Tuesday March 20, 2018
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The problems of getting old


By Arka Mondal

The recent incidents of crime targeted against senior citizens in metropolis across India, especially in Kolkata, have raised some serious questions about their safety. In the last one year, at least eight elderly citizens have been brutally murdered in Kolkata. The attacks further expose the vulnerability of the aged in a city where more and more youngsters are abandoning their parents in search of a better livelihood.

With the advent of modernity and globalisation and the accompanying phenomena of industrialisation, urbanisation and migration, there has been a gradual dilution of the conventional living style. Number of nuclear families is escalating and more and more elderly are now living alone. This trend is gaining momentum with increase in life expectancy. The perception regarding maintenance of elderly as a pious obligation is also wearing off. Thanks to these changes, the elderly are feeling isolated and are facing numerous other deprivations. They have become soft prey for criminals and elder abuse has become a social menace. Meanwhile, the extraordinary medical triumph has ushered in an unprecedented increase in life expectancy of people in the country. The percentage of 60 plus population in India is on the rise, providing a challenge for their well-being and security as well. The historical cultural tradition of care and respect for the elderly is gradually evaporating due to change in life style and globalisation. In recent time, there has been a spurt in crime against older citizens in the city and across India. Especially, the wealthy senior citizens are more prone to security risks, since they are vulnerable to exploitation, pressure and physical threats for property and financial gain from their children, relatives and other unsocial elements.

Police prescribes that aged people should always avoid going out alone. Even when accompanied by their family members, they should shun heavy jewellery that could lure criminals. Police say, those staying alone in individual houses should desist from keeping valuables and cash and should deposit in safe vaults. Even if one has cash or valuable jewellery at home, it should be the least discussed matter especially before flower vendors, LPG cylinder delivery boys, grocery shop delivery boys, servant maids, laundry boys, cable TV technicians, drivers, electricians and plumbers. While engaging or hiring workers such as drivers and servant maids on a regular basis, senior citizens should insist on getting their photograph and address proof and if required, they could always approach the police for getting their antecedents verified in a discreet manner. Senior citizens should always keep contact with the Station House Officer of the jurisdiction police station and should never hesitate to inform the police of any disturbing trend putting that jeopardises their safety.

However, a united effort from all age groups is needed to lend a helping hand to the elder citizens. There is no denying the fact that it is the effort of these old people who had consolidated the base for us to thrive upon.

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Stem Cells May Help To Stay Strong In Old Age

For the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers investigated the number of mutations that accumulate in the muscle's stem cells (satellite cells)

Stem cells
As we grow older, our muscular function declines. So, according to the researchers, this discovery may result in new medication to build stronger muscles even when in old age. Pixabay

Researchers have found how an unexpectedly high number of mutations in the stem cells of muscles impair cell regeneration.

For the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers investigated the number of mutations that accumulate in the muscle’s stem cells (satellite cells).

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“What is most surprising is the high number of mutations. We have seen how a healthy 70-year-old has accumulated more than 1,000 mutations in each stem cell in the muscle, and that these mutations are not random but there are certain regions that are better protected,” said co-author Maria Eriksson, professor at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet.

Stem cells
The study was performed using single stem cells cultivated to provide sufficient DNA for whole genome sequencing. Pixabay

The mutations occur during natural cell division, and the regions that are protected are those that are important for the function or survival of the cells. Nonetheless, the researchers were able to identify that this protection declines with age.

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“We can demonstrate that this protection diminishes the older you become, indicating an impairment in the cell’s capacity to repair their DNA. And this is something we should be able to influence with new drugs,” said Eriksson.

“We achieved this in the skeletal muscle tissue, which is absolutely unique. We have also found that there is a very little overlap of mutations, despite the cells being located close to each other, representing an extremely complex mutational burden,” the researcher noted. (IANS)

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