For older adults, having more or closer family members in one’s social network decreases likelihood of death, but having a larger or closer group of friends does not, according to a new study that presented at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).
“We found that older individuals who had more family in their network, as well as older people who were closer with their family were less likely to die,” said James Iveniuk, the lead author of the study and a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “No such associations were observed for number of or closeness to friends.”
The study used nationally representative data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), to investigate which aspects of social networks are most important for postponing mortality.
In the first wave, these older adults were asked to list up to five of their closest confidants, describe in detail the nature of each relationship, and indicate how close they felt to each person. Excluding spouses, the average number of close confidants named was 2.91, and most older adults perceived high levels of support from their social contacts. Additionally, most respondents were married, in good physical health, and reported not being very lonely.
Older adults who reported feeling “extremely close” on average to the non-spousal family members they listed as among their closest confidants had about a six percent risk of mortality within the next five years, compared to approximately a 14 percent risk of mortality among those who reported feeling “not very close” to the family members they listed.
Furthermore, the study found that respondents who listed more non-spousal family members in their network — irrespective of closeness — had lower odds of death compared to those who listed fewer family members.
Iveniuk said he was surprised that feeling closer to one’s family members and having more relatives as confidants decreased the risk of death for older adults, but that the same was not true of relationships with friends.
“Because you can choose your friends, you might, therefore, expect that relationships with friends would be more important for mortality, since you might be better able to customize your friend network to meet your specific needs,” Iveniuk said. “But that account isn’t supported by the data — it is the people who in some sense you cannot choose, and who also have little choice about choosing you, who seem to provide the greatest benefit to longevity.”
Four factors most consistently associated with reduced mortality risk were being married, larger network size, greater participation in social organizations, and feeling closer to one’s confidants, which all mattered to about the same degree.
Interestingly, marriage was found to have positive effects on longevity, regardless of marital quality.
Generally, Iveniuk said his findings underscore the substantial importance of familial relationships for longevity. “Going back to the very first sociological theorists, many different thinkers have noted that there is some kind of special significance that people attribute to family ties, leading people to stay close to and support people who wouldn’t necessarily be individuals that they would associate with if they had the choice,” Iveniuk said.
As with any crime, prevention is always your best option. Self-monitoring your credit will enable you to spot any issues and resolve them right away. The Simple Dollar recently looked into identity theft and the best protection services and offers some tips to better protecting yourself from becoming a victim.
Carefully monitoring all three credit reports.
Americans can access these through AnnualCreditReport.
If your wallet is stolen or your bank notifies you of any suspicious activity, request a 90-day alert on your credit activity, requiring businesses to verify your identity before extending credit in your name. At your request, alert status can be renewed indefinitely.
Freeze your credit reports.
If you won’t be opening a new bank account, signing or making any transactions requiring credit inquiry anytime soon, you may wish to freeze your credit reports. Simply call your banks and the credit bureaus and request it. When your reports are frozen, you will be contacted whenever there is an inquiry on your credit. Set aside an afternoon for this time-consuming process and be prepared to pay $10 per freeze or $10 per unfreeze.
Attend to all mail and email.
Examine statements for erroneous charges, such as medical care you did not receive or items you did not purchase. Be on the alert if your utilities, banks, credit card companies or other businesses stop sending email or paper notifications, as identity thieves often change addresses to hide criminal activity from victims. Similarly, if you receive any password-reset emails, someone may be trying to access your accounts.
Check your own background.
Periodically running a background check on yourself will help you find any mistaken charges that you must dispute with the authorities.
Consider identity theft insurance.
Identity theft insurance will cover money spent recovering your identity. Frequently, home and renter’s policies have an add-on option for this coverage and some employers include it as a benefit.
In addition to self-monitoring, there are five main ways you can protect yourself from identity theft.
1. Carefully guard sensitive documents.
Keep your Social Security card, medical ID cards, driver’s license and all financial statements in a secure location at home, if possible.
2. Create strong passwords.
Do not use names or other easy-to-find information for passwords and avoid using “Forget your password?” questions that can be answered using Google, such as your high school mascot. Use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. If you would like assistance generating strong passwords, use an online password manager to create, strengthen and store your passwords.
3. Avoid mystery links.
Once you click on a mystery link in an email or on a website, you may be granting identity thieves access to your computer and files.
4. Only authenticate yourself to trusted services.
If a business is contacting you, they should already know who you are. You should never give sensitive information, such as the last four digits of your Social Security number, to anyone calling you.
5. Learn your Smart Phone’s security features.
Guard your Smart Phone and the information stored on it. Create a complex PIN number, set automatic shut-off to one minute and use remote data wiping. Remote data wiping allows you to remotely remove all data from a stolen phone. Be sure to frequently save your phone information to the cloud or another remote storage location, so you can wipe without regret. Apple iPhones with the Find My iPhone feature and Google Android phone with the Android Lost feature are able to perform remote data wiping.
Carefully self-monitoring and following the five steps above can help keep your private financial information, your assets and your good credit secure. For further guidance, please consult with your attorney, accountant or other qualified financial security professional.
Researchers have found that an experimental model of Alzheimer’s disease can be successfully treated with a commonly used anti-inflammatory drug.
A team led by Dr David Brough from The University of Manchester found that the anti-inflammatory drug completely reversed memory loss and brain inflammation in mice.
Nearly everybody will at some point in their lives take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; mefenamic acid, a common Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug (NSAID), is routinely used for period pain.
The findings were published in the respected journal Nature Communications. Dr Brough and Dr Catherine Lawrence supervised PhD student Mike Daniels, and postdoc Dr Jack Rivers-Auty who conducted most of the experiments.
Dr Brough cautions that more research is needed to identify its impact on humans, and the long-term implications of its use.
The research, funded by the Medical Research Council and the Alzheimer’s Society, paves the way for human trials which the team hope to conduct in the future.
Around 500,000 people in the UK have Alzheimer’s disease which gets worse over time, affecting many aspects of their lives, including the ability to remember, think and make decisions.
In the study transgenic mice that develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease were used. One group of 10 mice was treated with mefenamic acid, and 10 mice were treated in the same way with a placebo.
The mice were treated at a time when they had developed memory problems and the drug was given to them by a mini-pump implanted under the skin for one month.
Memory loss was completely reversed back to the levels seen in mice without the disease.
Dr Brough said: “There is experimental evidence now to strongly suggest that inflammation in the brain makes Alzheimer’s disease worse.
“Our research shows for the first time that mefenamic acid, a simple Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug can target an important inflammatory pathway called the NLRP3 inflammasome , which damages brain cells.”
He added: “Until now, no drug has been available to target this pathway, so we are very excited by this result.
“However, much more work needs to be done until we can say with certainty that it will tackle the disease in humans as mouse models don’t always faithfully replicate the human disease.
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Testing drugs already in use for other conditions is a priority for Alzheimer’s Society – it could allow us to shortcut the fifteen years or so needed to develop a new dementia drug from scratch.
“These promising lab results identify a class of existing drugs that have potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease by blocking a particular part of the immune response. However, these drugs are not without side effects and should not be taken for Alzheimer’s disease at this stage – studies in people are needed first.”
Please note, this study is experimental and doctors do not prescribe Mefenamic Acid as a treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease. For queries email firstname.lastname@example.org