The “Widowhood Effect” Is Real

lonely-old-man

 

With the recent death of Barbara Bush and George H. W. Bush being hospitalized the day after her funeral, many wondered if you can die from a broken heart.  How many times have you seen a couple that has been married for many years, were inseparable and when one partner dies, the other passes a few months later?

It’s long been known that widowhood can increase the risk of hospitalization and dying. In one nationally representative study of the “widowhood effect” researchers found the death of a wife was linked with an 18 percent increase in mortality for men. And the death of a husband was linked with a 16 percent boost in mortality for women.

The reasons for this are complicated and still mysterious. There is a condition called “broken heart syndrome” also known as stress or Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.  Yes, you can literally die from a broken heart.

In these cases, taxing events — even joyous ones — cause stress hormones to surge in a way that can lead to an abnormal heart contraction. “This can cause chest pain in the acute setting and lead to heart failure in both the short and long term,” explained Julie Clary,  chief cardiology fellow at the Krannert Institute of Cardiology at Indiana University.

Other scientific research has repeatedly shown that our health is incredibly fragile after we’ve endured an emotional upheaval, especially the death of a loved one. Losing a loved one can mean losing the routines we depend on for stable health. Often, the surviving spouse is so lost, that taking care of themselves is not a priority.

A large study on this subject from the University of Wisconsin found that the widowhood effect isn’t as commonly seen among people whose spouses died of diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.  It was found there was no increased chance of death in these cases, and only a very slight increased risk in spouses of those who died of certain cancers. In these cases, the grieving spouse had time to prepare for the death, something called anticipatory grief. The sadness of the loss is just as great, but the shock isn’t so severe.

Both men and women also respond differently to the death of their spouse. In general, men tend to be more vulnerable to the widowhood effect. Men are affected more socially than women. Women tend to maintain social relationships and friendships outside of marriage, so when the female spouse dies first, men tend to lose out on these social relationships and support groups and they tend to isolate themselves. Women maintain their friendships and relationships and lean on them for support after their spouse dies.

The bright side: The relationships we have matter deeply to our health, but they can also protect us.

Strong bonds with others are associated with a great many positive things. The fortitude of social connections is a predictor of resistance to Alzheimer’s and overall mental health including fighting depression. Studies find people with strong bonds tend to live longer than others. In contrast, some experts say loneliness is as bad for the heart as smoking.

Humans are social creatures; our entire psychology is built on coexisting with one another. Social relationships guide our decisions to join groups, seek out religious organizations, sports teams, reconnect with old friends, date and marry. Having evolved this way means we can suffer without the companionship of others — but then again, thrive when we have it.

If a family member or a close friend recently has suffered the loss of a spouse, offering that person support can help them get through one of the toughest possible times in life.

 

Contributors:

Julia Belluz and Brian Resnick

Melissa Dahl

 

 

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For a decade, Silver Connections has provided numerous local events, domestic and international travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.  

 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

 

Advertisements

Embracing a Positive Attitude About Aging

 

Positive-Attitude

Could the way you feel about aging actually affect the way you age?

Betty Friedan famously said, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Recently, researchers identified that having positive self-perceptions about the benefits of getting older can create a self-fulfilling prophecy by helping someone stay mentally, physically, and psychologically younger.

Over the years, various studies have found a strong correlation between negative perceptions about aging and physical frailty. Additionally, researchers have identified that physical frailty in older age is associated with lower cognitive abilities, when compared to peers who are less frail in older age. Frailty appears to trigger a domino effect that often cascades into dementia.

A new study by researchers reports that having a positive attitude about aging may help prevent older adults from becoming frail, which in turn appears to keep their minds sharp. On the flip side, the researchers confirmed that having negative attitudes about aging affect both physical and cognitive health in later years. The researchers concluded, “Negative perceptions of aging may modify the association between frailty and frontal cognitive domains in older adults.”

A positive attitude about aging can also help seniors cope with stress, another study suggests.

“We found that people in the study who had more positive attitudes toward aging were more resilient in response to stress — meaning that there wasn’t a significant increase in negative emotions,” study author Jennifer Bellingtier, a Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University, said in a university news release.

“Meanwhile, study participants with more negative attitudes toward aging showed a sharp increase in negative emotional affect on stressful days,” she added.

“The way we feel about aging has very real consequences on our health and how we respond to difficult situations as we grow older.” says Shevaun Neupert, an associate psychology professor at NC State. “That affects our quality of life and may also have health ramifications. For example, more adverse responses to stress may have increased cardiovascular health risks.”

 

How do we keep a positive attitude as we age?

  • Write down a bothersome thought and then write down a positive thought to counteract it.  For example, “I messed up my entire life” and then “I haven’t messed up my entire life.  I made one bad decision and can fix it. And, I have made other good decisions.”

 

  • Practice gratitude.  Write down a few things every day that you are thankful for. No matter how big or small they are.  It can be as simple as a good cup of coffee, having a good book to read or seeing a friend.

 

  • Hang out with kindred spirits.  Some people just make you happy or lift you up when you are around them, while others may bring you down.  Reach out to those positive friends and avoid ones who are negative.

 

Deirdre Robertson, Ph.D. states “The way we think about, talk about and write about aging may have direct effects on health. Everyone will grow older and if negative attitudes towards aging are carried throughout life they can have a detrimental, measurable effect on mental, physical and cognitive health.”

 

Contributors:

Christopher Bergland – Psychology Today

Robert Preidt – CBS News

NC State University

 

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For a decade, Silver Connections has provided numerous local events, domestic and international travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.  

 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

Socializing Appears to Delay Memory Problems

seniors123

An active social life appears to delay memory loss as we age, a new study shows.

The finding, which appears in The American Journal of Public Health, suggests that strong social ties, through friends, family and community groups, can preserve our brain health as we age and that social isolation may be an important risk factor for cognitive decline in the elderly.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health used data gathered from 1998 to 2004 from the Health and Retirement Study, a large, nationally representative population of American adults ages 50 and older. Participants took memory tests at two-year intervals during the study period. Testers read a list of 10 common nouns to survey respondents, who were then asked to recall as many words as possible immediately and again after a five-minute delay. The researchers also measured social integration based on marital status, volunteer activities, and contact with parents, children and neighbors.

The results showed that individuals who in their 50s and 60s engaged in a lot of social activity also had the slowest rate of memory decline.  In fact, compared to those who were the least socially active, study subjects who had the highest social integration scores had less than half the rate of memory loss. The researchers controlled for variables like age, gender, race and health status.

“The working hypothesis is that social engagement is what makes you mentally engaged,” said Lisa F. Berkman, the study’s senior author and director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. “You can’t sit and withdraw if you’re constantly talking and working on things and figuring out problems in your daily life. It’s not just completing a crossword puzzle, it’s living your life.”

The data are particularly important for those caring for aging family members. Simply visiting and giving support to an older family member does not make them socially engaged. “A lot of people when they think about the elderly focus on social support — things like what can I do for an older mother,” Dr. Berkman said. “But having someone to count on is not what we’re measuring. It’s not about support, it’s about being completely engaged and participating in our society.”

What was notable about the study is that participants didn’t have to be married or surrounded by extensive family to receive the protective effect of social engagement. “There are lots of relationships that are substitutable” Dr. Berkman said.

 

Contributor- The New York Times

 

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

 

 

Socializing and Connections- The Most Important Thing We Can Do For Our Happiness

senior765434

If you consider yourself a naturally social person, you’re probably not surprised to hear that spending time with friends is proven to make you happier.  Even if you are anti-social, it turns out that you’ll be happier when you hang out with others, too.

 

Research into the impact of social behavior on health and longevity has been going on for years, with study after study concluding that humans are, simply put, social creatures who require connections with other humans in order to thrive.

 

In fact, lack of social connection is being called a greater overall health risk than smoking! Being lonely impacts your immune system as well as your susceptibility to anxiety, depression, and antisocial behaviors. (It’s easy to see how this can create a vicious cycle; poor social connections cause in increase in the very behaviors which interfere with those connections, which means more of those behaviors, etc.) Here’s what you need to know about social connections and happiness.

 

Connection is contagious
Just like germs, your “connection benefits” tend to be contagious—love, altruism, and yes, happiness, all seem to spread through solid human connections. While deep connections seem to be the most beneficial, even more casual connections can still confer positive effects when those connections are pro-social. Some Harvard researchers are considering social connection ramifications within friendship networks and finding positive influence contagious in ways even those experiencing the effects often don’t recognize.

 

Connection is about perception
Just as you can feel lonely in a crowd or all alone in spite of a large circle of family and friends, your connectedness to others is less about what you do and more about how you view those relationships. Taking the time to feel grateful for the people in your life actually deepens those bonds, whether it changes any of the outward behavior happening between you or not.

 

Connection can be cultivated
Yes, even introverts can find way to build and optimize connections to others. In today’s technological world, it’s easier than ever to “find your tribe,” whether it be in person or through a digital medium. The great news is that all positive connections have health and happiness benefits, so you needn’t only look for the kind of deep, best-friends-forever situation as “counting.” Participating in any form of positive social interaction is building up your so-called connection bank, and the more you connect, the happier you’ll feel, and the more likely you’ll be to build even more connections.

 

Connection is the answer
If you’ve read up on the famous Grant Study—a 75-year longitudinal project attempting to pinpoint what makes us the most happy—the study’s 3-decade-long director, George Vaillant, said the takeaway is clear: “Happiness is love. Full stop.” And again and again, when humans are observed and probed and quizzed on what makes them feel love, it’s… other people. Not things, or even experiences, but our connections with other people. Because that’s what makes us happiest.

 

Author Contributor  Nataly Kogan     Happier

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

 

 

The One Secret To Leading A FulFilling Life

frieed

Silver Connections is based on the importance of relationships with others- the friendships and connections that enrich each of us. Friendships, and all relationships, take work, effort and have to be a priority to thrive.  The end result is a much happier and healthier life.

For over 75 years, Harvard’s Grant and Glueck has tracked the physical and emotional well-being of two populations: 456 poor men growing up in Boston from 1939 to 2014 (the Grant Study), and 268 male graduates from Harvard’s classes of 1939-1944 (the Glueck study).

Due to the length of the research period, this has required multiple generations of researchers. Since before WWII, they’ve diligently analyzed blood samples, conducted brain scans (once they became available), and pored over self-reported surveys, as well as actual interactions with these men, to compile the findings.

The conclusion? According to Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one thing surpasses all the rest in terms of importance: “The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

Not how much is in your 401(k). Not how many conferences you spoke at–or keynoted. Not how many blog posts you wrote or how many followers you had or how many tech companies you worked for or how much power you wielded there or how much you vested at each.

No, the biggest predictor of your happiness and fulfillment overall in life is, basically, love.

Specifically, the study demonstrates that having someone to rely on helps your nervous system relax, helps your brain stay healthier for longer, and reduces both emotional as well as physical pain.

The data is also very clear that those who feel lonely are more likely to see their physical health decline earlier and die younger.

“It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship,” says Waldinger. “It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”

What that means is this: It doesn’t matter whether you have a huge group of friends and go out every weekend or if you’re in a romantic relationship. It’s the quality of the relationships–how much vulnerability and depth exists within them; how safe you feel sharing with one another; the extent to which you can relax and be seen for who you truly are, and truly see another.

According to George Vaillant, the Harvard psychiatrist who directed the study from 1972 to 2004, there are two foundational elements to this: “One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”

Thus, if you’ve found love (in the form of a relationship, let’s say) but you undergo a trauma like losing a job, losing a parent, or losing a child, and you don’t deal with that trauma, you could end up “coping” in a way that pushes love away.

This is a very good reminder to prioritize not only connection but your own capacity to process emotions and stress. If you’re struggling, get a good therapist. Join a support group. Invest in a workshop. Get a grief counselor. Take personal growth seriously so you are available for connection.

Because the data is clear that, in the end, you could have all the money you’ve ever wanted, a successful career, and be in good physical health, but without loving relationships, you won’t be happy.

The next time you’re scrolling through Facebook instead of being present at the table with your significant other, or you’re considering staying late at work instead of getting together with your close friend, or you catch yourself working on a Saturday instead of going to the farmer’s market with your sister, consider making a different choice.

“Relationships are messy and they’re complicated,” acknowledges Waldinger. But he’s adamant in his research-backed assessment: “The good life is built with good relationships.”

By Melanie Curtin  Contributor, Inc. com

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

 

The Passing Of Mary Tyler Moore And What She Meant To The Boomer Generation

mary

The death of actress Mary Tyler Moore last week caused a national outcry of disbelief and sadness. We should expect more passings of the TV and film icons we once loved years ago, as many are now in their 80s and 90s.

It was especially heartbreaking to many when Moore died and not only because she was beautiful, charming and watched every week by millions, but because she was the symbol of a new era of women. Women could be single, have a career, friends, live alone and be happy.  Life was based on their own abilities and talents and not merely as a partner to a man. 

She was one of the first actresses on TV to break this new ground in 1970 and became a role model for many young girls and women.  I know myself as a preteen at the time, when I saw the opening song of the Mary Tyler Moore Show (“You’re Going To Make It After All”) – I wanted to be JUST like Mary Richards. A decade later, instead of going to Minneapolis, I went to Atlanta.

When her death was announced, it was also a reminder to all of the passage of time.

The article below discusses Laura Petrie and the Mary Richards that we saw on TV and the real life Mary Tyler Moore and her legacy.    

                                                    

By Lauren Stiller Rikleen

Laurie Petrie was a young TV wife played by Mary Tyler Moore on The Dick Van Dyke Show and I was captivated by the character’s grace, humor and endless ability to get herself out of trouble. She was also strong-willed and charming, qualities that were a winning combination for young girls with few realistic role models on television in the mid-1960s.

When Moore re-emerged as WJM TV news producer Mary Richards in 1970 on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, it was against a backdrop of rapid societal shifts. The show began the same year that four students were killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State, Apollo 13 demonstrated both the fallibility and ingenuity of the space program and the Beatles disbanded, breaking the hearts of music lovers everywhere. In the midst of these tumultuous events, Mary Richards brought Laura Petrie’s charm and gentle humor to her role as a single working woman and all-around confidant. It was TV escapism with a modern twist, offering a glimpse of work opportunities for American women, amidst the restraints of pay equality  and gender role stereotypes.

 

The Marvelous Mary Richards

We watched Mary navigate boorish comments with an aplomb that few of us boomer women could ever pull off in real life. We also watched her navigate an ocean of bad dates with the good humor that comes from knowing she had created a family at WJM and at home of people that had her back.

We studied her outfits like we would prepare for a test, marveling at her impeccable wardrobe on an under-market salary.

And we admired her role as mediator in the relationship between her amusingly caustic landlord, Phyllis, and her best friend and fellow tenant, Rhoda. Mary always stayed above the fray, whether at work or at home. She was the trusted friend who did not betray, the optimist who saw the best in everyone and that rare tolerant and kind colleague who never made people feel bad about themselves.

 

The True Legacy of Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Richards has been hailed as a feminist role model because she was a single working woman in her 30s who took birth control (at least by the third season) and was not obsessed with finding a spouse. But Mary Tyler Moore’s legacy will be much greater than the emerging feminism of her character.

Her real life was marked by remarkable grit and resilience. Moore’s life story includes alcoholic and distant parents, three marriages and her own battles with alcohol and illness.

She was first married at 18 and divorced six years later. Her second marriage to TV executive Grant Ticker was failing even while she was playing the beloved Mary Richards on one of his shows. Three years after the series ended, her son Richie — who for years fought his own battles with drugs and alcohol — was killed when his gun misfired.

Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in her 30s, Moore hid her insulin dependence from the public for years. Over time, however, she became a tireless advocate for the fight against juvenile diabetes and fought the effects of the illness until her death. Moore sought treatment  for her alcoholism under orders from the doctor treating her diabetes and wrote about this struggle candidly in her memoir.

In the past decades, Mary Tyler Moore cemented her legacy in ways that will keep the beauty and grace of Laura Petrie and Mary Richards forever in our hearts. More importantly, she did so by allowing us a greater understanding of the remarkable woman who was behind the iconic characters.

Moore did not live the storybook existence of the comedy writer’s wife or the single career woman. Rather, she lived a life of challenge, pain, tenacity and achievement. And she accomplished this with a real-world smile that did, indeed, turn the world on and make us feel that we can make it after all.

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

Dealing With Depression and Loneliness

lonely.jpg

 

Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but for some, loneliness comes far too often.

Feeling lonely can plague many people — including those who are older, people who are isolated, and those with depression— with symptoms such as sadness, isolation, and withdrawal. Loneliness can strike a person who lives alone or someone who lives in a house filled with people. “Loneliness is subjective,” says Louise Hawkley, PhD, a research associate in the psychology department at the University of Chicago. “You can’t argue with someone who says they’re lonely.”

Although depression doesn’t always lead to loneliness, feeling lonely is often a predictor of depression one year or even two years later, and it certainly leads to sadness, Dr. Hawkley says. Freeing yourself of feelings like being isolated by depression is part of the healing process.

How to Fight Depression and Loneliness

Feelings of loneliness don’t have to be constant to call for action, but you will need to give yourself a push to get back into the thick of life and re-engage with others to start feeling better. These strategies for fighting depression and loneliness can help:

  • Make a plan.There are two basic types of loneliness. Acute loneliness results from losing a loved one or moving to a new place, for example. In these situations, chances are you know at some level that you’ll have to go through a period of adjustment to get through this feeling of loneliness. The other type of loneliness is the chronic subjective type, which strikes despite your existing relationships. Both require a plan of action. One strategy is making a point to meet people who have similar interests, Hawkley says.
  • Do something — anything. In depression treatment there’s a theory called behavioral activation, which is a clinical way of saying, “Just do it.” If you’re feeling lonely and want to change it, any small step you take — even striking up a casual, friendly conversation with the barista at your corner café — is a good move.
  • Explore your faith. There are only a few strategies that are proven to successfully protect against loneliness, and this is one of them. “People who have a personal relationship with their God or a higher power tend to do well,” Hawkley notes. There are a lot of factors at work here, one of them being that faith communities provide many opportunities for positive social encounters. You don’t have to have a close friend in the community to get the benefit, Hawkley says — just feeling that you belong in the group is enough. In addition, faith can help you accept the things in life you can’t control.
  • Bond with a dog.“Pets, especially dogs, are protective against loneliness,” Hawkley says. There are many reasons why this strategy works: Dogs get you out and about, they’re naturally social creatures, and you’ll have a living being to care about. If you’re not in a position to own a dog, find ways to help care for other people’s dogs or volunteer to help dogs at a shelter that need loving attention. Other pets, such as cats and fish, can also help ease loneliness.
  • Have realistic standards.“Loneliness is a mismatch between your ideal and what you actually have,” Hawkley says. Part of the solution may be to accept that you can have fun and light conversation with a variety of people, and that it’s okay if they don’t become lifelong confidantes. Also, reflect on whether you have any unrealistic standards that are making it hard to connect with others and stop feeling lonely, such as expecting too much from a new friendship too quickly or relying on another person too much.
  • Think beyond yourself. Depression can make you feel very self-focused, meaning that everything is all about you. But remind yourself that if you ask a co-worker to join you for lunch and the person can’t make it, you shouldn’t automatically assume that he or she has rejected you. The person might have a previous lunch date or too much work to leave his or her desk.
  • Reach out to a lonely person. Whether you’re feeling lonely now or just know how it feels, you may get an emotional boost from befriending someone else who’s lonely. Some people may view loneliness as contagious, and therefore lonely people often become even more isolated. “We believe there is a responsibility in the community to reach out to people who are suffering,” Hawkley says. In doing so, you can help others and yourself, too. Examples include volunteering for an organization that helps elderly people or visiting a neighbor who’s lost a spouse.
  • Call, don’t post. Social networks are fun and can provide an essential social outlet for some people, but Hawkley says research suggests that, on average, people do best if more of their relationships happen face-to-face or over the phone. Use a pal’s post as an excuse to call and talk about it instead of posting a comment back.
  • Make time for relationships. Everyone is busy, but relationships won’t wait until you’ve finished your PhD, raised your kids, snagged the next big promotion, or moved to your ideal city. Build them now. “No one on their death bed wishes they’d worked a few more hours,” Hawkley says.
  • Talk to a trusted friend or relative. Get some feedback and ideas, as well as a sympathetic ear, from a family member or friend with whom you trust your thoughts and feelings. This person could have some ideas about groups you might want to join to meet positive people.
  • Explore therapy.I f you just can’t shake profound feelings of loneliness, isolation, and other symptoms of depression, you might want to talk to a mental health professional. Look for a professional with a cognitive behavioral background, an approach that’s been shown to help with depression and loneliness.

“Social relationships are fundamental to our thriving,” Hawkley says. The fact that loneliness feels so uncomfortable is a reminder to pay attention to and nurture these relationships that can further your happiness.

By Madeline R. Vann, MPH    Everyday Health

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

THE ONE QUALITY YOU NEED TO SURVIVE YOUR 50’S (AND BEYOND)

resiliance2As the owner of Silver Connections and working with only those age 55+, I have seen my members deal with grief from the death of a spouse, serious illness, divorce, losing family members and even children, surgeries, job loss and so many other of life’s challenges.  I am in awe quite often at their ability to move forward, their capacity to recover from difficulties, their toughness. The fact that they find Silver Connections and contact me and are making the effort to move forward, to engage, to laugh and enjoy life – shows their resilience and their ability to overcome serious hardship. Taking it one step at a time.

 

Author Contributor – Ronna Benjamin     “Better After 50”

A few days ago, on a cloudless, cool, perfect-for-leaf-peeping day, two friends and I decided to hike up Mount Osceola in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. For those of us who might have arthritic knees, bad attitudes, or are prone to blistering toes, the hike might be described as “pretty long and grueling,” and, in fact, that’s exactly how my husband described it to me the evening before, as I consulted with him on various trail options.

Long and grueling: full disclosure. Of course– we decided to go for it.

After close to two hours of going up climbing over boulders, stepping over roots, and more and more up, I was pretty sure that we were making good time and we were nearing the summit. It was noon, after all, so despite the snacks, I was thinking, “lunchtime…” and in my head I was doing a little Snoopy Suppertime dance. I was really looking forward to soggy chicken with Sriracha in a 60-calorie flax seed pita (don’t judge.) I kept noting to my friends that we must be quite close to the summit (I had done this hike before- I thought I recognized the terrain) and before we knew it, we’d be resting comfortably in the sun, having lunch and a sparkling water on sun warmed piece of granite, overlooking the most magnificent mountains.

That’s when we ran into a group of young people coming down, and my friend asked the question that should never be asked:

“How close are we to the top?”

A look of hesitancy came over the young woman’s face. She looked at her mileage counter hiking watch (those things are cool—got to get me one), she told us the truth that we didn’t want to hear: “You have a little over a mile to go.”

We proceeded on. Up, and more up. Step by step.

And you know what? We made it up that mountain without a problem. And we made it down, again, step by step, just a little slower.

We didn’t think of calling it quits. We barely rested. We didn’t complain. We just did what we had to do.

We finally got down from the mountain, and I turned on the car to go home, to an eerie silence. The car battery had died. We got it jumped. Later, it died again. And we got it jumped again. And while I don’t like to drive in the dark (statements that immediately age you), I drove home in the dark.

And it occurred to me when I was home in bed, that there really wasn’t any part of the day that fazed any of us. Not even a little. We took the hike in stride (pun intended), the soggy chicken sandwich and lack of dessert  (grapes are not dessert- what were we thinking?) in stride, the blisters in stride, the dead car battery in stride. We are—all three of us— strong, resilient women who can pretty much deal with anything.

Why? Because all of us, well into our 50’s, have had a lot to deal with.

Some might call it “grit.”

Some might say it’s just doing what you have to do.

My mother would call it “living with with the cards you are dealt.”

I call it resilience, and I think it is the one quality you must have in your 50’s and beyond, because while it is often better after 50 , it sure isn’t perfect. Not even close.

Resilience is getting back to living your own life to the fullest after the death of a loved one.

Resilience is finding peace with life’s greatest disappointments.

Resilience is bouncing back after you lose your job.

Resilience is finding the energy to move from a home that you love.

Resilience is giving your body the physical and mental time to recover after surgery.

Resilience is finding your life again after cancer treatments.

Resilience is the ability to say, “this too shall pass,” and to actually believe it.

Sure, stuff happens at every age. At any age you may lose a job, a parent, a limb, a spouse or god forbid a child…it’s just that at 50 and older, you can be absolutely sure that quite a bit of it is going to happen in that decade, or just beyond– to you, or to someone you love. You can pretty much count on it.

Without resilience, you’re screwed.  But with it, life can be better– as long as you make the climb up and the climb down–step, by step, by step.  And try to remember dessert.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

The Surprising Truth About Dating After 50

lovvee43

Silver Connections is an organization for those who are 55 and over, active adults and are single. We are not a dating or matchmaking service, but provide quality socializing activities (events and travel) with the opportunity to meet new friends. If you are looking to just find a date, then we are not a good fit. Having said that, we do have members who were a part of a couple for many years, who are now widowed or divorced and are dating outside of the group. We also have had four couples who met in the group and have gotten married.

I posted this article because I found it to be very informative and offers a unique insight into dating after 50. The author, being a male, also brings an interesting perspective.

What are your thoughts?

 

Article Credit – Wes Gibson

After the passing of my wife of 31 years, I found myself alone for the first time in my life. My choices: spend the rest of my life living alone or jump into the over-50 dating pool. Having run into several issues over the years, I am still debating the pros and cons of those choices.

The main thing I’ve discovered about dating at my age (currently 55), is that there is a lot of competition to deal with. No, not other men. I wish it were that easy. I’m talking about a level of competition that is nearly impossible to compete against, a woman’s family. While I write this from a man’s point of view, this applies equally to women who find themselves back in the dating pool after widowhood or a divorce.

As someone dating past middle age, you will be competing for attention against children still in the home, adult children, grandchildren, aging parents, siblings, pets, friends, home maintenance, careers and various media channels.

Competing may be too harsh of a word. It truly isn’t a competition in the sense that you have to win. Your goal is not to defeat the children and steal their Mother or Father away from them. Your goal, after finding that special someone, is merging into a new family as seamlessly as possible.

I have come to believe, that it is very important to concentrate at least half of your efforts in developing good relationships with the family and friends rather than devoting all of your attention to your love interest.

In the early days of dating, it’s easy to capture the attention of your date. I like to call this the “newness factor.” You are like the shiny new toy they want to play with all the time. Eventually though, the newness will wear off. Your love interest will have to refocus attention back on family, friends, and everyday life. If you did nothing other than concentrate your efforts on her or him, then chances are you will fall to the wayside. They simply will not have enough time for you.

If, on the other hand, you concentrate your efforts on developing good relationships with everyone he or she loves, then your chances of survival in the relationship are greatly improved. There are at least three very good reasons for this.

  1. Your love interest will be able to observe you in a context other than romantically. They will see how your interact with others he or she loves. Are you a kind and caring person? Do you fit in with the family? Do you communicate well with others? Is the family glad you are there? Are you helpful to others? Basically, do you bring value to their family? Let’s face it, even back in the caveman days, if you do not bring value to the clan, then you are nothing more than an extra burden.

 

  1. Spending time with your love interest’s family and friends affords you more time together to grow as a couple.In today’s hectic world, just relying on date nights doesn’t allow for much time together. Getting involved in family gatherings, helping out with entertaining the grandchildren, or just watching television in a family environment gives the two of you more time to develop strong bonds.

 

  1. If the family and friends like you, respect you, trust you, and come to depend on you, then they will keep your name in front of your love interest. While trying to win the hand of your love, all the dinners, flowers, and romance won’t keep you in the limelight if their family doesn’t like you. Why not win the family and friends over, making them champions for your cause? If everybody is asking for you, then you have a pretty good chance of becoming a permanent addition.

 

Finding that special someone after 50 can be a challenge. I would venture to say that it is vastly more challenging than dating in your twenties due to increased number of people and distractions demanding your love interest’s attention. Use the newness factor to your advantage. While you do have to make a concerted effort to impress your love interest, for the most part, the relationship will develop naturally.

Devote as much time as possible to forming solid relationships with the other people demanding your love interest’s attention. Your competition so to speak. Honestly put yourself out there, become part of the family, and actually care about others. Get to know everybody by name. Talk to them. Learn about their jobs, their hobbies, their likes and dislike, their problems. Offer them help when you can. In doing so, you will be seen as someone of value to the family and will make them a champion for you.

 

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

The “10 Rights” of Parents of Adult Children

 

rights23

 

I have seen some of my Silver Connections members struggle with putting in place boundaries with their adult children.  It can at times be difficult for them to know what is acceptable and what expectations and demands from their adult children may be crossing the line or asking too much.

Below, is “10 rights” that will contribute to the overall health and well-being of parents of adult children and a good guideline to follow to avoid hurt and fractured relationships down the road.

 

  1. The Right to Be Free from Abuse Some parents find themselves the victims of abuse by their children, physical as well as verbal or psychological. In all cases, the abuser’s goal is to gain or perpetuate control over another. Abuse is never acceptable. If you find yourself in an abusive situation, set limits with your child. End abusive phone conversations, refuse to give time, money, or advice until you are treated appropriately.

 

  1. The Right to Be Guilt-Free Parents feel accountable for what happens in their families. But when best intentions produce less-than-ideal results, guilt can easily creep in. Some mothers and fathers may be subject to manipulation by an adult child who continues to hold them responsible for his delinquent behavior. Other parents find their adult child has rewritten a seemingly normal family history. (“Of course I overdrew my bank account, I never learned to control anything on my own.”)  No good purpose is served by being haunted with guilt forever. If your child will not forgive you, or you cannot forgive yourself, get help.

 

  1. The Right to Peace of Mind Most empty nesters expect that, at some point, living without their children will result in increased freedom and peace of mind. But some parents discover their lives become increasingly strained when children leave home. There is no peace for a boomer parent whose adult child is struggling with issues such as substance abuse, spousal mistreatment, health or criminal activity. If you find yourself in one of these situations, “claim your peace.” That means giving yourself permission to enjoy yourself at your job, have fun with friends, continue your hobbies and take time to exercise.

 

  1. The Right to Have Reasonable Expectations What constitutes a reasonable expectation for an adult child? Some basic behaviors can and should be universally expected. Young adults living at home should be working or going to school, or both. They should contribute actively to the maintenance of the household. If they are working full-time, they should take sole responsibility for their personal expenses, including their cell phone bill and car insurance payments.  It is reasonable to expect that parents and their children will speak respectfully to each other. And parents’ sleep schedules should be treated with consideration.

 

  1. The Right to Be Imperfect Sometimes being a “good enough” parent is sufficient. A “good enough” parent recognizes his or her own strengths and limitations and, on balance, is comfortable about doing an adequate job.  Your adult children may have more empathy if you admit a degree of fallibility. And you will enjoy yourself more when you’re not worried about having to be right all the time.

 

  1. The Right to Decide to What to Do with Your Own Money Give financially to your children if you choose, but remember that doing so is a gift, not an obligation. Parents do not owe their children the lifestyle to which they may have become accustomed. Nor do they owe their children money for traffic violations, fines, cars, furniture, frills or even necessities.

 

  1. The Right to Decide What to Do with Your Time The most important gift you can give others (or yourself) is the gift of time.  Distribute that gift with care. If you are always available to babysit your grandchildren or dog-sit your child’s hound, you may be creating an expectation you will not be able to maintain. Worse, it could become one that will be upheld to your detriment. The important point is that you are in charge of your free time. You do not need an excuse to spend time doing nothing but relaxing.

 

  1. The Right of Selective Association It is each parent’s right to decide with whom he or she will associate. Most adult children recognize this and do not interfere with their parent’s choice of friends, business associates and romantic  partners.  However, this is a right that is not always honored. Siblings may complicate the picture. For example, one sibling may be ready to “write off” another whose lifestyle or habits conflict with those of the rest of the family. But it is the parent’s right to choose to have contact with each of his or her children.

 

  1. The Right to Retirement Some parents who are compelled to defer their plans for retirement have adult children who’ve been struggling financially or emotionally for years. The parental motivation is well intended: they love their children. But parents have a right to reap the benefits of a lifetime of work; no child is automatically owed a bailout. Remember: there’s no reason to believe that an adult child lacking a work ethic will suddenly change with “just one more small loan” from his mother or father.

 

  1. The Right to Say “No” This may be the most crucial right of all because it is a prerequisite for all other rights. Parents must be able to say “no” to stop or prevent abuse, to claim their peace, to control their finances and to manage their time. Engaging in your right to say “no” may displease your children. That does not mean you are doing something wrong; in fact, it usually means the opposite. You have chosen to be authentic, rather than compliant; real, rather than superficially agreeable.  And that’s your right.

 

 

Article Credit:   By Linda M. Herman,  FORBES

 

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

« Older entries