HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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There is consensus among some specialists that bariatric surgery offers an acceptable outcome to elderly patients since the higher complication rates in elderly patients are attributable to the comorbidities. It is always important to review such an intervention with your physician before making any decision because everyone has unique health-related conditions. Bariatric surgery may improve the health and quality of life of some obese elderly patients.


Anyone considering having bariatric surgery should realize such an intervention carries some long-term risks for some patients. These include the dumping syndrome, a condition that can lead to symptoms such as dizziness, low blood sugar, malnutrition, hernia, ulcers, bowel obstruction, nausea and vomiting. While the conclusions of recently published research suggest elderly patients should not be denied bariatric surgical intervention only because of their age, they should be carefully counseled about the complexities and increased risks that may lead to less satisfactory outcomes. 


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IS BARIATRIC SURGERY IDEAL FOR OLDER ADULTS?

the obesity paradox is a hypothesis that says obesity and rates of high cholesterol may be somewhat protective and associated with greater survival rates in certain elderly individuals or those with certain chronic diseases.


At the forefront of managing obesity are well-established, evidence-based dietary guidelines, proven exercise routines and medication management. When these frontline approaches are unable to manage obesity well, bariatric surgery may be considered as an alternative. Bariatric surgery uses a minimally invasive technique also referred to as laparoscopic surgery. The most common bariatric surgery procedures are gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable gastric band and biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch. Bariatric surgery has been the focus of several research studies for seniors interested in losing weight who have been unable to achieve their weight goals through diet, exercise and medication. Notable is a study that found age does not appear to significantly increase the risks associated with weight loss surgery (Susmallian, Raziel, Barnea, et al., 2019). These researchers suggest bariatric surgery offers obese elderly patients an acceptable result and can be offered to improve the quality of life for these patients. A new consensus conference panel is needed to set appropriate guidelines and recommendations regarding criteria for bariatric surgery in older adults.

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut and Professor Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Department of Gerontology, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky.

more articles by dr thomas W. Miller

Americans are living longer than ever before, with a life expectancy approaching the mid to late 70s. The U.S. Census Bureau (2019) reports about 27 million Americans are living well into their 70s. And this population group, along with others, is showing increased rates of obesity.


Obesity has become one of the most significant health problems worldwide, affecting more than one-third of the global population. The elderly population is not immune to this proportional increase in obesity. Because of advances in health and wellness, more Americans are expected to live longer over the next decade. As we age, obesity has been identified as a serious concern in the elderly. With the number of obese older adults on the rise, efforts to bett er manage this condition have led some to choose bariatric interventions.


Bariatrics refers to the branch of medicine that addresses the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of obesity. It provides a range of interventions that include dieting, medication management and bariatric surgery. Clinical concerns for the aging population are controversial because of the limited number of established guidelines. It may also be true that the “obesity paradox” may play a role.


What is the obesity paradox? Initially established in the late 1990s,