Aging and Caregiving in the News

Related topics: Health & Wellness, Caregivers, Senior Life, Legal & Financial

Information, updates and interesting tidbits about healthy aging, senior care and family caregiving from across the country and around the world. In this issue:

  • Social Security goes all-electronic in less than a year. Are you ready?
  • Could walking through a door cause you to be forgetful?
  • Seniors were predicted to enter "encore careers"—and the prediction is proving to be true.
  • Question for senior men: could spending more time with your grandchildren improve your emotional health?

The Countdown Is On: Switch Now to Electronic Federal Benefit Payments

Do you get Social Security or other federal benefit payments by paper checks? If so, you are required by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to switch to an electronic payment method. By making the switch, you will help save taxpayers $1 billion over 10 years.

The deadline is March 1, 2013. Don't wait. Switch now to one of the two electronic payment options recommended by the Treasury Department: direct deposit, or the Direct Express® Debit MasterCard®

It's fast, easy and free to make the switch. You can switch at your local federal benefit agency office, online at or by calling the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center at (800) 333-1795. For direct deposit, you can also switch at your bank or credit union.

If you do not switch by the deadline, you will receive your benefit payments via the Direct Express® card, so you will not experience any interruption in payment.

The March 1, 2013 deadline will be here before you know it. Make the switch today and cross it off your to-do list. For more information, visit or view the Go Direct instructional video.

"Why Did I Come In Here?"

"I came in here for something…what was it?" We have all experienced this common form of memory lapse. It's just the type of thing that worries seniors, who are concerned they are suffering memory loss. Now, a new study from the University of Notre Dame shows that the culprit may not be your mind. We can blame doors themselves for this type of lapse!

Says psychology professor Gabriel Radvansky, "Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an 'event boundary' in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away." He explains, "Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized."

Radvansky's intriguing research was recently published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. The study consisted of three experiments in which research subjects performed memory tasks while either crossing a room or while exiting a doorway. In all three experiments, the research subjects—college students, by the way, not seniors—were much more likely to be able to retrieve thoughts and retain memories when they did not go through a door.

The study authors explain that "the act of passing through a doorway serves as a way the mind files away memories." This study is an interesting look at the sometimes mysterious workings of human memory—and perhaps comforting for those who often experience doorway memory lapses. But if memory loss is troublesome or lapses frequent, speak to your healthcare provider so the problem can be investigated.

Millions of Older Americans Now in Encore Careers

New research from Civic Ventures, a think tank on boomers, work and social purpose, shows that as many as 9 million people ages 44 to 70 are already in encore careers that combine personal meaning, continued income and social impact. That's up from an estimated 8.4 million in 2008.

Another 31 million people ages 44 to 70 are interested in finding encore careers. Together, those currently in encore careers and those interested in encore careers represent 40 percent—or two in five—of all Americans ages 44 to 70.

The survey provides new evidence that what many people want from work changes after midlife," said Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Civic Ventures and author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife. "In the new, encore stage of life between midlife and true old age, many want work that has deeper personal meaning and that connects them to something larger than themselves."

"We are beginning to see the years beyond midlife—the encore stage of life—as a time for new, purposeful work that would improve the quality of life for people of all ages and in communities across the country," said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation.

Freedman added, "The tens of millions who are interested in encore careers want some level of financial security and the opportunity to work for the greater good. As a society, we need to do more to help them achieve both goals. When we do, we will tap into a huge new source of talent to help solve our greatest social problems." 

Source: Civic Ventures (

Involved Grandfathers Experience Less Depression

Grandfathers who are more involved with their grandchildren have fewer symptoms of depression than grandfathers who are less involved, according to the new study "Grandfather Involvement and Aging Men's Mental Health," published in the American Journal of Men's Health.  

Researchers Alan C. Taylor of East Carolina University and James S. Bates of South Dakota State University co-authored the study, which found that grandfather-grandchild relationships influence aging men's mental health. "There is evidence that the quality of family relationships has preclusive effects on depressive symptoms and beneficial impacts on positive affect (feelings of happiness and joy)," said Taylor and Bates.  

"There have been very few studies investigating the mental health of aging men," said Alan Taylor, "and this study contributes important insights into how relationships between grandfathers and grandchildren are valuable to men's mental health."

Taylor and Bates said the findings suggest the men who have limited interaction with their grandchildren have the highest risk for developing depressive symptoms. The research also indicates that grandfathers experiencing depressive symptoms are less likely to initiate social interaction and may thus further isolate themselves from grandchildren and other family members.

Source: College of Human Ecology, East Carolina University