Older Adult Health Care

Healthy is a way of living

Month: August 2015

Seniors Who Ride Free Walk More Too

2_copy36People ages 60 and older who received free bus passes undertook significantly more physically active forms of travel — such as walking or taking the bus — than those who didn’t, a British study found.

Compared with older individuals who had not received a free bus pass, those who received free passes traveled more actively, regardless of whether they were of low or high socioeconomic status, according to Sophie Coronini-Cronberg, MSc, of Imperial College London, and colleagues.

The study also showed older individuals with free bus passes walked significantly more than those without a free pass, they wrote in the Sept. 20 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

In England, a National Bus Pass was introduced for citizens ages 60 and older with limited access in 2006, and was expanded to include all local buses anywhere in England in 2008.

“A key purpose of the concessionary scheme is to increase bus use as a means of reducing social exclusion among older people and, in particular, to ensure access to travel among those on limited incomes,” Coronini-Cronberg and colleagues wrote.

The researchers also noted that the travel access may potentially offer older people incidentally physically active travel, which “may still have a key role to play in keeping older adults physically fit.”

To study this association, the authors performed a regression analysis using data on 11,218 individuals ages 60 and older with free bus passes and 5,693 people without one, collected through the 2005-2008 National Travel Survey.

Respondents were asked about travel habits — which included phases of each journey — and were categorized as “active” or “not active.” Active travel included walking, cycling, and using public buses and trains. Not active travel included use of cars, taxis, motorcycles, and private buses.

Additionally, participants were asked about walking frequency (which ranged from three or more times weekly to less than once a year or never), age, gender, access to a car, population of geographic region, socioeconomic data, whether or not they had a bus pass, and use of bus travel.

From 2005 to 2008, the number of older participants with free bus passes rose from 56.8 percent to 74.7 percent. During this time, the median number of stages per journey decreased among pass holders, although the median proportion of journey stages incorporating physically active travel remained higher among those with the free pass versus those without.

Having the free bus pass was significantly associated with increased likelihood of active travel during the observation period, increased rate of active travel among home owners, increased use of buses, and increased odds of walking three or more times a week compared with those without bus passes.

There was a nonsignificant trend for elevated rate of active travel among participants who did not own their homes and had free bus passes versus those without free passes.

The authors added that previous research showed that “price makes a difference to transportation choice and frequency of use, particularly among those of lower socioeconomic status groups,” though they noted that increased age resulted in reduced active transportation participation.

The researchers also emphasized the net gain offered by the program, citing that physical inactivity was “estimated to cost the U.K. economy £10.7 billion ($16.8 billion) annually,” while the free bus pass program was significantly associated with increased physical activity among older patients and that the program cost £1.1 billion ($1.7 billion) annually.

The authors said the study could not be generalized due to nonresponders and that data were self-reported. They also said they could not determine whether potential health benefits were equally distributed among program participants, and noted that they did not have longitudinal data available.

Colonoscopy May Detect Curable Cancer in Elderly

Colonoscopies helped doctors detect a high rate of curable cancer in elderly people who had the screening for the first time, a new study indicates.

The findings suggest that screenings should be made available to otherwise healthy elderly people who have never been tested, Dr. Therese Kerwel, research fellow at Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, and colleagues from Spectrum Health Medical Group in Grand Rapids, Mich., concluded.

For the study, the investigators examined information on 903 outpatient colonoscopies among elderly patients. Specifically, they investigated why these people, aged 76 to 85, underwent a colonoscopy and analyzed the results of the screenings.

The study revealed that patients who had never had a colonoscopy before had a cancer rate of 9.4 percent, much higher than those who had had the procedure before.

The findings are scheduled for presentation Tuesday at the Digestive Disease Week meeting in San Diego.

All of the patients diagnosed with colon cancer underwent successful surgery, the researchers noted in a meeting news release. In each of these cases the cancers had not yet spread throughout the patients’ bodies. The study authors said their findings underscore the importance of colonoscopies.

However, they noted, the use of routine screening colonoscopy in the elderly has become controversial since the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force determined in 2008 that the risks of the procedure outweigh the benefits in people aged 76 and older.

But, Kerwel said, “It is worthwhile to offer a screening colonoscopy for elderly patients in good health and functional status who have never previously undergone the test.”

The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.