Divorcing After 50: How Gray Divorce Affects Your Health

DIVORCE CAN BE TOUGH ON health, no matter your age. Legal uncoupling is listed as the No. 2 stressor on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, a scale that predicts which life events are likely to cause a stress-induced health breakdown within two years.

And for people age 50 or older, whose divorce rates have doubled since 1990, divorce may be even harder on their health. “What I see among older patients is that divorce can have myriad psychological and physical consequences, especially for those with already existing medical problems,” says Dr. Andreea Seritan, a geriatric psychiatrist and professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California—San Francisco.

Divorce rates for people younger than age 50 are higher (about double) than they are for seniors. But younger couples’ divorce rates aren’t seeing dramatic increases. For 40-somethings, divorce rates are only slightly higher than they were in 1990. For people younger than 40, divorce rates have actually fallen.

Full story at US News

How much should seniors exercise to improve brain function?

To boost their reasoning skills and the brain’s processing speed, seniors may need to exercise for 52 hours over a period of 6 months, concludes a new study. The good news is that low-intensity exercise such as walking has the same benefits — as long as it’s carried out for this length of time.

As more and more research keeps pointing out, exercise does wonders for our brain.

For instance, a recent study that Medical News Today reported on shows that running protects our memory from the harmful effects of stress.

Full story at Medical News Today

Owners of seriously ill pets at risk of stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms

Owners of seriously or terminally ill pets are more likely to suffer with stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as poorer quality of life, compared with owners of healthy animals, finds a study.

This ‘caregiver burden’ may also lead to increased veterinarian stress, say the authors.

Research on human caregiving describes ‘caregiver burden’ as a response to problems and challenges encountered while providing informal care for a sick family member. But little is known about the impact of caregiver burden on owners of animals with chronic or terminal diseases — and the veterinarians who care for them.

Full story at Science Daily

Leisure activities lower blood pressure in Alzheimer’s caregivers

Going for a walk outside, reading, listening to music — these and other enjoyable activities can reduce blood pressure for elderly caregivers of spouses with Alzheimer’s disease, suggests a study in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, the official journal of the American Psychosomatic Society. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

“Greater engagement in pleasant leisure activities was associated with lowered caregivers’ blood pressure over time,” according to the report by Brent T. Mausbach, PhD, of University of California San Diego and colleagues. “Participation in pleasant leisure activities may have cardiovascular benefits for Alzheimer’s caregivers.”

The study included 126 caregivers enrolled in the UCSD Alzheimer’s Caregiver Study, a follow-up study evaluating associations between stress, coping, and cardiovascular risk in Alzheimer’s caregivers. The caregivers were 89 women and 37 men, average age 74 years, providing in-home care for a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease.

Full story of lowering blood pressure in Alzheimer’s caregivers at Science Daily

Palliative care improves quality of life, lessens symptoms

People living with serious illness who receive palliative care have better quality of life and fewer symptoms than those who don’t receive palliative care, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the study is the first meta-analysis of the effect of palliative care as it relates to patients’ quality of life, symptom burden and survival.

Palliative care is health care for people living with serious illness and focuses on providing patients with relief from their symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness, whatever the diagnosis. Palliative care can either refer to a specific service that is provided by physicians and nurses who have received specialized training in this type of care, or an overall approach to care for patients with serious illness, which would include palliative care when provided by a specialist or by a non-palliative care specialist (like an oncologist or a primary care physician). This study took a broad approach and looked at the philosophy of palliative care.

Full story of palliative care improving quality of life at Science Daily

Social adversity early in life may affect the expression of stress-related genes

New research suggests that early severe social deprivation may impact DNA modifications that affect the expression of stress-related genes. These nongenetic (or epigenetic) modifications occur when molecules called methyl groups are added to components of DNA.

For the study, investigators analyzed the genes of 208 children who were 12 years old. Some children were raised in institutional settings, others were transferred to foster care, and others had no history of institutionalized caregiving. The researchers found that more time spent in institutional care was associated with lower DNA methylation at specific sites within stress-related genes.

Full story of social adversity and stress-related genes at Science Daily

Deadly toxin acrolein has a useful biological role

Scientists from RIKEN in Japan have discovered that acrolein–a toxic substance produced in cells during times of oxidative stress–in fact may play a role in preventing the process of fibrillation, an abnormal clumping of peptides that has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other neural diseases. The key to this new role is a chemical process known as 4+4 cycloaddition, where two molecules with “backbones” made up of four-atom chains come together to form a ring-like structure with eight atoms. The group found that in some circumstances, acrolein can combine with a class of molecules called polyamines, which themselves are important biological players, to make substances that can prevent the fibrillation of Aβ40 peptides.

“What is remarkable,” says Ayumi Tsutsui, the lead author of the paper published on June 1 in Advanced Science, “is that the reaction involves acrolein and a class of substances known as polyamines, which are all associated with oxidative stress. Polyamines are known to play very important biological roles, but the mechanisms are still poorly understood.” Levels of acrolein have been found to correlate with the progression of diseases such as cancer and stroke. ” According to Tamotsu Zako of Ehime University, who participated in the research, “It made sense to see acrolein simply as a dangerous substance that triggers disease, and many researchers saw it that way. But in our previous work we had discovered that acrolein could bind with polyamines such as spermine and spermidine to form eight-atom cyclic molecules, and we wondered what biological role these rings might play.”

Full story of toxin acrolein and oxidative stress at Science Daily

Genes linked to stress-triggered heart disease identified

Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Barrow Neurological Institute have for the first time identified genetic risk factors that are linked to stress-induced cardiomyopathy (SIC), a rare type of heart disease.

Patients with SIC generally show no symptoms until they suffer some form of intense emotional or physiological distress. For this reason the disorder is sometimes referred to as “broken heart syndrome,” and because of its unusual presentation has captured the attention of physicians for centuries.

In a study published Nov. 24 in the journal Neurosurgery, researchers report on the identification of new genetic risk factors through the use of the powerful approach of genomic sequencing. Knowing which patients harbor the genes associated with SIC could help guide their care and treatment before, and after, they suffer a life-threatening stressor that induces SIC.

Full story of genes linked to stress-triggered heart disease at Science Daily

Stress linked to worse recovery in women after heart attack

Young and middle-aged women experience more stress than their male counterparts, which could contribute to worse recovery from acute myocardial infarction (AMI), according to new findings by Yale School of Medicine researchers and their colleagues.

The findings appear in the current issue of Circulation.

“Women tend to report greater stress and more stressful life events than men, potentially because of their different roles in family life and work, as compared to men,” said first author Xiao Xu, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine. “This difference in the level of stress may be an important reason for sex-based differences in recovery after acute myocardial infarction.”

Full story of stress in women after a heart attack at Science Daily

When couples disagree on stroke recovery, one partner can suffer

An innovative study from a University of Cincinnati (UC) social work researcher has found that when a stroke survivor and his or her caregiving spouse disagree on the survivor’s rate of recovery, the caregiving spouse is more likely to experience depression and emotional distress.

Assistant Professor Michael McCarthy, PhD, working with co-author Karen Lyons at the Oregon Health and Science University, interviewed 35 couples in which one spouse had experienced a stroke within the past three years.

In separate sessions, stroke survivors and their spouses discussed the survivor’s recovery, including the performance of daily functions, their memory and ability to problem solve. In the first mixed-method study in the topic, both quantitative and qualitative data showed that spouses rated rehabilitation progress as significantly worse than survivors — and that this discrepancy was associated with spouse depression.

Full story of couples and stroke recovery at Science Daily