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Monday, July 30, 2012

Meditation and Memory

Kirtan Kriya[i] 
Meditating to Help our Brains Remember

         For several years I have been developing my practice of meditation.  My primary thoughts about the process have been that it provides increased oxygen flow thorough out the brain and paying attention to the “here and now.”
         I am VERY interested in the following information that I discovered recently. The meditation process used in the research process is called Kirtan Kirya.  It asks us to focus on sounds and finger movements and that’s all. The study had the participants do this for eight weeks
Here is the process.
         First there is a repetition of four sounds – SA, TA, NA, MA. While doing this we are supposed to sequentially touch our thumb to our index finger, middle finger, fourth finger, and fifth finger.  “This is performed out loud for 2 minutes, in a whisper for 2 minutes, in silence for 4 minutes, followed by a whisper for 2 minutes and finally out loud for 2 minutes. The total time is for is for 12 minutes. 
         “Since this is a simple quick practice, it has the potential to be a very practical and low cost measure to help improve memory.” They were asked to do this for eight weeks.  The results were compared to a group of persons who listened to music for the same amount of time.

Some of the Results:
         Along with significant brain structure changes “ The subjects in general found the meditation practice enjoyable and beneficial.  They…”were able to perform the practice a mean of 75% of the days that they were in the study. Most subjects reported that they subjectively perceived that their cognitive function was improved after the 8-week problem.
         Finally the researchers tell us that “Even if techniques such as meditation prove to have only a small value, their low cost and ease of use may make them a beneficial adjunct to the pharmacological arsenal currently being explored.  Studies with larger population size would be able to advance the findings of this study.
         Sunday and Monday morning I have gone on my morning hour-long walk and I practiced this new meditation. I really enjoyed it.  One of the things that happens is I sometimes finding myself mixing the sounds up but staying focused is a big part of the job.


[i] Newberg, A. B. et al (2010). Meditations Effects of Cognitive Function and             Cerebral Blood Flow In Subjects with Memory Loss: A Preliminary Study.             Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease pp 517-526.  Contact Andrew Newburg e-            mail

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Death Among the Elderly[i]

         Some of the information in this blog post is cited in one of the articles listed below; divided into several sections including: Talking about death, Death Fears, Age, Sex, Ethnicity, Health, Living, and Religiosity.
         Another thing related to this post is that during the 1980’s I watched TV series entitled The Highlander. The theme song was “Who Wants to Live Forever” sung by a group named Queen.  For a long time I  thought it would be great to live forever. But things happening these days make me wonder if I would like to stay alive no matter what the conditions. In addition I would be forced to grieve the passing of family and friends         
         I will be 73 year’s old this coming October. My father died in his 73rd year. (my mom is still alive; is 96 years old and lives with my sister.)  Another factor influencing my thinking is that my brother Reynolds died last month. He lived in Utah so most of our connection was on the Internet. It was a good relationship. His death has had a strong effect on me; including making sure that my Will is updated.
           Over the last several years, independent of Ren’s passing, my thoughts about death and dying have increased significantly. This is unlike the findings of a research article in which “death is not correlated with death fears.” The researchers commented” That the aged are a highly heterogeneous group… and have considerable variation in death fears.”
         The hospice movement may have a positive influence on hospital care for dying persons…Such progress is important particularly for old dying patients since they experience the painful effects of age discrimination even in their dying days
         “It is virtually impossible for old persons to avoid the question of their personal death.  There are simply to many reminders of our eventual fate as we grow old.’
         What about those who believe in life after death?  “Comparison of religious beliefs and death fears among older people has produced conflicting results.  Some findings indicate that religious old persons are less fearful than nonreligious persons. Other studies report that only those with the most fundamental convictions and habits show less death fear; other findings discovered no relationship whatsoever between fear of death and religious belief and activities.” I was raised in a Christian community and I suppose that in a simple way: fear of Hell for the rest of eternity would make a lot of people fearful of death.

         During the past 6 months I have been thinking about my own death. Part of that is because as a substitute instructor I spent 3 hours one evening teaching a session focused on the topic of death and dying.  We talked specifically about the stages of “death and dying” postulated by Kubler-Ross.  One of the positive consequences of all this is that both my wife and I are making sure that our Wills are satisfactory.
          I also have come across a journal article entitled “The Construction and Validation of a Death Anxiety Scale.[ii] The scale is listed below. Along with the research mentioned above the survey may be able help you examine your own attitudes toward your death.

Death Anxiety Scale

1.   I get depressed when I think about death
2.   Hearing the word death makes me sad
3.   Passing by cemeteries makes me sad
4.   Death means terrible loneliness
5.   I become terribly sad when I think about friends or relatives who have died
6.   I am terribly upset by the shortness of life
7.   I cannot accept the finality of death
8.   Death deprives life of it’s meaning
9.   I worry about dying alone
10.    When I die I will completely loose my friends and loved ones.
11.    Death does not rob life of it’s meaning
12.    Death is not something to be depressed about
13.    When I think of death I feel tired and lifeless
14.    Death is painful
15.    I dread to think of deaths of friends and loved ones
16.    Death is the ultimate failure in life
17.    I fell sad when I dream of deat

[i]  Wass, H. & Myers, J. (Nov 1982)  Psychological Aspects of Death among the             Elderly: A Review of the Literature. The Personal and Guidance Journal.
[ii] Templer, D. J. (1970). The Construction and Validation of A Death Anxiety             Scale. The             Journal of General Psychology ,82, 165-177. (For more             information go to   

Monday, July 23, 2012

Older Job Applicants Shunned[i]

         “Ottawa  - Nearly three-quarters of Canadians believe workplaces are shunning older job applicants based solely on their age, a worrisome finding given labour force trends in Canada.
         In a survey, conducted by Ipsos Reid exclusively for Postmedia News, 74 percent of those asked either “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed that employers discriminate against older people looking for jobs.  The perception is higher among Canadians over the age of 35, but even a majority of those aged 18 to 34 think older workers are subject to ageist attitudes.
         Fully one third of pole respondents said they themselves have been victim of age discrimination, either in the workplace or being interviewed for a job. But here the most aggrieved group was younger workers. Forty-one percent of people between the ages 18 and 34 said they have been victims of prejudice because of their tender years, while just 38 percent of the over 55 group felt that way.
         The apparent contradiction could have several explanations said Sean Simpson, vice-president of Ipsos Reid.
         For one thing, younger people participate in more interviews as they enter the workforce and therefore are more likely to have been turned down for a job, perhaps perceiving that there age played a role.
         As well Simpson suggested that older workers are more likely to be doing the hiring. Generally the groups tend to favour hiring those in their own age bracket.
         Respondents to the poll also were asked, in a hypothetical scenario, who they would be most likely to hire: someone 18 to 24; 25 to 34; 35 to 44; 45 to 54; 55 to 64; or 65 and older.  The question stated that the hypothetical applicants were without any specific experience in the job but all had the same level of general qualifications.
         Respondents were most likely to pick someone between the ages of 25 and 34 (37 percent) and between 35 and 44 (25 percent). People in their late and early 50s were the next most preferred (19 percent)
         Only nine percent said they would hire someone aged 18 to 24 or aged 55 to 64.  And only three percent sad they would hire someone over the age of 34.
         The overall trend favouring youth over age worries some experts, because the most recent population data suggests Canada faces a major labour force shortage in the years ahead. One solution to this is hiring, and retraining older workers – but his means potential employers may have shed their antipathy toward hiring seniors.
         Pollsters asked a second variant of the “hiring” question, this time specifying that as a hypothetical worker in question got older, he or she also had experience.  Even so, there was little difference in poll responses from the first answer.  People still preferred relatively younger workers, this time favouring the age groups 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 (31 percent preferred each of these two groups.)
         ‘ It looks like some experience is great, but it really doesn’t matter if you’ had ten years or 30 years experience – once you’ve got a good amount, you don’t need tonnes of it’ to be among the favoured group for hiring’ said Simpson.        
         The online poll was conducted between July 10th and 13th and surveyed 1,005 people.  The data was weighted against census information to ensure a balanced picture of demographics.  An unweighted poll of this size has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20”

[i]  Robert Hiltz, Monday July 23rd (2012) Breaking News Vancouver For             Post Media News

Monday, July 16, 2012

Step 4. Learn more about ageism and discrimination.

It is very common for older adults to face discrimination in housing, health, and other key services. They may be treated as burdens on services, excluded from or simply refused admission to services.  Learn to recognize when "neutral policies" are not "neutral" in their effect on seniors. Also recognize how ageism intersects with other "isms" such as sexism or racism.

As most of you know there are many posts on this blog the discuss ageism. I suggest that you go through each one and make notes.  Most of the posts have references and it is important to investigate them.

Todd Nelson has put together a book entitled Ageism[i]: Stereotyping and Prejudice Against Older Persons.  In the Preface of the book he has a section entitled Origins of Ageism.  The following material was gathered from there. “ Citing other authors he tells us that “ people have multiple, often contradictory views of older persons.  For instance “…today’s elders are seen as incompetent (low status) but warm (passive).   It has also been suggested, “…age prejudice arises out of a fear of our own mortality. 

In another chapter in the book some authors are cited as saying that “…children learn age prejudice at a very early age.”

[i]  Todd D. Nelson edits book. Published in 2002 Ageism: Stereotyping and Prejudice Against Older adults. Published by A Bradford Book, The MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, London, England  ISBN 0-262-14077-2 (hc. : alk. Paper)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Personality and Retirement

Some Personality Factors and Retirement

         I was recently exploring the Internet looking for material related to retirement and personality. This is particularly interesting to me because during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s I worked as a registered industrial clinical psychologist helping both individuals and companies find the right person for work. Now I am retired and very interested helping others achieve satisfactory retirement.
           A key framework that I used while working for the company and then in private practice is the model developed by Alfred Adler.  Adler’s idea for personality explores the relationship between feelings and attitudes about personal superiority and social interest as key factors of our personalities. He defined his theory as Individual Psychology. I will now cite some of the material from a posting, which incidentally refers “individual psychology’s” influence on retirement. Within the book Social Interest[i][ii] Adler states “In trying to decide which single term social interest is the process by which each individual strives to behave or act in a mentally healthy way. Indeed social interest equates well with mental health…”
         “Retirement is about dreams and fears and changes, not just money and schedules. One’s personality therefore is central to preparing for retirement.  And while it is hard to find processes that put it there, and impossible to find ones that do it in a way that fully integrates with all the financial and non-financial facts and decisions to be made, there is hope for the future and there are positive steps we can take right now.” The authors go on to say:
         “Notice[iii]: We do not sell books, or have any financial stake in recommending them. The subtitle of this book is “The Personality-Based Guide to Your Best Retirement,” which is a very apt description. We find this to be a unique and important book – but it is also easy to read and understand, and can even be fun. The authors begin by discussing retirement in general, and help the reader determine whether s/he is ready for retirement.  Although their approach to this question is not detailed and sufficient from a financial point of view, it is well rounded and encourages consideration of what are widely considered to be the main social issues. Then the book settles into its main tasks: helping readers determine, understand, and cope with their “retirement style.”  By this the authors mean a general approach to life and making decisions, which in turn means a broad personality profile.  They break it down along seven scales:

·               Social style:          outgoing vs. contemplative
·               Stress style:          responsive vs. resilient
·               Activity style:         independent vs. inter-dependent
·               Information style:  practical vs. visionary
·               Outlook style:        optimistic vs. cautious
·               Decision style:       analytic vs. empathetic
·               Planning style:       structured vs. flexible

         Adler approached work and retirement in a somewhat different manner. He identified and developed the basic ideas expressed in this blog entry[iv].  I used his approach to the understanding of personality during the years I worked as an Industrial Clinical Psychologist. I still think of myself as an Individual Psychologist, which is what he called himself and those who used his model.
         During our lives we strive to achieve things, most of which are connected to our social relationships. In addition during the years of our employment a central focus is to do the very best job we can to seek perfection. In addition we generally live and work within various forms of community relationships.
.  All of my life I have sought to do my very best. I have also worked to help others.  I believe that I have had these goals since my younger brother Rodger was born and I started “helping” my mother. At first I did my best to please her. After a while I did my best because it felt good.
         Now approaching my second year of retirement I must respond to new challenges and adapt to the world as it changes. I expect that these adjustments will continue until the end of my life.  But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. I am a volunteer for several organizations; the local senior’s centre and TALK; Third Age Learning at Kwantlen and I canvas for the Canadian Cancer Society
           Also one of my key activities has the creation of this blog. All of the over 230 posts on my blogspot are dedicated to my goal of doing my very best to help others who have either retired or are planning to retire. I have had just fewer than 9500 visits and I intend to continue posting.
         The questions I have asked myself are below. Ask yourself and let me know it they are helpful:
       1. What goals would you like to achieve during your                                        retirement?
       2. What accomplishments are you most proud of during                            your work life?
       3. What social relationships are most important to you?

[i] Featured Website

[ii] Adler A. Social Interest: Adler’s key to the Meaning of Life
            ISBN 978-1-85168-669-8
[iii] My Next Phase, by Eric Sundstrom, Ph.d., Randy Burnham,
            Ph.D., and Michael Burnham $24.99 (Springboard Press, 2007)

[iv] Adler,A. (1979).Superiority and Social Interest. George C. McCloud Limited,                Toronto    ISBN  978-0-392-00910-1

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Aging Ageism Relationships

Aging vs. Ageism[i]

Coming Out Old: Issues of Ageism and Privilege.
Resource Author: Dr. Dorothy Jean Furnish
All of the information below is from Dr. Fumish’s site
“Aging is an experience shared by every living creature from the moment of birth. If we are children, we are said to be "growing up." If we are youth, we are "maturing." But if we are adults, we are "getting old." So we begin the ritual of our culture: we spend time, money, and psychic energy trying to "stay young." In the process, we deny our identity. We say we are aging, or we are not as young as we used to be, or we are getting older. We are reluctant to say, "I am old."
“Children "grow up" eagerly looking forward to adult privileges. Young people "mature" with the anticipation of sharing adult power. As adults, however, we resist "coming out old" even to ourselves because it often signals the end of both privilege and power, as well as the reluctant recognition of our own mortality.”
“Ageism—and its personal impact—is a reality shared by almost every old person, although many of us are socialized not to recognize it. It has been defined as "the systematic discrimination and oppression of people solely because they are old."1 Illustrations can be found on a continuum all the way from "irritating" to "life demeaning."
“An old man leaves his umbrella in the car and is called a "forgetful old man." An old woman does not recognize the need for changes in societal structures and is called "out of date." An old man takes his umbrella with him in case of rain and is called a "fussy old man." An old woman speaks out against the status quo and is called "disruptive and feisty." Old men and women are voted out of public office solely on the basis of their age. Same sex partners, one old and one younger, are dining out. At the end of the meal the table server pointedly gives the check to the younger of the two. At the grocery store, obviously able-bodied, white-haired customers are asked if they need assistance with their groceries. Able old people lose their jobs in order to make way for the young.”
“Ageism is alive and well when all of one's being is defined by a single characteristic—the number of years one has lived. Ageism is based on a deeply ingrained, negative stereotype of what old people are really like. It is used to rationalize discrimination and to confuse our discussions about rights and privilege.”

[i] About the author
 Dorothy Jean Furnish, an old 74-year-old professor emerita of Christian education at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, (Written in 1995) To access it google Dorothy Fumish and the title of this post,

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What Do We Know About Aging

Step 3 Getting Past Ageism . Learn More About Aging.[i]

“The better informed we are about aging and what to expect, the better we are able to evaluate and resist many of the inaccurate and negative stereotypes of aging.”

A New View of Old Age
Older persons, such as myself, are often simplified in our “individual” and “social” aging.  But research shows that we can live rich and complex lives.  With a growing proportion of seniors in Canadian society marketing organizations are rapidly creating opportunities. “For example most people aged 50 to 70 have good incomes, little or no mortgage, and no children to support.” And, they are seen as good markets for goods and services.
The majority of older persons are women.  “One company, Unilever, the maker of Dove beauty products, has taken the bold step to attract older consumers.  It created a new line of products called ‘Pro Age’ that help people look good without denying their age (rather than deny it). … “Nancy Ectoff, a psychologist at the Harvard Medical School says “…We’re seeing a real shift in how people are approaching beauty. Up to now, it’s been about fighting aging with everything you have. Now you have a chance not to..’
In summary: “Canada’s government and people have dedicated themselves to the elimination of ageism.  However this goal can’t be achieved through a policy statement, the stroke of a pen, or a speech. Canadians need to understand that people of all ages make up the fabric of a good and just society.  And high quality of life at all ages benefits everyone.  The more Canadians understand about aging, through research and public discussion, the more Canada can realize the vision of a society for all ages.’

[i]  The additional material for this post was gathered from a textbook Aging and Society: A Canadian Perspective by Mark Novak and Lori Campbell

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Continue Combating Ageism

Stereotypes Applied to Self and Others is Ageism[i]

2. Going Beyond the Stereotypes of Aging
         Fighting Ageism begins at home. We need to “Recognize that a label like “elderly” or “seniors” tells us little about what to expect from a person; including ourselves. Continuing the quote “ These labels do not tell us whether the person including ourselves is kind or uncaring, healthy or unhealthy or has diminishing health, mentally capable or mentally incapable, a reliable or an unreliable worker or volunteer incapable. Labels do not tell us about the person’s capacity for friendship or creativity or friendship.”
         How shall we define self-stereotyping? When we go to the Internet to find out, as I’m doing more frequently, we find out that.  “The term self-stereotyping was coined as part of self categorization theory and describes a process by which a perceiver will come to see themselves in a way more consistent with stereotypes about their in-group than they otherwise would. Self-stereotyping may be seen as an outcome of depersonalization where the self is viewed as a categorically interchangeable member of the salient in-group.”
         Here is the Attitudes Towards Own Aging subscale, which contains the following items:
1.    Things keep getting worse as I get older.
2.    I have as much pep as I did last year.”
3.    As you get older you are less useful.
4.    I am as happy now as when I was younger,
5.    As I get older things are (better, worse, or the same) as I thought they would be.

         Now a good question is how we develop stereotypes and how do we get rid of them. “We stereotype people when we are unable or unwilling to obtain all of the information we need to make a fair judgement about people or situations.  In the absence of the so called 'total picture,' to stereotype people in many cases allows us to 'fill in the missing pieces of information."  That’s fine but how does that explain self-stereotyping?

          “But what is less commonly known—or at least considered—is that we apply the exact same process to ourselves, often without realizing we are doing it: how we think about our own selves is largely determined by how we think others think of us—how we are perceived, judged, and evaluated by the outside world.”

“Stereotype threat in aging
         “One area where effects of self-stereotyping play out to quite dramatic effect is aging. It is typically thought that as people age, their memories grow worse and their cognitive abilities suffer a general decline. And unfortunately, that type of thinking seems to actually affect how the elderly actually think and remember. Studies have shown that when aging stereotypes are activated, older adults actually begin to exhibit larger memory deficits and worse performance on tests of cognitive ability. But, the news isn’t all bad: the opposite is also true. When such stereotypes are given less weight, memory and cognitive performance both improve”[ii]

[i]  Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
[ii]  Information with quotation mark found on the internet.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How do we get past ageism Step 1

1. Identify the myths and mis-information.[i]

         Recognize the myths about aging and negative attitudes about older adults. Start challenging the myths. Challenge the language. First let’s look at the definition.
         Ageism can be defined as “any attitude, action or instutional structure, which subordinates a person or group because of age or any assignment of roles in society purely on the basis of age.  As an “ism”. Ageism reflects a prejudice in society against older adults”
         There are many erroneous beliefs in our society - e.g. that older adults' lives are less valuable and older adults are less deserving of having their rights respected; that older adults feel emotional pain less or do not have sexual feelings; or that older adults are largely responsible for growing health care or other social costs.

[i]  Canadian Network for the Prevention of  Elder Abuse  ©2004 CNPEA.  We are             free to use this material for non-commercial purposes.  Over the next few weeks we will go through the 12 comments on the topic of Ageism.