AARP International

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As we age...

Stress wreaks havoc on our mind and body

THE IMPACT

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Stress is damaging physically as well as mentally.

For both men and women, stress is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease - a leading cause of death in the U.S.

The Lancet, 2004; PLOS One, 2012

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Stress is tied to money and work.

For decades, money and work ahve been the top two leading causes of stress in American adults, according to national surveys.

American Psychological Association, 2017

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Reducing stress helps us make better decisions.

On a neurological level, chronic stress impairs decision-making: It weakens our ability to consider consequences and can lead to more high-risk decisions.

Cell, 2015

The Takeaway

Make time to de-stress every day.

Advice from Real People

Seeing the ocean is so calming for me. So I make a point of either parking by the beach or walking my dog down there a couple times a week.”

“I work in a service-based industry where people often get upset. It used to stress me out. It helps to ask questions instead of making assumptions. That way I see the reason behind the anger, so I can solve it stress-free.”

“For me, different kinds of stress require different solutions. Running gets me out of my head. Meditation or Tai Chi helps me focus. So instead of forcing myself to do one thing, I try lots of stuff and see what sticks.”

The Research

Even small, daily stressors accumulate to harm long-term mental health.

“ Results suggest that daily stressors cause wear and tear on emotional well-being and are consistent with cognitive theories of depression: How people respond to the negative events in their lives is important to future well-being.”

Psychological Science, 2013

As we get older, we become vulnerable to the damaging effects of stress.

“ Acute stress responses in young, healthy individuals typically do not impose a health burden. However, if the threat is unremitting, particularly in older or unhealthy individuals, the long-term effects of stressors can damage health.”

Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 2005

Non-medical interventions, like meditation, can be as effective as medication in reducing stress.

“ Experienced meditators have lower stress hormons and perceived stress, as well as a smaller neurogenic inflammatory response, compared to the control group.”

Pyschoneuroendocrinology, 2016

Redesign Your Time

Through the Living 100 project, AARP seeks to spark a conversation. How can we challenge our own mindsets and attitudes about aging? What do longer lifespans mean for current and future generations? How can we address disparities in race, gender, income, education and geography that can be a matter of life and death? And most importantly, how do institutions and systems need to change so that we are not only living longer, but making the most of our extra time?

 

Representing nearly 38 million people, AARP strives to ensure Americans aged 50 years and older have access to the care, information, and services they need to lead healthier lives with independence and dignity. Thus, AARP believes it’s time to Disrupt Aging—to reconceive the national conversation on what growing older means. Toward that, in an August 2017 supplemental issue sponsored by AARP, The Gerontologist put the scientific lens to Disrupt Aging via 12 peer-reviewed research papers examining how negative attitudes about aging affect health and quality of life.

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