September 25, 2010 at 5:17 pm #35420
Turn back the clock on your life: 7 ways to keep yourself young
by Jessica Ashley, Shine staff, on Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:25pm PDT
The plaid couch and orange shag carpet in your grandmother’s 70s living room may seem outdated and old-timey to you. Her time capsule, however, might not just be keeping her young, it could be keeping her alive.
In an experiment documented by the BBC, researchers found that pretending you are living in your youth may actually impact how young you feel and act. The BBC invited six aging British celebrities to live in a country house for a week. From the clothes they wore to TV shows they watched, the participants, aged 76 to 88, were submerged in a time when they were in their heyday. Their bedrooms were even replicas of the ones they slept in during that decade.
The three actors, one athlete, and two journalistsall retired volunteered to take care of themselves in the house and engage in assigned tasks, like carrying their bags up a flight of stairs. A team with surveillance cameras quietly observed them through it all.
Fending for themselves, the BBC notes, was a big challenge for the six, but also encouraged pushing past age-related limitations. They watched one participant who normally relied on two canes or a wheelchair to get around, triumphantly take nearly 150 steps using only one cane.
Although the BBC admits the participants’ progress was not uniform, the changes in confidence, independence, and physical ability are notable. After just one week of living like it was the 70s, testing revealed almost all of them had improved memory, stamina, eyesight, and mood.
These results are fascinating, but not out of the blue. The BBC experiment was inspired by 1979 research conducted by Harvard professor Ellen Langer, who took a group of men back to the year 1959 in her own legendary “counterclockwise study.”
“It’s too easy to have everybody take care of us. But you can be helped to death,” Langer noted.
In fact, the BBC points to a study that shows when nursing home residents were given some small responsibility and choice in how they spent their time, only 18 months later they were more active, alert, happy and “far more likely to be alive.”
However, you might not have to go back twenty (or more) years to regain the confidence and mobility you had as a younger person. But, according to Langer’s research, you may have to go against the grain if you want to be an elderly person who continues to act, feel, and live young.
And, experts say, you have to get started right away. Developing good brain habits now, reports Dr. Cynthia R. Greene, author of Total Memory Workout: 8 Easy Steps to Maximum Memory Fitness, will improve your current daily intellectual performance as well as reduce the risk for dementia in years to come.
Before you dig out your polyester culottes from decades past, try the followingexperts believe they can help us all hold on to the best parts of our youth as the years go by.
1. Break out the community college catalog or sign up for sign language class. Remember when people wrote in your high school yearbook, “Don’t ever change”? Forget that. Although it was once believed that our brains were hardwired for specific tasks, new information shows that our brains are dynamic and even rejuvenating. This means a stroke victim may be able to transfer skills from a damaged region of the brain to one that is more viable, says Dr. Terry Grossman, author of Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever. It also means that acquiring new skills as we age will help keep us youthful.
“Utilizing previously unused areas of the brain as one ages can help slow down, stop, and reverse some signs of brain aging,” Dr. Grossman says.
How can you jump on that tomorrow? Dr. Grossman says learning a new language, taking music lessons to play a new instrument, sitting in on an adult education class in a subject you’ve always been curious about, or traveling to an area you’ve never explored are all ways to get neurons firing.
2. Work your body. Data strongly suggests that regular aerobic activity improves human brain power immediately and could protect us from major memory impairment in the long term. Even walking for 45 minutes a few times a week can make a difference.
“Even folks with limited mobility or cognitive impairment should be encouraged to maintain their aerobic wellness as much as possible by participating in activities that are accessible to them [such as “sit and be fit” programs, water aerobics, etc.],” Dr. Greene notes. “A small study a few years ago out of Australia suggested that regular aerobic activity may slow progression of memory impairment in individuals in the early stages of the disease. While that needs to be replicated and seen in larger samples, it was an interesting window into the role exercise may play for brain health across the board.”
3. Feed your body, but only until it is 80 percent full. Whether you want to recapture or hang on to your youthfulness, you’re going to have to pay more attention to the food and drink you put into your body.
Longevity expert and author Dan Buettner partnered with National Geographic to study how people in some pockets of the world not only live longer, but live better. He compressed their lessons into nine tenets, and it’s not a shocker that one of them is to eat wisely.
“Instead of groping from fad diet to fad diets, use strategies for eating 20 percent less at meals. Avoid meat and processed food,” Buettner says. More obviously, he adds that it’s a good idea to consume more vegetables and, if it works for your health history and current medical condition, drink red wine in moderation.
4. De-stress, and soon. We hear about releasing stress so often that it can easily feel like one more overwhelming task on the to-do list. But Dr. Grossman says it is a must if you want to live longer and feel good during all of those years.
The stress situation in this country is dangerously excessive and could be causing us to age more quickly, he notes.
“It is estimated that with the current economic conditions, stress levels in the United States today are approaching those that existed in the days following 9/11,” Dr. Grossman asserts.
To break the cycle of stress, try engaging in a hobby, taking scheduled vacations, or regularly get spa treatments or massages.
5. Keep playing the classic games, just do them faster. Our intellectual skills change as we age. The great news, Dr. Greene says, is that deductive reasoning and our base of knowledge improve. The challenge, however, is that our attention, processing speed, short-term memory, and cognitive flexibility often slow. Just like our biceps, regularly exercising mental muscles can help us stay healthier over time.
While you can certainly use online games for brain fitness, Dr. Greene also suggests pulling out games that challenge memory, oldies-but-goodies like Boggle, Simon, Bananagrams, or even the word jumble. To glean the greatest benefit, time yourself with the goal of getting faster each time.
6. Be social, but choose your friends wisely. “It has been found,” Dr. Grossman reports plainly, “that being socially isolated has health risks on par with those of cigarette smoking.”
While the most important thing you can do to keep yourself young during your lifetime is to be social, Dr. Buettner says it is also critical that you spend time with people who have the healthy habits you prioritize or want to emulate.
He calls this choosing “the right tribe” and says centenarians, people who live to at least 100f, show exactly how this works.
“All of the world’s longest-lived people were born into — or consciously chose to associate with — the right people . If your three best friends are obese, there’s a 50 percent better chance that you’ll be obese,” says Dr. Bruettner. “The reverse is true, too. If you dine with people who eat healthy food, you’re more likely to eat healthy food, if the friends you spend most time with play a sport, you’re more likely to join them.”
He says our trend toward isolation — 15 years ago, the average American had three good friends, as compared to two today — is shaving years off of our lives. Finding a community of just a few people who stimulate you intellectually, encourage you to try new things and be physically active, and maybe even play a round or two of Yahtzee! could hit lots of targets as you aim to stay young from year to year.
What do you do if some of those important people, like caretakers or friends or even grown children, in your life won’t stop telling you to slow down, reduce your activity, and accept your age? Dr. Grossman responds bluntly, “Wrong advice — no matter how well-intentioned — is still wrong. I would ignore it.”
7. Take control of your life by taking control of your clutter.
In a thought-provoking New York Times article on the physical, emotional, and cognitive toll possessions can have on older people, Dr. David J. Ekerdt spelled out the myriad approaches we can take to downsize during our later years.
This isnt just a move from one residence to another, as it would be earlier in life. This is a step closer to the inevitable world of frail aging, a reminder that time is growing short. People want to hold on to the symbols of their former lives and competence, Ekerdt told the Times.
Getting rid of a wedding dress or sorting through old photos isn’t just a de-cluttering exercise, it is a rite of passage. Sorting through all of that stuff can certainly be as physically and mentally draining as the British celebrity who put down her cane and walked across the room. However, if we take control of the possessions we keep and validate what the stuff we discard meant about who we once were, we will be better prepared to move forward into the next chapter of our lives.
Ekerdt’s research acknowledges the stress and pressure of sorting through a lifetime of possessions but also shows that people feel satisfied overall when it is accomplished.
Perhaps we can apply both Ekerdt’s study and the BBC experiment as we move through our own homes and years. Whether we opt to stand up out of a wheelchair, donate all those unopened cookbooks, or choose to take up French, making the choice to hold on to the fiery parts of ourselves and release the stereotypes of getting older might justl keep us thriving, no matter how many candles are on our cake.September 29, 2010 at 10:08 pm #35421September 29, 2010 at 10:49 pm #35423September 29, 2010 at 11:30 pm #35425September 29, 2010 at 11:30 pm #35427September 29, 2010 at 11:31 pm #35429October 2, 2010 at 2:36 pm #35431October 3, 2010 at 7:10 am #35433
A baby-faced band of “money mules” helped an Eastern European hackerring transfer $3 million in cash it pilfered from American bank accounts, federal prosecutors in New York said yesterday.
The group, including several women who are college co-eds here on student visas, was allegedly tasked with opening hundreds of bank accounts used to receive the stolen funds.
For instance, Kristina Svechinskaya, 21 — one of nine people arrested yesterday in connection with a series of cases involving more than 80 defendants — opened at least five bank accounts used to transfer $35,000 of the loot, the feds said.
EASTERN EYEFULS: Among the suspects in custody yesterday are Kristina Svechinskaya (above), Alina Turuta and Julia Sidorenko.
EASTERN EYEFULS: Among the suspects in custody yesterday are Kristina Svechinskaya (above), Alina Turuta and Julia Sidorenko.
Using computer viruses spread through innocuous-seeming e-mails, the hackers were able to gain access to bank accounts of small businesses and individuals, US Attorney Preet Bharara said.
“The mouse and the keyboard can be far more effective than the gun and the mask,” Bharara said.
He said the victims of the “Zeus Trojan” software had accounts at five different banks throughout the country.
The four women arrested today were ordered held without bail after hearings in Manhattan federal court yesterday.
The software the hackers used is known as an Internet banking Trojan, which can steal computer-access data, including user names and passwords for bank accounts, e-mail accounts and social-networking Web sites.
The program would gain access to the computer when a victim clicked on a link or opened a file attached to a seemingly legitimate e-mail message.
Once the program was engaged, computer hackers could secretly monitor the victim’s computer activity, enabling them to obtain bank-account numbers, passwords and authentication information, the FBI said.
Once the money was stolen, it was transferred into accounts set up by the money mules, the FBI said.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said people from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus who had obtained student visas to come to the United States were recruited through social-networking sites and newspaper advertisements.
They opened hundreds of US bank accounts for fraudulent purposes, Vance said.
Money stolen from the victims would allegedly be deposited into the bank accounts and then transferred in smaller amounts elsewhere.
In return, the mules would keep 8 to 10 percent for themselves before sending the rest to others involved in the scheme.October 20, 2010 at 1:58 am #35435
Moscow ex-mayor starting movement to promote more democracy
Moscow ex-mayor Yury Luzhkov, dismissed last week by President Medvedev, says he is going to launch a political movement to counter an antidemocratic drift. Many activists are skeptical of Luzhkov’s pro-democracy credentials.
Yury Luzhkov, the long-serving mayor of Moscow who was fired last week by President Dmitry Medvedev following a nasty public battle, said Monday that he will start his own political movement to combat the antidemocratic drift of Russian society.
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“I am going to form my own political movement,” Mr. Luzhkov said in an interview with the opposition newsweekly New Times. “Today our society has undemocratic laws … and has become largely disintegrated in all areas,” including a dearth of media freedom.
“That is what I am going to fight against,” he added.
He said his removal from the job he’d held for 18 years was “a political issue” connected with the upcoming 2012 presidential elections. Both incumbent President Medvedev and the powerful ex-president and current prime minister, Vladimir Putin, have been jockeying for position in what will likely be a tough bureaucratic struggle for the establishment nomination in that contest.
But Luzhkov added that he wasn’t planning to start his own political party to compete with United Russia from which he resigned last week nor did he intend to throw his hat into the presidential ring.
The ex-mayor’s declaration that he’s going into opposition drew snorts of disbelief from Russia’s beleaguered pro-democracy activists Monday.
Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and a leader of the Solidarnost anti-Kremlin coalition, says it’s been barely a month since he and 70 others were arrested after Luzhkov sent ranks of armored riot police to smash a small “freedom of assembly” rally his organization tried to hold on Moscow’s central Triumph Square.
“It seems like everyone who retires from [Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin’s camp immediately wants to transform himself into a champion of democracy,” says Mr. Nemtsov. “But we do have functioning memories. We remember how Luzhkov established censorship on Moscow’s TV airwaves, how he organized fraudulent elections in Moscow last year to ensure victory for the [pro-Kremlin] United Russia party, and how he used the courts to crush us.”
In his interview, Luzhkov said he wasn’t going to bother utilizing his constitutional right to appeal his dismissal to the Supreme Court. “I can’t imagine that the Supreme Court will make a ruling that would contradict the presidential order,” he said.
That’s an amazing admission, says Mr. Nemtsov, whose own intensely critical book about Luzhkov’s 18-year tenure in Moscow, titled “Luzhkov: The Results,” landed him in a Luzhkov-run Moscow court, where he was convicted of libel.
“I have been up against Luzhkov in Moscow courts 22 times over the years,” says Nemtsov. “And every time they ruled against me, Luzhkov would say that Moscow courts are completely open and fair. Now he says he wouldn’t trust his own fate to a Russian court.”
Some experts believe that Luzhkov, who was rated favorably by more than 60 percent of Muscovites in a November 2009 poll, could have a political impact if he’s serious about going into public opposition.
“He’s famous, experienced, and well-regarded by Russians. He’s a very prominent figure on the post-Soviet political stage,” says Viktor Ilyukhin, deputy head of the Duma’s security committee. “A political figure like him, outside of the authorities’ control, could become a real headache.”
Luzhkov’s Achilles heel, most experts say, is the murky legacy of corruption that hangs over his nearly two-decade rule in Moscow. The ex-mayor’s wife, Yelena Baturina, became a multibillionaire through her ownership of companies such as construction firm Inteko, amid a Moscow real estate boom marked by insider deals and shady financial arrangements.
The former mayor has always angrily denied corruption allegations, but he appeared to admit his vulnerability in Monday’s interview: “Of course I am not ready to go to jail and I am not going there since I worked as a mayor honestly,” he said.
Some experts suggest Luzhkov’s sudden burst of pro-democracy rhetoric is just a bit of theater, aimed at protecting himself and his wife against the inevitable onslaught of enemies seeking revenge and a redivision of the spoils of Moscow power.
“Luzhkov’s wife has many angry competitors who couldn’t touch her while he was mayor, and now their knives are out,” says Alexei Mukhin, director of the independent Center for Political Information in Moscow.
“She is busy moving her business interests out of Russia, to Austria, and he is giving her cover…Since Luzhkov has no pre-existing reputation as a democrat, he needs to manufacture one. It’s very useful, especially in the West, to tell people you’re being prosecuted in Russia for political reasons, and not because you were actually guilty of corruption… I think the Kremlin understands this, and doesn’t feel the slightest bit threatened by Luzhkov.”
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