Wednesday, March 24, 2010

To Increase Longevity, Friends Are More Important Than Family

People with many friends tend to outlive those with few friends
By Sharon O'Brien,

Most of us know from experience that having good friends can make our lives richer, but research now shows that our friends may also increase our longevity. The same isn't true for our relatives.
In a 10-year longevity study of people aged 70 and older, researchers at the Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia concluded that a network of good friends is more likely than close family relationships to increase longevity in older people.
The research report is based on the Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ALSA).

How Was the Longevity Study Conducted?
ALSA, which began in Adelaide in 1992, used a series of interviews with nearly 1,500 older people to assess how much contact they had with their different social networks, including children, relatives, friends, and other confidantes. The group was monitored annually for four years and then less often for a decade.
The researchers also considered how economic, social, environmental and lifestyle factors affected the health and well-being of the seniors in the study. After controlling for those variables, the researchers were able to see the positive effect friendships have on longevity.
What Makes the Longevity Study Significant?
According to Lynn Giles, one of the four researchers who published the report, there is nothing new about evidence showing that social networks increase longevity, but ALSA went a few steps farther.
"What hasn't been done before is to break down which social networks might be most beneficial," Giles said in a statement published on the Flinders University web site.
"It looks as if friends are the most important in terms of survival."

What the Longevity Study Found
Based on results from the study, researchers learned:
• Close relationships with children and relatives had little effect on longevity rates for older people during the 10-year study.
• People with extensive networks of good friends and confidantes outlived those with the fewest friends by 22 percent.
• The positive effects of friendships on longevity continued throughout the decade, regardless of other profound life changes such as the death of a spouse or other close family members.
Giles said that neither the study nor the report suggests that family ties are unimportant to older people, only that they seem to have little effect on survival and longevity.
For example, she pointed out that another study showed that close relationships and frequent contact with family members were the most important factors in helping older seniors avoid disabilities and increase longevity.

Why Are Friendships So Powerful for Longevity?
While the study couldn’t say for certain why close friendships have such a dramatic effect on longevity, the authors of the report speculated that friends may encourage older people to take better care of themselves—by cutting down on smoking and drinking, for example, or seeking medical treatment earlier for symptoms that may indicate serious problems.
Friends may also help seniors get through difficult times in their lives, by offering coping mechanisms and having a positive effect on mood and self-esteem. Giles said the research didn’t distinguish between the effects of new and long-term friendships on longevity.
"The central message is that maintaining a sense of social embeddedness through friends and family appears pretty important for survival,” Giles said, “and it seems that non-kin relationships are particularly important."


Friday, March 19, 2010

Simple Tips to Motivate Yourself to Exercise.

There are a million ways to motivate yourself to exercise, actually, but these are a few that have worked for Senior citizen.

• Have fun. If you hate running, don’t go to the track for exercise. Find something you like. The list of different kinds of exercises are nearly endless. The only really important thing is to get your body moving and your heart rate up.

• How you feel after a workout. I always feel great after a good workout. It’s a high. And I let that motivate me the next time.

• Calories burned. If you count calories (and it’s really one of the most effective ways to lose weight), you know that the more you exercise, the more calories you burn — and the bigger your calorie deficit.

• How you’re going to look. Imagine a slimmer, fitter you. Now let that visualization drive you.

• Change it up. Even if you have a routine you enjoy, mix it up from time to time. Try entirely different exercises. You can check out a tape at the library and try yoga or kick boxing for an afternoon. This will not only keep you interested, it will break your muscles out of their routine and help produce better results.

• Get a buddy. Exercising with a friend introduces a positive kind of peer pressure. You will be more likely to go to the gym if you know someone is waiting there for you. Talking and laughing while exercising will also keep you from being bored.

• An exercise log/graph. For some reason, writing it down is extremely important. Really. Do it for a week and you’ll see what I mean.

• Get appropriate clothing. If you don’t have the appropriate clothes for the excercise, it can be irritating, uncomfortable, frustrating, or even unsafe. If you exercise outside after dusk, be sure you have reflective clothing to prevent traffic accidents. Also be sure the clothing looks nice; if you don’t like the way your clothing looks, you may feel uncomfortable, and less likely to exercise.

• Pack Ahead of Time: An iPod, athletic shoes, a towel… whatever. Walking around the house trying to find stuff is a good time to lose your resolve. Put everything together in your gym bag. When you finish working out, take out things that need to be laundered and replace them immediately.

• Have a Goal. What do you want to achieve? Make it specific, make it meaningful, make it obtainable. Be sure to have short-term benchmarks along the way. It’s OK to change your goals if the original plan doesn’t work, but have a goal. Regularly evaluate how you are doing on your goals.

• Reward Yourself. Have a healthy reward when you reach a goal. Buy yourself that cute pair of bike shorts. Go for a weekend hiking tri. Soak in the sauna for your “workout” that day. Buy a new yoga video. Whatever works for you to celebrate in line with your healthy lifestyle!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Loneliness creeps up on Delhi’s elders

Survey by NGO finds 80% of seniors feels isolated; reduced interaction with family is mainly to blame

On the face of it they’re busy and happening at 60: exercise regime, social work, satsang, paying bills, housework and the works. Yet, in a disturbing way, loneliness is increasingly creeping up on the old in Delhi, making them feel isolated. A study on the elderly conducted by NGO Agewell Foundation shows that about 80% of the surveyed Delhi residents in their 60s reported feeling isolated despite an active life. While only 11% of old who live in joint families experience loneliness, in nuclear families, more than 70% feel isolated.

Reduced interaction with family emerges as the greatest factor leading to feeling isolated. Differentiating between emotional and social isolation, the study — conducted in January this year among 10,000 citizens above age 60 in 20 states across all economic strata — found that 44% in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata felt both social and emotional isolation. Social isolation stems from a dwindling friends circle, immobility and a feeling of being ignored socially, while emotional isolation results from strained interpersonal relations within family.

Himanshu Rath, founder Agewell explains that at home, younger members are “always bone-tired and too busy” to spend time with the old. “It’s not that there’s no concern. Even where nuclear families do all that needs to be done for the old, life is too hectic and tough for them to give time,” he says.

Additionally, adds Rath, their stagnant incomes and growing costs of living especially in the last two years have led to much self-denial, also resulting in feeling alone, says Rath. “Last two years’ slowdown has hit the old hardest. Interest rates have slipped. Monthly yields are reduced. The pressure’s tremendous,” he says.

Rath gives an example of the stress an average middleclass 65-year-old faces. “With longer life-spans, and given that today, a 65-year-old’s wife will be to 6 to 12 years his junior, the retired man believes he has to secure finances for the wife for at least 20 to 30 years.” With skyrocketing costs especially for medical, conveyance and food, the feeling of helplessness is strong.

There may be better medical facilities today, but they’re expensive. Neighbourhood GPs are a thing of the past, points out Rath, a simple blood test will cost Rs 200 at least. “They cut down on the simple things. A third biscuit can mean Rs 1.50 more. I’m talking upper middle-classes who’ve had a certain lifestyle,” he says. Saving for a rainy day, the old are cutting down on socializing also to avoid expenditure. Understandably, loneliness among elderly in Delhi increases with age.

Further, in cities many oldies, says 81-year-old Carol H. Barbosa, have had to financially pitch in to help children who have suffered setbacks and job losses due to recession. “They encash FDs, send money. The financial pressure has grown. It takes a toll, it’s like a physical and mental breakdown,” says Barbosa, who lives by herself in a South Delhi apartment complex that houses several retired people.

The report, conducted via interviews in urban and rural randomly selected districts found that at nationally, 87% of those in their 70s reported loneliness. Interestingly, rural old reported lesser levels of loneliness at 78% than urban ones (90%). At 97%, the loneliest were individual elderly who lived by themselves.

Source:Times of India

Monday, March 8, 2010

Budget has same benefits for senior citizens

Mumbai: For senior citizens, the finance minister has continued to allow deduction of up to Rs20,000 against their taxable income for the premium paid. Senior citizens or retired people with an income of Rs1.60 lakh-5 lakh stand to gain as they save Rs20,600 a year, compared to the same slab last year. Those earning Rs5 lakh-Rs8 lakh stand to save around Rs41,000, and for Rs8 lakh and above they will save Rs51,500.

Dinshaw Irani, 66 years, said, “The budget benefits the middle-income group in some ways. A senior citizen will have a little more money in hand to spend, as compared to last year. We were expecting total exemption on income tax, but that is not possible as many senior citizens are rich.”

Ashok Ravat, 70, said, “Because of inflation the prices of medicine and domestic help are going up. Senior citizens earning less than Rs 5 lakh per annum have got more relief.”

Nagesh Kini, 66, said, “They are giving a premium limit of up to Rs 20,000 for mediclaim. There should not be any limit for senior citizens’ medical premium.”