(NaturalNews) People caring for aging parents or just thinking about it realize that keeping them healthy, happy and active for as long as possible is ideal for everyone. Aging parents seldom want to become physically dependent on their children for care. Grown children, often referred to as the sandwich generation, find it difficult to provide quality care for aging parents while providing quality care for their own children at the same time. Recent studies have highlighted that multiple hormone deficiencies compromise the quality of life for older men and women, and are predictors of the heart failure and frailty that lead to loss of independence. These studies underscore the critical need for bioidentical hormone replacement to assure that aging parents can make the best of their golden years and maintain their independence for as long as possible.
Women with multiple hormonal deficiencies are highly likely to be frail
Most studies involving hormone deficiency and aging have focused on the relationship between individual hormones and specific age-associated disease. In a recently released study, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine investigated the possibility that frailty would mostly likely manifest in the presence of deficits in multiple hormones. They studied the relationships of serum levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), DHEAS, and unbound testosterone with frailty status in aging women.
The study used 494 women aged 70 to 79 years who were enrolled in the Women's Health and Aging Studies I or II. Scientists calculated the odds of frailty for deficiency of each hormone, which they defined as the bottom quartile of hormone level. They found that for each hormone, those with a deficiency were more likely to be frail than those without a deficiency. Compared with women who showed no hormonal deficiencies, those with one deficiency were somewhat more likely to be frail. However, those women with two or three deficiencies had a very high likelihood of being frail. The odds ratio for frailty for these women was 2.79, meaning that women who were deficient in more than one hormone had almost a 3 times greater risk of being frail than women who were not hormonally deficient.
The scientists concluded that the absolute burden of hormonal deficiencies in the bodies of aging women was a stronger predictor of frailty status than the type of hormonal deficiency. They found the relationship to be exponential, and suggestive of generalized endocrine dysfunction in the frailty syndrome. This study may be found in the January 31 edition of Journals of Gerontology Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.
People diagnosed as frail lose the ability to care for themselves and live independently
Frailty is characterized by unexplained weight loss, exhaustion, weak grip, slow walking speed, and generalized low energy levels. Women who are frail are the most vulnerable, most at risk for disability or death, and are the highest users of medical care. In a nationwide study of 5,000 older adults, those who were frail were found to be six times more likely to die than those who were not over a three-year period, and more than three times more likely to die over a seven-year period. After seven years, 43 percent of those who were frail had died, compared to 23 percent of those who were classified as intermediate, and 12 percent of those who were robust.
A diagnosis of frailty is made based on symptoms such as shrinking (unintentional weight loss of at least 10 pounds or 5 percent of body weight compared to a year ago), weakness (grip strength in the lowest 20th percentile), poor endurance and energy (self-reported exhaustion), slowness (the most time it takes to walk 15 feet), and low physical activity level (the lowest 20 percent in physical activity compared to others).
Frail women have a very high incidence of osteoporosis. They are the most likely group to suffer falls that result in broken bones, and may even suffer broken bones without a fall. Frail women and men are the highest users of disease establishment services and are the most likely to be admitted to nursing homes.
Men with multiple hormonal deficiencies are more than twice as likely to die
Aging in men is also characterized by progressive decline in levels of hormones such as testosterone, IGF-1, and DHEAS. In a study at the National Institute on Aging, scientists investigated whether deficiencies in these hormones were associated with higher mortality. Testosterone, IGF-1, DHEAS, and demographic factors were evaluated in 410 men age 65 and older enrolled in the Aging in the Chianti Area Study.
The men were divided into four groups: no hormone in the lowest reference quartile, and 1, 2, and 3 hormones in the lowest quartiles. Compared with men having levels of all 3 hormones above the lowest quartiles, having 1, 2, and 3 deficient hormones was associated with hazard ratios for mortality of 1.47, 1.85, and 2.29. This means that men deficient in 3 hormones were more than two and one-quarter times more likely to die. The scientists concluded that age associated decline in hormone levels is a strong independent predictor of mortality in older men. Having multiple hormone deficiencies is a reliable biomarker of health status in older men. This study is from the November, 2007 Archives of Internal Medicine.
Hormonally deficient men with chronic heart failure have the poorest prognosis
In men with chronic heart failure, hormone depletion is common. A deficiency of each hormone is an independent marker of poor prognosis according to a study at the Military Hospital of Wroclaw, Poland. Serum levels of total testosterone, DHEAS, and IGF-1 were obtained from 208 men with chronic heart failure who were hospitalized or treated as outpatients, and from a reference population of 366 men free of chronic disease.
Deficiencies in DHEAS, total and unbound testosterone, and IGF-1, defined as serum levels at or below the 10th percentile of healthy peers, were seen across all age categories of men with chronic heart failure. DHEAS deficiency correlated positively with left ventricular disturbance. Testosterone measures and IGF-1 levels were prognostic biomarkers. Men with chronic heart failure and normal levels of all hormones had the best 3 year survival rate (83 percent) compared to those with 1 hormone deficiency (74 percent survival rate), 2 hormone deficiencies (55 percent survival rate), and 3 hormone deficiencies (27 percent) survival rate. This study is from the October 24, 2006 edition of Circulation.
It really doesn't have to be this way
We were not made to live so long. Before the advent of technology people routinely died somewhere around age 40 to 45. This was long enough to fulfill the biological imperative of reproduction. Once children were born and able to somewhat fend for themselves, hormonal levels decreased. And with these decreases went the protection from degenerative diseases that hormones provide. Very seldom does one hormone decline in isolation. Hormones need to be in balance for good health, and when one hormone declines the balance is thrown out of kilter. Stress is placed on the body to compensate and that stress throws the other hormones out of balance. Multiple hormone deficiencies are common in people past the age of 40.
All the diseases we take for granted as being inevitable parts of the aging process are frequently just manifestations of hormonal decline. High blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, joint pain, osteoporosis, cognitive impairment, and even allergies are symptoms of hormonal insufficiency. The current epidemic of breast cancer is primarily the result of hormonal decline as is prostate cancer. Young people with full hormonal profiles rarely get any of these diseases. They begin to occur around age 40, about the time Mother Nature's use for us is over.
All the organic fruits and vegetables, vitamins and mineral supplements, chemical free living, and exercise will not save people from hormone decline. It is built into us like a ticking time bomb. Our ancestors, who lived healthy lifestyles, grew their own food in their fields, got plenty of exercise and had never heard of the chemicals we now take for granted, still lost their hormones and died at young ages.
People now have a way to fool Mother Nature
Every living thing seems to love being part of the cosmic dance. It will do whatever it can to protect its life, but the biological imperative remains. Once reproduction is accomplished, everything's days are numbered. Except for people. Now we are able to postpone the inevitable and continue on our merry way for a few more years if we can get nature to believe we are still able to reproduce. This is the signal sent by replacement hormones.
With the advent of bioidentical hormones people separated themselves from every other living thing by their ability to prolong health and wellbeing beyond what Nature had in mind. Bioidentical hormone replacement can extend the years in which our parents are able to live happy, healthy and independent lives. And as we move through our 40's and 50's, it is bioidentical hormone replacement that will help us maintain our health and energy so that when the time comes we can provide the kind of quality care our parents deserve.
For optimal results, bioidentical hormone replacement should begin as soon as symptoms of hormonal decline are apparent. This way the body can maintain the balance needed to support all organs and functions for as long as possible. But for people who have already experienced hormonal decline, it is never too late. A body starved for hormones will respond no matter what the age of the person. Degenerative disease symptoms will regress or disappear and a better quality of life will return. Even for those experiencing the ravages of age, hormone replacement will make life better.
One of the worst symptoms of hormone decline typically found in women is the inability to sleep. Night after night, little or no sleep leads to cognitive and psychological impairment, and a miserable quality of life. Restoring hormones at any age will restore the ability to sleep. Hormone restoration helps people regain their ability to balance and walk, allowing for the freedom being mobile conveys. With restored balance comes reduction in the chance for falling and for breaking bones. In fact, the quality of bone is vastly improved by hormone replacement, as it is hormones that direct the cycle of bone construction and bone destruction so necessary for a healthy skeletal framework.
Full hormone replacement increases cellular energy, elevates mood, and restores confidence and surefootedness, allowing older people more time to live independently and care for themselves. Replacement hormones allow many older people to make it though life without having to experience the dreaded degenerative diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Bioidenticals are exact replicas of the hormones made in the body
Bioidentical hormones have the identical molecular structure as the hormones made by the human body. Under a microscope, they cannot be distinguished from hormones made in the body. They are not the hormone replacement drugs that are behind the HRT headlines proclaiming the danger of hormone replacement. Bioidentical hormones are FDA approved, and have been proven safe in thousands of studies. They require no detoxification in the liver, and have no side effects in physiological doses that replicate what the body made when it was young and healthy. Bioidenticals simply make the hormonally deprived body sigh with relief.
Parents deserve a doctor who specializes in anti-aging medicine
With the exception of progesterone, which is sold over the counter in health stores, a prescription is needed for bioidenticals bought in the U.S. Most traditional doctors who practice standard disease establishment medicine have never heard of bioidentical hormones because they get all their information about what to prescribe from drug company representatives. If they have heard of bioidenticals they will probably tell you not to use them because they are not drugs. This is slowly changing as drug companies realize there is money to be made from manufacturing bioidenticals, but it will be awhile before the average doctor has any useful knowledge about bioidenticals.
People wanting bioidenticals for their parents or themselves will be best served by finding a doctor who specializes in anti-aging medicine. Most major cities have several of these specialists who have the know-how to use bioidentical hormones to make the remaining years of parents the best they can be. Medium sized cities most likely have at least one such doctor. Anti-aging medicine is the fastest growing field of medicine. Some OB/GYN doctors have also successfully branched out into bioidentical hormone replacement. It is not always easy to find these people, since most disease establishment doctors do not make referrals to them. It may take some calling around to find them, but they are there. The book Breakthrough, contains a series of interviews conducted with top anti-aging doctors complied by Suzanne Somers. It offers a wealth of information on bioidentical hormone replacement as does Suzanne's earlier book, Ageless. Breakthough has a state by state listing of anti-aging doctors. Another way to find them is to call the compounding pharmacy in your city and ask who they recommend. Bioidentical hormones are made in compounding pharmacies and the people there will know who is highly qualified.
Bioidenticals are part of a whole health regimen
As wonderful as bioidenticals are, they cannot do it all without help. Bioidenticals provide the foundation for extended good health. On that foundation must be added top notch nutrition, appropriate exercise, and maintaining a purpose for living.
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.