Sir Ranulph Fiennes back on his feet after returning to UK

Sir Ranulph Fiennes hit the headlines this week after he pulled out of his Antarctic expedition, but the 68-year-old is fighting fit after recovering with the use of walk in baths and treatment for frostbite and has announced that he is ready to continue supporting his team.Antarctic expedition

The Guinness Book of World Records has named him as the world’s greatest living explorer, and his numerous achievements, including scaling Mount Everest at 65, has earned him the respect of millions. Consequently, many were disappointed with the news that he was forced to pull out of The Coldest Journey, which would see a group of explorers set off for Antarctica this month to cross the land by foot during the winter, due to suffering from severe frostbite to his fingers.

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Couple in their 80s have home saved by anonymous donor

A retired couple from the village of Polgooth, near St Austell in Cornwall, have been saved from the prospect of having to leave the home they have lived in for around 40 years by the kind actions of a mystery benefactor.old cottage in village

Gordon and Betty Fowle, who are both aged 88, were faced with a repair bill amounting to roughly £24,000 after an exterior cob wall collapsed at the cottage which they have called home since the 1970s, which their insurance company refused to pay out for.

The money that was desperately needed for the necessary building work to get started, however, has now been donated by an anonymous local man; a relative of the couple described his generosity as an ‘incredible act’.

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Garden Aid scheme extended to help more older people

Thousands more older people who live in Edinburgh are benefiting from a council run scheme which offers free or heavily subsidised help with garden maintenance. Garden Aid is a scheme which is helping those aged 75 and over keep their beloved gardens in tip top shape.lawnmower in the garden

Previously, the Garden Aid scheme was only open to those who are disabled or are over 80 years old, and after the scheme was very well received, it was decided that even more people should benefit from gardening help. Whilst residents can still get involved with their garden in whatever way they want to, the gardeners provided can help with more strenuous jobs, such as mowing the lawn and trimming hedges.

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Scientists discover drug that prevents aging muscles

The quest towards finding a drug that can help prevent some of the negative aspects of aging has got one step closer after scientists discovered that a chemical reversed muscle wastage in mice.

The very idea of this gives promise for us as we get older, with the potential for muscle weakening to be less of a problem for us, keeping our bodies strong and fit, with only the occasional use of stairlifts.

A team of researchers from Britain and the USA began by investigating how stem cells in muscle repair actually damage tissue, so that the fibres divide in order to develop more new muscle fibres. As we age our muscles find it less easy to regenerate themselves and so bulging muscles are exchanged for limbs that are not as strong.

The researchers studied old mice and found that the number of dormant stem cells lessens with age, and this was traced to growing levels of a protein that stimulates cell divide: FGF2. So, as a muscle ages, the FGF2 protein continually awakens dormant stem cells, meaning that they are not being awakened when they are needed and muscle regeneration is impaired.

From this conclusion, the scientists went on to find a drug that restricted FGF2 from awakening dormant stem cells, and then went on to test this on aging lab mice. By treating the mice with SU5402, the ability to repair muscle tissue in older muscles was improved dramatically. The drug is currently only licensed for laboratory use, but this research may go on to develop a drug that is licensed for therapeutic use.

Dr Albert Basson, one of the senior researchers from King’s College London, is incredibly excited about the findings of the study which have just been published in a scientific journal, and has said that the study has been the first to uncover a process that could be responsible for the decline of muscle repair that is related to aging. He went on to say that if treatments are developed from this research, it may mean that people can continue to live “more mobile, independent lives as [we] age”.

According to Dr Andrew Black, co-author of the research, it’s all about “recovery time”, and the problem is that aging stem cells spend less time resting and more time working. Although it will still be many years before a marketable drug is on the shelves, until then we can help out our bodies and use devices to support our muscles as we get older, such as walk in baths.

Image credit: Jjv14 (commons.wikimedia.org)

Bexhill-on-Sea is the UK centre for longevity

One of the first detailed analyses of the 2012 census has showed which counties in theUKhave the largest number of centenarians, and the town of Bexhill-on-Sea has been revealed in an article by The Telegraph to beBritain’s centenarian centre.

The county of Sussex is well known for having a large percentage of people past retirement age, particularly the towns of Bexhill, Worthing andEastbourne, which occupy the top 3 spots in the list. In Bexhill in particular, 66 people have lived for over 100 years, 1,722 people are in their 90s and nearly 7,000 are in their 80s out of a total population of 90,600.

Also occupying the list of centres of longevity are West Somerset, Torbay in Devon, West Dorset, East Devon, Bournemouth in Dorset, the Isles of Scilly and theMalvern Hills. When looking at these places on a map, it quickly becomes clear what kinds of areas have populations which have the incredible benefit of nurturing longevity.

The areas are plentiful with many things, such as beautiful scenery, a leisurely pace of life, stairlifts, and fresh sea air, so it is no wonder that people choose to spend the extended leisure time that comes with retirement in these places. A general overview of the map shows thatBritain’s coastal areas in particular are popular with centenarians.

A recent survey also revealed that Bexhill is the sunniest resort in theUK, so its place as the top spot to live for centenarians is certainly well-deserved. According to Julian Porter, curator of Bexhill Museum, there is a long-running local joke that “people retire to Bexhill and then forget to die”. As Bexhill is such a beautiful, interesting and sunny place to live, one can’t help but entertain the idea that there might be an element of truth in the joke.

The analysis of the census just goes to show what we begin to appreciate with life experience, and even if we begin to use walk in baths and other such mobility aids to help us around the home, outside the home is what really makes the difference. There are plenty of areas of the country that are desirable places to live, and the map shows that it is the more naturally attractive areas of the UK that have the biggest appeal to those who have the chance to take a step back and appreciate the things in life that all too often seem to pass us by.

Image credit: Claire (flickr.com)