The title of National Optimism Month has been awarded to March. It fits. Light is overtaking the darkness. Flowers are considering coming into bloom and buds are beginning to appear on trees. Warmer weather has people venturing outside more and staying inside less.
Age and Optimism
According to a report in Scientific American, optimism levels keep rising higher from age 50 to 68, at which point it swings around to the cup-half-empty notion and begins to drop. The self-determination theory suggests that people need to fulfill three core needs in order to have an optimistic outlook on what lies ahead.
These include: feeling competent, being independent and feeling connected to others.
What happens as people hit the magic 68 number? Many, if they haven’t already, retire. This leads to a loss of an activity that was very much tied to productivity and competency. In addition, the social network that they developed at work has suddenly dissolved, leaving a loss of connection in its wake. Age may bring loss of independence in ways unique and variable to each individual. They may lose their driving privileges, their physical ability to perform certain everyday tasks, and they may be faced with a home environment that has drastically changed.
Optimism and Good Health
It appears that optimists have better health. Optimism leads to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Harvard Health Publications reported on a series of studies from the U.S. and Europe regarding optimism and health.
One study evaluated 309 patients who were undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery. They all underwent a psychological evaluation prior to surgery. Six months after surgery they found that optimists were half as likely to require hospitalization and pessimists were three times more likely to have heart attacks or repeat heart surgeries.
Another link between optimism and overall health was found in a study conducted on 2,300 elder adults over the course of two years. Those that had positive outlooks enjoyed more health and independent living than their counterparts.
How You Can Help
If optimism relies a large degree on a sense of connection, independence and competency, it would follow that promoting the opportunities that would help your elder parent fulfill these needs would inspire optimism.
Connection. Keeping your elder loved one engaged is vital to ensuring a positive outlook in the years that lie ahead. Ways to keep them engaged include joining support groups; spending time at the local senor community center enjoying classes, special events or weekly shared meals; spending time with family, friends or their elder care provider.
Independence and Competence. Once you start helping your parent with the daily activities of living it’s easy to intervene a little more than necessary. Take into account what your parent can do for themselves safely and commit to keeping those tasks in “their bucket.” Promote independence and competence by scheduling them for classes and volunteer organizations that use their knowledge base to inspire and help others.
An elder care provider can offer companionship and camaraderie, vital parts of life that support an optimistic outlook. They can support your parent in the areas of life that they need assistance with while promoting independence at the same time. They can accompany your loved one to special events as well as provide transportation to classes and other activities.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Elder Care Services in Bonita FL, call the caring staff at Dial-a-Nurse today. Naples: (239) 307-0033. Ft. Myers: (239) 307-0065.
In 1995 he became Administrator of Dial-a-Nurse nursing agency, the oldest nursing agency in the Southwest Florida succeeding his mother who started the company 37 years ago. He is also President of Nevco, Inc., an educational healthcare training company begun in 1988.
Mr. Wolfendale has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce on various Missions to improve the quality of life around the world by development of supportive healthcare programs. In 2005 he traveled with U.S. officials and addressed the Italian National Government assisting in the creation of Nurse Education mandates for that Country. In 2006 he was invited and spoke with the National Institutes of Continuing Education in Eastern Europe on healthcare education and developmental mandates, and most recently represented the United States at the European Union in Lake Balaton, Hungary in 2011. In 2014 he traveled with the U.S. Department of State to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in an effort to improve caregiver knowledge and training.
Mr. Wolfendale has worked with a number of non-profits in contributing and creating curriculum to improve the quality of life in third-world countries since 2001, and notably created a successful program in Odessa, India that has been modeled in other areas of the world. In his backyard, he has worked with local Goodwill Industries to provide curriculum and training to underserved individuals who have obtained employment as a result of educational training. He was the Congressional appointment to the Governor's purple ribbon task force in 2013, and has worked to educate caregivers in all aspects of Alzheimer's training.