Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

"Healing the lonely"/ "Friends are the antidote"


Sept. 9, 2016 "Healing the lonely": Today I found this article by Katie Hafner in the Globe and Mail:



BLACKPOOL, England — The woman on the other end of the phone spoke lightheartedly of spring and of her 81st birthday the previous week.

“Who did you celebrate with, Beryl?” asked Alison, whose job was to offer a kind ear.
“No one, I…”
And with that, Beryl’s cheer turned to despair.

Her voice began to quaver as she acknowledged that she had been alone at home not just on her birthday, but for days and days. The telephone conversation was the first time she had spoken in more than a week.

About 10,000 similar calls come in weekly to an unassuming office building in this seaside town at the northwest reaches of England, which houses The Silver Line Helpline, a 24-hour call center for older adults seeking to fill a basic need: contact with other people.

Loneliness, which Emily Dickinson described as “the Horror not to be surveyed,” is a quiet devastation. But in Britain, it is increasingly being viewed as something more: a serious public health issue deserving of public funds and national attention.

Working with local governments and the National Health Service, programs aimed at mitigating loneliness have sprung up in dozens of cities and towns. Even fire brigades have been trained to inspect homes not just for fire safety but for signs of social isolation.

“There’s been an explosion of public awareness here, from local authorities to the Department of Health to the media,” said Paul Cann, chief executive of Age UK Oxfordshire and a founder of The Campaign to End Loneliness, a five-year-old group based in London. “Loneliness has to be everybody’s business.”

Researchers have found mounting evidence linking loneliness to physical illness and to functional and cognitive decline. As a predictor of early death, loneliness eclipses obesity.

“The profound effects of loneliness on health and independence are a critical public health problem,” said Dr. Carla M. Perissinotto, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco. “It is no longer medically or ethically acceptable to ignore older adults who feel lonely and marginalized.”

In Britain and the United States, roughly one in three people older than 65 live alone, and in the United States, half of those older than 85 live alone. Studies in both countries show the prevalence of loneliness among people older than 60 ranging from 10 percent to 46 percent.

While the public, private and volunteer sectors in Britain are mobilizing to address loneliness, researchers are deepening their understanding of its biological underpinnings. In a paper published earlier this year in the journal Cell, neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified a region of the brain they believe generates feelings of loneliness. The region, known as the dorsal raphe nucleus, or D.R.N., is best known for its link to depression.

Kay M. Tye and her colleagues found that when mice were housed together, dopamine neurons in the D.R.N. were relatively inactive. But after the mice were isolated for a short period, the activity in those neurons surged when those mice were reunited with other mice.

“This is the first time we’ve found a cellular substrate for this experience,” said Dr. Tye, an assistant professor at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at M.I.T. and a senior author of the paper. “And we saw the change after 24 hours of isolation.”

John T. Cacioppo, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and director of the university’s Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, has been studying loneliness since the 1990s. He said loneliness is an aversive signal much like thirst, hunger or pain.

“Denying you feel lonely makes no more sense than denying you feel hunger,” he said. Yet the very word “lonely” carries a negative connotation, Professor Cacioppo said, signaling social weakness, or an inability to stand on one’s own.

The unspoken stigma of loneliness is amply evident during calls to The Silver Line. Most people call asking for advice on, say, roasting a turkey. Many call more than once a day. One woman rings every hour to ask the time. Only rarely will someone speak frankly about loneliness.

Yet the impulse to call in to services like The Silver Line is a healthy one, Professor Cacioppo said.

On a recent afternoon, Tracey, a Silver Line adviser, listened as a caller in his 80s embarked on a nostalgic trip down his list of favorite films. The next caller serenaded Tracey with “Oh What a Beautiful Morning,” on his harmonica.

Using data from a large national survey of older adults, in 2012 Dr. Perissinotto analyzed the relationship between self-reported loneliness and health outcomes in people older than 60. Of 1,604 participants in the study, 43 percent reported feelings of loneliness, and these individuals had significantly higher rates of declining mobility, difficulty in performing routine daily activities, and death during six years of follow-up. The association of loneliness with mortality remained significant even after adjusting for age, economic status, depression and other common health problems.

Dr. Perissinotto is also interested in examining the link between loneliness and suicidal thoughts, as there has been little research in that area. She hopes to study The Friendship Line, a 24-hour, toll-free, loneliness call-in line run by the Institute on Aging in San Francisco that is also a suicide prevention hotline.

It takes place in the United States, Britain remains well ahead in addressing the problem.
“In the U.S., there isn’t much recognition in terms of public health initiatives or the average person recognizing that loneliness has to do with health,” said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, whose studies also link loneliness to deteriorating health.

Age UK, an organization similar to AARP in the United States, oversees an array of programs aimed at decreasing loneliness and coordinates efforts with fire brigades to look for signs of loneliness and isolation in the homes they enter.

Another charity, Open Age, runs some 400 activities each week in Central London — sewing circles, current events discussions, book clubs and exercise and computer classes, held at church halls, sport centers, housing projects — and its employees also visit people in their homes to try to get them out and about.

“We try to work out what it is that’s preventing them from leaving the house,” said Helen Leech, the organization’s director.

Men and women differ greatly in how they grapple with loneliness. Seventy percent of the calls to The Silver Line are from women.

“We have this kind of male pride thing,” said Mike Jenn, 70, a retired charity worker who lives in London. “We say, ‘I can look after myself. I don’t need to talk to anyone,’ and it’s a complete fallacy. Not communicating helps to kill us.”

My opinion: On the internet, the article is a bit longer like this part:

Mr. Jenn runs a “Men’s Shed” in London’s Camden Town district, which aims to bring older men together in a more familiar and comfortable environment — working side by side in a woodworking shop. The concept began in Australia and has since spread to Britain: There are now more than 300 Men’s Sheds throughout England, Scotland and Ireland.


Keith Pearshouse, 70, a retired school principal, discovered the Men’s Shed near his home after moving to London from Norfolk, England, in 2007 and recognizing he was lonely.


“I was a bit anxious walking into a roomful of people,” said Mr. Pearshouse, chatting amid the din created by a table saw, router and lathe at the Camden Town shed, a 700-square-foot workshop in a local community center. “But I immediately thought, ‘Yeah, this is a place that would work for me.’”

Mr. Pearshouse, who had never worked with wood before he discovered the Men’s Shed, showed a visitor a delicate wooden jar he was finishing. The pieces he produces are gratifying, he said, but not nearly as gratifying as the human connections he has made.

While Mr. Pearshouse is still a long way from sharing every little ache and upset with his friends at the shed, he said his life would now feel much emptier without the shoulder-to-shoulder way of confiding he has come to know. As he spoke, he took the lid off his jar, and it gave a slight pop, signifying a perfect fit.



Jan. 9, 2017 "Loneliness can be deadly for elders; friends are the antidote": Today I found this article by Paula Span in the Globe and Mail
      
The circle shrinks. As the years pass, older people attend too many funerals. Friendships that sustained them for decades lapse when companions and confidants retire or move away or grow ill.

These days Sylvia Frank, who moved into an independent living residence in Lower Manhattan in 2014, can email or call one longtime friend in Florida. Another, in Queens, is slipping into dementia and will most likely exclaim, “I haven’t spoken to you in months!” when, in fact, they talked the day before.

But even at advanced ages, new relationships take root. Ms. Frank’s son kept telling her that a colleague’s cousin, Judy Sanderoff, was about to move into the same facility. They sought each other out.

Now, Mrs. Frank, 91, and Ms. Sanderoff, 96, eat breakfast together almost daily; they have dinner, à deux or with other friends, many evenings. Ms. Sanderoff spent Thanksgiving with Ms. Frank’s family in Brooklyn.

Together, they have signed up for bus trips to the Museum of Arts and Design, to historic sites in Harlem, to a Pennsylvania casino. With Ms. Frank speaking into her friend’s good ear, they talk about news, politics and their families.

When Ms. Frank didn’t come downstairs for breakfast one recent morning, Ms. Sanderoff was on the phone to ask why. For her part, Ms. Frank (sounding as if Neil Simon writes their dialogue) has been scrutinizing her friend’s diet.

Ms. Frank: What’s the point of taking blood pressure medication if you’re going to douse everything in salt?
Ms. Sanderoff: So don’t look.

But seriously. “At this age, it’s said you make acquaintances,” Ms. Sanderoff told me. “But I feel I’ve made a true friend in Sylvia.”

I’ve been talking, in this season of auld lang syne, with older people who have formed friendships late in life. Though they mourn their losses, they are grateful for the capacity to still find warmth, shared values and interests, understanding and trust from former strangers.

“The need we’ve had our entire lives — people who know us, value us, who bring us joy — that never goes away,” said Barbara Moscowitz, senior geriatric social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The way we prioritize friendships may evolve. Laura Carstensen, a Stanford University psychologist, developed an influential theory called “socioemotional selectivity”: As people sense their remaining time growing brief, they shed superficial relationships to concentrate on those they find most meaningful.

“They invest more in their remaining connections,” said Gary Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center. “They optimize friendships, rather than try to maximize them.”

A tide of recent research underscores the importance of such bonds. Social isolation and loneliness can take a serious toll on elders, psychologically and physically. (Over 75, almost a quarter of men and nearly 46 percent of women live alone, the Census Bureau reports.)

We can understand the risks of isolation and an underpopulated, disconnected life. “For a host of reasons, no one is addressing the individual’s daily needs — food, medication, medical appointments,” Ms. Moscowitz explains. “The refrigerator is empty, but there’s no one to call. People suffer despair, humiliation.”

They also suffer higher mortality rates and increased risk of depression, cognitive decline and illnesses like coronary artery disease.

But people who aren’t isolated can still feel lonely, a more subjective state. “My friends moved to Florida and California and said, ‘Come visit!,’ ” said Shelley Youner, 79, who recently moved into the Hebrew Home in Riverdale, in the Bronx. (More dialogue by Neil Simon.) “I could have heard from President Obama sooner than my friends.”

Loneliness brings its own dangers; studies have shown associations with higher blood pressure, with nursing home admissions, with risky health behaviors like inactivity and smoking, and with dementia.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, followed 1,600 participants (average age: 71) and found that those who reported loneliness were more likely to develop difficulties with activities of daily living. Even when the study controlled for socioeconomic status and health, the lonely had higher mortality: Nearly 23 percent died within six years, compared with 14 percent of those who weren’t lonely.

It’s heartening, therefore, to hear Ms. Youner kvell about her new friend, Shirley Zweibel, 87.

“We’re constantly having a conversation,” Ms. Youner said.
“Shelley can’t stop talking, that’s the reason,” Ms. Zweibel bantered. But, she added: “When you’re a kid and say you have a friend, you don’t even know what that means. At this age, it goes deeper.”

In fact, older adults have probably developed important relational skills, said Rosemary Blieszner, distinguished professor of human development at Virginia Tech and a longtime friendship researcher.

“They’re pretty tolerant of friends’ imperfections and idiosyncrasies, more than young adults,” she said. “You bring a lot more experience to your friendships when you’re older. You know what’s worth fighting about and not worth fighting about.”
I couldn’t help noticing how many of the elders I spoke with had benefited from living in retirement communities and nursing homes — the very destinations so many people dread. They can provide proximity, shared activities and a larger pool of prospective friends.

Flo Jakubiak, 85, left her condo in Sun City, Ariz., a year ago, when she felt herself growing socially cut off. “Nobody there knew I existed,” she said. In an independent living center, she has found friends with whom to share meals, movies and canasta games.
But happenstance plays a role, too.

Sandi Schwartz met her two closest friends a few years back when she ran into an acquaintance at a bus stop in Fair Lawn, N.J. Ms. Schwartz’s partner had recently been institutionalized, she told the woman, confessing to loneliness and depression. A stranger sitting at the stop took Ms. Schwartz’s phone number, said she would call — and did.

“I always tell her she saved my life,” Ms. Schwartz said. Now she and two close friends, all in their early 80s, are on the phone daily and go out weekly.

With strong evidence that friendship does, indeed, help save lives and promote health, social workers and researchers wish we could pay more attention to its central role. Activity directors, senior center staff members and family caregivers: Are there better ways to help elders stay in touch with the friends they care about, or meet new ones? We’re all willing to drive relatives to doctors’ appointments; driving them to spend time with friends may matter as much.

“I’ve seen those tender moments,” said Sylvia Frank’s younger son, Michael Lasky. Last spring, Ms. Frank developed a serious heart problem and spent two weeks in a hospital, then another two in rehab. By phone, Mr. Lasky kept a worried Judy Sanderoff apprised of his mother’s condition.

When he took her home after a month, they found an unexpected welcome. “Judy had put balloons on my mom’s front door,” Mr. Lasky said. “Then she came downstairs and they hugged each other for a good 10 minutes.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/health/loneliness-elderly.html?_r=0

My week:

Sun. May 6, 2018: It was busy at work.

Mon. May 7, 2018: It was very quiet at work.

Tues. May 8, 2018: I got called in today to work because J was sick.  It was still quiet.

Wed. May 9, 2018: Today was my day off.  I did one job interview in the morning as a kitchen helper.  I did an interview in the afternoon as a server.

Thurs. May 10, 2018: I worked in the other department.  It was quiet.

There was a social event I was going to go to, but it was cancelled.  That's fine.

I then watched Riverdale ep called "Chapt. 34: Judgement Night" and it was the 2nd to last ep before the season finale.  It was crazy.  All the characters were put into real and present danger, and they were all almost hurt and killed.

Fri. May 11, 2018: It was finally busy at the restaurant.

Sat. May 12, 2018: It was busy.  I also went out to dinner with my family and 2 family friends at a Chinese restaurant called Good Buddy.  I was there back in Oct. 2017 for dinner.

I did 2 job interviews this week.

Sun. May 13, 2018: Mother's Day was very busy.  We were prepared for it.

Mon. May 14, 2018: It was very quiet today.

Tues. May 15, 2018: 

Summer TV shows:

Reverie: I read this in the Edmonton Journal.  This show is coming out on May 30.  I will definitely check out the pilot.  There is a high chance I will watch it.

A former detective specializing in human behavior is brought in when the launch of an advanced virtual reality program has dangerous and unintended consequences.

Shades of Blue: This show is coming out with the 3rd season in Jun.  It's the last season.  I really like it:

Harlee Santos, a single-mother New York police officer, is forced to work in the FBI's anti-corruption task force whilst dealing with her own financial problems.


Zoo: This summer show got cancelled.  It was average, but it was fun to watch:

Wayward Pines: This summer show got cancelled.  It's good.

Midnight, Texas: I'm surprised this show got a 2nd season.  It was a fun supernatural show to watch.

May 16, 2018: 

The Exorcist: 

ABC cancels other shows: They cancelled Deception after 1 season and Quantico after 3 seasons.

Right now, I'm writing my reviews for fall 2017 TV shows.

Marie Diamond Feng Shui Fest: I have been posting this on Facebook.  You can listen to all these audios about feng shui.

It has inspired me to declutter paper.  It's mainly me writing about those reviews for fall 2017 TV shows.

I was also writing about the job interviews I've been to.  I write about all these things on scrap paper and then put it on my emails/ blog posts.  I then recycle the paper.

May 17, 2018 The highlight of the week:

Karimah Stewart: She interviews Joe White and it was very inspirational.  To build massive wealth:

1. Mindset.
2. Strategies and actions- massive, consistent and persistent action.
3. Skills.

Deborah Fryer:

The Marie Diamond Feng Shui fest is really good.

I liked to write about those TV show pilot reviews. 


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