A few years ago, when I worked in a dementia clinic, I saw an elderly couple with an interesting dynamic.
They were together for almost 50 years and were dedicated. The man had been a university teacher and in the diagnosis of dementia he was shocked that the thing he valued the most – his mind – slipped away from him.
But the striking thing about his wife was her relentless cheerful nature. This was despite a traumatic past – she had been in a Nazi death camp as a child and none of her close relatives had survived.
When the camp was liberated, she had come to the UK to live with distant relatives.
“You are still the love of my life, even if you sometimes go a little go,” she once said to him at the clinic, and they both laughed like a sewer
She was a witness to so much horror and told me that from that moment on she had just laughed at life. That was how she had lived her life.
Yes, she was understandably destroyed by her husband’s diagnosis, but never hesitated in her determination to look from the positive side.
“What good is it to do with mopeds?” She asked.
So every time her husband forgot or got confused, she assured him it didn’t matter. They would find an aspect to laugh about.
“You are still the love of my life, even if you sometimes go a little go,” she once said to him at the clinic, and they both laughed like drains.
Being optimistic is not about denial, it’s about trying to find the positive points in life, even in difficult situations.
So this woman would celebrate when her husband returned safely from the stores and did not worry that he had forgotten the milk or any other item she needed.
Yes, she was understandably destroyed by her husband’s diagnosis, but never hesitated in her determination to look from the positive side. “What good is it to do with mopeds?” She asked
It occurred to me that it was precisely this approach that helped him to go so well.
Her relentlessly optimistic view rubbed him, so he didn’t worry or panic when he forgot something or got confused.
He was less anxious – feelings of fear can make the memory worse – in general. In reality, his wife’s optimistic approach to life’s problems has done him better than anything that medicine had to offer.
And so I was not too surprised this week to read the findings of a groundbreaking study by researchers at Michigan State University and Harvard.
In the process of following the progress of more than 4,000 heterosexual couples for up to eight years, they discovered that people with dementia with optimistic spouses suffer less cognitive decline and memory loss.
They do not say that having a cheerful man or woman will prevent dementia, but it is fascinating that the kind of people we surround ourselves with can have an effect not only on mental disorders, but also on something with a clear biological basis such as dementia.
Our companions, depending on their own view, can benefit us in ways other than psychological benefits and actually have an impact on fundamental disease processes. It made me think about the mechanism that is playing here. I wonder if having a positive partner means that you yourself are more cheerful and therefore eat better or exercise more?
We know that a wide variety of elements contribute to the well-being of someone. These range from social factors, such as poverty, to disorders such as schizophrenia and alcoholism that, at least in part, have a genetic component.
“If your partner is optimistic and healthy, this can translate into comparable results in your own life,” said William Chopik, co-author of the study. “You really have a brighter future”
The education of someone plays an important role, as do factors such as disability, chronic pain, work and education.
Although we know that being alone – and the connection with social isolation – increases the risk of some psychological problems, the impact of the personality and temperament of one’s partner is largely unknown territory.
And if ever considered, we tend to think negatively about it – how an abusive, critical, or overbearing partner can have a negative effect and hinder a patient’s recovery.
What is new about this research is that it has been proven that the reverse applies.
“If your partner is optimistic and healthy, this can translate into comparable results in your own life,” said William Chopik, co-author of the study.
“You really have a brighter future.”
It gives a new meaning to the old saying: “Happy woman, happy life.”
I was touched by how many readers informed me how much they enjoyed the 100 Health Tips that were serialized in the mail.
I am impressed by how many of you are trying at least a few. Hold up your ‘health hacks’ and don’t worry if you forget or slip.
That is completely normal. Do not use it as an excuse to give up. Think about what went wrong and set strategies to reduce the risk of it happening again.
Teenager pain that lasts a lifetime
According to research from Anglia Ruskin University, almost half of all women would like to have larger breasts.
Her breast satisfaction survey showed that 48 percent of women wanted larger breasts than they have now; 23 percent wanted smaller breasts and only 29 percent were satisfied with what nature had given them.
The survey, based on responses from 18,541 women in 40 countries, found that women in the UK, India, Pakistan, Egypt and Lebanon have the largest ideal breast size, while women in Japan, the Philippines, Germany, Austria and Malaysia have the smallest .
According to research from Anglia Ruskin University, almost half of all women would like to have larger breasts
In my eating disorders clinic I see many patients who have problems with their breast size and in most cases their feelings are the result of low self-esteem and other emotional problems.
I am shocked at how often their attitude goes back to unfriendly comments they made when they were children or teenagers – and how often their parents or other family members were guilty.
Maybe it wasn’t intentional, maybe they were teasing.
But a disposable commentary for a young person can cause all kinds of problems in the coming years.
Don’t go too far, Harry
Princes William and Harry and their wives should be applauded for challenging stigmas around mental illness and getting them out of the shadows. But now Harry has to prevent him from sharing too much.
During a conference for bank giant JP Morgan in Miami last week, he revealed that he spent seven years in therapy to help him cope with the loss of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales.
I am concerned that now that he is free from the shackles of official royal life, this kind of personal disclosure will occur more often.
He is already accused of exploiting the death of his mother to create interest in himself as a speaker on the world stage.
I hope he realizes that it is one thing to support the vulnerable or people without rights in society, but something completely different to just bend over yourself.
That is not campaigning, that is navel gazing.
During a conference for bank giant JP Morgan in Miami last week, he revealed that he spent seven years in therapy to help him cope with the loss of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales. He was pictured above last month
Chronic complaint about Lyme disease
Justin Bieber is the newest celebrity announcing that he is suffering from Lyme disease, an infection caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium, which is spread by ticks.
For example, the publicity generated by high-profile patients – singer Shania Twaine, actor Alec Baldwin and model Bella Hadid – has become popular.
Justin Bieber is the newest celebrity announcing that he is suffering from Lyme disease, an infection caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium, spread by ticks
This week I told two young women that they thought they had the condition.
Although there is no doubt that it is a terrible disease, it has not been made clear in the media that chronic Lyme disease is often spoken of, with symptoms usually lingers after the infection has been treated.
It is important to know that this is a controversial diagnosis within the medical community.
Many doctors believe that the vague, non-specific and subjective symptoms associated with it – headache, fatigue, weakness, joint pain, etc. – fall under the category of “medically unexplained symptoms.”
They would claim that this is a kind of psychosomatic disorder, with the cause that the symptoms are psychic rather than physical.
That is not to say that the debilitating problems that patients experience, but the science is clear: the cause is not always an infection.
Dr. Max prescribes …
The M word
By Dr. Philippa Kaye
This book examines the menopause and provides excellent medical advice, information and psychological tips for dealing with difficult symptoms and deals with difficult topics such as sex during and after the menopause.
The purpose of Dr. Kaye is to help women thrive during the transition and beyond.