Senior programs, communities offer activities that can lengthen your life

Jean Murphy, a Daily Herald Correspondent, shared that loneliness and social isolation are literally bad for your health. Recent studies find that they are as much of a threat to your longevity as obesity is.

Studies of this phenomenon are coming in from around the world.

For instance, data from 3 million participants in a Brigham Young University study found that living on your own can increase your risk of premature death by 32 percent while loneliness raises the risk by 26 percent and isolation increases it by 29 percent, the Huffington Post reported.

A separate University of Chicago study explained that loneliness raises your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and that can lead to increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

In addition, researchers at the University of York in Great Britain, according to a CNN report, combined data from earlier studies done in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia to determine that loneliness and social isolation are equal to anxiety when it comes to causing heart disease and they are as much at fault as work stress when it comes to inducing a stroke. Smoking cigarettes remains a higher risk for these health problems, however.

Researchers suggest that people who live alone have worse diets; don’t exercise or sleep as much; and are less likely to pay attention to their medical problems, the CNN report continued. In addition, the stress and sadness of isolation drives up blood pressure, leading to heart disease and shortening life spans.

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What Poverty Does to Kids' Brains

brainThe Outreach House in Lombard shared this article
from Mother Jones
that speaks about
how growing up
poor leads to slower
brain development
and lower test scores,
according to a new study.


This study ( suggests that growing up poor affects brain development at an early age, and those brain changes can have huge effects on academic achievement.

Researchers from Duke University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison tracked nearly 400 children and young adults in a longitudinal study over the course of six years, between 2001 and 2007. Every two years, the researchers met with the participants,whose socioeconomic backgrounds ranged from far below the poverty line to far above it.

At each meeting, the participants would undergo a brain scan, which measured the amount of gray matter in parts of the brain that are key to academic achievement: the frontal lobe (which helps with executive functioning and emotion regulation), the temporal lobe (memory an academically, like visual processing, math computation, visual motor coordination, concept formation, and more.

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