Why Our Young Adults Do the Things They Do

About a decade ago, Frances Jensen’s sweet-natured 15-year-old son returned home from a friend’s house with his hair dyed black and announced he was planning to add red streaks. Jensen’s reaction was typical of countless parents who suddenly confront a stranger living in their house. “I was gobsmacked. Is this really my child?” she writes. While many of us would just start ranting, Jensen, then a Harvard Medical School neurology professor and researcher, was inspired by the incident to start …

Parent and Child Face-Off: Stubborn or Independent?

Located in upstate New York, Oneonta gets dumped with 75 inches of snow annually. After most snowfalls, longtime resident Lois shoveled her sidewalk — even into her 80s — although she didn’t need to go anywhere and her family begged her to stop. When Lois’ granddaughter, Allison R. Heid, was researching topics for her human development and family studies dissertation, she recalled her grandmother’s behavior and that of other older adults who insist on acting a certain way and, as …

Can Age Discrimination Kill You?

Age discrimination can be hazardous to your health, a new study by researchers at Florida State University’s College of Medicine has found. What’s more, people who see themselves as targets of age discrimination are likelier to be in poor health than victims of race or sex discrimination, according to the study. “What we found was unexpected and striking,” said the study’s lead author, Angelina Sutin, assistant professor of behavioral sciences and social medicine. >> Sign up for the AARP Health …

Sleep Disorder Linked to Brain Disease

Thrashing about while you’re asleep may be a sign of something more troubling than mere restlessness: It could be a predictor of brain disease. A new study suggests that 80 to 90 percent of people who suffer from rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder will eventually develop Parkinson’s or another brain disease. What’s REM sleep behavior disorder? It’s a condition that causes people to act out vivid, intense, even violent dreams. People who have it often yell, punch and kick …

The Surprising Good News About Getting Older

The headline in this morning’s Wall Street Journal caught my eye:  “We Actually Get Nicer With Age.” Wow! So much for the stereotype of the grumpy old man and the cranky old lady. According to the article, as people get older, they report increases in positive traits such as conscientiousness, agreeableness and emotional stability. What’s more, negative traits – like neuroticism, anger and anxiety – seem to decline. Overall,  as we age we become “more responsible, more agreeable and more …

How to Keep Peace at Family Gatherings

We’re all familiar with the scene, especially after the Passover and Easter holidays. The extended family sits down to dinner and a grandchild starts whining that he’s not hungry or eats the mashed potatoes with her hands or takes a dive under the table. As grandparents, we’re tempted to take charge and correct the behavior, but the wisest among us won’t say a word. Still, we don’t have to feel relegated to watching the gathering descend into chaos, says Melinda Blau, …