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exhaustion | Nevada Senior Guide

The Development of Old Age and Related Issues

April 18, 2016 by · Comments Off on The Development of Old Age and Related Issues
Filed under: General 

In traditional Chinese and other Asian cultures the aged were highly respected and cared for. The Igabo tribesmen of Eastern Nigeria value dependency in their aged and involve them in care of children and the administration of tribal affairs (Shelton, A. in Kalish R. Uni Michigan 1969).

In Eskimo culture the grandmother was pushed out into the ice-flow to die as soon as she became useless.

Western societies today usually resemble to some degree the Eskimo culture, only the “ice-flows” have names such a “Sunset Vista” and the like. Younger generations no longer assign status to the aged and their abandonment is always in danger of becoming the social norm.

There has been a tendency to remove the aged from their homes and put them  in custodial care. To some degree the government provides domiciliary care services to prevent or delay this, but the motivation probably has more to do with expense than humanity.

In Canada and some parts of the USA old people are being utilised as foster-grandparents in child care agencies.

SOME BASIC DEFINITIONS

What is Aging?

Aging: Aging is a natural phenomenon that refers to changes occurring throughout the life span and result in differences in structure and function between the youthful and elder generation.

Gerontology: Gerontology is the study of aging and includes science, psychology and sociology.

Geriatrics: A relatively new field of medicine specialising in the health problems of advanced age.

Social aging: Refers to the social habits and roles of individuals with respect to their culture and society. As social aging increases individual usually experience a decrease in meaningful social interactions.

Biological aging: Refers to the physical changes in the body systems during the later decades of life. It may begin long before the individual  reaches chronological age 65.

Cognitive aging: Refers to decreasing ability to assimilate new information and learn new behaviours and skills.

GENERAL PROBLEMS OF AGING

Eric Erikson (Youth and the life cycle. Children. 7:43-49 Mch/April 1960) developed an “ages and stages” theory of human development that involved 8 stages after birth each of which involved a basic dichotomy representing best case and worst case outcomes. Below are the dichotomies and their developmental relevance:

Prenatal stage – conception to birth.

  1. Infancy. Birth to 2 years – basic trust vs. basic distrust. Hope.
  2. Early childhood, 3 to 4 years – autonomy vs. self doubt/shame. Will.
  3. Play age, 5 to 8 years – initiative vs. guilt. Purpose.
  4. School age, 9to 12 – industry vs. inferiority. Competence.
  5. Adolescence, 13 to 19 – identity vs. identity confusion. Fidelity.
  6. Young adulthood – intimacy vs. isolation. Love.
  7. Adulthood, generativity vs. self absorption. Care.
  8. Mature age- Ego Integrity vs. Despair. Wisdom.

This stage of older adulthood, i.e. stage 8, begins about the time of retirement and continues throughout one’s life. Achieving ego integrity  is a sign of maturity while failing to reach this stage is an indication of poor development in prior stages through the life course.

Ego integrity: This means coming to accept one’s whole life and reflecting on it in a positive manner. According to Erikson, achieving integrity means fully accepting one’ self and coming to terms with death. Accepting responsibility for one’s life and being able to review the past with satisfaction is essential. The inability to do this leads to despair and the individual will begin to fear death. If a favourable balance is achieved during this stage, then wisdom is developed.

Psychological and personality aspects:

Aging has psychological implications. Next to dying our recognition that we are aging may be one of the most profound shocks we ever receive. Once we pass the invisible line of 65 our years are bench marked for the remainder of the game of life. We are no longer “mature age” we are instead classified as “old”, or “senior citizens”. How we cope with the changes we face and stresses of altered status depends on our basic personality. Here are 3 basic personality types that have been identified. It may be a oversimplification but it makes the point about personality effectively:

a. The autonomous – people who seem to have the resources for self-renewal. They may be dedicated to a goal or idea and committed to continuing productivity. This appears to protect them somewhat even against physiological aging.

b.The adjusted – people who are rigid and lacking in adaptability but are supported by their power, prestige or well structured routine. But if their situation changes drastically they become psychiatric casualties.

c.The anomic. These are people who do not have clear inner values or a protective life vision. Such people have been described as prematurely resigned and they may deteriorate rapidly.

Summary of stresses of old age.

a. Retirement and reduced income. Most people rely on work for self worth, identity and social interaction. Forced retirement can be demoralising.

b. Fear of invalidism and death. The increased probability of falling prey to illness from which there is no recovery is a continual source of anxiety. When one has a heart attack or stroke the stress becomes much worse.

Some persons face death with equanimity, often psychologically supported by a religion or philosophy. Others may welcome death as an end to suffering or insoluble problems and with little concern for life or human existence. Still others face impending death with suffering of great stress against which they have no ego defenses.

c. Isolation and loneliness. Older people face inevitable loss of loved ones, friends and contemporaries. The loss of a spouse whom one has depended on for companionship and moral support is particularly distressing. Children grow up, marry and become preoccupied or move away. Failing memory, visual and aural impairment may all work to make social interaction difficult. And if this then leads to a souring of outlook and rigidity of attitude then social interaction becomes further lessened and the individual may not even utilise the avenues for social activity that are still available.

d. Reduction in sexual function and physical attractiveness. Kinsey et al, in their Sexual behaviour in the human male, (Phil., Saunders, 1948) found that there is a gradual decrease in sexual activity with advancing age and that reasonably gratifying patterns of sexual activity can continue into extreme old age. The aging person also has to adapt to loss of sexual attractiveness in a society which puts extreme emphasis on sexual attractiveness. The adjustment in self image and self concept that are required can be very hard to make.

e. Forces tending to self devaluation. Often the experience of the older generation has little perceived relevance to the problems of the young and the older person becomes deprived of participation in decision making both in occupational and family settings. Many parents are seen as unwanted burdens and their children may secretly wish they would die so they can be free of the burden and experience some financial relief or benefit. Senior citizens may be pushed into the role of being an old person with all this implies in terms of self devaluation.

4 Major Categories of Problems or Needs:

Health.

Housing.

Income maintenance.

Interpersonal relations.

BIOLOGICAL CHANGES

Physiological Changes: Catabolism (the breakdown of protoplasm) overtakes anabolism (the build-up of protoplasm). All body systems are affected and repair systems become slowed. The aging process occurs at different rates in different individuals.

Physical appearance and other changes:

Loss of subcutaneous fat and less elastic skin gives rise to wrinkled appearance, sagging and loss of smoothness of body contours. Joints stiffen and become painful and range of joint movement becomes restricted, general mobility lessened.

Respiratory changes:

Increase of fibrous tissue in chest walls and lungs leads restricts respiratory movement and less oxygen is consumed. Older people more likelyto have lower respiratory infections whereas young people have upper respiratory infections.

Nutritive changes:

Tooth decay and loss of teeth can detract from ease and enjoyment in eating. Atrophy of the taste buds means food is inclined to be tasteless and this should be taken into account by carers. Digestive changes occur from lack of exercise (stimulating intestines) and decrease in digestive juice production. Constipation and indigestion are likely to follow as a result. Financial problems can lead to the elderly eating an excess of cheap carbohydrates rather than the more expensive protein and vegetable foods and this exacerbates the problem, leading to reduced vitamin intake and such problems as anemia and increased susceptibility to infection.

Adaptation to stress:

All of us face stress at all ages. Adaptation to stress requires the consumption of energy. The 3 main phases of stress are:

1. Initial alarm reaction. 2. Resistance. 3. Exhaustion

and if stress continues tissue damage or aging occurs. Older persons have had a lifetime of dealing with stresses. Energy reserves are depleted and the older person succumbs to stress earlier than the younger person. Stress is cumulative over a lifetime. Research results, including experiments with animals suggests that each stress leaves us more vulnerable to the next and that although we might think we’ve “bounced back” 100% in fact each stress leaves it scar. Further, stress is psycho-biological meaning the kind of stress is irrelevant. A physical stress may leave one more vulnerable to psychological stress and vice versa. Rest does not completely restore one after a stressor. Care workers need to be mindful of this and cognizant of the kinds of things that can produce stress for aged persons.

COGNITIVE CHANGE Habitual Behaviour:

Sigmund Freud noted that after the age of 50, treatment of neuroses via psychoanalysis was difficult because the opinions and reactions of older people were relatively fixed and hard to shift.

Over-learned behaviour: This is behaviour that has been learned so well and repeated so often that it has become automatic, like for example typing or running down stairs. Over-learned behaviour is hard to change. If one has lived a long time one is likely to have fixed opinions and ritualised behaviour patterns or habits.

Compulsive behaviour: Habits and attitudes that have been learned in the course of finding ways to overcome frustration and difficulty are very hard to break. Tension reducing habits such as nail biting, incessant humming, smoking or drinking alcohol are especially hard to change at any age and particularly hard for persons who have been practising them over a life time.

The psychology of over-learned and compulsive behaviours has severe implications for older persons who find they have to live in what for them is a new and alien environment with new rules and power relations.

Information acquisition:

Older people have a continual background of neural noise making it more difficult for them to sort out and interpret complex sensory input. In talking to an older person one should turn off the TV, eliminate as many noises and distractions as possible, talk slowly and relate to one message or idea at a time.

Memories from the distant past are stronger than more recent memories. New memories are the first to fade and last to return.

Time patterns also can get mixed – old and new may get mixed.

Intelligence.

Intelligence reaches a peak and can stay high with little deterioration if there is no neurological damage. People who have unusually high intelligence to begin with seem to suffer the least decline. Education and stimulation also seem to play a role in maintaining intelligence.

Intellectual impairment. Two diseases of old age causing cognitive decline are Alzheimer’s syndrome and Pick’s syndrome. In Pick’s syndrome there is inability to concentrate and learn and also affective responses are impaired.

Degenerative Diseases: Slow progressive physical degeneration of cells in the nervous system. Genetics appear to be an important factor. Usually start after age 40 (but can occur as early as 20s).

ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE Degeneration of all areas of cortex but particularly frontal and temporal lobes. The affected cells actually die. Early symptoms resemble neurotic disorders: Anxiety, depression, restlessness sleep difficulties.

Progressive deterioration of all intellectual faculties (memory deficiency being the most well known and obvious). Total mass of the brain decreases, ventricles become larger. No established treatment.

PICK’S DISEASE Rare degenerative disease. Similar to Alzheimer’s in terms of onset, symptomatology and possible genetic aetiology. However it affects circumscribed areas of the brain, particularly the frontal areas which leads to a loss of normal affect.

PARKINSON’S DISEASE Neuropathology: Loss of neurons in the basal ganglia.

Symptoms: Movement abnormalities: rhythmical alternating tremor of extremities, eyelids and tongue along with rigidity of the muscles and slowness of movement (akinesia).

It was once thought that Parkinson’s disease was not associated with intellectual deterioration, but it is now known that there is an association between global intellectual impairment and Parkinson’s where it occurs late in life.

The cells lost in Parkinson’s are associated with the neuro-chemical Dopamine and the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s are associated the dopamine deficiency. Treatment involves administration of dopamine precursor L-dopa which can alleviate symptoms including intellectual impairment. Research suggests it may possibly bring to the fore emotional effects in patients who have had psychiatric illness at some prior stage in their lives.

AFFECTIVE DOMAIN In old age our self concept gets its final revision. We make a final assessment of the value of our lives and our balance of success and failures.

How well a person adapts to old age may be predicated by how well the person adapted to earlier significant changes. If the person suffered an emotional crisis each time a significant change was needed then adaptation to the exigencies of old age may also be difficult. Factors such as economic security, geographic location and physical health are important to the adaptive process.

Need Fulfilment: For all of us, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory, we are not free to pursue the higher needs of self actualisation unless the basic needs are secured. When one considers that many, perhaps most, old people are living in poverty and continually concerned with basic survival needs, they are not likely to be happily satisfying needs related to prestige, achievement and beauty.

Maslow’s Hierarchy

Physiological

Safety

Belonging, love, identification

Esteem: Achievement, prestige, success, self respect

Self actualisation: Expressing one’s interests and talents to the full.

Note: Old people who have secured their basic needs may be motivated to work on tasks of the highest levels in the hierarchy – activities concerned with aesthetics, creativity and altruistic matters, as compensation for loss of sexual attractiveness and athleticism. Aged care workers fixated on getting old people to focus on social activities may only succeed in frustrating and irritating them if their basic survival concerns are not secured to their satisfaction.

DISENGAGEMENT

Social aging according to Cumming, E. and Henry, W. (Growing old: the aging process of disengagement, NY, Basic 1961) follows a well defined pattern:

  1. Change in role. Change in occupation and productivity. Possibly change in attitude to work.
  2. Loss of role, e.g. retirement or death of a husband.
  3. Reduced social interaction. With loss of role social interactions are diminished, eccentric adjustment can further reduce social interaction, damage to self concept, depression.
  4. Awareness of scarcity of remaining time. This produces further curtailment of activity in interest of saving time.

Havighurst, R. et al (in B. Neugarten (ed.) Middle age and aging, U. of Chicago, 1968) and others have suggested that disengagement is not an inevitable process. They believe the needs of the old are essentially the same as in middle age and the activities of middle age should be extended as long as possible. Havighurst points out the decrease in social interaction of the aged is often largely the result of society withdrawing from the individual as much as the reverse. To combat this he believes the individual must vigorously resist the limitations of his social world.

DEATH The fear of the dead amongst tribal societies is well established. Persons who had ministered to the dead were taboo and required observe various rituals including seclusion for varying periods of time. In some societies from South America to Australia it is taboo for certain persons to utter the name of the dead. Widows and widowers are expected to observe rituals in respect for the dead.

Widows in the Highlands of New Guinea around Goroka chop of one of their own fingers. The dead continue their existence as spirits and upsetting them can bring dire consequences.

Wahl, C in “The fear of death”, 1959 noted that the fear of death occurs as early as the 3rd year of life. When a child loses a pet or grandparent fears reside in the unspoken questions: Did I cause it? Will happen to you (parent) soon? Will this happen to me? The child in such situations needs to re-assure that the departure is not a censure, and that the parent is not likely to depart soon. Love, grief, guilt, anger are a mix of conflicting emotions that are experienced.

CONTEMPORARY ATTITUDES TO DEATH

Our culture places high value on youth, beauty, high status occupations, social class and anticipated future activities and achievement. Aging and dying are denied and avoided in this system. The death of each person reminds us of our own mortality.

The death of the elderly is less disturbing to members of Western society because the aged are not especially valued. Surveys have established that nurses for example attach more importance to saving a young life than an old life. In Western society there is a pattern of avoiding dealing with the aged and dying aged patient.

Stages of dying. Elisabeth Kubler Ross has specialised in working with dying patients and in her “On death and dying”, NY, Macmillan, 1969, summarised 5 stages in dying.

  1. Denial and isolation. “No, not me”.
  2. Anger. “I’ve lived a good life so why me?”
  3. Bargaining. Secret deals are struck with God. “If I can live until…I promise to…”
  4. Depression. (In general the greatest psychological problem of the aged is depression). Depression results from real and threatened loss.
  5. Acceptance of the inevitable.

Kubler Ross’s typology as set out above should, I believe be taken with a grain of salt and not slavishly accepted. Celebrated US Journalist David Rieff who was in June ’08 a guest of the Sydney writer’s festival in relation to his book, “Swimming in a sea of death: a son’s memoir” (Melbourne University Press) expressly denied the validity of the Kubler Ross typology in his Late Night Live interview (Australian ABC radio) with Philip Adams June 9th ’08. He said something to the effect that his mother had regarded her impending death as murder. My own experience with dying persons suggests that the human ego is extraordinarily resilient. I recall visiting a dying colleague in hospital just days before his death. He said, “I’m dying, I don’t like it but there’s nothing I can do about it”, and then went on to chortle about how senior academics at an Adelaide university had told him they were submitting his name for a the Order of Australia (the new “Knighthood” replacement in Australia). Falling in and out of lucid thought with an oxygen tube in his nostrils he was nevertheless still highly interested in the “vain glories of the world”. This observation to me seemed consistent with Rieff’s negative assessment of Kubler Ross’s theories.

THE AGED IN RELATION TO YOUNGER PEOPLE

The aged share with the young the same needs: However, the aged often have fewer or weaker resources to meet those needs. Their need for social interaction may be ignored by family and care workers.

Family should make time to visit their aged members and invite them to their homes. The aged like to visit children and relate to them through games and stories.

Meaningful relationships can be developed via foster-grandparent programs. Some aged are not aware of their income and health entitlements. Family and friends should take the time to explain these. Some aged are too proud to access their entitlements and this problem should be addressed in a kindly way where it occurs.

It is best that the aged be allowed as much choice as possible in matters related to living arrangements, social life and lifestyle.

Communities serving the aged need to provide for the aged via such things as lower curbing, and ramps.

Carers need to examine their own attitude to aging and dying. Denial in the carer is detected by the aged person and it can inhibit the aged person from expressing negative feelings – fear, anger. If the person can express these feelings to someone then that person is less likely to die with a sense of isolation and bitterness.

A METAPHYSICAL PERSPECTIVE

The following notes are my interpretation of a Dr. Depak Chopra lecture entitled, “The New Physics of Healing” which he presented to the 13th Scientific Conference of the American Holistic Medical Association. Dr. Depak Chopra is an endocrinologist and a former Chief of Staff of New England Hospital, Massachusetts. I am deliberately omitting the detail of his explanations of the more abstract, ephemeral and controversial ideas.

Original material from 735 Walnut Street, Boulder, Colorado 83002,

Phone. +303 449 6229.

In the lecture Dr. Chopra presents a model of the universe and of all organisms as structures of interacting centres of electromagnetic energy linked to each other in such a way that anything affecting one part of a system or structure has ramifications throughout the entire structure. This model becomes an analogue not only for what happens within the structure or organism itself, but between the organism and both its physical and social environments. In other words there is a correlation between psychological conditions, health and the aging process. Dr. Chopra in his lecture reconciles ancient Vedic (Hindu) philosophy with modern psychology and quantum physics.

Premature Precognitive Commitment: Dr. Chopra invokes experiments that have shown that flies kept for a long time in a jar do not quickly leave the jar when the top is taken off. Instead they accept the jar as the limit of their universe. He also points out that in India baby elephants are often kept tethered to a small twig or sapling. In adulthood when the elephant is capable of pulling over a medium sized tree it can still be successfully tethered to a twig! As another example he points to experiments in which fish are bred on

2 sides of a fish tank containing a divider between the 2 sides. When the divider is removed the fish are slow to learn that they can now swim throughout the whole tank but rather stay in the section that they accept as their universe. Other experiments have demonstrated that kittens brought up in an environment of vertical stripes and structures, when released in adulthood keep bumping into anything aligned horizontally as if they were unable to see anything that is horizontal. Conversely kittens brought up in an environment of horizontal stripes when released bump into vertical structures, apparently unable to see them.

The whole point of the above experiments is that they demonstrate Premature Precognitive Commitment. The lesson to be learned is that our sensory apparatus develops as a result of initial experience and how we’ve been taught to interpret it.

What is the real look of the world? It doesn’t exist. The way the world looks to us is determined by the sensory receptors we have and our interpretation of that look is determined by our premature precognitive commitments. Dr Chopra makes the point that less than a billionth of the available stimuli make it into our nervous systems. Most of it is screened, and what gets through to us is whatever we are expecting to find on the basis of our precognitive commitments.

Dr. Chopra also discusses the diseases that are actually caused by mainstream medical interventions, but this material gets too far away from my central intention. Dr. Chopra discusses in lay terms the physics of matter, energy and time by way of establishing the wider context of our existence. He makes the point that our bodies including the bodies of plants are mirrors of cosmic rhythms and exhibit changes correlating even with the tides.

Dr. Chopra cites the experiments of Dr. Herbert Spencer of the US National Institute of Health. He injected mice with Poly-IC, an immuno-stimulant while making the mice repeatedly smell camphor. After the effect of the Poly-IC had worn off he again exposed the mice to the camphor smell. The smell of camphor had the effect of causing the mice’s immune system to automatically strengthen as if they had been injected with the stimulant. He then took another batch of mice and injected them with cyclophosphamide which tends to destroy the immune system while exposing them to the smell of camphor. Later after being returned to normal just the smell of camphor was enough to cause destruction of their immune system. Dr. Chopra points out that whether or not camphor enhanced or destroyed the mice’s immune system was entirely determined by an interpretation of the meaning of the smell of camphor. The interpretation is not just in the brain but in each cell of the organism. We are bound to our imagination and our early experiences.

Chopra cites a study by the Massachusetts Dept of Health Education and Welfare into risk factors for heart disease – family history, cholesterol etc. The 2 most important risk factors were found to be psychological measures – Self  Happiness Rating and Job Satisfaction. They found most people died of heart disease on a Monday!

Chopra says that for every feeling there is a molecule. If you are experiencing tranquillity your body will be producing natural valium. Chemical changes in the brain are reflected by changes in other cells including blood cells. The brain produces neuropeptides and brain structures are chemically tuned to these neuropeptide receptors. Neuropeptides (neurotransmitters) are the chemical concommitants of thought. Chopra points out the white blood cells (a part of the immune system) have neuropeptide receptors and are “eavesdropping” on our thinking. Conversely the immune system produces its own neuropeptides which can influence the nervous system. He goes on to say that cells in all parts of the body including heart and kidneys for example also produce neuropeptides and neuropeptide sensitivity. Chopra assures us that most neurologists would agree that the nervous system and the immune system are parallel systems.

Other studies in physiology: The blood interlukin-2 levels of medical students decreased as exam time neared and their interlukin receptor capacities also lowered. Chopra says if we are having fun to the point of exhilaration our natural interlukin-2 levels become higher. Interlukin-2 is a powerful and very expensive anti-cancer drug. The body is a printout of consciousness. If we could change the way we look at our bodies at a genuine, profound level then our bodies would actually change.

On the subject of “time” Chopra cites Sir Thomas Gall and Steven Hawkins, stating that our description of the universe as having a past, present, and future are constructed entirely out of our interpretation of change. But in reality linear time doesn’t exist.

Chopra explains the work of Alexander Leaf a former Harvard Professor of Preventative Medicine who toured the world investigating societies where people  lived beyond 100 years (these included parts of Afghanistan, Soviet Georgia, Southern Andes). He looked at possible factors including climate, genetics, and diet. Leaf concluded the most important factor was the collective perception of aging in these societies.

Amongst the Tama Humara of the Southern Andes there was a collective belief that the older you got the more physically able you got. They had a tradition of running and the older one became then generally the better at running one got. The best runner was aged 60. Lung capacity and other measures actually improved with age. People were healthy until well into their 100s and died in their sleep. Chopra remarks that things have changed since the introduction of Budweiser (beer) and TV.

[DISCUSSION: How might TV be a factor in changing the former ideal state of things?]

Chopra refers to Dr. Ellen Langor a former Harvard Psychology professor’s work. Langor advertised for 100 volunteers aged over 70 years. She took them to a Monastery outside Boston to play “Let’s Pretend”. They were divided into 2 groups each of which resided in a different part of the building. One group, the control group spent several days talking about the 1950s. The other group, the experimental group had to live as if in the year 1959 and talk about it in the present tense. What appeared on their TV screens were the old newscasts and movies. They read old newspapers and magazines of the period. After 3 days everyone was photographed and the photographs judged by independent judges who knew nothing of the nature of the experiment. The experimental group seemed to have gotten younger in appearance. Langor then arranged for them to be tested for 100 physiological parameters of aging which included of course blood pressure, near point vision and DHEA levels. After 10 days of living as if in 1959 all parameters had reversed by the equivalent of at least 20 years.

Chopra concludes from Langor’s experiment: “We are the metabolic end product of our sensory experiences. How we interpret them depends on the collective mindset which influences individual biological entropy and aging.”

Can one escape the current collective mindset and reap the benefits in longevity and health? Langor says, society won’t let you escape. There are too many reminders of how most people think linear time is and how it expresses itself in entropy and aging – men are naughty at 40 and on social welfare at 55, women reach menopause at 40 etc. We get to see so many other people aging and dying that it sets the pattern that we follow.

Chopra concludes we are the metabolic product of our sensory experience and our interpretation gets structured in our biology itself. Real change comes from change in the collective consciousness – otherwise it cannot occur within the individual.

Readings

Chopra, D. The New Physics of Healing. 735 Walnut Street, Boulder, Colorado 83002,

Phone. +303 449 6229.

Coleman, J. C. Abnormal psychology and modern life. Scott Foresman & Co.

Lugo, J. and Hershey, L. Human development a multidisciplinary approach to the psychology of individual growth, NY, Macmillan.

Dennis. Psychology of human behaviour for nurses. Lond. W. B.Saunders.

[http://www.psychologynatural.com/DepressionBroch.html]

Dr. Victor Barnes is an Adelaide psychologist and hypnotherapist. He has also had three decades of experience in adult education including serving as Dean of a Sri Lankan college (ICBT) teaching several Australian degrees. His overseas experience includes studies and consulting experience in USA, PNG, Poland and Sri Lanka.

Senior Citizen Information – The Social Security Funding Problem by Glen Jensen

September 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Articles 

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The Baby Boomer generation will begin taking early retirement in 2008. In 2011 they will approach the traditional retirement age of 65. As more and more Baby Boomers retire they will put a tremendous strain on the Social Security system. So far, no significant changes have been implemented to lessen the impact Baby Boomers will have on the Social Security system. The longer any action is delayed the more drastic the changes will be. Will these changes affect you? If you were born between 1946 and 1964, then you are officially a Baby Boomer and will probably be impacted by the Social Security funding problem.

The current and projected future financial status of the Governments’ trust funds is presented in the “The 2007 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds (OASDI).” The good news is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) states that there are no plans to reduce benefits for current retirees. In fact, benefits for current retirees are scheduled to continue growing with inflation. However, the 2007 OASDI Trustees Report also states, “Social Security’s combined trust funds are projected to allow full payment of scheduled benefits until they become exhausted in 2041. This means that unless changes are made soon, benefits for all retirees could be cut by 26 percent in 2040 and continue to be reduced every year thereafter. If you are “younger” senior citizen or a want to-be senior citizen, this is not good news

The Trustees of Social Security, the Comptroller General of the United States and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board have said, the sooner we address the problem, the smaller and less abrupt the changes will be. The independent, bipartisan Social Security Advisory Board has also said: “As time goes by, the size of the Social Security problem grows, and the choices available to fix it become more limited.” Addressing the problem now will allow today’s younger workers planning for their retirement to have a better assurance of the future of Social Security. The problem has not been addressed as of 2007.

If Social Security is not changed we have a limited number of options in the future. The options are to increase payroll taxes, reduce the benefits of today’s younger workers or borrow from the general fund. Social Security’s Trustees state, “If no action were taken until the combined trust funds become exhausted in 2040, much larger changes would be required. For example, payroll taxes could be raised to finance scheduled benefits fully in every year starting in 2040. In this case, the payroll tax would be increased to 16.65 percent at the point of trust fund exhaustion in 2040 and continue rising to 17.78 percent in 2080. Similarly, benefits could be reduced to the level that is payable with scheduled tax rates in every year beginning in 2040. Under this scenario, benefits would be reduced 26 percent at the point of trust fund exhaustion in 2040, with reductions reaching 30 percent in 2080.”

Social Security was never meant to be the sole source of income in retirement and that especially applies to the Baby Boomer generation. It is often said that a comfortable retirement is based on a “three-legged stool” of Social Security, pensions and savings. American workers should be saving for their retirement on a personal basis and through employer-sponsored or other retirement plans. If a Baby Boomer is not preparing for retirement with a pension and/or savings to supplement their Social Security benefits, they will have to delay retirement or continue working part-time.

Glen Jensen is a writer for [http://www.SeniorCitizenDirectory.com] which is a site that provides Senior Citizen Information.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Glen_Jensen

Healthy Eating – 5 Dietary Requirements For Senior Citizens by Christine Abbate

August 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Articles 

Healthy eating, whether as a child or senior citizen is a vital part of a healthy and active lifestyle. Your nutritional needs are pretty much the same at 40, 50, 60 and beyond as they were when you were younger–with some minor variations. As we grow older, our bodies becomes less forgiving, and we will have to make more of an effort to eat well and stay fit.

Here are 5 Dietary Requirements for Senior Citizens:

1. Exercise:
Studies of the elderly indicate that current weight, rather than age, determined energy intake in men and women. The study suggests that changes in lifestyle, not age, resulted in the dietary changes seen in the healthy elderly survey. As you mature, your body will loose muscle mass, decreasing your metabolic rate, which in turn burns fewer calories at a slower rate. A great way to maintain control of your maturing body is to exercise regularly and eat healthy meals in moderation.

2. Eat More Fiber:
Maintaining a regular cycle of all systems in our bodies is very important. Fiber helps maintain regularity to prevent constipation and gastrointestinal diseases like divertculosis (pouches that cause spasm or cramping in the large intestines). You may also want to be extremely selective in your diet and not include gaseous foods.

3. Eat More Calcium:
Around 40 years old, our bones start to lose more minerals quicker than it can replace them. For women, menopause causes a drop in estrogen levels, estrogen helps bones maintain calcium. Menopause is responsible for a greater loss of calcium than in men. You should discuss with your physician a dietary supplement to ensure you are properly maintaining your body.

4. Water:
Water is essential from birth throughout life. It is critical to health-and is chronically overlooked. Second only to air in its steady and relentless necessity, H2O carries nutrients to cells; aids digestion by contributing to stomach secretions; flushes bodily wastes and reduces risk of kidney stones by diluting salts in the urine; ensures healthy function of moisture-rich organs (skin, eyes, mouth, nose); lubricates and cushions joints; regulates body temperature; and protects against heat exhaustion through perspiration. And the list goes on and on. Everybody should consume the minimum eight glasses of water daily to maintain our youthful vigor and pep.

5. Avoid Foods With Too Much Sugar:
Too much sugar causes a number of problems- it suppresses the immune system, weakens eyesight, contributes to obesity and diabetes, causes constipation, leads to all different types of cancers, and the list goes on and on about the effects of sugar intake. Young and old should never binge on sugar.

Eating well can make us feel a lot better. It gives us more energy – and it can actually help slow down the aging process!

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Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Christine_Abbate

Injury-Free Physical Fitness For Senior Citizens Made Easy by Jeremy Reeves

April 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Articles 

Physical fitness for senior citizens is more important than ever in today’s  society. Decades ago, everything was done manually.

Although technology has brought us many incredible things, it has also made  us a much more lazy society. No longer do we have to use our bodies to do yard  work, clean around the house, or even work on our own car.

There are now gadgets for virtually everything that lets us do it while using  minimal body strength.

But negative consequences come with the luxury we’ve been given. When manual  labor is no longer needed and our muscles aren’t getting used on a daily basis –  they start to weaken. Combine that with the fact that as every year goes by your  muscles get weaker and you’ll understand why physical fitness for senior  citizens is so important.

By strength training you will dramatically reduce your risk of osteoporosis,  sore joints and broken bones. Many doctors and health companies try to make you  buy Vitamin C and “drink a lot of milk” to overcome these problems, but in  reality they simply don’t work. Supplements can help in a small way, but  strength training has been proven time and time again to have a much more  positive effect with muscle, bone and joint problems that most senior citizens  face – even arthritis!

Isn’t It Dangerous To Exercise As I Get Older?

Unfortunately, many senior citizens are afraid to exercise due to fears of  injuring themselves. However, there are a few simple precautions you can take  such as:

  • Perform low-impact exercises such as pushups, bodyweight squats and other  bodyweight exercises.
  • If lifting weights, do it for 10 or more reps and keep it at a manageable  weight.
  • Don’t over-exert yourself. Stop or briefly rest if you get uncomfortably  tired.

 

Be smart and think about the injury-potential of each exercise before you  perform it.

For example, instead of jogging, consider using stationary exercise bikes.  Pro form exercise bikes are a great piece of equipment to try out. The Schwinn  231 recumbent exercise bike is also a great choice to have if you want to keep  one in your own home.

Besides the simple precautions you should take, there are a few other things  to consider. Physical fitness for senior citizens is a much more delicate  situation than physical fitness for younger individuals.

  • Take Things Slowly At First – Because of the weakening of bones,  joints and muscles you need to take things slowly at first. Don’t simply start a  program and push yourself to exhaustion. It’s also important to go to a doctor  who knows your medical history beforehand. They may even be able to help you  decide what type of exercise you should be doing.
  • Exercise Slowly – You should also perform the actual exercises  slowly. Don’t make jerky or bouncing movements or you’ll risk injuring yourself.  The slower you perform the exercise, the less risk you have of getting  hurt.
  • Warm Up Properly – Warming up is very important to anybody,  especially senior citizens. Lack of blood flow as well as tight joints and  muscles performing less efficiently are all factors contributing to injuries. By  properly warming up before your actual workout, you significantly reduce your  risk of getting injured.

 

Although physical fitness for senior citizens is a bit more complicated due  to more things that can possibly go wrong, it’s also just as or more important  than exercising at a young age. By taking the right precautions and making sure  you’re exercising correctly, you can enjoy injury-free and pain-relieving  exercise for a long time to come.

Jeremy Reeves is a certified personal trainer devoted to helping you get in  the best shape of your life. His website –  [http://www.fitness-product-reviews.com] – reviews the 4 most effective weight  loss products on the market today.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jeremy_Reeves

 

No more “empty nest”: middle-aged adults face family pressure on both sides

February 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Articles, Press-Media Releases 

The “empty nest” of past generations, in which the kids are grown up and middle-aged adults have more time to themselves, has been replaced in the United States by a nest that’s full – kids who can’t leave, can’t find a job and aging parents who need more help than ever before.

According to a new study by researchers at Oregon State University, what was once a life stage of new freedoms, options and opportunities has largely disappeared.

An economic recession and tough job market has made it hard on young adults to start their careers and families. At the same time, many older people are living longer, which adds new and unanticipated needs that their children often must step up to assist with.
The end result, researchers suggest, are “empty nest” plans that often have to be put on hold, and a mixed bag of emotions, ranging from joy and “happy-to-help” to uncertainty, frustration and exhaustion.

“We mostly found very positive feelings about adults helping their children in the emerging adulthood stage of life, from around ages 18 to 30,” said Karen Hooker, director of the OSU Center for Healthy Aging Research.

“Feelings about helping parents weren’t so much negative as just filled with more angst and uncertainty,” Hooker said. “As a society we still don’t socialize people to expect to be taking on a parent-caring role, even though most of us will at some point in our lives. The average middle-aged couple has more parents than children.”

The findings of this research were just published in the Journal of Aging Studies, and were based on data from six focus groups during 2009-10. It was one of the first studies of its type to look at how middle-aged adults actually feel about these changing trends.
Various social, economic, and cultural forces have combined to radically challenge the traditional concept of an empty nest, the scientists said. The recession that began in 2008 yielded record unemployment, substantial stock market losses, lower home values and increased demand for higher levels of education.

Around the same time, advances in health care and life expectancy have made it possible for many adults to live far longer than they used to – although not always in good health, and often needing extensive care or assistance.

This study concluded that most middle-aged parents with young adult children are fairly happy to help them out, and they understand that getting started in life is simply more difficult now. Some research has suggested that age 25 is the new 22; that substantially more parents now don’t even expect their kids to be financially independent in their early 20s, and don’t mind helping them through some difficult times.

But the response to helping adult parents who, at the same time, need increasing amounts of assistance is not as uniformly positive, the study found – it can be seen as both a joy and a burden, and in any case was not something most middle-aged adults anticipated.

“With the kids, it’s easy,” is a general purpose reaction. With aging parents, it isn’t.

“My grandparents died younger, so my parents didn’t cope with another generation,” one study participant said.

Many middle-aged people said it was difficult to make any plans, due to disruptions and uncertainty about a parent’s health at any point in time. And most said they we’re willing to help their aging parents, but a sense of being time-starved was a frequent theme.
“It brings my heart joy to be able to provide for my mom this way,” one study participant said. “There are times when it’s a burden and I feel resentful.”

The dual demands of children still transitioning to independence, and aging parents who need increasing amounts of care is causing many of the study participants to re-evaluate their own lives. Some say they want to make better plans for their future so they don’t pose such a burden to their children, and begin researching long-term care insurance. Soul-searching is apparent.

“I don’t care if I get old,” a participant said. “I just don’t want to become debilitated. So I would rather have a shorter life and a healthy life than a long life like my mom, where she doesn’t have a life. She doesn’t have memories. Our memories are what make us who we are.”

An increasing awareness of the challenges produced by these new life stages may cause more individuals to anticipate their own needs, make more concrete plans for the future, reduce ambivalent approaches and have more conversations with families about their own late-life care, the researchers said in their study.
About the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences: The College creates connections in teaching, research and community outreach while advancing knowledge, policies and practices that improve population health in communities across Oregon and beyond.

  • Senior Industry Network Group Events

    Monthly SING Meetings are held the first Thursday of every month at our NEW location below:

    Desert Canyon - HealthSouth
    9175 W. Oquendo Rd.
    Las Vegas, NV 89148

    S.I.N.G. Agenda:
    - Coffee and bagels will be served
    - A time to show gratitude by thanking those who have sent you referrals
    - Announcements around the room
    - One minute commercials
    - Open Discussion on topics of Self Empowerment

    * When? The 1st Thursday of every month. Networking starts at: 8:00am | Meeting starts at: 8:30am

    * How Much? It’s free!