I attended the Montréal Ageing and Design conference over the past three days and I would like to share with you some things I have learned with great pleasure.
Montréal is a great city, my friends and I took our time to eat good food and drink wine, nothing seems rushed here. Laid back, friendly, bilingual Canadians. Oh yes, before I forget, from the conference, one of the most impressive lectures:
“Stress and ageing – an explosive cocktail.” A lively and charming presentation by stress researcher Sonia Lupien, Ph.D., from Montréal*. As the “middle generation,“ we think we are stressed, but in fact children and our Elders are more stressed. Stress, not ageing, has a devastating effect on our brain.
What causes stress?
Four additive factors lead to stress, such as novelty, unpredictability, threat to one’s ego and the sense of low contol (acronym NUTS).
All four factors are continuously present in the life of Elders in an institution. Due to this environment they suffer from depression and memory loss, both reversible if we encourage social support through friends, family and staff, through supporting active grandparenting, laughing, physical exercise, singing, praying, listening to music, hugging, kissing and just being.
You can measure all this by taking saliva samples, testing for cortisol, a stress hormone. Suddenly the “touchy-feely soft facts“ of companionship, reciprocity and spontaneity as promoted by the Eden Alternative appear to have a “hard“ scientific backing.
— Christa Monkhouse (out for some more wine again)
*Lupien S.J., Fiocco, A*., Wan, N., Maheu, F*., Lord, C*., Schramek, T*., Tu, M.T*. (2005). Stress Hormones and Human Memory Function across the Lifespan. Psychoneurondocrinology, 30:225-242