Seeing things from an older person’s perspective

Interesting and unexpected findings from a cardiovascular researcher at the University of Kentucky, on the seemingly unrelated subject of how people suffering from heart failure assess their quality of life….as reported by Paula Span in the NY TImes.

In this study, patients in the older groups, age 63 to 70 and over 70, reported better quality of life and significantly less depression and anxiety, even though older patients with heart failure are likely to be sicker and more impaired.

What?

The apparent reason that people who could do less still felt they had better quality of life, Ms. Moser said, is that “older people are better able to reframe their lives.”

The older people compared themselves not with their former selves, but with the peers they saw around them; they felt grateful to be alive and able to do whatever they could do. “It could be worse” was a common theme.

Researchers have long talked about the U-shaped curve in which people say they are happiest in youth and in old age. We know that older people see things more positively, and it often pays off.

So when adult children talk about elderly parents’ resistance to accepting assistance or permitting change, even in circumstances their caregivers see as crucial to their safety and well-being, we put it down to fear of dependence or denial of reality, and those factors frequently do come into play.

But the older heart failure patients weren’t in denial. They acknowledged their physical and social limitations; they just didn’t seem as bothered by them.

Maybe she’s not fearful of admitting decline, as we sometimes think, or unable to see the risk she is taking. Maybe she just thinks about it differently.

The child compares her mother with her younger, stronger and more capable self and wants to take action because at some point the older woman’s kind of thinking can become dangerous. And perhaps the mother compares herself with more debilitated peers and tells herself it could be worse — which is also true.

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Book Club from the comfort of your own home

Independent Age is promoting a fantastic idea called ‘Live Wires’. Live Wires gives you the chance to discuss books, films and more over the telephone in the comfort of your own home. Every four to six weeks a group of about six people meet up over the phone at an arranged time – they call you so there is no cost involved.

If you join a book group a reading list will be sent out to you. The group will choose a book which they would like to read and discuss in their next call.

The reading list includes:

  • A Spectacle of Dust: An Autobiography by Pete Postlethwaite
  • Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer
  • The White Queen by Phillippa Gregory

“This has been a great joy to me and I thank you for having started this book club.”

If books are not your thing you can join one of their discussion groups. The groups discuss all sorts from the royal family to recent day trips, hobbies, cooking or even what’s been on TV.

Go to http://www.independentage.org/befriending/join-a-telephone-book-or-discussion-group/ for more details