Aging and Loneliness, A Deadly Combination

“One is the loneliest number”

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”

Robert Browning

“One is the loneliness number that you will ever do.”

*The Beatles’ version is my favorite.

Aging and Socializing, An Important Connection

Two studies came to the same conclusion: as we age, socializing helps keep our minds sharp and, perhaps, even prevents dementia.

Study 1:

The first study was conducted by Dr. Karen Ertel, a post-doctoral fellow at this writing, at the Department of Society, Human Development and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her team found that those socially integrated (socially active) had less than half the memory decline of those who were socially isolated.

Dr. Ertel’s team collected data from 17,000 Americans who were fifty years older. The subjects were studied for over six years.

Social activity included being involved in volunteer activities, interacting with neighbors and friends, and seeing children, grandchildren, and other family members. Interestingly, those who maintained social involvement also exercised, engaged in intellectual activities such as reading, and were careful about their diets.

Unfortunately, the death of a spouse presents older people with the risk of suffering and grief so much that they withdraw and become depressed. Widows and widowers gradually recover from the losses they suffered. Their ability to resume active lives depends upon the availability of a community to be involved with.

Study 2:

The second study was conducted by Dr. Valerie Crooks, director of clinical trials at the Southern California Permanente Medical Group.

This study focused on women at least 78 years of age who were free of dementia. The subjects were studied from 2001 through 2005 and included 456 women and their social networks.

The findings were that those women with the most robust social networks were less likely to develop symptoms of dementia over the five years of the research.

The strength of social networks included such criteria as to how frequently the subject contacted friends and family, how often they confided in a friend or friends, and whether they had the type of friends that could be confidants.

Discussion:

Both studies clarify that remaining involved helps people maintain physical and mental health. In addition, social isolation has adverse effects on physical and mental health as we age.

Not Only Age:

Some state and restated by mental health practitioners and researchers that social isolation is unhealthy for people of all ages. The research shows that isolation is closely associated with feelings of depression. Of course, the question is whether depression causes isolation or isolation causes depression? It is tempting to suggest that it does not matter because helping people to socialize, regardless of their stage of life, goes a long way toward reducing depression.

We are social creatures and feel better when involved with other human beings. 

1. For the elderly, it is essential to remain socially involved to reduce the chances of developing either dementia or depression.

2. For younger people, it is equally important to have a circle of friends with whom they can talk, have fun, and engage in productive activities.

Health and Education: It’s Heart Breaking to Not Finish Your Education

During the past twenty or more years, I have listened to the complaints of high school students, their families, and the public. The same complaint: “Why do we need a liberal arts education?” The question goes much further than a liberal arts education because it states that children should learn a trade. 

Recent events at one university in Colorado included eliminating language, arts, and other liberal arts classes. 

Research studies conducted during the last twenty or more years consistently show the same results. There is a direct connection between the level of education and heart disease. The lower the level of education, the higher the risk for cardiovascular disease and death. Regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, or nation, these results.

From the American Heart Association, 2019.

Education level may predict the risk of dying for people with heart disease.

By American Heart Association News

“How long people stay in school may play a significant role in predicting how well those with coronary heart disease will fare.

Education level has influenced people’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The new study examines just how much of a factor it plays among people with established coronary artery disease due to a buildup of cholesterol and fatty plaque deposits in the heart’s arteries.

Researchers looked at 6,318 older adults in three Atlanta-based hospitals who underwent a procedure to diagnose and assess problems in coronary arteries. Each person completed questions about the highest level of education completed. Other demographic details and medical history followed for four years.

Among the study’s participants, 16% had received a graduate degree, 42% had finished college, 38% had completed high school, and 4% had completed elementary or middle school.

Researchers found that compared to people with graduate degrees, those with lower educational attainment appeared to have a higher risk of heart attack, dying from a cardiovascular event, and overall death.

People with elementary or middle school education had a 52% higher risk of dying from any cause during the study than someone who attained a graduate degree. People who completed high school had a 43% increased risk. College graduates had a 26% higher risk than people with graduate degrees.

The higher risk remained even after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure and tobacco use, and other demographic characteristics, including sex and income level.

“We adjusted for everything that would be a risk determinant, and despite all that, just the educational level was an independent predictor of outcome,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Arshed Quyyumi, a cardiology professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

“What’s striking is how important the role of education is,” he said. “Most of us practitioners, we don’t ask patients for their educational level when we’re seeing them – and we don’t take any added precautions when you find that somebody may not be as well educated as another person.”

The findings were presented Tuesday at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Quyyumi said the results show a need for increased awareness among physicians to be more vigilant about following through with heart patients to make sure they’re taking medicine and making recommended lifestyle changes to lower risk. It also shows the link between a person’s health and social determinants, factors that influence where and how people live, learn, work and play.

Social determinants of health represent “a phenomenon outside of biology and genetics, outside of traditional risk factors,” said Dr. Clyde Yancy, professor and cardiology chief at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.”

Multiple studies done worldwide consistently show the same results.

The message is clear. Get an education! 

Help is Available. Contact Dr. Schwartz at dransphd@aol.com

http://www.allanschwartztherapy.net

Guess, What? Cursing Can be Good for Your Health

Cursing when it’s painful

http://www.psychotherapy.netThe other day, I caught my finger as I closed the top of my Nespresso machine to make a cup of coffee. Spontaneously and without thought, I shouted out several curse words. I was shocked that I caught my finger, and it hurt. I felt like a clumsy fool for being so clumsy and called myself an idiot. Then I smiled and felt a lot better.

Recently, a female psychotherapy client sat in front of me very abashed. When I asked why she looked upset, she hesitatingly described a painful procedure at the Doctor’s office. She let out a curse word when the procedure became excruciatingly painful. She blushed and felt ashamed of herself. Both Doctor and nurse assured her they were accustomed to patients cursing when undergoing the procedure.

When we are the smallest of children, most of us learn from our parents that curse words are wrong and we must never use them. These teachings are correct. All of us know it is socially inappropriate to express ourselves in ways considered being insulting and in bad taste. 

Recent research informs us that there are exceptions to the rules regarding swear words. A recent article put it this way:

Using swear words can have a wide range of positive effects on your well-being, including pain relief and helping you cope with emotionally challenging situations. 

  • Studies show cursing during a physically painful event can help us better tolerate the pain.
  • Experts say using curse words can also help us build emotional resilience and cope with situations in which we feel that we have no control.
  • Swearing can also provide a range of other benefits, including creative expression, relationship development, or allowing different identities to harmonize by signaling that you feel relaxed around the other person.

We’ve all had plenty of reasons to want to shout the “f word” during the last two years. Living in a pandemic has given us all cause to express our frustrations, whether from the ongoing confusing restrictions to the fear of what may happen if you contract the coronavirus.

It is essential the keep in mind some caveats about cursing. The same research shows the benefits of swearing did not occur in people who admitted to daily swearing as part of their lifestyle. 

Every rule has exceptions. In this context, cursing among friends, especially men, is a way to express warmth, acceptance, and closeness.

Used appropriately and responsibly, outbursts of cursing, cussing, and swearing are an excellent way to handle the complexity of being human in a world that is not under our control.

Swearing can liberate when feeling bottled up with frustration. Curse words can have a calming effect on the complex emotions we are experiencing.