent said they have reduced activities of daily living, for example showering less or not walking as much. The older respondents were, the more likely they were to rely on devices or people for help.

BOTTOM LINE: As many as two-thirds of older Americans depend on other people or devices in order to complete daily tasks.

CAUTIONS: The study relied on interview responses from participants, which may not always be accurate.

WHERE TO FIND IT: American Journal of Public Health, Dec. 12

Light exercise linked to decreased risk for kidney stones

As little as three hours a week of light exercise may lower a woman’s chances of developing kidney stones, a new study found. University of Washington researchers looked at data of more than 84,000 postmenopausal women who were part of the nationwide Women’s Health Initiative, a study that has been tracking women’s diet and lifestyle since the 1990s.

Women who reported even the lowest level of physical activity, comparable to about three hours of walking per week or one hour of jogging, had a 16 percent reduced risk of developing kidney stones.

Women who consumed more than 2,200 calories a day were at higher risk for developing kidney stones. However eating less than that amount did not protect against kidney stones.

The findings add to mounting evidence that some cases of kidney stones may be related to lifestyle factors.

BOTTOM LINE: As little as three hours a week of light exercise may lower a woman’s risk of developing kidney stones.

CAUTIONS: The study was limited to postmenopausal women and the findings may not represent all people at risk for kidney stones. The study does not prove that exercise prevents kidney stones.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, Dec. 12

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