The health of older men is particularly vulnerable to stressors, according to a recent study. Researchers at Oregon State University have suggested that stressors could actually contribute to a shorter life.
Some of the stressors they studied may, on the surface, appear to be just a natural part of a modern life. I always point out to my patients that stress can come in everyday packaging.
Daily hassles associated with harming health in the Oregon study include social obligations, arguments, money, and even things like misplacing items. Major stressors, which most of us understand, include divorce, death of a spouse and personal injury.
“We’re looking at long-term patterns of stress – if your stress level is chronically high, it could impact your mortality, or if you have a series of stressful events, that could affect your mortality,” says Carolyn Aldwin, lead author and director of the Center for Healthy Aging Research in Oregon State’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences in Science Daily.
Aldwin says, “It’s not the number of hassles that does you in, it’s the perception of them being a big deal that causes problems.”
Stress has long been associated with heart disease and cancer. My best advice is to pay attention to what makes you uneasy. You might even want to keep notes on how often you react to “small” things like being stuck in traffic or business associates or family members being late.
In the Oregon study, just published in July’s Experimental Gerontology, the researchers used data from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study that followed 1,293 men from 1989 to 2005 and again in 2010. About 43 percent of the men had died by the end of the study. Men with the lowest number of everyday hassles had the lowest mortality rate, at 28.7 percent. Men with consistently high levels of stressors were over three times more likely to die. The study noted that perceived hassles get worse as men get older, ages 65-70.
Meditation is one of the best ways I know to reduce stress. I recommend meditation with sound and music. For older men, in particular, adding this daily habit can not only reduce stress but help lengthen life.
Meditation techniques are given in all of my published books and will be included in my newest book, The Gene Therapy Plan – Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny Through Diet and Lifestyle that will be published in April by Viking Press and is available for pre-order at Amazon.
Carolyn Aldin et al, Do hassles mediate between life events and mortality in older men? Longitudinal findings from the VA Normative Aging Study, Experimental Gerontology, 1 July,
Even small stressors may be harmful to men’s health, new research shows, Science Daily, 10 September, 2014.
Gaynor, Mitchell L., M.D. The Healing Power of Sound, Shambhala, 2002, p. 99 and pp. 153-154.