I’ve read a couple of interesting articles this week and so I thought I might share both of them with you today, rather than focusing on just one topic. In summary: where you should consider retiring and how important your sense of smell can be.
Norway: Best Country for Older Adults
First off, if you’re thinking of moving – Norway is the place to go! Being half Norwegian, you could accuse me of being biased but as well as being a beautiful country, it has just been voted as the best place in the world to grow old (according to HelpAge International's Global AgeWatch Index).
Countries were compared on their income security, health care, personal capability (relating to empowerment opportunities for the elderly) and whether the surveyed individuals live in an "enabling environment" (this relates to an older persons perception on factors such as access to transport, civic freedom and social connectedness). I’ve created a bar chart so you can visually compare the scores between the US (8th place) and those in Norway.
Norway outperformed the US on every measure but in particular: income security and capability. Causes of lower scores in the United States:
1) A higher incidence of poverty amongst seniors, due in part to more modest state pension benefits and no guaranteed minimum rate.
2) 15% of those aged 50 to 64 were uninsured in 2012; this is a significant barrier to affordable medical services. Improvements are expected with health reform legislation.
3) Reducing unemployment among older adults has not been a priority and thus levels remain higher than in other countries.
4) Crime and poor access to public transportation.
Sense of Smell and Lifespan
A survey of 3,000 older adults, conducted by the University of Chicago, found that those with a poor sense of smell were more likely to pass away within 5 years than those who were able to correctly detect certain scents.
The test involved identifying five distinct smells: peppermint, fish, orange, rose and leather. Of those who performed poorly, identifying only one or less smells correctly, 39% had passed away within 5 years. By contrast, only 19% of those with moderate scores and 10% of those with high scores, passed away in the same time period. These differences persisted even once participants had been controlled for age, nutrition, poverty, smoking and overall health.
The cause of this phenomenon has not yet been established but the test researchers proposed a number of possible reasons. Lower rates of regeneration or repair of cells in the body overall could also cause diminished smell, or it could be a mirroring of a lifetime’s exposure to pollution and bugs.
Scientists were keen to emphasize that diminished sense of smell did not in itself cause death but rather could be an early warning sign. It is important to note that many harmless conditions, such as the common cold, can have negative affects. Anyone with a long-term loss of smell should consider seeking medical advice.