Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Using money to buy time linked to increased happiness

happiness

New research is challenging the age-old adage that money can't buy happiness.
The study, led by researchers at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School, suggests that using money to buy free time— such as paying to delegate household chores like cleaning and cooking— is linked to greater life satisfaction.

26 july 2017--"People who hire a housecleaner or pay the kid next door to mow the lawn might feel like they're being lazy," said study lead author Ashley Whillans, assistant professor at Harvard Business School who carried out the research as a PhD candidate in the UBC department of psychology. "But our results suggest that buying time has similar benefits for happiness as having more money."
The researchers surveyed more than 6,000 adults in the United States, Denmark, Canada and the Netherlands. Respondents were asked if and how much they spent each month to buy themselves free time. They also rated their life satisfaction, and answered questions about feelings of time stress.
Respondents who spent money on time saving purchases reported greater life satisfaction. The effect held up even after controlling for income.
"The benefits of buying time aren't just for wealthy people," said UBC psychology professor and the study's senior author Elizabeth Dunn. "We thought the effects might only hold up for people with quite a bit of disposable income, but to our surprise, we found the same effects across the income spectrum."
To test whether buying time actually causes greater happiness, the researchers also conducted a field experiment. Sixty adults were randomly assigned to spend $40 on a time saving purchase on one weekend, and $40 on a material purchase on another weekend. The results revealed that people felt happier when they spent money on a time saving purchase than on a material purchase.
Despite the benefits, the researchers were surprised to discover how few people choose to spend their money on time saving purchases in daily life. Even in a sample of 850 millionaires who were surveyed, almost half reported spending no money outsourcing disliked tasks. A survey of 98 working adults asking how they would spend a windfall of $40 also revealed that only two per cent would use it in a way that saved them time.
"Although buying time can serve as a buffer against the time pressures of daily life, few people are doing it even when they can afford it," said Dunn. "Lots of research has shown that people benefit from buying their way into pleasant experiences, but our research suggests people should also consider buying their way out of unpleasant experiences."
The study was published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information: Ashley V. Whillans el al., "Buying time promotes happiness," PNAS (2017). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1706541114


Provided by University of British Columbia

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Study finds day-to-day experiences affect awareness of aging, mood

Study finds day-to-day experiences affect awareness of aging, mood

A study of older adults finds an individual's awareness of aging is not as static as previously thought, and that day-to-day experiences and one's attitude toward aging can affect an individual's awareness of age-related change (AARC) - and how that awareness affects one's mood.

25 july 2017--"People tend to have an overall attitude toward aging, good or bad, but we wanted to know whether their awareness of their own aging - or AARC - fluctuated over time in response to their everyday experiences," says Shevaun Neupert, an associate professor of psychology at North Carolina State University and lead author of a paper on the study.
For the study, researchers enrolled 116 participants between the ages of 60 and 90. Each participant took a survey to establish baseline attitudes toward aging. For the following eight days, participants kept a log of daily stressors (such as having an argument), completed a daily evaluation of age-related experiences (such as "I am becoming wiser" or "I am more slow in my thinking"), and reported on their affect, or mood.
"We found that people's AARC, as reflected in their daily evaluations, varied significantly from day to day," says Jennifer Bellingtier, a recent Ph.D. graduate from NC State and co-author of the paper. "We also found that people whose baseline attitudes toward aging were positive also tended to report more positive affect, or better moods."
"People with positive attitudes toward aging were also less likely to report 'losses,' or negative experiences, in their daily aging evaluations," Neupert says.
"However, when people with positive attitudes did report losses, it had a much more significant impact on their affect that day," Neupert says. "In other words, negative aging experiences had a bigger adverse impact on mood for people who normally had a positive attitude about aging."
The study expands on previous work that found having a positive attitude about aging makes older adults more resilient when faced with stressful situations.
The paper, "Aging Attitudes and Daily Awareness of Age-Related Change Interact to Predict Negative Affect," is published in the journal The Gerontologist.

More information: Shevaun D. Neupert et al, Aging Attitudes and Daily Awareness of Age-Related Change Interact to Predict Negative Affect, The Gerontologist (2017). DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnx055


Provided by North Carolina State University

Monday, July 24, 2017

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

old people
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.
24 july 2017--Now, research from the University of Michigan School of Public Health shows that people of fairly normal weight who never smoked and drank only in moderation have a life expectancy at age 50 that is seven years longer than the average American. They also are able to delay disability up to six years.

Current life expectancy in the United States is about 78 years for men and 82 years for women but for the low-risk group the ages are 85 and 89, respectively.
"It's important to convince people to improve these behaviors in order, not only to live a longer life, but live a long life free of disability," said Neil Mehta, assistant professor of health management and policy at the U-M School of Public Health. "However, from a societal perspective, caring for individuals with disability is very costly and our study shows that risky behaviors are significantly increasing the burden of early disability."
While previous research has focused on life expectancy impacts from the individual behaviors, the study, released today by Health Affairs, is believed to be the first to show the effect of all three factors combined.
Of course, Mehta said, people who have avoided these unhealthy behaviors are not the norm.
"Eighty percent of Americans in their 50s either have smoked or been obese. That's huge," he said. "Our study speaks to the importance of prevention at whatever level that can occur in community health or in public policy."
The study used data from U-M's Health and Retirement Study of Americans age 50 and older that began in 1992. The research sample in 1998 included nearly 15,000 respondents ages 50–74.
The researchers defined the low-risk category as those who never smoked, drank moderately (at the top end, fewer than 14 drinks per week for men and fewer than 7 drinks per week for women) and had a body mass index that was less than the classification for obese (30+)—in other words, those who would be considered normal and overweight (18.5-29.9 BMI).
Although the study did not set out to look at what happens when people change one or more of the behaviors, the team found that non-obese people who had quit smoking for 10 years prior to the study and who drank moderately had overall and disability-free life expectancies that were only one year shorter than non-obese people who had never smoked and were moderate drinkers.
"There is some evidence that you can still do a lot to improve your health, even if you have these risk factors at some point. We've done a great job with smoking cessation but it's not clear where we're going with obesity," Mehta said, adding that current budget proposals in Washington put federal funds targeted at reducing obesity and other prevention measures in jeopardy.

More information: Neil Mehta et al. The Population Health Benefits Of A Healthy Lifestyle: Life Expectancy Increased And Onset Of Disability Delayed, Health Affairs (2017). DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.1569


Provided by University of Michigan

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Self-perceptions of aging

Self-perceptions of aging

In the 1960s, the Beatles sang about wondering whether their true love would still love them as they grew older—after they've lost their hair and are no more adventurous than wanting to knit a sweater.
A group of four studies led by University of Michigan researchers has found that however the hero of the Beatles song turns out, his health—and his wife's health—may be dictated by their perceptions of their own aging.

23 july 2017--"Beliefs about one's own aging are shared within couples, and these beliefs are predictive of future health above and beyond individual beliefs," said Shannon Mejia, a postdoctoral fellow at U-M's Institute for Social Research. "Husbands' and wives' individual experiences of physical activity and disease burden are important for their current shared beliefs and future functional health."
That is, couples who tend to view their aging negatively tend to become less healthy and less mobile than couples who view their aging positively. In addition, husbands' disease burden shape their attitudes toward both their own aging and their wives' aging. Mejia and colleagues surmise that the husbands' limitations stemming from disease negatively affect the wives' health because of the increased burden of caregiving.
Jennifer Sun, an M.D./Ph.D. candidate at the U-M Medical School who conducted the research as a psychology doctoral candidate, found that a person's self-perception of aging affects whether he or she accesses health care in a timely fashion. She found that the more negatively a person viewed his or her aging, the more likely he or she was to delay seeking health care and the more barriers he or she saw for seeking care.
This association between negative self-perceptions of aging and health care delay persisted even after Sun controlled for problems that can delay health care, such as low socioeconomic status, lack of health insurance and multiple chronic health conditions.
"While many studies have focused on financial and structural barriers to care, it is also important to consider how psychosocial, emotional and cognitive factors are affecting the decisions of older adults to delay medical care," Sun said.
A third study authored by U-M doctoral candidate Hannah Giasson found that people who experience age discrimination feel less positive about their own aging.
A fourth study found that as people aged, their explicit bias toward older people—or how they would talk out loud about how they felt toward fellow older adults—improved as they aged. But their implicit bias—how they felt internally about fellow older adults—became more negative as they aged. Giasson and William Chopik, a Michigan State University researcher, led this study.
The papers are published today in a special supplement to the August issue of The Gerontologist.
"We're interested in the way people interpret their own lives," said Jacqui Smith, the principal investigator of a project on well-being in midlife and old age and second author on some of the published papers.
"We know that the images in the world and age stereotypes play a role in how people perceive their own aging. But subtle experiences of discrimination in interactions with strangers and sometimes with your own kids or partner—that is feedback that people take to heart and either rebel against it or begin to believe it."
The AARP supported the publishing of the supplement ahead of the annual meeting of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics.
"Wherever these negative perceptions come from, the damage can be profound—for individuals, communities and larger populations," said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. "We need to change the conversation about age and aging in this country. It's not about being 'polite.' It's a necessity."


Provided by University of Michigan

Thursday, July 20, 2017

AARP, GSA focus on effects of negative attitudes on aging

The ways in which negative attitudes about aging can affect people's health and quality of life are the focus of 12 peer-reviewed research papers in a new AARP-sponsored supplement issue of The Gerontologist—the respected research and analysis journal published by The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) since 1961.

20 july 2017--"Attitudes and stereotypes about aging haven't changed or have gotten worse. And many ideas about aging and solutions available to us as we age, as portrayed in the media or even in conversations among families and friends, are negative and out of date," said AARP Director of Thought Leadership-Health Erwin Tan, MD.
While the papers examine a diverse range of aging-related subjects and research considerations, a common theme is the prevalence of negative associations about aging and their impact, ranging from memory performance to use of health care. The research explores cultural, geographic, community, and family influences that may play a role in shaping an individual's attitude on aging.
"Wherever these negative perceptions come from, the damage can be profound—for individuals, communities, and larger populations," said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, whose book "Disrupt Aging" examines how aging is represented in society. "We need to change the conversation about age and aging in this country. This is not about being 'polite,' it's a necessity. "
In addition to elevating a collection of timely and insightful research, the August supplement to the The Gerontologist has a broader goal, according to Jenkins.
"We seek to enlist the aid of gerontologists in helping to change the conversation about what it means to grow older," Jenkins said. "Additionally, we want to remind gerontologists of the critical role they play, not just in academia, but in people's real lives. We are all aging, every day so there is no more mainstream topic than aging."


Provided by The Gerontological Society of America

Monday, July 17, 2017

Elderly yoginis have greater cortical thickness

Elderly yoginis have greater cortical thickness
Yoga practitioners showed greater cortical thickness in a cluster in the left prefrontal cortex.
17 july 2017--Scientists in Brazil have imaged elderly female yoga practitioners' brains and found they have greater cortical thickness in the left prefrontal cortex, in brain areas associated with cognitive functions like attention and memory. The results suggest that yoga could be a way to protect against cognitive decline in old age.

As we age, the structure and functionality of our brains change and this often leads to cognitive decline, including impaired attention or memory. One such change in the brain involves the cerebral cortex becoming thinner, which scientists have shown is correlated with cognitive decline. So, how can we slow or reverse these changes?
You might think medication would be required, but surprisingly, the answer could lie in contemplative practices like yoga. Yoga practitioners consciously maintain postures, and perform breathing exercises and meditation.
"In the same way as muscles, the brain develops through training," explains Elisa Kozasa of Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in São Paulo, Brazil, a researcher involved in the study, which was recently published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. "Like any contemplative practice, yoga has a cognitive component in which attention and concentration are important."
Previous studies have suggested that yoga can have greater health benefits than similar aerobic exercises, and yoga practitioners have shown improved awareness, attention and memory. Older adults with mild cognitive impairment have also shown improvements after a short yoga training program.
yoga
Credit: CC0 Public Domain
But can practicing yoga over several years significantly shape your brain and if so, could it offset some of the changes that happen in the aging brain? The research team wanted to see if elderly long-term yoga practitioners had any differences in terms of brain structure compared with healthy elderly people who had never practiced yoga.
They recruited 21 female yoga practitioners (also known as yoginis) who had practiced yoga at least twice a week for a minimum of 8 years, although the group had an average of nearly 15 years of yoga practice. The researchers compared the yoginis with another group of 21 healthy women, who had never practiced yoga, meditation or any other contemplative practices, but who were well-matched to the yoginis in terms of their age (all the participants were 60 or over) and levels of physical activity. For more consistent results, the researchers only recruited women, and the participants completed surveys to see if there were any other factors at work that could affect brain structure, such as depression or level of formal education.
The researchers scanned the participants' brains using magnetic resonance imaging to see if there were any differences in brain structure. "We found greater thickness in the left prefrontal cortex in the yoginis, in brain regions associated with cognitive functions such as attention and memory," says Rui Afonso, another researcher involved in the study. As the groups were well-matched in terms of other factors that can change brain structure, such as education and levels of depression, yoga practice appears to underlie the yoginis' different brain structure.
The results suggest that practicing yoga in the long-term can change the structure of your brain and could protect against cognitive decline in old age. However, the team plan to carry out more studies to see if these brain changes result in enhanced cognitive performance in elderly yoginis.
Another possibility is that people with these brain features are more likely to be attracted to yoga. "We have compared experienced yoginis with non-practitioners, so we do not know if the yoginis already had these differences before they started yoga," explains Afonso. "This can only be confirmed by studying people for a few years from the time they start yoga."

More information: Rui F. Afonso et al, Greater Cortical Thickness in Elderly Female Yoga Practitioners—A Cross-Sectional Study, Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (2017). DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2017.00201


Provided by Frontiers

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Surgery for early prostate cancer may not save lives

Surgery for early prostate cancer may not save lives
Gerald L. Andriole, M.D., (right) director of Washington University's Division of Urologic Surgery, performs surgery on a patient with prostate cancer. New research provides further evidence that surgery is unnecessary for early-stage prostate cancer, although some men whose disease is further along may benefit.
15 july 2017--A major 20-year study provides further evidence that prostate cancer surgery offers negligible benefits to many men with early-stage disease. In such men, who account for most cases of newly diagnosed prostate cancer, surgery did not prolong life and often caused serious complications such as infection, urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
The study, by a national research team including Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, was led by the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Health Care System. It is published July 13 in The New England Journal of Medicine.
In men with early prostate cancer, the study compared surgery with observation. With the latter, men only were treated if they developed bothersome symptoms, such as urinary difficulty or bone pain. Such symptoms may indicate progression of the cancer. Many men in the observation group received no treatment at all because early-stage prostate cancer often grows slowly and rarely causes symptoms.
"The findings will go a long way in helping to improve prostate cancer care," said co-author Gerald L. Andriole, MD, director of Washington University's Division of Urologic Surgery. "About 70 percent of patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer cases are in the early stages, meaning the cancer is confined to the prostate gland, and they have nonaggressive tumors. As such, these patients have an excellent prognosis without surgery. This study confirms that aggressive treatment usually is not necessary. We hope the findings will steer doctors away from recommending surgery or radiation to their patients with nonaggressive early-stage prostate cancer and patients away from thinking it's necessary."
The American Cancer Society ranks prostate cancer as the second most common cancer in men and the third-leading cause of cancer deaths among men, after lung and colorectal cancer. In 2017, about 161,360 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 26,730 will die from it.
The study, known as the Prostate Cancer Intervention Versus Observation Trial, or PIVOT, is one of the largest and longest involving cancer patients. It got underway in 1994 just as the prostate-specific antigen blood test for prostate cancer became routine. With many more men diagnosed with prostate cancer, the standard treatment for all prostate cancers became surgery or radiation, with the thinking that removing or irradiating the tumor would increase survival. But over the next decade, reports of treatment-related complications raised concerns, as did data indicating that most early-stage cancers grew so slowly they were unlikely to cause health problems.
To evaluate any potential benefits of surgery, the researchers randomly assigned 731 men in the U.S. with localized prostate cancer to receive either surgery or observation at one of 44 Department of Veteran Affairs Health Care Centers or eight academic medical centers, including Washington University. The average age of men in the study was 67 at the time of enrollment.
Of the men who had prostate cancer surgery, 223 (61 percent) died of other causes after up to 20 years of follow-up, compared with 245 men (66 percent) in the observation group - a difference that is not statistically different. Further, 27 (7 percent) men in the surgery group died of prostate cancer, compared with 42 men (11 percent) in the observation group, but that difference also is not statistically significant.
However, the data show that surgery may have a mortality benefit in some men, particularly those with a long life expectancy and intermediate-risk prostate cancer. (Such men generally have PSA scores of 10-20 ng/ml and a Gleason score of seven. The latter score signifies tumor aggressiveness.)
"It would be a disservice to dismiss surgery as a viable option for patients with intermediate-risk prostate cancer," said Andriole, the School of Medicine's Robert K. Royce Distinguished Professor of Urologic Surgery. He treats patients at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University. "For these patients, and for some men with high-risk prostate cancer, surgery is often beneficial, as are other other treatments such as radiation."
Technology has advanced since the study began, allowing physicians to more accurately classify tumors and avoid overtreating patients who have prostate cancer.
Of the 364 men treated with surgery, 53 (15 percent) suffered from erectile dysfunction, and 63 (17 percent) reported having incontinence. Another 45 developed other complications.
"The benefits of surgery also need to be balanced against the negative long-term consequences of surgery that occur early and often," said senior author Timothy Wilt, MD, a physician-researcher with the Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota. "Our results demonstrate that for the majority of men with localized prostate cancer, selecting observation for their treatment choice can help them live a similar length of life, avoid death from prostate cancer and prevent harms from surgical treatment. Physicians can use information from our study to confidently recommend observation as the preferred treatment option for men with early prostate cancer."

More information: New England Journal of Medicine (2017). DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1615869


Provided by Washington University in St. Louis

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Cognitive function up with adherence to mediterranean diet

Cognitive function up with adherence to mediterranean diet
12 july 2017--For older adults, greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) and the Mediterranean-DASH diet Intervention for Neurodegeneration Delay (MIND) is associated with improved cognitive function, according to a study published online recently in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Claire T. McEvoy, Ph.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study involving 5,907 community-dwelling older adults to examine adherence to dietary patterns. Diet scores were generated for the MedDiet and the MIND diet using food frequency questionnaires. A composite test score of global cognitive function was used to measure cognitive performance.
The researchers found that in fully adjusted models, participants with mid and high MedDiet scores were less likely to have poor cognitive performance than those with low scores (odds ratios, 0.85 [95 percent confidence interval, 0.71 to 1.02; P = 0.08] and 0.65 [95 percent confidence interval, 0.52 to 0.81; P < 0.001]). Similar results were seen for the MIND diet. In each dietary pattern, higher scores were independently correlated with significantly better cognitive function (P < 0.001) in a dose-response pattern (Ptrend < 0.001).
"Clinical trials are required to elucidate the role of dietary patterns in cognitive aging," the authors write.
One author disclosed financial ties to Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

More information: Abstract
Full Text

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Shingles increases risk of heart attack, stroke

Contracting shingles, a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, increases a person's risk of stroke and heart attack, according to a research letter published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

09 july 2017--According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime. Anyone who has suffered from chickenpox may develop shingles; however, the risk of shingles increases as a person gets older.
Researchers in South Korea used the National Health Insurance Service's "medical check-up" database to identify patients with newly diagnosed herpes zoster—or shingles, stroke and heart attack using the relevant International Classification of Disease-10 diagnostics codes.
A total of 519,880 patients were followed from 2003-2013, during this period there were 23,233 cases of shingles. The final cohort of 23,213 was matched with the same number of shingles-free patients to serve as control subjects.
Patients with shingles were more likely to be female and common risk factors for stroke and heart attack, such as old age, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, were also more commonly seen in these patients. However, this group was also less likely to smoke, have a lower alcohol intake, more exercise and be part of a higher socioeconomic class.
Shingles was found to raise the risk of a composite of cardiovascular events including heart attack and stroke by 41 percent, the risk of stroke by 35 percent and the risk of heart attack by 59 percent. The risk for stroke was highest in those under 40 years old, a relatively younger population with fewer risks for atherosclerosis. The risks of both stroke and heart attack were highest the first year after the onset of shingles and decreased with time. However, these risks were evenly distributed in the shingles-free group.
"While these findings require further study into the mechanism that causes shingles patients to have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, it is important that physicians treating these patients make them aware of their increased risk," said Sung-Han Kim, MD, PhD, a physician in the department of infectious diseases at Asan Medical Center in Seoul and one of the study authors.


Provided by American College of Cardiology

Friday, July 07, 2017

Healthy lifestyle may help older adults preserve their independence

old
In a study of men with an average age of 71 years, lifestyle factors such as never smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, and not being obese were associated with survival and high functionality over the next 16 years.

07 july 2017--The study included 1104 men who completed a questionnaire. High functionality was defined as preserved ability in personal activities of daily living and cognitive function.
Additional studies are needed to investigate whether lifestyle changes after the age of 70 years may also lead to preserved independence.
The findings are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

More information: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (2017). DOI: 10.1111/jgs.14971


Provided by Wiley