Aging & Caregiving in the News

Information, updates and interesting tidbits

In this issue:

  • Try a virtual board game with a friend.
  • COVID-19 increases family caregiver stress.
  • Tired of singing "Happy Birthday"? Do this instead!

Playing chess over Zoom with a friend

Another Idea for a Socially Distant Activity

As we've been sheltering in place, a lot of us have been playing more computer games. But for a change of pace, why not organize a Zoom chess or card game with a friend, or a group bingo session? Recent research assures us that board and card games are as good as "brain training" computer programs.

In March 2020, University of Edinburgh psychologists conducted a study of 1,000 older adults and found that those who play a lot of "analog games"—cards, bingo, chess and so forth—remained more mentally sharp in their later years. Even those who only took up games while in their 70s were more likely to preserve their memory and thinking speed. The researchers said that a lot of studies have been done on "brain training" games, but plain old board games are just as protective. These days, even if we can't sit across the table from a friend, there's an alternative way to challenge our minds while socializing! You can read the study here.

Family Caregivers Were Already Overburdened—and Then Came COVID-19

The AARP often reports on the status of family caregivers in America. In May 2020, they partnered with the National Alliance for Caregiving to conduct a survey, which showed that there are more family caregivers than ever, who are in worse health than caregivers were only five years ago. Caregivers are putting in more hours than ever to help their loved ones. And the pandemic has accelerated their stress!

"The coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating the challenges family caregivers were already facing from a personal health, financial and emotional standpoint," said Susan Reinhard, R.N., Ph.D., senior vice president at AARP. "Family caregivers provide vital help and care for their loved ones, yet this survey shows that they keep getting stretched thinner and thinner. We must identify and implement more solutions to support family caregivers—both in the short term as we grapple with coronavirus and in the long term as our population ages and the number of family caregivers declines." Read more about the study here.

Getting Tired of Singing "Happy Birthday"? Here's an Alternative!

A lot of us have been working from home for months. As our workplaces open up, we might begin to feel pretty jumpy! Hiding out in our homes felt safe, and now we're anxious about going forth. Ohio State University researchers say this uncertainty and unpredictability may trigger a lot of fear and stress. They recommend that we reduce this anxiety with lifestyle changes such as getting enough sleep, exercise and healthy foods.

OSU's chief wellness officer Bernadette Melnyk offers one more clever tip that can help us kill two birds with one stone while sanitizing our hands. "While you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, take the opportunity to take five deep, abdominal breaths," she says. "Doing this at least five times a day can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure."

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2020 IlluminAge