Monthly Archives: December 2015

TIPS TO KEEP NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) offers the following tips to help families and individuals keep their resolutions for a healthy mind and life.

1. Don’t make too many resolutions. Pick a realistic, attainable goal with a reasonable time frame. A couple of small goals works best.

2. Choose your own resolution. Make sure your goal is something that “you” want to accomplish for yourself and not just for friends or family. Always lose weight for yourself, not others.

3. Make a plan and write it down. Plan what you’d like to accomplish in a certain period of time, like three months. Achieving goals over time gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep going. Writing your goals down is a good way to keep track of your progress.

4. Involve friends and family. They can support your efforts and can motivate you to keep going. Group activities are just more fun.

5. If you get off track, forgive yourself. Review your plan and make adjustments–but, never give up.

6. Congratulate and reward yourself when your intermediate goals or resolutions are met routinely. Keep in mind it’s a lifestyle change that is intended to be self reinforcing.

Since, I am research driven, I make resolutions a routine part of my day. That is, if I run across convincing studies, I’ll make a resolution to follow that advice starting that day. Of course, you must be open to improving and changing yourself. This means that you’ll feel insecure at first until you adjust. But, adjustments are the nature of change and personal evolution–we can’t grow without it. So, lets embrace changing ourselves for the better. Carpe Diem                              Lee Johnson, www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

FRIENDSHIP for BETTER HEALTH

Quality friendships really do benefit our mental and physical health. Historically, we always have lived in groups because it facilitated our survival. It’s easier to hunt, live, and provide security as a group. Today, we mostly live in family units or individually.  But, our basic human needs for social support and belonging has not changed. Here are some of the many health benefits of your friendships.

Friends are especially good for your heart and can extend your life. A recent report(1) of a three year study of 13,600 women and men who had no or few friends found that this increased their chance of a first heart attack by 50%. In a study of women only, similar results were found. Women are twice as likely to die when they have the least social support. The women with the best friends had lower blood pressure, less diabetes, and less abdominal fat–better health.

The way this works is that social contact relieves stress which causes inflammation in your arteries. This continued inflammation leads to clogged arteries and heart disease. The study also reports that when younger people have a trusted friend to discuss difficult times, their pulse and blood pressure are lower. These results are measurable and confirmed by other studies.

The psychological benefits involves reducing your stress, increasing your mood and self-esteem while providing a sense of belonging. Talking with friends helps us debrief and cope with life’s traumas. Without friends, we can become isolated and depressed which shortens our lives.

But, this is not to say than any friend can bring these healthy benefits. We need quality friends who are positive, happy and helpful. Not those who always complain or take advantage of you because that just increases your stress. Another study found that we tend to eat more vegetables and fruits, exercise more, and successfully quit smoking if we have the support of friends. So, it’s confirmed, friends influence our behavior for better or worse.

In conclusion, we all need and can benefits from friendships. Since, we know how friends influence our behavior, we try to keep the most positive ones. Leaving unrewarding or difficult relationships behind is acceptable since quality is certainly better than quantity. I recently evaluated my set of friends and let an old friend go since he became toxic. Being open to establishing new friends is important especially when you start to see you old ones pass away.

Some people find it difficult to make new friends because it takes effort. You need to join clubs and organizations or volunteer. You have to get out there and act like a friend to make friends. So, just get involved with any social event that interests you. This effort is going to pay off on multiple health levels for you including your longevity.  So, let’s go out and make a new friend today.   L. Johnson of http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Woolston, C. (3-11-15) Health Benefits of Friendships. Health Day. Retreived on 11-30-15 from: http://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/emotional-health-17/psychology-and-mental-health-news-566/health-benefits-of-friendship-648397.html

Women’s Brain Health Alert

Brain Health:  Women’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are DOUBLE that of a man. Women have more than DOUBLE the chance of caring for a family member with cognitive impairment. Current studies show that women are more likely to development cognitive impairment faster than men and not just because of age(1).

The lasting impact this has on women is on different levels. First, more women are struggling with and dying of dementia. Second, since women are often the caretakers, personal and financial sacrifices are often made that end up hurting them. And finally, more women are leaving Alzheimer research work for various reasons.

This ongoing difficult situation for women in all parts of the world resulted in a Global Alliance on Women’s Brain Health. Their goal is to raise money for research, develop a scientific agenda, and organize doctors and scientists to encourage a more rapid solution to the problem. WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s also unites women across the world to search for a cure to Alzheimer’s and is involved in the Global Alliance. Before this alliance, there were few organized efforts to fund research for gender based studies or women’s brain health.

If you or someone you know has been a caretaker of an older adult, you know how stressful, isolating, and costly this can be. It can keep you out of the work force for years and hurt your own retirement. It can negatively change your relationship with your spouse. This is in addition to the emotional toll it can take on you personally.

I completely understand that the desire to take care of your mom comes directly from the heart. So, from my days working in Hospice, I believe that managed or assisted care where you work with a team is best. Remember when our parents went to work, they hired a baby sitter. There was not a sense of guilt or dereliction of duty because we knew this was best for both parties. If we go to work now, your mom can enjoy a stimulating day care or other socially engaging program.

Studies show that day care benefits the elder’s health in the social, cognitive, and physical aspects of life. The social interaction reduces depression and anxiety. Structured activities increase alertness and physical mobility. This is all done by a staff of licensed nurses and trained staff. Day care is certainly better for her than just sitting around watching TV. This involvement benefits both parties as your stress is reduced while their social life is enhanced. My professional experience is that the team approach of different disciplines is the best model of care.

In terms of what measures to take and what to eat to help prevent cognitive decline, please refer to my other article on the aging brain: http://blog.creativeretirementforwomen.com/the-aging-brain/

L. Johnson of http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)Robinson, F., (26 Oct, 2015) “Leaders from Canada, United States, and United Kingdom Announce Global Alliance on Women’s Brain Health”  Yahoo Finance. Retrieved on 10-27-15 from //ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/leaders-canada-united-states-united-120000945.html