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  7. Introducing Alchemy Meal Prep!
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Friday, February 28, 2020
  1. 8 Products Every Natural Skincare Lover Needs
  2. Sticky Orange Tempeh with Maple Thyme Roasted Vegetables
  3. Healthy Vegetarian Meal Plan: Week of 02-22-2020
  4. What’s NEW in the JSHealth App 2.0
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  7. Introducing Alchemy Meal Prep!
  8. Safe Anti-Aging Skincare for Breastfeeding Moms
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  10. Our Favorite Sulfate-Free Shampoos of 2020
  11. Natural and Eco-Friendly Scrubs for a Glowing Face and Body
  12. Top 7 Washable and Eco-Friendly Makeup Removers
  13. 7 Products Every Natural Skincare Lover Needs
  14. A List of Our Favorite Silicone-Free Hair Products
  15. 13 Stretch Mark Creams That Are Safe for Pregnancy
  16. Our Favorite Non-Toxic, Chemical-Free Sunscreens
  17. Book review: The Easy 5-Ingredient Pescatarian Cookbook
  18. Healthy Vegetarian Meal Plan: Week of 02-15-2020
  19. Vegan Chickpea Walnut Tacos
  20. Permission to Love Yourself, Too
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  22. Lovely Meals Lately
  23. Tart Cherry Orange Pistachio Bread (Gluten-Free!)
  24. Top 6 Sodium Culprits
  25. Fasting and You
  26. Drool-Worthy Healthy Lunch Recipes You Need in Your Life
  27. Cherry Orange Pistachio Bread (Gluten-Free!)
  28. The Truth About Plastics
  29. Heartfelt Foods
  30. BPA Explained
  31. Healthy Vegetarian Meal Plan: Week of 02-01-2020
  32. Savvy Spending with Nicole Lapin
  33. 5-Ingredient Peanut Butter Chia Balls
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  35. Can neurogastronomy save the world?
  36. Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole
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  38. Pantry 2020 Basics
  39. Top 10 Tips for Cooking Dried Legumes
  40. What I Ate Wednesday + Day In the Life
  41. Brussels Sprout Kale Caesar Salad with Rosemary Croutons
  42. Healthy Vegetarian Meal Plan: Week of 01-11-2020
  43. Eat for your Dosha
  44. Keep it Moving
  45. No-Bake Chocolate Almond Butter Oatmeal Bars
  46. Apple Cider Vinegar for Digestion
  47. Healthy Vegetarian Meal Plan: Week of 01-04-2020
  48. Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta with Chickpeas
  49. Healthy Vegetarian Meal Plan: Week of 12-28-2019
  50. Get Well, Not High
  51. 21 Fabulously Festive Vegan Holiday Treats
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  53. Vegan Lasagna Soup
  54. Sweet Potato Rounds with Goat Cheese, Roasted Grapes, and Pecans
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  56. Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Cookies (Gluten-Free!)
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  60. Amazing Vegan Ginger Molasses Cookies
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  100. Bento Box Recipes
  101. How to Make Sushi Sandwich
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  103. Healthy Vegetarian Meal Plan: Week of 09-14-2019
  104. 5 lunchbox ideas
  105. 17 Free and Easy Ways to Be a Self-Care Expert
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  121. Hot right now
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  131. Cleft Palate With Cleft Lip
  132. What is CPR?
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  134. Cushing Syndrome (For Parents)
  135. Do Memory Problems Always Mean Alzheimers Disease?
  136. Manganese
  137. Study Shows that Disrupted Gut Bacteria May Contribute to the Spread of Breast Cancer
  138. She Faced Breast Cancer At 16 With Little Help From Doctors. Now She’s Speaking Out On Behalf Of Black Women
  139. What Do We Know About Healthy Aging?
  140. Participating in the Arts Creates Paths to Healthy Aging
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  142. Study Shows Music Eases Pain and Other Symptoms for Patients Undergoing Breast Cancer Treatment
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  165. Cuddle beds bringing some physical comfort to end-of-life patients – ABC News
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  168. Scientists revive cellular activity in brain of dead pigs: report – Fox News
  169. High-Deductible Health Policies Linked To Delayed Diagnosis And Treatment – NPR
  170. After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Technology Professor Teaches Computers to Read Mammograms
  171. Fact or Fiction: What to Know About Smoking Cessation and Medications
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  175. What Personality Tests Tell Us About Ourselves – NPR
  176. Having a resting heart rate of 75 beats per minute DOUBLES your risk of an early death – Daily Mail
  177. Wear protective goggles to play badminton
  178. Herbal drug kratom linked to almost 100 overdose deaths, CDC says – USA TODAY
  179. Ability to lift weights quickly can mean a longer life – EurekAlert
  180. Climate change is making allergy season worse – CNN
  181. 11 Unexpected Ways You Can Relieve Headaches – HuffPost
  182. New Jersey preschoolers have highest autism rates in the nation, researchers say
  183. Auburn gymnast who suffered severe injuries: My pain is not your entertainment
  184. A four-day work week could improve our health and cut carbon emissions
  185. Promising treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome fails large trial

We all know to eat right, exercise, and get a good night’s sleep to stay healthy. But can flexing our creative muscles help us thrive as we age? Ongoing research looking at singing group programs, theater training, and visual arts for older adults suggest that participating in the arts may improve the health, well-being, and independence of older adults.

“Researchers are highly interested in examining if and how participating in arts activities may be linked to improving cognitive function and memory and improving self-esteem and well-being. Scientists are also interested in studying how music can be used to reduce behavioral symptoms of dementia, such as stress, aggression, agitation, and apathy, as well as promoting social interaction, which has multiple psychosocial benefits,” said Lisa Onken, Ph.D., of NIA’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research.

Lifting their voices for healthy aging

“There’s a pressing need to develop novel, sustainable, and cost-effective approaches to improve the lives of older adults,” said Julene K. Johnson, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing. “Singing in a community choir may be a unique approach to promote the health of diverse older adults by helping them remain active and engaged. It may even reduce health disparities.”

Dr. Johnson tested this approach, leading Community of Voices, the largest randomized clinical trial to test the impact of participating in a community choir on the health and well-being of nearly 400 culturally diverse adults, age 60 and older, from 12 senior centers in San Francisco. The centers were randomly chosen to conduct the choir program immediately (six intervention groups) or 6 months later (six control groups). Outcome measures were collected at baseline (prior to starting the intervention), 6 months (end of randomization phase), and 12 months (1 year after enrollment). Each choir met once a week in 90-minute sessions for 44 weeks and performed in several informal concerts.

At weekly rehearsals, professional choral directors from the San Francisco Community Music Center trained in the intervention led activities to promote health and well-being. Researchers assessed participants’ cognition, physical function, and psychosocial function, as well as their use and cost of healthcare services, before they started the choir program and again after 6 and 12 months.

Check out Community of Voices choirs in action:

A unique aspect of the study was its use of community partners to engage, enroll, and retain a large group of racially and ethnically diverse and low-income older adults. Participants were recruited and completed all choir activities and assessments at the senior centers, which made it more convenient for them to join and continue in the study.

Participating in the community choir showed positive results within 6 months. In particular, it reduced feelings of loneliness and increased interest in life. However, cognitive and physical outcomes and healthcare costs did not change significantly. Dr. Johnson attributed the improvements to the choir providing a meaningful, regular opportunity to meet new people, build social support, and increase a sense of belonging.

“The study showed increased interest in life because singing in the choir provided a regular, structured activity for participants,” she said. “Access to regular activities in diverse, low-income communities is vital for older adults to remain active and engaged in their community.”

Dr. Onken noted, “By examining the mechanisms through which arts participation may provide benefits to health and well-being, and by studying arts participation with scientific rigor, we hope to establish a firm basis on which to develop programs to improve the health and well-being of older people. As these studies continue, we expect the results to show us how we can implement cost-effective, community-based programs that benefit older people.”

Theater improvising to cope with dementia

older man with left arm partly raised next to whiteboardNorthwestern University is looking to another art form, theater improvisation, to help older adults with early-stage dementia be social and improve their quality of life. “The Memory Ensemble” is for people newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia who are looking for opportunities to engage in programs that fit their needs,” said Darby Morhardt, Ph.D., Outreach, Recruitment and Education Core Leader at Northwestern’s Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease.

The Memory Ensemble’s 69 participants learn how to use their instincts, creativity, and spontaneity to explore and create improvisational theater. The program, developed in 2010 by Northwestern and the Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago, seeks to improve the quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s and related disorders and to transfer these benefits to other communities.

As part of the 8-week program, groups of 10 to 15 participants, age 50 to 90, attend 90-minute sessions that are purposely repetitive and follow a specific pattern. Two facilitators—a clinical social worker and a master teaching artist in theater and improvisational techniques—guide participants through various activities.

man with one hand on head and other on chest and woman with hands on hipsThe program does not aim to slow decline or improve cognition, but to help people with dementia enjoy their lives, according to Dr. Morhardt. “There are limits to medical treatments for people with dementia,” she said. “Patients and families are looking for ways to continue to engage. For participants in the program, it’s about being in the moment and using their imagination. We enhance their remaining skills and mood. As the condition progresses, it can become challenging to communicate with words, so we really focus on nonverbal means of expression.”

Preliminary results show participation in the Memory Ensemble improves mood, decreases anxiety, and increases a sense of belonging, normalcy, and destigmatization, said Dr. Dunford. Participants also report feelings of achievement, empowerment, and self-discovery.

Future plans include developing an evidence-based curriculum for researchers, arts therapists, and theater professionals to replicate the program in other communities and a theater intervention program for caregivers.

Research on music, theater, dance, creative writing, and other participatory arts shows promise for improving older adults’ quality of life and well-being, from better cognitive function, memory, and self-esteem to reduced stress and increased social interaction. NIA is addressing the need for more rigorous research, including new or alternative research designs and measurements that can demonstrate the efficacy and cost advantage of arts interventions.

References

Cheever T, Taylor A, Finkelstein R, et al. NIH/Kennedy Center workshop on music and the brain: Finding harmony. Neuron 2018;97(6):1214–1218.

Dunford CM, Yoshizaki-Gibbons HM, Morhardt D. The Memory Ensemble: Improvising connections among performance, disability, and ageing. Research in Drama Education 2017;22(3):420-426.

Johnson JK, Stewart AL, Acree M, et al. A community choir intervention to promote well-being among diverse older adults: Results from the Community of Voices trial. Journals of Gerontology: Series B. Published Nov. 9, 2018.

National Endowment for the Arts. The arts and aging: Building the science. (PDF, 2.3M) Summary of a National Academies workshop, “Research gaps and opportunities for exploring the relationship of the arts to health and well-being in older adults.” February 2013.

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