Lots of health tips in the newspapers just now. An antidote to over-eating and drinking in the party season no doubt, and some of them particularly applied to older people. My attention has been drawn to an interesting web page from the Harvard Medical School. It includes information about frozen shoulders (adhesive capsulitis) which causes pain, stiffness and loss of the normal range of motion – which I know a bit about -and advice on exercise and pain killers to ameliorate it.
There’s a section on New Year resolutions – make them, is the suggestion and even broken ones can teach you something. There are some paragraphs on Hearing – ‘the gateway to human communication’ -and how the loss of it can cause isolation and withdrawal; another section claims that older Americans are sexually active especially the men it seems, (which could cause problems for their partners); there is information about aspirin and the heart, the latest medical norm being questioned by some researchers.
I was especially interested in the claim that strong relationships represent a major health benefit. One of the perils of being older, sometimes at the end of a generation and with fewer opportunities for socialising and perhaps with less confidence in approaching people, is to take the easier way out, and get dangerously near to being a recluse. It’s obvious enough and hardly needs to be spelt out, but one report advises that people who have satisfying relationships have been shown to be happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer, whereas having few social ties can cause depression, cognitive decline, and premature death. One study apparently concluded that dementia risk was lowest among individuals with a variety of satisfying contacts.
Referring to the Christmas holidays and the opportunity they provide to gather with family and friends, the website says that social connections like these not only give us pleasure, they also influence our health and help relieve harmful levels of stress, which can harm the heart’s arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system.
And caring for others can trigger the release of stress-reducing hormones.
That last point is borne out by my own experience. Many of the people I have known who care for older people are themselves old, their wealth of kindness a gift to the community but also a personal gain to the carers themselves.