Aging & Caregiving in the News

Related topics: Mental and Emotional Health, End of Life Care, Heart Health

Information, updates and interesting tidbits from across the country and around the world.

In this issue:

  • Angry outbursts are bad for the heart.
  • More older Americans are completing advance directives.
  • Are you checking your email too often?

Don't Blow Your Heart Health By Blowing Your Top!

Few of us enjoy being around a hothead—a person who flies off the handle, yells and rants. And this behavior doesn't do the offender much good, either! A recent study from Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that for two hours after an angry outburst, there is a fivefold increase in the risk for heart attack. Angry outbursts also increase the risk for brain aneurysm and stroke. Said the study's lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky, M.P.H., Sc.D., "The hope is this might help patients think about how they manage anger in their everyday lives and prompt physicians to discuss medications and psychosocial supports with their patients for whom anger is an issue, especially patients with known cardiovascular risk factors."

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day

This event encourages Americans to create advance directives and to talk with their loved ones about treatment they would and would not like to receive if they were faced with a serious or life-limiting illness. University of Michigan researchers reported last year that more seniors than ever have completed living wills. In 2000, only 47 percent had done so. But, according to palliative care specialist Maria Silveira, today over 72 percent of older adults have specified in writing their preferences for surrogate decision makers and life-support treatment. One interesting fact: Despite the concerns of some that end-of-life planning would mean less healthcare for seniors, Silveira says, "We found that while there's an upward trend in creating these documents, it didn't have much bearing on hospitalization rates over the decade." Indeed, the rate of hospitalization rose slightly. Silveira explains, "These are really devices that ensure people's preferences get respected, not devices that can control whether a person chooses to be hospitalized before death."

Visit the National Healthcare Decisions Day website to learn more. And read about the University of Michigan study here.

Is Your Email Stressing You Out?

How often do you check your email? Some of us might respond, "How many minutes are there in a day?" Gone is the time when the mail came once a day, to be opened and perused at our leisure. Today we face an email overload that's fragmenting our time with frequent interruptions. Kostadin Kushlev, a Ph.D. candidate at University of British Columbia, performed an experiment  in which people were instructed to check their email only three times per day, rather than as often as they usually did (which turned out to be "as often as they could"). Kushlev found that the test subjects' stress levels decreased when they put themselves on this email diet. He noted, "Most participants in our study found it quite difficult to check their email only a few times a day. That's what makes our obvious-in-hindsight findings so striking: People find it difficult to resist the temptation of checking email, and yet resisting this temptation reduces their stress." Kushlev also urges companies to encourage employees to check their email in chunks rather than constantly responding to messages.

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2015 IlluminAge.