By Marta Popowska
Most people want to grow up healthy and live independently at home for as long as possible. In an interview, geriatric physician Clemens Becker explains the influence of each individual on their aging, how to signal the warning signs and the current state of research.
Feuerbach – Many pensioners want to grow old and live at home as long as possible. Nobody wants to go to the retirement home. Professor Clemens Becker is Head of Research at the Geriatric and Geriatric Rehabilitation Department of Robert Bosch Hospital. During the interview, the doctor explains the influence of each individual on his aging, on how to report warning signs and on the state of advancement of the research.
Mr. Becker, I've been working for four decades and I'm about to retire. I would like to rest and do nothing. Is it a good idea?
This change is one of the most important cuts in life. You have to think seriously about how to make this change. This concerns health and prevention. Many people have symptoms during their work but ignore them, wait for their retirement, then become seriously ill in a very short time and even die a few years later. The second is that with the loss of work, physical activity also decreases. You must see that you do not end up on the couch. Five to ten pounds are growing rapidly. It is important to seek early advice from the outside.
So you underestimate the daily movement, like the stairs you went up and down every day?
Absolutely. I go as a doctor in eight hours 10,000 steps. I am not sitting in front of the computer because I am going to the stations. It's a certain privilege. For those who work primarily on a desk, after 45 minutes of writing, everything is dangerous and toxic.
This is not enough twice a week if I sit eight hours a day?
Of course, it is good to play sports. However, if you sit several hours a day, it can not be done in the evening. This evening or weekend warrior (evening or weekend word, editor's note) thinks he can make up for everything with the ten-kilometer weekend race. It does not work like that. Many studies have taught us that you should definitely get up after 45 to 60 minutes. Even if it's only a few steps. You do not always have to sit down, you can also do a lot of meetings while walking.
If you ask people about their desire to get older, most people say that they live independently as long as possible at home and do not want to go to a retirement home. What should you do to make sure?
Baby boomers, born between 1950 and 1964, will gradually retire until 2030. This generation will say primarily: Retirement homes are not for us. These people are on primary prevention. To be perfectly clear, sufficient exercise is absolutely necessary. Anyone who does not move enough with heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, will be able to stabilize without drugs in the world. Diet is important, as is cognitive and emotional health. These are the four things that people must take care of themselves.
And those who can not do it themselves?
To quantify this: about 50% of people in this age group of 65 will have no problem in the next decade. Ten per cent already have serious chronic health problems. The third group is interesting. These are the people who could potentially lose their independence. And you must recognize him.
How can this succeed?
Keep up with the example of the movement. An easy way to find out if you are at risk is to measure walking speed. It's very simple: if you need ten meters to walk more than ten seconds, you have a problem. If you are unable to get up in a chair at least ten times in a minute and a half, you also have a problem. The third is the body mass index. These three elements together are enough to make most people understand that serious problems are being prepared. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but in the next three to ten years.
Currently, average life expectancy is increasing by about 2.5 years with each decade. Each new generation lives on average 7.5 years more. What is the quality of the life gained?
Research currently shows that the life expectancy gained in Europe has been good so far. Germany is by far the country with the highest life expectancy in Europe. It is interesting to note that Mediterranean countries, although they often spend less than half of their health care, have a much longer life expectancy. If you look at Italy or Spain, life expectancy is three years longer than ours.
We can learn in three areas. One is the social structures. People communicate a lot more in the neighborhood and in their families. Social networks are much better than north of the Alps. It seems that human social bonds are extremely important for each other's health. The second often cited is the Mediterranean diet. But I think this is only limited in scope and overestimated. More importantly, people in the Mediterranean can walk much better between October and March. They move more than us during the cold weather.
They also carry out research in the field of falls prevention. ,,,
,,, Most older people can not do anything against the term fall. We try to avoid it. When we want to talk to people, we usually talk about falling or tripping. In the past five years, half of the people have indicated they are ready to train in the group to improve their balance.
Who is it important for?
People over 70 who fall accidentally twice or more, without any particularity, must absolutely avoid serious injuries such as femoral neck fracture. It's not funny. Half of the patients are no longer properly standing after these serious fractures. Ten percent land in the retirement home – against their will.
What are the prevention options?
New are the group programs. In Stuttgart, there are offers such as Fit from 50, which we have developed with the Office of Sport and Physical Activity. In addition, the central control center for prevention lists 400,000 offers throughout Germany on its website.
What can you do if you do not want to do anything in the group?
Two programs are gradually being put in place. One is an offer called Life Integrated Functional Exercise (LiFE). We started this here in the district of Weilimdorf with about 200 people. A therapist teaches people at home how to change their daily lives to train in an integrated way. For example, the classic gets up with one leg instead of two. This is as effective as the leg press. There are 500 ways to train on a daily basis without going to the sports club. Another program, which we are currently preparing with AOK and which we are introducing all over Baden-Württemberg, is the SiMoA (Safe Mobility in Old Age) program. This is for people who are very rickety and who are just coming out of their homes. The physiotherapist comes home.
How do you notice if the process has become less safe?
To make a subjective feeling a reality, you need to film your parents or partner once a year while walking and watch the video with the family doctor. On these videos you can see very well if someone goes wider or more irregular.
Where is the research currently?
We are currently examining whether you can vaccinate against falls. The answer is probably yes. It seems that when you train about an hour a year on a treadmill called disruption, people who stumble initially do not stumble thereafter. The number of falls is greater than 50%. Standing on the treadmill, it's a bit like taking the subway without getting stuck. However, on disturbed treadmills, we secure people with a harness system. It seems that we have dormant synapses in our brain and we have forgotten things we once knew. The results are confirmed again and again. This opens a brand new window and people are thrilled.