Aging & Caregiving in the News

Information, updates and interesting tidbits

In this issue:

  • Create a family health history
  • Giving or receiving—which feels better?
  • Relieving anxiety with video games

Extended family at Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving Is National Family Health History Day

On Thanksgiving, families get together from near and far to enjoy time together and catch up on each other's lives. It's also, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a great time to create a family health history! Today we know that many diseases can run in families. These conditions include heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and several types of cancer. While it might seem like a bit of a downer to discuss genetic risk factors over the turkey, it can be a great way to work together as a family for the good of all the generations—and generations to come. (Bonus: This year, it will probably be more relaxing than talking about politics!)

The CDC has created an online resource, My Family Health Portrait, to help families create this important document. You can find it at

Better to Give Than to Receive? Yes, Say Psychologists

Here's more good news in the season of giving! A recent study published by the Association for Psychological Science examined the positive emotional benefits of giving to others, compared with the mood boost we get when someone gives to us.

The researchers found that over time, receiving gifts or nice acts from others loses its power to make us happy—"hedonic adaptation,” psychologists call it.

But apparently, the good feelings we get from doing something nice for someone else persist, even when we give again and again. "If you want to sustain happiness over time, past research tells us that we need to take a break from what we're currently consuming and experience something new," said University of Chicago researcher Ed O'Brien. In contrast, he explained, "Repeated giving, even in identical ways to identical others, may continue to feel relatively fresh and relatively pleasurable the more that we do it."

So, this holiday season, give a little more to friends and family, to people in need—not only material goods, but your time and attention. It'll make your holidays jollier! Read more about the study here.

Video Games to Soothe the Mind

Senior man playing video games

Are you a worrier? Many of us are. Some of us reduce anxiety by exercising, meditating, or maybe with less healthy solutions, like having a drink or two. A recent study from University of California, Riverside offers another idea for easing a worried mind.

Researcher Kate Sweeny conducted an experiment to find out if people who had something to worry about—whether it was waiting for the results of medical tests or the outcome of a job interview—could be distracted by playing video games. She found that playing games could help us achieve a state of "flow"—the term psychologists use to describe "a state of mind so engaged it makes the rest of the world fall away and time pass more quickly."

Sweeny reports that the game should be challenging enough that we don't get bored and lapse back into worrying, but not so difficult that it frustrates us. Her test subjects played Tetris. What's your favorite game? If it's a game you love, you probably already know it can take your mind off the rest of the world. So, give it a try next time you're fretting.

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2019 IlluminAge