Considering TV-watching an activity could be dangerous to your residents’ health. A new study published in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found an association between increasing hours of television viewing per day and increasing risk of death from most of the major causes of death in the United States.

For this study, researchers at the National Cancer Institute looked at more than 221,000 individuals aged 50 to 71 years who were free of chronic disease when they entered the study. The researchers identified an association between TV watching and a higher risk of death from causes of fatalities such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, influenza/ pneumonia, Parkinson’s disease and liver disease.

“We know that television viewing is the most prevalent leisure-time sedentary behavior, and our working hypothesis is that it is an indicator of overall physical inactivity,” said lead investigator Sarah K. Keadle, Ph.D., M.P.H., Cancer Prevention Fellow, Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute. Older adults watch the most TV of any demographic group in the United States, she added. Keadle cautioned that additional research is needed to replicate these findings and to understand the associations more completely.

The study found that, compared with those who watched less than one hour per day, individuals who reported watching three to four hours of television were 15% more likely to die from any cause. Those who watched seven or more hours were 47% more likely to die over the study period.

The detrimental effects of TV viewing extended to both active and inactive individuals.

“Although we found that exercise did not fully eliminate risks associated with prolonged television view- Researchers: Replace TV with exercising, certainly for those who want to reduce their sedentary television viewing, exercise should be the first choice to replace that previously inactive time,” Keadle said.


Older people with an age-related loss of muscle mass and strength may be at greater risk of falling and bone fractures, according to new research led by the University of Southampton.

A team of researchers from the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand studied people aged 70 to 82 years. They found that those with sarcopenia, a condition in which muscles lose form and function with age, had reported higher numbers of falls in the past year and a higher prevalence of fractures. The study was published in Calcified Tissue International.


A $3.4 million, five-year federal study will examine the off-label use of antipsychotic medications in residents with dementia living in assisted living communities. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will use funds from the National Institute on Aging to focus on the reasons for the use as well as potential alternatives.

“Many of these drugs have serious side effects, and there’s little evidence that they help people with dementia,” said the study’s principal investigator, Sheryl Zimmerman, Ph.D., a social work professor. Her collaborators in the study are family medicine faculty member Philip Sloane, M.D., M.P.H., Alzheimer’s specialist Daniel Kaufer, M.D., and biostatistics research professor John Preisser, Ph.D.


Face-to-face interactions help prevent depression in adults aged 50 or older, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The probability of experiencing symptoms of depression steadily increased as the frequency of in-person contact decreased, researchers found. Those without in-person social contact with children, other family members or friends at least every few months had a significantly higher probability of clinically significant depressive symptoms two years later (11.5%) compared with those having in-person contact once or twice a month (8.1%) or once or twice a week (7.3%).


People with diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease are more than three times more likely to be prescribed a benzodiazepine or related drug than those in whom the disease has not been diagnosed, according to a study by the University of Eastern Finland in press for the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The researchers also found that the drugs often are prescribed even before someone receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and that use of the drugs becomes even more common after a diagnosis.


Don’t ignore residents who complain of memory problems. New research published in the Oct. 28 online issue of Neurology finds that older women who complain of memory problems may be at higher risk for experiencing diagnosed memory and thinking impairment years later.

“Our findings, though modest, provide further evidence that memory complaints in aging deserve close attention as a possible early warning sign of future thinking and memory problems, even several years in advance,” said study author Allison Kaup, Ph.D., who is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and is with the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

The memory complaints could be an early symptom of a gradual disease process such as Alzheimer’s disease, she said.