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Monday, June 30, 2014

Retirement and Depression

Retirement, & Depression

       Betty Freidan in her excellent book The Fountain of Age (published in 1993) indicates that depression can be a natural response to the loss of power and purpose. Losing one’s sense of these characteristics is often associated with retirement
         Simone de Beauvoir was a French existentialist philosopher who died in 1986.  One of her many books focuses on The Coming of Age (published in 1972.)  Most of the key ideas in this post are taken from that book. She comments that many gerontologists agree that being without work and having feelings of uselessness during the last twenty years of one's life is psychologically and sociologically very difficult. She suggests that retirees have two requirements, to rest and to live decently. Living in poverty, especially under current economic conditions, raises the question of how many of us will have the resources to rest and live decently and therefore may become vulnerable to depression.
         Gradual retirement, sometimes called bridge retirement, is better than a “sudden chop.” I can personally confirm this. Since I began my struggle against mandatory retirement 5 years ago I have been teaching only two classes. It effects my paycheck and pension contributions but it is a lot more comfortable than teaching a full load of four courses. I am, however, somewhat concerned with my likelihood of living decently after I retire.
         In summary, retirement as a radical break cutting us off from our past, may force us to adapt to a new status that on the negative side, can lead to “a lasting state of depression” If you are retired or close to retirement the following questions may be useful.

Some Depression Questions

1. Depressed Mood
Do you often feel "sad" or "empty" or may cry frequently.

2. Decreased Interest or Pleasure
Do you have markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, daily activities?

3. Weight Changes
Do you have significant changes in weight when not attempting to   gain or lose weight? (A gain or loss of 5% or more in a month)

4. Sleep Disturbances
Do you have a hard time getting to sleep or sleeping too much?

5. Psychomotor Agitation or Retardation
Do you find yourself either agitated and restless or physically slowed down when you are moving?

6. Fatigue
Do you often feel deep fatigue or a loss of energy?

7. Feelings of Worthlessness or Guilt
Do you feel that you have no value or inappropriately guilty about things you have no control over?

8. "Brain Fog"

Do you have a diminished ability to think, concentrate or make decisions?

Friday, June 27, 2014

My Leisure Options in Retirement

My Leisure Options in Retirement

1.   Art has always been an interest to me.  I really like to create poetry (go to my site Art With Wrinkles). I also like to paint with acrylic.  While I am being creative I am very happy.

2.    I love to read books and have a room with at least a  hundred novels.  One of my favourite novelists is Steven King.

3.   I enjoy TV; everything from the news each day to series that continue for months (and sometimes years) (and also like movies)

4.   I sit at my laptop for hours playing games.  My favourite type of games are Time Management.

5.   And from where ever it comes; radio, TV or singing to myself taking a shower; I love to here music. One of my favourites TV shows is The Dance Academy, produced and sent from Australia.

6.   And finely I really like to do research. If you are interested, go to Retirement: Third Age Learning New Beginnings

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ageism Humor and Songs by Erdman Palmore ISBN

Ageism Humor and Songs[1]

In 1971 I published the first study of attitudes toward aging as shown my humor.  This was a content analysis of 264 jokes about aging and elders, classified in terms of subject matter, gender, activity, and positive versus negative views of aging.   More than half of the jokes reflected a negative view of aging or elders, and only one-quarter were entirely positive toward aging.
     Since then several other studies have done content analysis of jokes, cartoons, and birthday cards about aging.  They all reached similar conclusions: that the majority of humor reflects or supports negative attitudes toward aging, and that positive humor about aging is rare.
    Even jokes that are judged to be “positive” often depend on a contradiction of negative stereotypes for their humor. For Example

One old lady tells her friend “ I didn’t sleep well last night because a man kept pounding on my door.”
“Why didn’t you open the door?”
“What and let him out?”

  This s funny only because of the stereotype that assumes that old ladies are not interested in sex.  Thus even “positive” jokes often assume negative stereotypes.

In summary, most humor about ageing tends to support negative ageism.  Just as there are racist and sexist jokes, there are ageist jokes.  Most of the tellers and listeners are not conscious of their ageist implications.  This may even increase the joke’s impact on the listener’s unconscious attitudes.

     Similarly, a recent analysis of over 300 pieces of sheet music related to ageing found that a substantial majority presents a negative view of aging and old age.

[1]  Material for this post comes from: Ageism: Negative and Positive. It was produced by Erdman Palmore in Ageism Negative and Positive   ISBN  0-8261-7000-5

Friday, June 20, 2014

Living Well In Retirement

Living Well In Retirement 

       Retirement has different meanings to different people. Some people stop working completely with levels of ambivalence. Some people cut back on their hours gradually and consider themselves semi-retired. There are also those people who cut back on their hours and say they will keep working until they die. On the other end some people can hardly wait to retire, Planning involves not only financial but social factors. Consider the following questions. 

1.  What does or will Retirement Mean to you
2.  Do you consider yourself retired, semi-retired working full time?
3.   Were you or are Ready To Retire?
4.  Have you (or did you) consider complete or partial          retirement? In other words, consider part-time or        temporary work, or even a less than full-time 
small business venture?
5.   How do the following Represent your feelings and
a.   Do you consider yourself retired, semiretired,
b.   Have you watched or listened to programs on health?
c.   Have you joined a club, team, or organization?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Age Identity and The Politics of Self

Age Identity And the Politics of the Self[1]

The subjective experience of being ignored, devalued and disadvantaged as served as a trigger for many individuals who possess ‘minority group’ status seek collectively to obtain due hearing in the political process.  This has not happened to any substantial degree with older people.  Despite the growing political power of the grey vote, there is little evidence that politics directed at specific circumstances of older people are higher up the agenda now than they were 50 years ago.

Embracing age as a politicized identity, and we can argue will remain, to transgressive a step for even the most radical groupings.  For now, at least, resisting age rather than ageism greases more palms, oils more deals, and turns more dollars.  Perhaps, resistance can only be expressed by inertia—not bothering to participate as an age-graded consumer.

Aging, not old age has been the focus of the book.  If old age an essentialist status, structured and determined by physical decline and social marginalization, aging can be seen as a process of negotiation between that and the statuses of adulthood.  Negotiating on how to remain an adult, how to develop as an adult and how to avoid the loss of adult statuses is a task confronting more and more people as they enter post-working life. 
 (This book is full of great information and those of you who are or will be determined to resist ageism should read more)

[1]  Material for this post was found in Cultures of Aging.  Created by Christopher Gilleard & Paul Higgs.  ISBN  0-582-35641-5  in the year 2000

Friday, June 13, 2014

Memory Aids

Memory Aids[1]

·   Write it down.   The act of writing itself helps the process of memory as well as serving as a reminder if it is written on your calendar or posted in a prominent place ( like your laptop).

·  Create a visual image. This helps process the memory into another are of the memory banks.

·  Associate it with something you already know; connect the memory with another one, such as another similar name or word or image

·  Memorize small chunks at a time.  Think of a phone number as three chunks (area code, the exchange, and the individual number), not one long number

·  Be consistent about where you put things. Designate one or two places that you put down your glasses or key or wallet or hearing  aid.  Do not put your wallet away until you have put your credit card into it.

·  Look for visual cues.  To remember where you parked, look for specific landmarks, or write down the number of the space

·  Set a timer to remind you to take care of something, like turn of the burner or wake up from a nap.

I find these quite helpful

[1] By Oversem, Thomas Nicolaj, Larsen Lars; Solem, Per Erik Nordic Psychology, Vol 61 (3) Nov 2009 4-22.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Conceptual Analysis of Ageism #1

                                            Conceptual Analysis of Ageism[1]

A broad definition of Ageism

Ageism is defined as negative and positive stereotypes, prejudice and/or discrimination against (or advantage of) elderly people on the basis of their chronological age or on the basis of a perception of them as being ‘old’ or ‘elderly’.  Ageism can be implicit or explicit and can be expressed on a micro- . meso- or macro-level.

The concept includes the classic social psychological components in the form of 1) cognitive (stereotypes). 2) affective (prejudice), 3) and behavioral components (discrimination), in other words, how we on the basis of chronological age or age categorization mistakenly;  1) think of, 2) feel for, 3) and act on the aging human being.
Furthermore, ageism can operate both consciously (explicitly) and unconsciously (implicitly) and it can manifest itself on three different levels, individual (micro-level), in social networks (meso-level) and on institutional and cultural level (macro) level).  As a consequence the definition contains the following key dimensions.

The three classic components (cognitive, affective, and behavioral)

1.    The positive / negative aspect (positive and negative ageism)

2.    The conscious /unconscious aspect (implicit and explicit ageism

3.    The typological division of levels (ageism on micro- meso- and macro-level

[1]  By Iversen, Thomas Nicolaj; Larsen, Lars; Solem, Per Erik, Nordic Psychology,  Vol  61(3), Nov 2009,  4-22

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Know Thyself

Know Thyself; Finding Self Acceptance[1]

         The ancient Greeks encouraged us to know ourselves; that is to work toward accurately looking at our own action, motivations and feelings.  Many of those focused on this idea also emphasized the need for positive self-regard, which is seen as a central feature of mental health as well as characteristic of self-actualization, optimal functioning, and maturity.  Life span theories also emphasized the importance of self-acceptance of self, including our past lives.  Both Erik Erickson’s formulation of ego integrity and the Jungian individuation emphasize the kind of self-acceptance that is notably richer that the standard views of self-esteem.  It is a kind of self-evaluation that is long-term and involves awareness, and acceptance of, both personal strengths and weaknesses.
         Having a purpose in life means having to effectively cope with life travails and suffering.  Gordon Allport, one of psychology’s most important theorists, held that having a clear comprehension of life’s purpose is central to life satisfaction.

[1]  C.D. Ryff & B.H. Singer (2008) Journal of Happiness Studies  DOI 10.1007/s10902-006-90190

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Who Am I After I Retire ?

About Personal Identities After Retirement[1]

This study addresses the question of how retired people’s self-image differs from that of working people and what factors predict peoples self-definition as professionals or retirees.  Seven hundred ninety-two Swiss persons aged 58-70 (386 men, 406 women; 349 not retired, 443 retired) was asked to rate the importance of different self-description domains (such as profession, family roles, personal values, etc.).  Results indicated that the profession domain remains important for self-description even after retirement, to the extent that retirement status does not predict the importance of professional identity at all.  Rather, consistent with social identity theory, the importance of the profession for self-description is best predicted by the status of the (former or current) job.  The importance of retirement status for self-definition is predicted best by a positive attitude toward aging.  In general, retired respondents rated more domains of self- description as important than did the not-yet-retired respondents and no domain was less important after retirement.  In other words, identity diversity was higher for the retired than for the not-yet retired persons.  In addition, high identity diversity correlated with a high satisfaction across different life domains.

[1] INT’ J.  AGING AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, Vol 70(1) 89-106,2010

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Healthy Aging Brain

The Healthy Aging Brain[1]

The Correlates of Volunteerism

All of my life I have had the need to help others (I am the oldest child in the family). I retired from being a university professor.  Over the last ten years and continuing (I am now 74 years old), I have been a volunteer for the Canadian Cancer Society for quite a long time.  The next material is from page 277 of the book referenced below.

·   Greater psychological  well-being
·   Better life adjustment
·   Greater sense of meaning, purpose, and morale
·   Less stress and anxiety
·   Better physical health and immunological functioning
·   Less depression and hopelessness
·   Les pain from arthritis and other illnesses
·   Better social connectivity

[1]  The healthy aging brain:  organized and created by louis cozolino
   Sustaining attachment, attaining wisdom ISBN 10: 0-393-70513-7

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Way to Practice Meditation on your own

A way To Practice Meditation On Your Own

  Breath Deeply    Focus all your attention on your breathing. Concentrate on feeling and listening as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils.  Breath deeply and slowly.  When your attention wanders, gently return your focus on your breathing.

Scan your body.  When using this technique, focus attention on different parts of your body.  Be aware of your body’s various sensations, whether its pain, tension, warmth or relaxation.  Combine body scanning with breathing exercises and imagine breathing heat or relaxation into and out of different parts of our body.

. Repeat a mantra.  You can create your own mantra, whether it’s religious or secular.  Examples of religious mantras in the Jesus prayer in Christian tradition. the holy name of God in Judaism , or the Om Mantra of Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern religions.  Another one is Na Ta Sa Ma.

.  Walk and Meditate.  Combining a walk with mediation is an efficient and healthy way to relax.  You can use this technique anywhere you are walking—in a tranquils forest, on a city sidewalk or at the mall.  When you use this method, slow down the pace of walking so that you can focus on each movement of your legs or feet.  Don’t focus on a particular destination.  Concentration on your legs and feet, repeating action words in your mind such as lifting, moving and placing as you life each foot, move your leg forward and place your foot on the ground.  As you walk, stay in the here (right here where ever you are) and now (right now this very minute.)

Engage in prayer.  Prayer is the best known and most widely practiced example of meditation.  Spoken and written prayers are found in most faith traditions.  You can pray using your own words or read prayers written by others.  Check the self-help or 12-step recovery section of your local bookstore for examples.  Talk to your spiritual leader about resources.

Read and reflect.  Many people report that they benefit from reading poems or sacred tests, and taking a few moments to quietly reflect on their meaning.   Anything you find relaxing with works.  It does not have to be religious.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

About Retirement Wisdom

About Retirement Wisdom[1]

Forget how old you are—This becomes more important the older you get.

“ In a study reported in the August 2002 issue of the Journal of personality and Social Psychology researchers claim that elderly can actually think themselves in to the grave a lot faster than they would prefer.  Indeed people with negative views about aging shorten their lives by 7.6 years as compared with their counterparts who have a more positive view of life.   Surprisingly, a positive view about aging can have greater effect than good physical health.   The researchers, led by psychologist Becca Levy of Yale University reported “the effect of positive self-perceptions of aging on survival is greater than the physiological measures of low systolic blood pressure an cholesterol, each of which is associated with a longer lifespan of four years or less.   Our study carries tow messages,” concluded the researchers.  The discouraging one is that negative self-perception can diminish life expectancy.  The encouraging one is that positive self-perceptions can prolong life expectancy.   The lesson here is that you shouldn’t waste too much time and energy about getting older.
         “ There is a fountain of youth,” declared Sophia Loren. “It is you mind, your talents, the creativity that you bring to your life and the lives of people you love.  When you learn to tap this source you will truly defeated age.[2]

[1]  Material for this post was taken from:  How to Retire Happy Wild and Free  created by  Ernie, J. Zelinski  ISBN   0-9694194-5-7
[2]  I heartily recommend this book and I’m going to go now because I have just found and excellent source for a poem.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

As Days Go By

As Days Go By

I put research, paintings and poetry on my Blogs[1]
It makes me happy that my info goes around the world
I love to teach which I learned as a firstborn child in our family.

Helping others is my goal of life.
 My career was as; a university professor.
Now that I’m retired, I’m thankful for the Internet
As a teenager and young adult I was an athlete
Now I like to follow sports on television.

If I had the money I would travel around the world
And try to understand what we humans are all about
I wish we humans would learn to do unto others
As they would have them do unto them.

[1] and Retirement: Third Age New Beginning (