Monthly Archives: November 2016

Why Balanced Grandparenting is Great for Both Kids and Their Grandparents

Happy Asian family

By Marta Gonzalez Catalan (Graduate Student, Palo Alto University) and Rowena Gomez, PhD (Professor and Director of Clinical Training in Psychology, Palo Alto University)

 

Did you know recent research suggests taking care of your grandchildren at least once a week benefits grandparents’ overall mental health?1 How? You strengthen your brain by doing more mental activities that require using your memory, analyzing and managing a task in a fast pace.

This can protect against declines in cognition such as memory.2,3 In addition, having a more positive mindset, being more socially engaged and physically active, can translate into less declines in thinking skills such as memory, planning, and decision-making.2,3 It turns out, that grandparenting has all of these great features! 

What are the emotional benefits of grandparenting for older adults?

 

Not only can grandparenting help you think better, it can help you feel better.4 Research shows that grandparenting helps older adults improve their family ties and their sense of worthiness, because they feel valued in that role.5,6

Grandparents also feel more confident when they realize they are physically able to play with their grandchildren.4,7 Taking care of grandchildren also helps seniors to be more socially engaged.4 This increase in social and active lifestyle can have the added benefit of improving thinking skills, such as memory.3

What are the mental health benefits of grandparenting for grandchildren?

 

Grandparenting is great for grandchildren, too! Experts have found that the positive attachment and relationship between grandparents and grandchildren has similar benefits as those between children and their parents. 8 They may reassure their grandchild´s healthy development and independence.

In addition, grandparents act as positive social role models and as a source of culture, religion, and tradition that can be very valuable in the child´s cultural sense of self.8

 

Overall to the child, grandparents become8:

 

  • The storyteller,
  • The child’s play partner, and
  • The source of knowledge, values, and unconditional love.

What are the disadvantages of unbalanced grandparenting?

 

Despite these great advantages, there is the risk of “too much of a good thing.” Experts state that spending too much time caring for grandchildren may increase the risk of poorer health and mental health outcomes.1,2

For instance, Bowers & Myers (1999) reported that excess of stress and burden of grandparenting (5 or more days a week) can lead to excessive and chronic release of the stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can damage areas of the brain that are important for memory (e.g., remembering items on a shopping list), and control our impulsivity and emotions (e.g., becoming more easily upset).

In conclusion, balanced grandparenting has great emotional and mental health benefits to older adults and their grandchildren!

 

Grandparents (and grandchildren), tell us your personal experiences in the comments section!

 

For more on this topic, check out these related PsychCentral blog posts:

 

Challenges and Benefits for Grandparent Caregivers

 

Intergenerational Play Is Tie That Binds

 

More Grandparents Caring for Kids, But Quality Varies

 

References:

 

1Burn, K. F., Henderson, V. W., Ames, D., Dennerstein, L., & Szoeke, C. (2014). Role of grandparenting in postmenopausal women’s cognitive health: results from the Women’s Healthy Aging Project. Menopause, 21(10), 1069-1074. doi: 10.1097/gme.0000000000000236

2Burn, K., & Szoeke, C. (2015). Grandparenting predicts late-life cognition: Results from the Women’s Healthy Ageing Project. Maturitas, 81(2), 317-322. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.03.013

3Hertzog, C., Kramer, A. F., Wilson, R. S., & Lindenberger, U. (2009). Enrichment effects on adult cognitive development. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9, 1–65. doi:10.1111/j.1539- 6053.2009.01034.x

4Arpino, B., & Bordone, V. (2014). Does grandparenting pay off? The effect of child care on grandparents’ cognitive functioning. Journal of Marriage and Family, 76(2), 337-351. doi: 10.1111/jomf.12096

5Coall, D. A., & Hertwig, R. (2011). Grandparental investment: A relic of the past or a resource for the future? Psychological Science, 20 (2), 93–98. doi: 10.1177/0963721411403269

6Triadó, C., Villar, F., Solé, C., Celdrán, M., Pinazo, S., Conde, L., & Montoro Rodríguez, J. (2008). Las abuelas/os cuidadores de sus nietos/as: tareas de cuidado, beneficios y dificultades del rol. Psicología de la Infancia y la Adolescencia, 4, 455-464. doi: 10.1174/021037008785702938

7Grundy, E. M., Albala, C., Allen, E., Dangour, A. D., Elbourne, D., & Uauy, R. (2012). Grandparenting and psychosocial health among older Chileans: A longitudinal analysis. Aging and Mental Health, 16, 1047–1057. doi: 10.1080/ 13607863.2012.692766

8Planillo, A. H. (2004). Abuelos, abuelas, nietos y nietas. El punto de vista infantil. Indivisa: Boletín de estudios e investigación, 5, 35-42. http://www.redalyc.org/pdf/771/77100502.pdf

9Bowers, B. F., & Myers, B. J. (1999). Grandmothers providing care for grandchildren: Consequences of various levels of caregiving. Family Relations, 48 (3), 303-311. doi: 10.2307/585641

 

 

Biographies:

Marta Gonzalez Catalan is a second year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology PhD Program at Palo Alto University (PAU). Her clinical and research interests include neuropsychology, geropsychology, and diversity. She is also founding officer of the PAU student organization called Student Association of Gerontological Enrichment (SAGE).

Dr. Rowena Gomez is Director of Clinical Training for the PhD Clinical Psychology Program and Professor at Palo Alto University. Dr. Gomez’s research focus has been in geropsychology, neuropsychology, and depression.

 


Filed under: Aging, Children and Youth Tagged: attachment, cognitive health, grandchildren, grandparenting, grandparents, memory

8 Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving with Your Family Post-Election

Angry Woman wanting to hit her spouse with a spoon

By Elaine Ducharme, PhD, ABPP (Clinical Psychologist)

The holidays have always been a time of emotion and increased stress. People assume everyone else has a perfect family or is having the perfect meal. Loved ones come together. Other loved ones are missed.

This year, Thanksgiving is arriving on the heels of an extraordinarily controversial presidential election. Rarely have we seen this level of anxiety and stress during an election cycle. The country became more polarized than ever. Friendships and romantic relationships were taxed and some even severed. And now, these same friends and families are wondering how they are ever going to have civil conversations again let alone sit down and share Thanksgiving together.

Many families will share the holiday this year with at least one person with a different political view. It is easy to get caught up in our differences. It is important to recognize that as families and friends, we share many things as well. Here are suggestions for families and friends to navigate these holidays.

  1. In some cases, it may be better to avoid political conversation. Consider telling guests ahead of time that political opinions will be checked at the door or outside of the dining area. Then talk about anything else — food, kids, plans for the holidays, etc. Anyone that brings up a controversial topic can be gently reminded of the policy.
  2. If this policy doesn’t work for you, or if issues related to the election are raised anyway, remember the importance of listening. You do not have to respond. All of us like to feel we are heard. We don’t have to agree. But acknowledging feelings can go a long way. This sets a great example for the younger guests at your table.
  3. Focus on areas of agreement if you can. Do you share similar concerns about your family, health care or your job?
  4. Mitch Albom, a journalist and -best-selling author, noted in the Detroit Free Press, that we need to remember that many things in the news that were and continue to be reported as near facts proved to be massively incorrect. So remind yourself and each other that maybe we need to wait and see. Then comment. But not predict.
  5.  Know when to walk away from the conversation. If you find yourself getting upset by the conversation, take a personal time out, head for the kitchen and start to clean up, go entertain the kids, or even take a trip to the bathroom.
  6.  Suggest ideas to work together for the good of your community.
  7. Remember: These are your friends and family. You can have different opinions and still love one another.
  8. And finally, reflect on the fact that we are better together and as Americans we have a great deal to be thankful for. Additional information on managing anxiety and stress can be found at APA’s Help Center.

 

Biography:

Elaine Ducharme, PhD, ABPP has specialized in the treatment of trauma and abuse for over 30 years. She is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Glastonbury, Connecticut and is an adjunct professor at the University of Hartford. Dr. Ducharme is the author of Must I Turn the Other Cheek, a book about the effects of premature forgiveness on recovery from sexual abuse and Assessment and Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder. She has lectured locally and nationally, and is a frequent guest on both radio and television.  Her weekly blog on WRCH, where she is a monthly guest on their morning FM radio show, provides information on a variety of mental health issues. As Public Education Coordinator for the Connecticut Psychological Association she is a frequent contributor to local and national magazine and newspaper articles. Dr. Ducharme is often called upon to provide expert testimony to the courts on issues related to sexual trauma.


Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: difficult dialogues, election, election stress, family conflict, politics, stress, surviving the holidays, Thanksgiving

Historical Trauma in the Present: Why APA Cannot Remain Silent on the Dakota Access Pipeline

blog-standing-rock

By Susan H. McDaniel, PhD (2016 APA President)

Protesters being marked with numbers, put in dog kennels and shot with rubber bullets. These do not sound like events that should occur in modern day America. Unfortunately, according to media reports, these are some of the first-hand accounts of what is happening in North Dakota as protests escalate over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

For those unfamiliar with the dispute between environmental and human rights protesters on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and law enforcement, I would invite to you read the New York Times detailed summary of events. In short, there is a growing perception of injustice as a 1,172-mile oil pipeline that is slated to run from North Dakota to Illinois was rerouted near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation due its potential threat of contamination to Bismarck, North Dakota’s water supply.

Native Americans have been historically marginalized and mistreated by the United States. For instance, not all States recognized Native Americans’ right to vote until 1957 and many tribes experienced great loss of life, land and culture as the result of State and Federal legislation.

According to the psychological literature, chronic, systemic loss and mistreatment, as described above, may lead to historical trauma in which the pain experienced by one generation transfers to subsequent generations through biological, psychological, environmental, and social means. Studies show that historical trauma is linked to health disparities, including increased likelihood of early death due to chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, unintentional injuries, assault/homicide, and suicide.

APA’s mission is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.” This mission makes it incumbent upon our field and our association to speak out when the health and well-being of marginalized and other populations are being threatened and when possible to prevent trauma from occurring.

Due to the current proposed placement of the Dakota Access pipeline, we are concerned about possible leakage, which could harm the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. As psychologists, we are troubled by the potential for adverse neurological effects arising from exposure to oil-contaminated water.

In response to current events, I sent a letter on behalf of APA to President Obama with Dr. Jacqueline Gray, President of the Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race (APA Division 45) that expressed:

  • Our support for the Administration’s hold on the construction of the oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Reservation, and praise for his consideration of alternate routes for the project; and
  • A request to urge law enforcement to show restraint as they try to diffuse the conflict.

It is critical that APA and the mental health community continue to show our support and bring attention to the issues impacting Native American communities and to help alleviate historical trauma.

In closing, I recommend you sign up for APA’s Federal Action Network to influence policy makers and make sure your voice is heard on critical issues in the future.

Dr. McDaniel is president of the American Psychological Association.

 

Image source: Flickr via Creative Commons.


Filed under: Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Health Disparities, Human Rights and Social Justice Tagged: #DAPL, #noDAPL, American Indians, Dakota Access Pipeline, environmental racism, health disparities, historical trauma, human rights, human rights abuses, law enforcement, Native Americans, police brutality, public health, public policy, racism, trauma, violence, water is life

How Do We Prevent Youth Violence? It Starts with Tolerance and Respect

blog-intl-day-tolerance

Kelsey Dunn (Summer 2016 Intern, APA Children, Youth and Families Office)

 

According to the United Nations, tolerance is “respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human.” November 16th is annually celebrated as the International Day for Tolerance, which promotes the recognizing of human rights and highlights the diversity in our global community.

Violence prevention, especially in relation to our youth, begins with introducing the idea of acceptance across various levels of diversity, including race, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, and more. Through tolerance, we can teach youth to respect each other and reduce feelings of indifference towards groups of different backgrounds.

Through this heightened awareness of and acceptance of others, youth violence can be reduced, and prevented. There are small steps to fighting intolerance, some of which require:

  • Law – each government across the globe is responsible for protecting human rights.
  • Education – teaching others not to fear the unknown, as this breeds ignorance versus acceptance. Encourage youth to be curious and open-minded about their own and other cultures.
  • Access to information – develop programs and policies that encourage the idea of freedom of press, which can in turn encourage a public outpouring of different opinions and facts.
  • Individual awareness – encourage individuals, and especially our youth, to become aware of the impact between their personal behavior and the cycle of violence in society. How can your direct actions influence the safety of your world?
  • Local solutions – most global problems have solutions embedded in the local and national levels, and nonviolent action from the masses can have a large influence on confronting and ending violence and intolerance.

 

What can you do to help?

 

Promote tolerance within your own organization or community by celebrating the International Day of Tolerance on November 16th.

Spread awareness and the message of tolerance, as well, by working with the STRYVE Action Council to make changes in preventing youth violence.

Join the conversation – use #STRYVE on social media.

Find trainings and other resources to start working on stopping youth violence before it starts: http://vetoviolence.cdc.gov/apps/stryve.

 

Biography:

Ms. Dunn is a senior at the University of South Florida majoring in Social Work. She is a Bright Futures Scholar, an AP Scholar, and a Take Stock in Children Scholar. She recently completed The Washington Center internship, with placement in the APA Children, Youth and Families Office.

Image source: Flickr via Creative Commons

 

 

 


Filed under: Children and Youth, Violence Tagged: Diversity, International Day for Tolerance, respect, tolerance, violence, violence prevention, youth violence

Caregivers Need Care Too: 3 Steps to Self-Care

blog-self-care-caregivers

By Kimberlee Bethany Bonura, PhD

If you are responsible for the wellbeing of others – whether you’re a parent of a child with special needs, or caring for an aging parent, spouse or other loved one – you know that caring for someone else is hard work. Approximately 44 million Americans are caregivers, and the average caregiver devotes more than 20 unpaid hours per week to supporting the health and wellbeing of their loved one. That is on top of their other duties and obligations, including full time jobs in many cases.

The work of caregiving can take a toll on your sleep and your health. Research indicates that more than two-thirds of caregivers experience disturbed sleep. Other research indicates that caregivers have three times the rate of depression than matched non-caregivers, which may be related to chronic impaired sleep. More than half of caregivers experience declines in health while providing care. Caregivers may feel that they are burning the candle at both ends, and at two places in the middle, and never have a chance to rest.

Caregiving is meaningful and caregivers value making sure that their loved ones have a higher quality of life. Even though caregiving is tough, it is also emotionally gratifying and rewarding, and it can yield positive benefits. In a 6-year study at John Hopkins University of 3,500 caregiving spouses, adult children, and relatives, researchers found that caregivers had an 18% reduced rate of death compared to non-caregivers. Perhaps caregiving, although challenging, provides an innate sense of meaning and purpose that promotes you taking care of yourself, so that you can keep on taking care of your loved ones.

There are clearly benefits to being there for a loved one, and you experience that love, joy, and gratitude every day. As you reflect on caregiving during National Family Caregiver Month, allow yourself space to support your own health and wellbeing, and find ways to care for yourself.

If you are a caregiver, self-care is critical to maintaining your energy and your quality of life. Here are 3 steps to self-care for caregivers.

 

1. Learn the benefits of mindfulness

At its simplest, mindfulness means being aware of your mind – being aware of what goes on in your thoughts. There is a great deal that goes on within our heads, and often the drama in our heads is based on regrets of the past, expectations that weren’t met in the present, and our fears or hopes for the future. Mindfulness is intended to help us become aware of all those streams of thought. This is a powerful opportunity for insight, because in the present moment, we can better manage our stress. That’s why being mindful is such a useful tool for stress management.

 

2. Get mindfulness training

Mindfulness training can be a big help. First, mindfulness training helps build your resources to survive challenging times. Second, mindfulness training helps you pay attention and notice and enjoy the good times with your loved ones. Third, mindfulness training offers you a consistent way to recharge, restore, and recover. Research at Northwestern University found that when caregivers participated in mindfulness training, they had lower levels of depression, improved sleep, and an overall improved quality of life. In the study, the care-recipients (individuals with early stage dementia) also participated in mindfulness training, and experienced similar benefits.

 

3. Try Chair Yoga as a great mindfulness strategy

Chair Yoga is a simple, accessible way to bring gentle mindful exercise into your life. It’s an adapted form of yoga that anyone can do, no special equipment required. Chair Yoga can be totally seated, making it accessible for individuals with mobility limitations. It can also include standing poses with the support of the chair. Try Chair Yoga to manage your own stress and boost your health and well-being or try it with your loved one, as a shared strategy for stress management and wellness promotion.

To find a class in your local area, look for Chair Yoga classes at fitness centers, community centers, and health and wellness facilities.

Try these gentle and fully seated Chair Yoga exercises at home or at work or with your loved one.

  • Chair Meditation:
    • Sit quietly on a comfortable chair.
    • Roll your shoulders down and back to engage the muscles of the back and open your chest.
    • Rest your palms in your lap, palms facing up.
    • Close your eyes, and focus on slow, deliberate breathing.
    • As you inhale, say “Inhale.” As you exhale, say “Exhale.”
    • Breathe deliberately for 2 to 5 minutes.

 

  • Chair Twists:
    • From your seated position, gently twist at the waist toward the right, bringing your right hand back to the side of the chair and your left hand to the outside of your right leg.
    • Keep your neck soft with a gentle stretch.
    • Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
    • Repeat on the other side.

 

  • Chair Leg Lifts:
    • From your seated position, lift the right leg forward as high as possible, engaging the thigh muscles.
    • Hold for 5–10 deep breaths to cultivate mental and physical endurance.
    • Repeat on the left side.

Overall, remember that being a caregiver is an honor, because your loved one has trusted you with their health and safety. But also, remember to honor yourself for the hard work you do. You already take good care of your loved ones – remember to take good care of yourself, too.

***

Learn more about National Family Caregivers Month, and review resources to support you as a caregiver, from these organizations:

American Psychological Association

National Alliance for Caregiving

Caregiver Action Network

American Society on Aging

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Paralyzed Veterans of America

Samueli Institute: Resources for Military Caregivers

 

Biography:

Dr. Kimberlee Bethany Bonura is the Division 47 (Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology) representative to APA’s Committee on Aging (CONA). Dr. Bonura is a fitness and wellness educator; her work focuses on the benefits of gentle exercise and self-care for health and wellness promotion. She is a contributing faculty member in the Walden University College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and a Professor for The Great Courses. Learn more at http://www.drkimberleebonura.com/ and http://www.chairyoga.com/ and contact Dr. Bonura at [email protected].

 

Image source: Flickr user pslee999 via Creative Commons


Filed under: Health and Wellness Tagged: caregiving, chair yoga, mindfulness, mindfulness strategy, National Family Caregiver Month, self-care, sleep, wellness

How the Federal Government Can Better Protect LGBTQ Students in Religious Universities & Colleges

Urban lesbian couple enjoy

This is a cross-post from Adler University’s “The Socially Responsible Practitioner” blog.  Joshua Wolff, PhD (Assistant Professor of Psychology, Adler University) describes his recommendations to the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education on how best to protect the wellbeing of LGBTQ students attending religious institutions of higher education where their identities are not supported. Growing social and legal acceptance of LGBTQ individuals has resulted in many of these institutions applying for exemptions from Title IX (which prohibits sex discrimination in education) due to religious convictions. In short, these institutions are able to discriminate against LGBTQ college students while still receiving taxpayer funds. The risks posed to LGBTQ students by this are great cause for concern. An excerpt is posted below. You can read the full post here.

This September, I met with staff members in the Office of Civil Rights, at the U.S. Department of Education (DOEd) in Washington, D.C. to talk about the risks posed to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) students by disaffirming religious universities/colleges (DRUs). Last year, the DOEd published a list of religious colleges and universities which have applied for exemption to Title IX, which includes federal regulations against sex discrimination in colleges. These are institutions of higher education seeking to discriminate against LGBTQ students on the basis of the institutions’ religious convictions—while still collecting taxpayer dollars.

Currently, Title IX allows schools who are “controlled by a religious entity” to request exemptions to Title IX on the basis of religious beliefs which may be in conflict with federal regulations. Since Title IX was passed in 1972, requests for exemptions were generally limited to contraception concerns at Catholic schools. However, there has been a dramatic increase in Title IX exemption requests over the past 2 years in response to growing social and legal acceptance of LGBTQ people. As it currently stands, universities with Title IX exemption are allowed to:

  • Refuse to admit or retain students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Refuse gender-affirming housing or restrooms to transgender students
  • Discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment

Read the rest of the post here.

Image source: iStockPhoto.com


Filed under: Children and Youth, Human Rights and Social Justice, LGBT Issues Tagged: higher education, LGBT, LGBT rights, LGBT youth

How the Federal Government Can Better Protect LGBTQ Students in Religious Universities & Colleges

Urban lesbian couple enjoy

This is a cross-post from Adler University’s “The Socially Responsible Practitioner” blog.  Joshua Wolff, PhD (Assistant Professor of Psychology, Adler University) describes his recommendations to the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education on how best to protect the wellbeing of LGBTQ students attending religious institutions of higher education where their identities are not supported. Growing social and legal acceptance of LGBTQ individuals has resulted in many of these institutions applying for exemptions from Title IX (which prohibits sex discrimination in education) due to religious convictions. In short, these institutions are able to discriminate against LGBTQ college students while still receiving taxpayer funds. The risks posed to LGBTQ students by this are great cause for concern. An excerpt is posted below. You can read the full post here.

This September, I met with staff members in the Office of Civil Rights, at the U.S. Department of Education (DOEd) in Washington, D.C. to talk about the risks posed to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) students by disaffirming religious universities/colleges (DRUs). Last year, the DOEd published a list of religious colleges and universities which have applied for exemption to Title IX, which includes federal regulations against sex discrimination in colleges. These are institutions of higher education seeking to discriminate against LGBTQ students on the basis of the institutions’ religious convictions—while still collecting taxpayer dollars.

Currently, Title IX allows schools who are “controlled by a religious entity” to request exemptions to Title IX on the basis of religious beliefs which may be in conflict with federal regulations. Since Title IX was passed in 1972, requests for exemptions were generally limited to contraception concerns at Catholic schools. However, there has been a dramatic increase in Title IX exemption requests over the past 2 years in response to growing social and legal acceptance of LGBTQ people. As it currently stands, universities with Title IX exemption are allowed to:

  • Refuse to admit or retain students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Refuse gender-affirming housing or restrooms to transgender students
  • Discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment

Read the rest of the post here.

Image source: iStockPhoto.com


Filed under: Children and Youth, Human Rights and Social Justice, LGBT Issues Tagged: higher education, LGBT, LGBT rights, LGBT youth