Aging & Caregiving in the News

Related topics: Caregivers, Senior Life, Brain Health

Information, updates and interesting tidbits

In this issue:

  • Complicated reasons behind age-related memory changes
  • Few family caregivers planned for the role
  • Will Facebook become a time capsule?

Pensive senior woman

How's Your Working Memory?

 "I met that guy ten minutes ago and now I can't remember his name!" This classic "senior moment" is so typical of the age-related changes we experience in our "working memory," the ability of the mind to temporarily store and manage information we need for reasoning and learning.

A research team from the University of California, Riverside found that three factors are involved in the decline in working memory over time. The first factor, age itself, we can't do anything about. But the other two factors, sleep quality and depression, are treatable! The three factors work in different ways. Sleep problems and depression make it less likely that we will remember something; age negatively affects the accuracy of memories.

Said psychology professor Weiwei Zhang, "All three factors are interrelated. For example, seniors are more likely to experience negative mood than younger adults. Poor sleep quality is also often associated with depressed mood." The study suggests that treating sleep problems and depression could improve memory—regardless of our age. (The study was published here.)

Study Reveals Caregiving Siblings Aren't Sharing the Load

Families are smaller these days, so an only child often ends up providing all the care when the needs of senior parents change. And, according to an April, 2019 study from Northwestern Mutual, having siblings doesn't necessarily mean the primary caregiver will get much help! The researchers found that only 10% of families say siblings share the load equally when it comes to elder care.

Also among the findings: Many caregivers were caught by surprise when it was time to provide care for a spouse, parent or other older family member. They had never discussed the possibility with their loved one. Yet ironically, only 28% of these caregivers have made any plans for their own care! "There's a real disconnect between perceptions and realities when it comes to caregiving," says Northwestern Mutual senior vice president Dave Simbro. "With a little foresight and candid conversations, families can avoid the unnecessary stress of decision-making on the fly and can take steps, including working with a trusted professional, to feel confident in the plans they put in place." (Read more about the study here.)

Will Tomorrow’s Archaeologists Unearth Your Facebook Page?

Actors dressed as Henry VIII and one of his wives

What if they'd had Facebook in the 16th century? Henry VIII takes a selfie with his latest wife and updates his relationship status for the sixth time.

Which historical character's social media posts would you love to see? University of Oxford experts recently made an intriguing prediction: It's possible that in only a few decades, there will be more Facebook pages of people who have passed away than of living users!

"Never before in history has such a vast archive of human behavior and culture been assembled in one place. Controlling this archive will, in a sense, be to control our history," noted study author David Watson. "It is important to make sure that future generations can use our digital heritage to understand their history." Read more about the study here.

What are your wishes for your own "digital heritage"? Are you wondering how to control your online legacy? Check out this information from Facebook about how to designate a legacy contact.

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2019 IlluminAge