Tag Archives: life

Will mind, body, and soul melt into nothingness when I can no longer drive?

For this first BLOG post I have chosen to comment on an article that I came across. The article deals with the scientific findings that support the notion that driving cessation has adverse effects on cognition, mental and physical health. The cognitive research that is involved in this study would allow people to understand just what the cessation of driving can do to someone that has gotten used to driving and taking care of themselves (being independent). The objective of the study is to determine what effect driving cessation has on the health and well-being of older adults. The quantitative data within the experiment used a cross sectional, cohort control design that had a comparison group of current drivers. Researchers have concluded that drivers 55 and older tend to experience an emotional and physical decline once they stop driving. They found, based on 16 studies, that driving cessation is associated with a decline in health, social, cognitive, and physical functions. They also were able to distinguish that these people that stopped driving were at a higher risk to be admitted to a long term care facility, and were also at a higher risk of dying (mortality). The researchers found that car ownership and driving is directly related to the amount of independence and satisfaction with life that an older person feels he or she has. Researchers deemed that driving is an important facet of freedom and is often associated with the level of control a person feels he or she has. A study was done in Australia and it found that older people valued driving as the second most important activity of daily living (IADL and ADL). Older drivers are at a disadvantage when driving due to the fact that driving can be a highly complex task that involves a certain skill set, which includes cognitive, sensory-perceptive, and physical abilities. It was found that the most commonly cited reason for driving cessation was health problems. This makes me question this studies results because if health reasons are a reason for driving cessation, how can you accurately measure the ill effects of driving cessation? The health decline prior to the cessation of driving may in fact affect the mental state and cognitive functioning of an older driver. I think it would be safe to say that when a person is forced to stop driving that their physical and mental health is already in question and deteriorating. The person will know that they are on a decline most likely and this can be the explanation for the onset of depression once driving has ceased to occur, in fact, a 5-year study found that the cessation of driving almost doubled the risk of developing depression in older adults. I agree that driving cessation can have adverse effects on the mental and physical health/functioning of older adults, as such, I believe that the cessation of driving is just another hammer being dropped on the foot of these older people. I believe that the fact that they can no longer drive, drives their mind and body to worsen in state. It should be noted that not everyone deems driving as important, therefore, the cessation of driving may not affect everyone negatively. These finding were all published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, with Stanford Chihuri, Thelma J. Mielenz, Charles J. DiMaggio, Marian E. Betz, Carolyn DiGuiseppi, Vanya C. Jones, and Guohua Li as the authors.

Visit The Study




Driving Cessation and Health Outcomes in Older Adults. (2016, January 19). Retrieved January 30, 2016, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jgs.13931/full

Returning to an Unchanged Place Reveals How You Have Changed

Nelson Mandela once said-“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to see the ways that you yourself have changed.”

I wanted to write my last blog post about remembrance and change. The returning to a place that we have once been to realize the changes and experiences we’ve gone through since we left. I write this for the graduating seniors as well as everyone else on our campus who has experienced an incredibly difficult semester.

There are things about returning to a familiar place that trigger memories within us. I know for me personally there is a perfume that is cucumber and melon that I wore one summer while on a trip to an Indian reservation in Montana. I still have the same bottle and when I wear it occasionally I remember vividly the experiences I had there of walking through yellow stone park or climbing up the side of a mountain to a secret site where people would meditate and fast for days at a time. These types of things are called Engrams. We experience them then as external stimuli allows for memories that are stored as “biophysical or biochemical changes in the brain” respond to things such as sight, smell etc…

In the article that I read about returning to unchanged places I thought of how many of us will be leaving Mary Washington very soon, within two weeks as we graduate on Ball Circle. I wonder how we will feel about this place five, ten or twenty years from now. Much of it I hope will remain the same like it has with the original parts of campus but I’m sure a lot will be different as we expand. That is the part I look forward to with engrams; the flashbacks to old memories when we come back one day and allowing the old memories and new memories combine and modify our neural networks that allow us to remain connected to the past.

The article also discussed Olfaction which it labels as out oldest primal sense. This is where the power of smell can be used to bring back powerful memories, some of which can be brought up in PTSD.  Although  there can be a negative memory associated with is “that remains unchanged and has deeply rooted negative associations—that it creates a window of opportunity to weave in positive associations and dilute the traumatic associations held in the engram.”

It is my hope that many of us have learned in this class how memory works, how our attention is processed and how our thoughts are formed. I hope that we can come back to Mary Washington and remember everything good about this place. May it be the smell of freshly cut grass even though the mowers were annoying at 6am, or the sodexo burgers being grilled out on Ball in the Fall and Spring. We can come back and help create out engrams with the new memories that we make from reminiscing on the old.





YOLO Generation and Regret

Some would call us the YOLO generation- and anyone with even the slightest knowledge of American pop culture might readily agree. Live hard live good have fun live like it’s your last night! Just do it, Nike tells us! You only live once, twitter hashtags reply! And Ke$ha plays in the background, telling us we need to “make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young!”

Our culture encourages us to live life without regrets, and adores a lifestyle that emphasizes hedonistic pleasures and living in the moment. Regret is negative, we tell ourselves. Why bother with it? After all, regret is just a wasted emotion- we can’t change the past. What’s the point?

An article in Psychology Today seeks to answer that question.

We have all experienced regret. It is a painful cognitive/emotional state that involves feelings of loss and/or sorrow over choices and past decisions that we wish we could undo. However, while regret is a negative emotion, it can also be a helpful one.

Regret can play in important role in several behavioral functions. Chief among them, regret can be very important in making corrective action and avoiding future negative behaviors. By regretting a past choice, we can more easily resolve not to repeat the same action (or series of actions) in the future. In this sense, regret can be extremely valuable in redirecting one’s life path, such as an addict seeking help due to regret over his or her previous actions.

Especially for young people with the rest of their lives ahead of them, regret can also be helpful in other regards, in addition to motivating positive actions. Researcher Neal Roese found that young people ranked regret as the most helpful of all negative emotions in five functions: making sense of the world, avoiding future negative behaviors, gaining insight, achieving social harmony, and improving ability to approach desired opportunities. Essentially, regret can help motivate us to pursue our dreams and ambitions, get a more realistic sense of the world, and avoid repeating previous (unhealthy) mistakes.

Obviously however, regret is not all positive. Excessive fixation and rumination on the past can lead to chronic stress that negatively impacts both mind and body. Self-blame and fruitless regret can be extraordinarily unhealthy, and can be correlated with depression. Additionally, the easier it is to envision a different outcome- and the easier it is to image what you could have done differently to advert it- the more regret we are likely to have. This is a result of the cognitive process of counterfactual thinking. Hindsight is always 20/20.

However, even the negative feelings associated with regret can be mitigated with the help of cognitive techniques. There are several ways to cope with regret, including trying to learn from it, make sure you are not blaming yourself excessively, and reframing the situation in a more positive light.

However ultimately, if there is nothing you can do to change the situation, let it go. Perhaps YOLO did get something right.