Article 43

 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Loneliness

Loneliness, layoff and loss of hope.  For the long-term unmemployed, it’s a downward spiral all tied together.

The deadly truth about loneliness

By Michelle H Lim, Lecturer and Clinical Psychologist, Swinburne University of Technology
The Conversation
November 8, 2015

Almost all of us have experienced loneliness at some point. It is the pain we have felt following a breakup, perhaps the loss of a loved one, or a move away from home. We are vulnerable to feeling lonely at any point in our lives.

Loneliness is commonly used to describe a negative emotional state experienced when there is a difference between the relationships one wishes to have and those one perceives one has.

The unpleasant feelings of loneliness are subjective; researchers have found loneliness is not about the amount of time one spends with other people or alone. It is related more to quality of relationships, rather than quantity. A lonely person feels that he or she is not understood by others, and may not think they hold meaningful relationships.

For some people, loneliness may be temporary and easily relieved (such as a close friend moving away, or a spouse returning home after a work trip). For others, loneliness cannot be easily resolved (such as the death of a loved one or the breakup of a marriage) and can persist when one does not have access to people to connect with.

From an evolutionary point of view, our reliance on social groups has ensured our survival as a species. Hence loneliness can be seen as a signal to connect with others. This makes it little different to hunger, thirst or physical pain, which signal the need to eat, drink or seek medical attention.

In affluent modern societies, however, turning off the alarm signals for loneliness has become more difficult than satisfying hunger, thirst or the need to see the doctor. For those who are not surrounded by people who care for them, loneliness can persist.

Researchers have found social isolation is a risk factor for disease and premature death. Findings from a recent review of multiple studies indicated that a lack of social connection poses a similar risk of early death to physical indicators such as obesity.

Loneliness is a risk factor for many physical health difficulties, from fragmented sleep and dementia to lower cardiovascular output.

Some individuals may also be biologically vulnerable to feeling lonely. Evidence from twin studies found that loneliness may be partly heritable.

Multiple studies have focused on how loneliness can be a result of certain gene types combined with particular social or environmental factors (such as parental support).

Loneliness has largely been ignored as a condition of concern in mental health. Researchers have yet to fully understand the extent of how loneliness affects mental health. Most studies of loneliness and mental health have focused solely on how loneliness relates to depression.

Although loneliness and depression are partly related, they are different. Loneliness refers specifically to negative feelings about the social world, whereas depression refers to a more general set of negative feelings.

In a study that measured loneliness in older adults over a five-year period, loneliness predicted depression, but the reverse was not true.
Addressing loneliness

Loneliness may be mistaken as a depressive symptom, or perhaps it is assumed that loneliness will go away once depressive symptoms are addressed. Generally, lonelyӔ people are encouraged to join a group or make a new friend, on the assumption that loneliness will then simply go away.

While creating opportunities to connect with others provides a platform for social interaction, relieving the social pain is not so straightforward. Lonely people can have misgivings about social situations and as a result show rejecting behaviours. These can be misconstrued as unfriendliness, and people around the lonely person respond accordingly. This is how loneliness can become a persistent cycle.

A study examined the effectiveness of different types of treatments aimed at addressing loneliness. The results indicated that treatments that focused on changing negative thinking about others were more effective than those that provided opportunities for social interaction.

Another promising way to tackle loneliness is to improve the quality of our relationships, specifically by building intimacy with those around us. Using a positive psychology approach that focuses on increasing positive emotions within relationships or increasing social behaviours may encourage deeper and more meaningful connections with others.

Indeed, even individuals who have been diagnosed with serious mental illness have reported improvements in their well-being and relationships after sharing positive emotions and doing more positive activities with others. However, research using a positive psychology approach to loneliness remains in its infancy.

We continue to underestimate the lethality of loneliness as a serious public health issue. Contemporary tools such as social media, while seeming to promote social connection, favour brief interactions with many acquaintances over the development of fewer but more meaningful relationships. In this climate, the challenge is to address loneliness and focus on building significant bonds with those around us.

The growing scientific evidence highlighting the negative consequences of loneliness for physical and mental health can no longer be ignored.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 11/13/15 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Personal
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Sunday, November 08, 2015

Older Workers Find a Way Back In

After Years Out of a Job, Older Workers Find a Way Back In

By Harriet Edleson
NY Times
November 6, 2015

After five years of being unemployed or underemployed, Rosanna Horton, 55, is back where she wants to be: working full time.

In July 2007, Ms. Horton left her job at the University of California, Irvine, and moved north to San Francisco to take care of her mother and finish her dissertation. She sold her condominium, intending to live off the proceeds. She figured she would have no problem going back to work in a better position.

A year and a half later, she had completed her dissertation and received her doctoral degree in education. But the job market was a disaster.

Even with her new doctorate in hand, she found nothing suitable, setting in motion an unexpected downward spiral. At times, Ms. Horton, said she was sofa “surfing,” or sleeping on a relatives or friend’s couch.

It put you in a position of thinking, “I should not have left my job,” she said. “I am the kind of person who thinks things happen and you take responsibility and you move on.”

Ms. Horton barely scraped by, she said, making it through a long period without much income only with the help of a very small “circle” of family and friends. She worked in unpaid fellowships, temporary and contract positions before finally turning, in September 2013, to the San Francisco Jewish Vocational Service, an organization that helps people build skills and find jobs.

The recession was over, but it was still a challenge to find a decent job in a rapidly transforming economy. In what she calls her “aha!” moment, Ms. Horton decided to take her degrees off her resume all of them - so as not to be perceived as overqualified, and to get her “foot in the door.”

At the beginning of 2014, she was hired as manager of radiology and biomedical imaging at the University of California, San Francisco, where she has been working ever since. She is making more money now than she was when she left her job in 2007. “What better way to end your career than doing something you care about and can affect others in a positive way?” she said. Her goal now? “Im working till I’m 70.”

Long-term unemployment ԓis a challenging and often hidden problem, said Abby Snay, executive director of the San Francisco Jewish Vocational Service, which is part of a larger network, the International Association of Jewish Vocational Services.

In the economic downturn that began in late 2007 and persisted through the middle of 2009, millions of people in their 50s and 60s were laid off, bought out, downsized or otherwise left without a steady paycheck. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, in a report titled, ԓHow Will Older Workers Who Lose Their Jobs During the Great Recession Fare in the Long Run? found that the recession hit many more workers over 50 compared with previous downturns.

“By 2012, many of these people were still out of work,” said Matthew S. Rutledge, a labor economist at the Center for Retirement Research and a co-author of the paper. “It was really difficult for them to get back in,” he said. “It didn’t matter if they had retired or were laid off.”

The stock market decline and the collapse of the housing market also took a huge toll on the financial resources of older Americans. For those without jobs, that put even more pressure on them to return to the work force and impelled many to keep working well past their original target for retirement.

One result is that the work force is growing older. According to Andrew G. Biggs, an American Enterprise Institute resident scholar and a former top official at the Social Security Administration, there are 3.9 million more workers ages 60 to 64 today than in 2005, the last full year before the beginning of the economic slowdown. By comparison, he noted in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, there are fewer Americans ages 20 to 55 working today than in 2005.

For older Americans, paths to returning to full-time work vary. Some go into consulting, others seek specialized knowledge and new contacts by working as a volunteer. Still others resume their education through courses online or at a for-profit or community college, while some enroll in professional association courses. Many decide to start a business.

The biggest challenge for those seeking a new job after an extended period of unemployment is updating their skills for the current workplace.

“If you have been laid off or retired for a couple of years, skill sets may have moved on quite rapidly without you,” said Mark Schmit, executive director of the SHRM Foundation, a research affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management. “This puts you at a disadvantage to the people who are working, including peers who are the same age.”

Rich Feller is a professor of counseling and career development at Colorado State University, past president of the National Career Development Association and a thought leader with AARP Life Reimagined. Dr. Feller said a key credential for returning to the work force is the ability to documentyour technology skills. “If you can,” he said,” employers will overlook your age.”

He suggests community college or online courses as a way to master new skills.

The popular belief that younger workers are more productive than older workers is largely a myth,Ӕ Mr. Schmit said. The only evidence we have of that is in physical labor. ItӒs absolutely true that older people can learn and are motivated to learn just as younger people are.

Rick Dottermusch, 58, began taking courses at Montgomery College, at first as a ԓdiversion until he found his next job. Five months ago, he began working in web development at a technology company in the Washington area, moving out of sales, his job for 30 years.

ԓThe students whether high school graduates or those with a masterגs are looking for current skills and theyגre willing to spend their time taking courses if they are courses aligned with the market, with what employers need, said Steve Greenfield, dean of work force development and continuing education at Montgomery College, a community college outside Washington. ԓWe do labor market research before we even run a class.

But just getting the training is not enough. ԓNetworking is an important part of a job search, Mr. Dottermusch said. ԓIf you know someone who can provide an entree, anyone who can tell you more about the company, if nothing else pick their brain what is the best way to approach that company?ה

And those seeking a change in the type of work they do must be prepared to lower their expectations, at least initially. “If you have retrained for a new career and learned a new skill, expect to start at a lower level, lower pay grade,” Mr. Schmit said.

For Dave Gustafson, 61, moving from working as an employee for 30 years to working as a real estate broker on a commission-only basis has been taxing. “It takes a certain amount of courage,” he said.

He took a five-week class to prepare for the real estate brokers exam in Colorado, passed it in late July and joined a regional real estate firm.

Even though he had worked in sales in the past, he found that he had to throw away the habits of a lifetime to learn the techniques the new company uses.

His advice for others starting on a new career path?

“Be pliable.”

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 11/08/15 •
Section Job Hunt
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