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Monday, March 28, 2016

Assisted Living Residents Still Mostly Caucasian, But Perhaps That's Changing

Minorities More Interested in Senior Living for Themselves than Parents

Millennials are the least interested in assisted/independent living communities, for both themselves and their parents

64% of Caucasians would consider placing a parent in an assisted/independent living community versus 37% of African Americans and Hispanics

58% of Americans would consider living in an assisted/independent living community someday

Among those who don't want to live in an assisted or independent living community, the most popular explanation is they would prefer to live on their own, followed by they would prefer to live with a family member

With more than three million visitors per month, is a leading senior care resource for family caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones.

March 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Caucasian Americans are much more likely than African Americans and Hispanics to consider senior living communities when they and their parents get older, according to a new report. However, the findings suggest a major attitude adjustment may be underway. Click here for more information:

In 2010, the CDC reported 91% of assisted living residents were Caucasian. At present, found 64% of Caucasians would consider placing a parent in an assisted/independent living community versus 37% of African Americans and Hispanics.

The survey also indicated that Hispanics and African Americans are much more open to senior living communities for themselves than their parents: 49% of Hispanics and 46% of African Americans would consider living in one of these communities themselves. Caucasians feel about the same for themselves as they do for their parents.

"In some cultures, senior living facilities have been seen as taboo, as in: 'I would never put Mom in a home,'" saidDayna Steele,'s Chief Caring Expert and the author of Surviving Alzheimer's with Friends, Facebook and a Really Big Glass of Wine.

"But most of today's assisted living communities are really nice and nothing like the negative stereotypes of the past. As these places get more diverse, I think that will encourage even more Hispanics and African Americans to move in."

Among those who don't want to live in an assisted or independent living community, the most popular explanation is they would prefer to live on their own, followed by they would prefer to live with a family member. Just 8% said these types of communities are too expensive.

Additional findings:

  • 64% of 30-64 year-olds would someday consider a senior living community for themselves. That drops to 53% for people age 65 and older.

  • Americans' interest in senior living communities increases with income and education.

  • Millennials are the least likely – by a wide margin – to consider assisted/independent living communities for their parents when they get older.
  • commissioned Princeton Survey Research Associates International to obtain telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,002 adults living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted by landline and cell phone in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source from February 18-21, 2016. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.


With more than three million visitors per month, is a leading senior care resource for family caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones. A Bankrate company headquartered in San Mateo, Calif., provides helpful caregiving content, online support groups, and a comprehensive Senior Care Directory for the United States, with nearly 105,000 consumer ratings and reviews and a toll-free senior living referral line at (800) 325-8591. Connect with on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and/or YouTube.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Top 10 Growing Costs for Older Consumers

March 14, 2016– Even though inflation was too low for a cost – of – living adjustment (COLA) this year, a number of crucial items that older consumers typically buy jumped in cost, according to a new chart released today by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL). “These cost increases are forcing older consumers to make difficult choices,” says TSCL Chairman, Ed Cates. 

 “In the years when Social Security benefits don’t keep up with rising costs, people living on fixed incomes are forced to spend retirement savings faster than planned or worse, go into debt, just to make ends meet,” says Cates.

The following chart illustrates ten of the biggest cost increases over the past year in items most likely to be found in a typical retiree’s household budget.

“While the majority of Medicare beneficiaries did NOT have an increase in their Medicare Part B premiums this year, about one – third pay 16 percent more in premiums than they paid last year — one of the biggest increases in Medicare premiums on record,” Cates says.

“This especially affects people who have delayed the start of their Social Security benefits and pay for their Medicare by check,” Cates explains.  Over time however, TSCL studies indicate that Medicare Part B premium, increases are one of the top fastest – growing costs during most retirement years.

Prescription drug costs are another category that TSCL is receiving a lot of comments about from people age 60 and over. 

“There have been several back – to – back years recently of extreme prescription drug price spikes,” Cates says.  TSCL used data from Truveris, a healthcare data company that tracks thousands of drug prices, which showed that prescription drug prices rose 10.43 percent in 2015.  TSCL supports legislation that would allow Medicare greater authority to negotiate drug prices.

The cost of eating a more healthy diet rose while the cost of foods higher in fat and cholesterol like processed meats and cheese tumbled.  The cost of a pound of tomatoes rose 8.1 percent, almost as much as the average increase in prescription medicines.

Although the cost increase of doctor visits was one of the slower growing increases at 2.3 percent, the price of veterinarian care for pets rose 4.1 percent, nearly double the rate of physician costs. 

TSCL believes that’s due to the effect of insurers negotiating discounts from doctors for human care.  But the same is not so much the case with pet medical care because most people don’t have insurance for the pets.

“The takeaway is that, although the huge drop in fuel oil costs is only one area of spending, it’s big enough to drive down the COLA — even though older Americans drive less as they get older,” Cates says.  Research for TSCL indicates that using a seniors CPI — like the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) — would pay a higher COLA in most years, even in 2016.  TSCL is lobbying for an Emergency COLA, as well as legislation that would pay a more fair and accurate COLA by switching to the CPI-E.

How are you affected by rising costs?  Take TSCL’s annual Senior Survey— visit

Financial Literacy Declines with Age, Confidence to Make Decisions Doesn’t

Newswise, March 14, 2016 — A new study shows the ability of Americans to manage their money may decrease after they reach retirement age, but confidence in their ability to make good financial decisions stays the same.

The study, authored by Department of Personal Financial Planning professors Michael Finke and Sandra Huston of Texas Tech University and John Howe of the University of Michigan found financial literacy declines at a consistent rate after retirement.

The ability to answer basic financial questions decreases as respondents age, and this rate of decline almost exactly matches the gradual erosion of memory and problem-solving abilities later in life.

This is worrisome, Finke said, because households aged 60 years and older control more than half of the wealth in the United States. Since fewer employers provide pensions than ever before, more people are dependent entirely on their retirement savings.

What was even more concerning, however, is older respondents didn’t report a loss of confidence in their ability to make financial decisions.

“This was originally one of the most surprising and alarming findings from the study,” Finke said. “As we get older, our ability to answer basic financial questions that include knowledge, and the ability to apply that knowledge, gets worse. But we have no idea this is happening. It’s very similar to the research on driving skills. Since it happens so gradually, we’re not aware our abilities are getting worse over time.”

In “Old Age and the Decline of Financial Literacy,” published in the journal Management Science, the researchers found average financial literacy scores fell by half between the ages of 65 and 85. The rate of decline was the same after controlling for characteristics like education, gender and wealth. T

hey found older Americans were more likely to have life insurance than younger Americans but were significantly less likely to correctly answer basic life insurance questions.

In a separate analysis, Finke, Huston and Howe found scores on problem-solving and memory can explain the age-related decline in financial literacy, which involves both the ability to remember financial terms and concepts and the ability to process this information.

Finke said the similar rate of decline in these skills suggests that reducing financial decision-making ability may simply be a natural part of reaching advanced age.

Decreasing financial literacy opens the door to abuse from less principled advisers as well. A recent study by business school professors at the University of Chicago and the University of Minnesota found financial firms who hire advisers with ethical violations are more concentrated in areas with high elderly populations.

Since older clients are also wealthier, they may meet net worth thresholds that allow advisers to sell them complex products that can only legally be bought by so-called accredited investors who are assumed to be more financially knowledgeable. Older consumers whose financial literacy skills have declined may be particularly vulnerable to the sale of unsuitable investments.

Millennials More Likely Than Older Adults to Donate Clothing Rather Than Trash It

Newswise, March 14, 2016 —In 2012, Americans sent more than 14 million tons of textile waste to trash dumps around the country, despite many options for consumers to repurpose or recycle textile waste, including donating old clothes to charities and recycling the materials to be remade into other products.

Pamela Norum, professor and interim department chair of textile and apparel management at the University of Missouri, found that younger adults from ages 18-34 are much less likely to throw old clothes and other textile waste into the garbage than older adults. She also found that millennials were more likely to donate clothing to secondhand stores such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army.

"It was surprising to see that older adults were less likely to donate to secondhand stores and more likely to use the trash than younger adults," Norum said.

"Baby Boomers grew up when the recycling culture was coming of age, so we thought they would be more willing to recycle their used clothes rather than throwing them in the trash.

“However, it was gratifying to see that younger Americans are more likely to recycle textiles; hopefully they will carry on that behavior into the future."

For her study, Norum examined data from a 2012 survey of more than 500 U.S. consumers. Overall, she found:

• 65 percent donated at least some clothing to charity
• 50 percent donated to non-profit secondhand stores
• 40 percent of Americans threw away at least some clothing
• Consumers 55 years and older were more likely to donate to charities than millennials

Norum also found consumers dispose of their clothes for various reasons including clothing that was out of style or the wrong size; they were running out of storage space; and clothes were old or damaged.

Norum says it is important for consumers to be educated about all the possibilities for recycling and re-using old clothes, so waste can be reduced.

"Nearly all textiles can be recycled or re-used in some way, even underwear," Norum said. "Lightly worn clothing can always be donated to charities and secondhand stores; more degraded fabrics can be cut up and made into rags or given to textile recyclers who can break down the materials and use them to manufacture new fabrics or other textile products.

“With all of these easy and free options for recycling, little excuse exists for throwing away clothing, especially if it is simply out of style or the wrong size. Educating Americans about these options is important to reduce waste and to prevent the needless manufacturing of additional textiles to replace materials thrown away needlessly."

This study was published in the Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal. The MU Department of Textile and Apparel Management is housed in the College of Human and Environmental Sciences.

Spring Daylight Saving Time May Cause an Increased Risk of Heart Attacks

Newswise, March 14, 2016  – Many people may groan about losing an hour of sleep March 13, but there may be a more serious reason to be mindful of daylight saving time.

Martin Young, Ph.D., in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Cardiovascular Disease says that springing forward one hour may lead to an increased risk of heart attacks for people with a history of heart disease.

“Moving the clocks ahead one hour in March is associated with a 10-24 percent increase in the risk of having a heart attack the following Monday and to some degree Tuesday,” Young said.

Young says every cell in the human body has an internal time mechanism, also known as a circadian clock, which is responsible for driving rhythms in biological processes.

These rhythms follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding to changes in light and darkness in an organism’s environment. Young says when these clocks are interrupted or experience a sudden change, there can be a number of different health effects.

“Going from a sleeping state to waking is already a stressful event in the body,” he said. “When we have an abrupt change, like losing an hour of sleep with daylight saving time, our internal clocks don’t have enough time to prepare our organs.”

Young says there are many factors that may contribute to increased risk of heart attacks when internal clocks become out of synch with the environment. These include sleep deprivation, inflammation and sympathetic tone.

Sleep deprivation
Individuals who are sleep-deprived generally weigh more and are at an increased risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Sleep deprivation also can alter other body processes, including inflammatory response, which may contribute to heart attack risk. A person’s reaction to sleep deprivation and the time change also depends on whether he or she is a morning person or night owl. Night owls have a much more difficult time with springing forward.
Immune function
Immune cells also have a clock, and normal immune responses depend greatly on the time of day. A time shift like daylight saving puts the body in a pro-inflammatory state, which can worsen heart disease outcome.
Sympathetic tone
When a person normally wakes up in the morning, the body sends a large number of electrical signals to the heart, called sympathetic tone. Conversely, sympathetic tone decreases during sleep. However, when someone is sleep-deprived, sympathetic tone can be elevated even when asleep, which is strongly correlated with cardiovascular disease. “Sleep period is one time the heart should not be challenged,” Young said.

Young also says changing time zones and jet lag can cause circadian desynchrony, and increase the risk of heart attacks. It is important to note that these circadian disruptions will increase risk of a heart attack primarily in susceptible individuals, who often have underlying diseases.

So, what to do?

“The question then becomes, ‘How do you reset your internal clock?’” Young said.

He says different organs in the body have different ways of resetting their own clocks.

For example, the brain resets according to light exposure, while the liver resets according to when the body receives nourishment from food. However, some organs, such as the heart, receive mixed signals, thereby leading to confusion and dysfunction.

Young says daylight saving time likely doesn’t impact just the heart, since all cells in the body possess internal clocks. Researchers like David and Jennifer Pollock, Ph.D., are studying the effects of clocks on blood pressure, while Shannon Bailey, Ph.D., is studying their effects on the liver.

So before you set your clock forward one hour, what should you do to prepare your body to a new schedule?

Young suggests easing the transition, by dividing up the one-hour loss over the course of the weekend. For example, if you usually wake up at 6 a.m. on a weekday, then set your alarm for 5:40 a.m. Saturday, 6:20 a.m. (new time) Sunday, and 6 a.m. Monday. In addition, eat a decent-sized breakfast, then go outside in the sunlight and exercise (as appropriate and as recommended by your doctor).

“Doing all of this will help reset the central, or master, clock in the brain that reacts to changes in light/dark cycles, and the peripheral clocks — the ones everywhere else, including the one in the heart — that react to food intake and physical activity,” Young said.

“This will enable your body to naturally synch with the change in the environment, which may lessen your chance of adverse health issues Monday.”

The Medical Minute: Lifestyle and Luck Both Factors in a Long, Healthy Life

Lifestyle and luck factors in long healthy life
Newswise, March 14, 2016 — More people may be living to 100 and beyond than ever before, but the real challenge is how to become one of them yourself, and how to care for an aging population.

Dr. Noel H. Ballentine, director of geriatric health in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, said although good genes help determine how long you live, other factors are less dependent on luck.

Good nutrition and plenty of exercise are the top two ways to live a long and healthy life, and neither should come as a surprise.

"Eating high-quality foods with lots of fruits and vegetables and controlling your weight are the things I spend most of my time talking about," he said. "And there is lots of data showing that strength training helps even very old people do better."

Ballentine suggests getting both nutrition and exercise habits under control while young, since it's more difficult to implement weight-loss plans or exercise routines once you're already in your 70s and beyond.

The third factor is avoiding accidental injuries. "If you're in your 60s or 70s and don't have a lot of health issues, you have a better chance of losing your independence from an accidental injury than due to an illness," Ballentine said.

That means not standing on a chair to change a light fixture, climbing a 10-foot ladder to clean gutters or going out of the house when the ground is icy.

"If you're 40 years old and you fall, you probably won't break your hip, but if you're 70, there's a good chance of very severe injury," he said.

Staying socially engaged is also increasingly noted as an important way to stay both mentally and physically healthy.

"Don't become isolated," Ballentine said. "If you live alone and don't have much social contact, you're more likely to degrade mentally and be less active and engaged." Those who are more socially active are also more likely to be more physically active and eat healthier, he said.

If depression does happen, recognizing the symptoms and getting treatment can ward off further problems.

An aging population living longer could lay a heavy economic weight on society if not handled well, Ballentine said.

Although tremendous progress has been made in the treatment of medical conditions such as coronary artery disease, stroke, high blood pressure and infectious diseases that used to take lives earlier, other conditions have stolen the limelight of concern.

“Obesity, dementia and addictions are the biggest issues now,” Ballentine said.

Media focus on obesity is putting pressure on the food industry to make changes and help consumers become more aware of what they are eating, while the federal government has dedicated funds to dementia research. Addiction to narcotics and opiates has recently begun to be classified as a disease rather than a bad habit or lifestyle.

Then there is the issue of health literacy – making sure patients understand what is going on medically with their minds and bodies. “Do you know what your pills are for and how to take them? Do you know how to figure out if a suggested treatment is right for you?” Ballentine said.

He adds the medical community needs more training on managing an aging population: “There aren’t enough geriatricians to take care of them, so doctors of all specialties are going to have to care for them and recognize their special needs.”

Grid Cells' Role in Human Imagination Revealed

Newswise, March 14, 2016 — Evidence of grid cell activity has been seen in healthy volunteers asked to imagine moving through an environment in new UCL (University College London) research funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust.

The study, published in Current Biology, used fMRI scans to detect brain activity consistent with grid cell activity in the entorhinal cortex, an important 'hub' for navigation and memory.

The entorhinal cortex is one of the first areas affected by Alzheimer's disease, so the latest research could help to explain why people with Alzheimer's can have problems imagining as well as remembering things.

Grid cells are brain cells that act as an internal coordinate system, firing at a series of locations that form a hexagonal grid across our environment as we move around it.

The latest research provides the first evidence that these cells are also used when we imagine navigating, not only for tracking past or present environments.

"People with Alzheimer's disease can find it difficult to visualise and remember scenes, and our new findings may help to explain why," says senior author Professor Neil Burgess, Director of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.

"We previously developed a test called the Four Mountains Test, where participants have to hold in mind a mountainous landscape and then try to identify it from a line-up of four landscapes, one of which is the original shown at a different point of view.

“This test has recently been shown to correlate with the progression of Alzheimer's disease. So our latest research suggests that difficulties with the task may be related to a loss of grid cells in the entorhinal cortex."

The study suggests that grid cells are involved in a broader range of cognitive process than previously thought.
"It is particularly exciting to see the involvement of a specific type of neuron whilst people are simply imagining moving through an environment," explains lead author Dr Aidan Horner, who conducted the study at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and is now at the University of York.

"This suggests that grid cells may contribute to more than just spatial navigation and are involved more broadly in planning and imagining the future. It is particularly difficult to link work at the neuronal level with higher-order cognitive processes. It is therefore incredibly exciting to see evidence for grid cells in imagined navigation, bridging the gap between neurons and mental imagery."

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Homeless People Suffer Geriatric Conditions Decades Early, UCSF Study Shows

Newswise, March 9, 2016— Homeless people in their fifties have more geriatric conditions than those living in homes who are decades older, according to researchers at UC San Francisco who are following 350 people who are homeless and aged 50 and over, in Oakland.

Although the people in the study had a median age of just 58, they had more trouble bathing, dressing and eating than 80 year olds who had housing. They had a harder time using transportation, taking their medications, managing money, applying for benefits, arranging a job interview and finding a lawyer. They had higher rates of cognitive and visual impairment and urinary incontinence. And they were more likely to fall and to be depressed.

“Usually, we think of geriatric conditions as affecting much older adults in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s,” said Rebecca Brown, MD, MPH, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and first author of the paper. “We found these conditions were very common in homeless adults with an average age of just 58. We studied a very vulnerable population. Our systems need to be responsive to the challenges that these older adults have.”

About 40 percent of homeless adults reported difficulty with one or more activities of daily living, while a third reported having fallen in the past six months. About a quarter had cognitive impairment, 45 percent had vision impairment and 48 percent had urinary incontinence.

Researchers said their findings, published Feb. 26, 2016 in The Gerontologist, point to the need to develop new ways of helping homeless people, who are increasingly older. Half of single homeless adults are now 50 or older, compared to 11 percent in 1990.

“The traditional way of providing services for homeless people may need to be adapted for the aging population, who may need assistance with activities like using the toilet and are at high risk of falling,” said Margot Kushel, MD, professor of Medicine at UCSF and senior author of the paper.

She said a better alternative for chronically homeless older adults would be to adapt permanent supportive housing to meet the needs of the aging homeless population.

This would include accommodations, such as having personal care attendants, as well as grab bars in the bathroom. Even short-term solutions, like homeless shelters, will need to adapt for the needs of the aging population.

“We need to figure this out, otherwise many homeless people will be placed in nursing homes, for lack of an alternative, even though they would be better off living in less restrictive – and less expensive – environments.”

The study is among the first to look at a broad cross section of the homeless population. Rather than just recruiting subjects from shelters, the researchers also canvassed recycling centers, food lines and homeless encampments to better represent the population.

Three quarters of the people in the study were male and 80 percent were African American. Nearly half experienced their first episode of adult homelessness at age 50 or older.

The majority of participants, 56 percent, reported poor or fair health status, and chronic medical conditions like high blood pressure were common. Nearly three quarters had a history of mental health problems, two thirds smoked tobacco and more than half had lifelong problems with alcohol or drug use
Researchers did not find any difference in geriatric conditions between homeless people who camped on the streets, cycled between shelters and hotels, stayed part time with family and friends or had recently lost their rental housing.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and a Medical Student in Aging Research Program award from the American Federation for Aging Research.

Other authors include Kaveh Hemati of Stony Brook University School of Medicine; Elise Riley, Christopher Lee, Claudia Ponath, Lina Tieu and David Guzman, of UCSF

People Stay True to Moral Colors, Studies Find

Newswise, March 9, 2016 — U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been criticized for their seeming willingness to cut corners on core principles when they consider it necessary to make some progress toward a laudable goal.

While philosophers and voters can debate the pros and cons of situational ethics, new research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that most people stay true to their intrinsic moral colors -- good or bad -- when dealing with day-to-day choices, regardless of extenuating circumstances or well-intended reform efforts.

"Our studies provide new and important evidence for the stability of moral character," said Kathryn Bollich, lead author of two recent studies exploring how evolving personality traits and competing ethical quandaries influence moral behavior.

"Using naturally observed, everyday behaviors and self-reports of moral decision-making, we demonstrate that one’s morality is stable," Bollich said. "These findings suggest that efforts to modify moral character may not be so simple. For example, efforts to make a roommate or romantic partner more helpful and sympathetic, or less condescending and critical of others, may be met with slow and minimal success."

Bollich, a graduate student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in Arts & Sciences, conducted her research as a member of the Personality Measurement and Development Lab at Washington University. Joshua Jackson, assistant professor of psychology and lab director, is a joint co-author on both studies.

While most morality research looks at situations that influence moral decisions and behaviors, these studies examines whether individual differences in morality persist across time and across situations. Both studies demonstrate that a person's moral fiber can be gauged based on actions that demonstrate their outlook on moral issues, and that these core levels of morality remain fairly consistent across a range of morally challenging situations and surroundings.

The first, "Eavesdropping on Character: Assessing Everyday Moral Behaviors," has been accepted for publication in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Research in Personality.

This study analyzes naturally occurring moral behaviors that were unobtrusively captured by a small digital audio-recorder that the study's 186 participants carried continuously for a weekend or two. The devices intermittently recorded snippets of conversations and ambient sounds from the participant's everyday environments; these audio snippets were then rated based on how much they exemplified moral or immoral behavior.

The study found substantial individual differences in how often participants engaged in positive moral behaviors, such as showing affection, gratitude, sympathy, hope or optimism, as well as negative moral behaviors, such as being sarcastic, condescending, arrogant, critical, blaming or boastful.

For example, one person expressed gratitude during 17.5 percent of her conversations, and 16 people never expressed gratitude in any of their recordings. In addition, 10 people never criticized others in any of their recordings, whereas one person criticized others in 22.2 percent of his or her conversations.

While these patterns of moral behavior varied widely from person to person, individuals pattern of moral behavior remained surprisingly stable over time -- that is, how helpful or grateful someone is one weekend is similar to how helpful or grateful that person is on a following weekend, the study found.

Bollich's second study, "When Friends' and Society's Expectations Collide: A Longitudinal Study of Moral Decision-Making and Personality across College," was published Jan. 11 in the multidisciplinary open-access journal PLOS ONE. Findings are based on longitudinal survey data collected from hundreds of college students across four years during their freshman and senior years.

This second study found that the students' approach to moral decision-making across the four years of their college experience also remained stable over time, with one important change: As students move from freshman year to senior year, they grow more likely to help a friend even when doing so requires them to ignore other ethical obligations, such as following the law or adhering to accepted social norms.

Since young adulthood and college years are an important time for personality development and maturation, Bollich and colleagues examined the data to determine if these factors might be driving changes in moral decision-making and behavior. Surprisingly, their analysis found that increased maturity and developing personality traits had little or no connection to changes in moral decision-making.

"Future research should continue to extend our understanding of moral character by examining how the combination of large life experiences -- like graduating from college or starting a family -- and smaller situational influences -- like the personality or moral character of interaction partners -- may or may not play a role in one's morality and development. Together, these approaches will help us capture a more complete picture of morality as it is manifested in everyday life and across the lifespan," Bollich said.

People in Their 60s Uniquely Benefit From Giving Advice Despite Fewer Chances to Offer it

Newswise, March 9, 2016 — A new study reveals that individuals in their 60s who give advice to a broad range of people tend to see their lives as especially meaningful. 

At the same time, this happens to be the age when opportunities for dispensing advice become increasingly scarce.

According to the study, which appears in the March issue of Social Psychology Quarterly, individuals in their 60s who report giving advice to a wide variety of people—to family members, friends, neighbors, and strangers—see their lives as highly meaningful, while adults in that age group who dispense advice to fewer types of people are much less likely to report high life meaning.

“This association between advice giving and life meaning is not evident for other age groups,” said Markus H. Schafer, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto and the lead author of the study.

“Overall, we interpret these findings to suggest that the developmental demands of late midlife—particularly the desire to contribute to others’ welfare and the fear of feeling ‘stagnant’—fit poorly with the social and demographic realties for this segment of the life course. Just when giving advice seems to be most important, opportunities for doing so seem to wane.”

Titled, “The Age-Graded Nature of Advice: Distributional Patterns and Implications for Life Meaning,” the study relies on a nationally representative sample of 2,583 U.S. adults who were 18 and above when they were surveyed in 2006.

Schafer and his co-author Laura Upenieks, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Toronto, found that 21 percent of people in their 60s and 27 percent of people 70 or older reported giving advice to no one in the previous year.

By comparison, only about 10 percent of people in their 20s (this group also included 18 and 19-year-olds), 30s, 40s, and 50s said they gave no advice in the past year.

“Conventional age norms suggest that the ideal mentor or advice-giver is someone who has a lot of life experience,” Schafer said.

“However, compared to their younger counterparts, older adults occupy fewer social roles, are less socially active, and interact with a more restricted range of people. So, while the average 65-year-old may well have more wisdom than the average 30-year-old, demographic and social structure factors seem to provide the latter with more opportunity for actually dispensing advice.”

Some scholars have argued that the essence of mattering—the idea that one is meaningful and consequential to other people—is most under threat during late-middle age when many people retire and enter the “empty nest” phase of life, according to Schafer.

“The mattering perspective helps explain why it is this period of the life span, in particular, when it is important for people to feel like they can still have influence on others through actions such as giving advice,” Schafer said.

In terms of the study’s implications, Schafer said, “The results should prompt reflection on the social fabric of American communities and how late-middle age adults fit into the picture. Our findings underscore the importance of giving older adults occasions to share their wisdom and life experiences.

Schools, churches, civic organizations, and other community groups could consider how to facilitate intergenerational mentorship experiences and to creatively enable more older adults to be advice-givers.”

About the American Sociological Association and Social Psychology Quarterly

The American Sociological Association (, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.Social Psychology Quarterly is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal of the ASA.

The research article described above is available by request for members of the media. For a copy of the full study, contact Daniel Fowler, ASA Media Relations Manager, at (202) 527-7885 or

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Link Between Sleep and Social Participation May Be Key to Healthy Aging

Newswise, March 3, 2016 – Sleep may be one of the most important factors for well-being; yet, according to the CDC, one in three adults does not get enough. 

Lack of sleep can lead to potential cognitive declines, chronic diseases and death. Now, research from the University of Missouri finds that older adults who have trouble sleeping, could benefit from participating in social activities, in particular attending religious events. 

“Social connectedness is a key component for health and well-being for older adults,” said Jen-Hao Chen, assistant professor of health sciences at the MU School of Health Professions and the Truman School of Public Affairs. “Close connections to, and participation in, social groups provides a sense of belonging and can be essential for healthy aging.”

Yet despite past attention to the link between social participation and many different health outcomes, little research has been dedicated to linking social participation and another critical health outcome for older adults—sleep.

To study the relationship between sleep and social participation for older adults, Chen analyzed two waves of data collected over a five year period from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project. 

He looked at three aspects of social participation; volunteering, attending religious services and being part of organized group activities. He then compared the data to sleep outcomes measured by actigraphy—wearable wrist sleep trackers. Results showed that older adults with greater levels of social participation were getting better sleep.

However, Chen says despite the strong associations between social participation and sleep, social participation does not necessarily lead to better sleep. The strong associations he found could also be due to those already sleeping well may feel well enough to be more active socially. His future research on sleep will continue to use innovative sleep measurements to understand the role various social relationships have on sleep behaviors and outcomes.

“When it comes to the discussion of healthy lifestyle, being socially connected and sleeping well are not often mentioned together,” Chen said. 

“Yet sleep, just like physical activity and diet, can have significant impacts on our health outcomes, and is profoundly affected by our everyday social life. To promote sleep health we must consider a comprehensive approach that emphasizes the role of engaging in our communities, as well as getting enough and better sleep.”

The study “Social Participation and Older Adults’ Sleep” was published in the Journal of Social Science and Medicine. Chen collaborated with Diane Lauderdale and Linda Waite at the University of Chicago on the study. The research was supported by the National Institute of Aging (R01AG042164 and R37AG030481) and the Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Opportunity Network National Institutes of Health. 

Long-Term Stress Erodes Memory

Study in mice places blame on immune system

Long-term stress erodes memory
Newswise, March 3, 2016 — Sustained stress erodes memory, and the immune system plays a key role in the cognitive impairment, according to a new study from researchers at The Ohio State University.

The work in mice could one day lead to treatment for repeated, long-term mental assault such as that sustained by bullying victims, soldiers and those who report to beastly bosses, the researchers say.

“This is chronic stress. It’s not just the stress of giving a talk or meeting someone new,” said lead researcher Jonathan Godbout, associate professor of neuroscience at Ohio State.

This is the first study of its kind to establish the relationship between short-term memory and prolonged stress. In the case of the mice, that meant repeat visits from a larger, nasty intruder mouse.

Mice that were repeatedly exposed to the aggressive intruder had a hard time recalling where the escape hole was in a maze they’d mastered prior to the stressful period.

“The stressed mice didn’t recall it. The mice that weren’t stressed, they really remembered it,” Godbout said.

They also had measurable changes in their brains, including evidence of inflammation brought on by the immune system’s response to the outside pressure. This was associated with the presence of immune cells, called macrophages, in the brain of the stressed mice.

The research team was able to pin the short-term memory loss on the inflammation, and on the immune system.

Their work, which appears in The Journal of Neuroscience, builds on previous research substantiating the connections between chronic stress and lasting anxiety.

The impact on memory and confirmation that the brain inflammation is caused by the immune system are important new discoveries, Godbout said.

“It’s possible we could identify targets that we can treat pharmacologically or behaviorally,” he said.

It could be that there are ways to interrupt the inflammation, said John Sheridan, who worked on the study and is associate director of Ohio State’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.

The mice used in the study are exposed to repeated social defeat – basically dominance by an alpha mouse – that aims to mimic chronic psychosocial stress experienced by humans.

Researchers at Ohio State seek to uncover the secrets behind stress and cognitive and mood problems with a long-range goal of finding ways to help those who are anxious, depressed and suffer from lasting problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

This new research focused on the hippocampus, a hub of memory and emotional response.

The researchers found that the stressed mice had trouble with spatial memory that resolved within 28 days. They found that the mice displayed social avoidance, which measures depressive-like behavior, that continued after four weeks of monitoring.

And they were able to measure deficits in the development of new neurons 10 days and 28 days after the prolonged stress ended.

When they gave the mice a chemical that inhibited inflammation, neither the brain-cell problem nor the depressive symptoms went away. But the memory loss and inflammatory macrophages did disappear.

And that led them to conclude that the post-stress memory trouble is directly linked to inflammation – and the immune system – rather than to other damage to the brain. That type of information can pave the way for immune-based treatments, Godbout said.

“Stress releases immune cells from the bone marrow and those cells can traffic to brain areas associated with neuronal activation in response to stress,” Sheridan said. “They’re being called to the brain, to the center of memory.”

The researchers’ work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Aging and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Other Ohio State researchers who worked on the study were Daniel McKim, Anzela Niraula, Andrew Tarr and Eric Wohleb.

Older Workers in Office Support, Service Occupations at Higher Risk for Poor Cardiovascular Health Profile

Newswise, March 3, 2016– Research out of the nationwide REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study looked at 5,566 workers age 45 and older identified that those in sales, office support or service occupations have more risk factors for heart disease and stroke than workers in management and professional jobs.

Fewer than 41 percent of the workers had a ranking of “ideal” in five of the seven cardiovascular health factors (blood pressure, blood sugar, diet, weight, cholesterol, physical activity and smoking.On the other end of the scale, 88 percent were listed as nonsmokers and 78 percent were credited with having ideal glucose levels.

“We wanted to be a bit flexible with the definition of optimum health so we decided to go for five of the seven components as ideal rather than having all seven ideal,” said Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., assistant dean and associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. “It’s great to see so few people smoking, but ideal cardiovascular health is defined by more than just nonsmoking.”

The study found that none of the older workers achieved ideal levels of cardiovascular health, mostly because of their diet.

“Achieving a healthy diet can be even more challenging for a person working eight to 12 hours per day away from the home,” stated Judd, co-author on this study and co-investigator on the REGARDS study. “This limits the time available to shop for and prepare healthier options.”

Overall diet health was based on workers’ meeting four of five goals: consuming 4.5 or more cups of fruits or vegetables a day, 450 or fewer calories a week in sugary foods, and three or more 1-ounce servings of whole grains daily.

The research, presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology/Lifestyle 2016 meeting, breaks down each occupation as classified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, where it found: 

• Transportation and material-moving workers had the highest smoking rate among the occupation groups, where 22 percent were classified as smokers.
• Sixty-eight percent of sales, office and administrative support workers had poor eating habits. Sixty-nine percent of sales professionals did not have ideal total cholesterol levels, and 82 percent of office and administrative support staff did not have ideal scores for physical activity.
• Employees in food preparation and service had the worst diet profile, in which 79 percent had poor diet quality.
• Police, firefighters and their peers were 90 percent more likely to be overweight or obese, with 77 percent not having ideal total cholesterol levels and 35 percent having high blood pressure.
• Generally, management professionals had better cardiovascular health than the others. One-third had ideal body mass, 75 percent were at least moderately active and only 6 percent were smokers. Within this group, 72 percent of those in business and finance had poor eating habits.

The study scored workers as having “ideal,” “intermediate” or “poor” cardiovascular health in the seven areas.

Ideal scores were earned if blood pressure readings were lower than 120/80 mmHg without medicines, total cholesterol was below 200 mg/dL, and blood sugar was lower than 100 mg/dL while fasting or 140 without fasting. Body Mass Index was observed as ideal at 25 or lower. Workers were categorized as smoker or nonsmoker. Physical activity levels were measured as ideal when workers engaged in intense, break-a-sweat activity four or more times a week, including at work.

Lead author, Capt. Leslie MacDonald, Sc.D., senior scientist in the U.S. Public Health Service, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, of the Centers for Disease Control, suggests that employees consider taking small steps to improve their overall cardiovascular health, including:
• Going for a walk during lunch or other breaks
• Parking farther away from destinations
• Taking the stairs instead of elevators
• Managing stress through breathing exercises or meditation
• Bringing healthy snacks to work such as fruits, nuts and yogurt
• Drinking water throughout the day

The UAB-led REGARDS is ongoing study sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke with over 30,000 individuals enrolled. It is focused on learning more about the factors that increase a person’s risk of having a stroke.

Americans Who See God as ‘a Secure Base’ Tend to Be More Committed, Satisfied in the Workplace, Baylor Study Finds

Americans who see God as a Secure Base Study
Newswise, March 3, 2016 — People who see God as a “secure base” for intimacy and attachment are more likely to be emotionally committed to their workplace and satisfied with their jobs.

They also tend to see their work as a calling from God, which correlates to higher levels of job commitment and satisfaction, according to a Baylor University study of working American adults.

“Attachment to God may relate to a sense of safety and confidence that encourages exploration of the world — and as adults, our primary form of exploration is work,” said Blake V. Kent, lead author and a doctoral candidate in sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

The study — “Attachment to God, Vocational Calling, and Worker Contentment” — is published online in the journal Review of Religious Research.

The research is an analysis of data from Baylor Religion Survey 2011, a national random survey about Americans’ religious attitudes, beliefs and values that was conducted by The Gallup Organization.

Respondents in this study included 860 adults who are full- or part-time employees or volunteers and who believe in God or a higher power.

While other studies have found a link between job commitment and such religious influences as faith-work integration beliefs and congregational involvement, the Baylor research differs in that it suggests that inner feelings of attachment to God rather than statements about God may relate to attachments elsewhere — as in the workplace.

From a management perspective, research has shown that employees’ work experiences in previous jobs generally trump personal characteristics — such as age, race/ethnicity and gender — when it comes to effectively managing them after hire.

The Baylor study, however, suggests that “divine attachment” may be viewed as a personal characteristic that should be taken into account in the workplace.

“Research suggests that workplaces which allow their employees to engage in spiritual activity at work — even if it’s just 15 minutes a day of meditation — tend to see boosts in employee satisfaction,” Kent said.

“What we’re doing here is providing evidence that how people relate to God matters for their commitment and satisfaction at work.”

For the research, “affective commitment” was measured by individuals’ responses to such statements as “I really feel this organization’s problems are my own” and “I do not feel a strong sense of ‘belonging’ to my organization,” with answers ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”

“This type of commitment is a measure of the emotional bond between a person and an organization, in which employees keep their jobs because they want to rather than because they need or ought to,” Kent said.

Such commitment is linked to lower absenteeism and conflict, lower turnover rates, and higher performance and productivity, previous studies have found.

The measure of “job satisfaction” as used in other published research is broader because many factors can affect satisfaction — among them pay, benefits, co-workers and bosses.

Respondents considered two statements: “In general, I do not like my job” and “All in all, I am satisfied with my job.” Their responses range from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”

Attachment to God may have a “spillover effect,” serving as a buffer against negative emotions and experiences and helping people to cope with workplace challenges, Kent said.
In the study, a “calling” was defined as “a sense of work as a ‘transcendent summons’ for meaning and purpose in the workplace,” he said.

“The work may be seen as a ‘mission from God’ or as serving God, even if it is a very commonplace job without religious orientation.”

Previous research indicates that a sense of vocational calling might sustain people in difficult circumstances, Kent said. Individuals who feel called show higher levels of motivation, stronger coping skills, lower absenteeism and higher work satisfaction.

Types of attachments generally are formed in the first 3 to 5 years of life and affect an individual in future relationships with family, friends, romantic partners, God and work. They include: 

• Secure attachment. “This is when the child knows the primary caretaker — usually a mother — is available to hug and hold you. That creates a certain confidence in the child to explore his or her surroundings but still be confident that the caretaker will be there when the child returns,” Kent said.
• Insecure attachment. “This is formed when the primary attachment figure seems cold or distant and is often unavailable for emotional connection,” Kent said.
• Anxious attachment. “These attachments are ambivalent,” Kent said. “You feel that the caretaker is sometimes there for you with a lot of love to give, but sometimes they’re not.”

Theories differ about how a person’s concept of God — “the ultimate attachment figure” — is developed. One theory is that one’s view of God as caring, personal and responsive — or as impersonal and indifferent — mirrors the relationship with the main childhood caregiver. Another theory holds that a person’s notion of God can change over time and compensate for a lack of attachment to others in early life.

*Co-researchers were Matt Bradshaw, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology, and Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology, both in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.