With apologies to Ol' Blue Eyes, 2013 was indeed a very good year for people 50+. With advances made on the medical and technological fronts and all signs pointing ahead to not just longer but healthier lives, we heralded these five tidbits of welcomed news in the year coming to a close. They are:
1) Even those late to the exercise game will benefit.
Good news for couch potatoes: There are still benefits to be had for taking up exercise in your later years. As a personal trainer told us years ago, going for a swim once a week was better than not doing it at all. And in that same vein, we took pleasure in the knowledge that starting to exercise later in life is better than not starting it at all.
2) The bad cholesterol-busters are winning.
We all know about “good” and “bad” cholesterol, right? The high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the good one and its evil counterpart is the low-density lipoprotein (LDL). When you have too much LDL floating around in your blood, it sticks to your artery walls, causes a narrowing and raises your risk of strokes and heart attacks. The good cholesterol -- HDL -- on the other hand, cruises through your arteries scavenging excess cholesterol and returning it to the liver, where it’s broken down.
NIH-funded researchers, based at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, have figured out a new approach to boost HDL. We'll let the doctors explain it to you, but bottom line: It's a good thing.
3) If we get confused easily, it isn't necessarily a factor of our age.
The MetLife Mature Market Institute and the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas reported that it's not age alone that leads to a deteriorating ability to make decisions. The culprits are other factors related to medical conditions.
Even more encouraging, the study says prior research may have ignored positive age-related attributes that preserve or even enhance decision-making, like life experience, reasoning ability and accumulated knowledge. Bottom line: If a person is free of disease that impairs thinking, he may be just as good or even better at decision-making than someone younger.
4) We're still rattling those motel walls.
Yes, post 50s are still sexually active. That's the good news. There is a little bad news attached though. A study conducted by Indiana University and published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 91 percent of men over 50 did not use a condom when they had sex with a date or casual acquaintance, and 70 percent didn’t use condoms with a sex partner they had just met. Just plain dumb, people, just plain dumb. You might not be at risk for an unwanted pregnancy, but you are at high risk for a socially transmitted disease, or STDs.
5) The young-ens are coming along.
Given that there has always been strength in numbers, we welcome the last baby boomers to the fastest-growing club in the world: People over 50. Yep, in 2014, the last boomers will be celebrating their big 5-0's and what will our added numbers mean besides the folks at AARP doing the Snoopy Happy Dance? It means a bunch more people to get angry over age discrimination in hiring, more voices demanding things like Medicare covering hearing aids and glasses, a swell of innovation aimed at making our lives easier and better. And for that, we celebrate the good birthday news of everyone born in 1964.