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Personal

Friday, August 11, 2017

Unmarried Boomers and Old Age

image: depressed old man

No Spouse, No Kids, No Caregiver: How to Prepare to Age Alone
A growing population of “elder orphans” lack a built-in support system.
What to do if you become one.

By Anna Medaris Miller
US News
October 26, 2015

When Carol Marak was in her 30s, she asked herself whose life she wanted: her brother’s the life of a successful and well-traveled businessman ֖ or his wife’s the life of a woman whose career better accommodated raising three children.

The answer was a no-brainer: “My brother was in a position I wanted,” says Marak, now a 64-year-old editor at SeniorCare.com who lives in Waco, Texas. Although she had been married and divorced earlier in life, at that point she had no kids and “made a very conscious decision” to keep it that way, she says.

Plenty of Marak’s peers did the same thing. According to a 2012 STUDY in The Gerontologist, about one-third of 45- to 63-year-olds are single, most of whom never married or are DIVORCED. That’s a whopping 50 percent increase since 1980, the study found. What’s more, about 15 percent of 40- to 44-year-old women had no children in 2012 up from about 10 percent in 1980, U.S. Census data shows. “My career was No. 1 in my life,” says Marak, who worked in the technology industry for years.

But today, Marak and her single, childless contemporaries are facing a repercussion of their decision that never crossed their minds as 30-somethings: “How in the world will we take care of ourselves?” she asks.

Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, chief of geriatrics and palliative medicine at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York, is asking the same thing. In research presented this year at The American Geriatric Society’s annual meeting, Carney and her colleagues found that nearly one-quarter of Americans over age 65 are or may become physically or socially isolated and lack someone like a family member to care for them. Carney calls them “elder orphans.”

“The risk of potentially finding yourself without a support system - because the majority of care provided as we get older is provided by family may be increasing,” she says.

The consequences are profound. According to Carney’s work, older adults who consider themselves lonely are more likely to have trouble completing daily tasks, experience cognitive decline, develop coronary heart disease and even die. Those who are socially isolated are also at risk for medical complications, mental illness, mobility issues and health care access problems.

“You could be at a hospital setting at a time of crisis and could delay your treatment or care, and your wishes may not be respected [if you can’t communicate them],” says Carney, also an associate professor at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.

Take “Mr. HB,” a 76-year-old New York man described in Carney’s research as “a prototypical elder orphan.” After attempting suicide, he arrived at a hospital with cuts on his wrist, bed sores, dehydration, malnutrition and depression. He lived alone and hadn’t been in contact with any relatives in over a year. His treatment was complicated, the researchers report, in part because he was too delirious to make clear decisions or understand his options. He wound up at a nursing facility with plans to eventually be placed in long-term care.

But growing older without kids or a partner doesn’t mean you’re doomed - just as aging with kids and a partner doesn’t mean all’s clear. “We’re all at risk for becoming isolated and becoming elder orphans,” Carney says. You could outlive your spouse or even your children, find yourself living far from your family or wind up in the caretaker role yourself if a family member gets sick. Keep in mind that 69 percent of Americans will need long-term care, even though only 37 percent think they will, according to SeniorCare dot com

Plus, there’s no way around the natural physical and mental declines that come with age. “Everybody has to prepare to live as independently as possible,” Carney says. Here’s how:

1. Speak up.

Marak wishes she had talked more with her friends and colleagues about her decision not to become a mom early on. That may have given her a jump-start on anticipating various problems and developing solutions to growing older while childless. She advises younger generations to discuss their options openly with friends married and single, men and women ֖ before making a firm decision.

“We discuss our psychological issues with professionals. We discuss our money strategies with financial experts,” Marak says. “Why not talk openly about family concerns and what it means to have or not have children? So many of us go into it with blinders on.”

2. Act early.

How early you start planning for your future health depends partly on your current condition and your genes, says Bert Rahl, director of mental health services at the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging. “If your ancestry is that people die early, you have to plan sooner and faster,” he says.

But whether you come from a family of supercentenarians or people who have shorter life spans, it’s never too soon to save for long-term care, whether it’s by investing in a home, putting aside a stash for medical emergencies or “whatever you can do to have a nest egg,” Marak says. “Life is serious, especially when you get old. Don’t get to [a point] when you’re 60 and now you’re having to scramble to catch up.”

Still not motivated? “Everybody wants some control in [their] life,” Rahl says. “If you don’t plan, what you’re choosing to do is cede that control to somebody else - and the likelihood that they’re going to have your best interests at heart is a losing proposition.”

3. Make new friends and keep the old.

Your social connections can help with practical health care needs, like driving you to the doctor when you’re unable. But they also do something powerful: keep you alive, research suggests. In a 2012 study of over 2,100 adults age 50 and older, researchers found that the loneliest older adults were nearly twice as likely to die within six years than the least lonely regardless of their health behaviors or social status.

Connections can also help ward off depression, which affects nearly 20 percent of the 65-and-older population, according the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “One of the things that keeps people from being depressed is to be connected,” Rahl says. “The more social activities you have, the more friends, the more things you can do to keep your body and mind active ֖ that’s the best protection you have against mental illness.”

4. Appoint a proxy.

Who is your most trusted friend or relative? “Identify somebody to help you if you’re in a time of crisis, and revisit that periodically over your life,” Carney suggests. Make sure that person knows your Social Security number, where you keep your insurance card, which medications you take “the whole list of things somebody needs to know if they’re going to help you,” advises Dr. Robert Kane, director of the University of Minnesota֒s Center on Aging.

Before you start losing any cognitive capacities, consider designating that person as your durable power of attorney for health care, or the person who makes health care decisions for you when you’re no longer able.

If no one comes to mind, hire an attorney who specializes in elder care law by asking around for recommendations or searching online for highly rated professionals. Unlike your friends, they have a license to defend and are well-versed in elder care issues. Most of the time, Rahl’s found, “they’re trustworthy and will do a good job for you.”

5. Consider moving.

Marak is on a mission: “to create my life where I’m not transportation-dependent,” she says. She’s looking to move to a more walkable city, perhaps a college town where she’s surrounded by young people and can stay engaged with activities like mentoring. She also hopes her future community is filled with other like-minded older adults who can look out for one another. “I want to set up my life where I’m not living alone and isolated,” she says.

Adjusting your living situation so that you can stay connected to others and get to, say, the grocery store or doctor’s office is the right idea, says Carney, who cares for a group of nuns who live communally and has seen other adults create communities that act like “surrogate families,” she says. “Think: Where do you want to live? What’s most easy? How do you access things? How do you have a support system?”

6. Live well.

Marak is lucky: She’s always loved eating healthy foods and walking - two ways to stay as healthy as possible at all ages. “Some of the foods that we eat are really, really bad for the body,” she says. “That’s one of the major causes of chronic conditions and not exercising.”

Keeping your brain sharp is also critical if you want to be able to make informed decisions about your health care, Rahl says. He suggests doing activities that challenge you 0 math problems if numbers trip you up, or crossword puzzles if words aren’t your forte. “The old adage, ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it,’ is 100 percent correct,” he says.

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Posted by Elvis on 08/11/17 •
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Desperate Men

image: old man needs a job

Although certain types of jobs - such as working in a customer-service CALL CENTER - are more likely to be downers, the working environment tends to have a greater impact on mental health than the job description itself.

...we found that those respondents who were unemployed had significantly poorer mental health than those who were employed. However, the mental health of those who were unemployed was comparable or more often superior to those in jobs of the poorest psychosocial quality.  The current results therefore suggest that employment strategies seeking to promote positive outcomes for unemployed individuals need to also take account of job design and workplace policy.
- No Job Vs Lousy Job

Men at work
The age of austerity has transformed work, but what it means to be a man has not caught up

By Allison J, Pugh
December 15, 2015

When Gary Gilbert lost his job, it was devastating. A tradesman, he had joined his employers company only because he thought it offered a bit more security than endlessly chasing the next gig as a freelance operator, and that he could then provide a better future for his son. The layoff came without warning. “I was crushed,” he recalled. “Oh God. I’ve cried at night about it.”

While the layoff shattered his hopes and, Gary believes, was unwarranted, he refused to blame his employer. “I had no reason to take that job,” he explained. “I thought I was going to make a more stable environment, you know. And I was wrong, you know, but that - that was my fault. I shouldn’t have done it. I never should have let my guard down. I never should have put my livelihood in somebody else"s hands. It was the biggest mistake I ever made.”

Gar’s response is not untypical; recent research shows that Americans are more likely to blame themselves for job insecurity, even when it results from structural changes in the economy. I interviewed 80 people up and down the class ladder, and with varying experiences of job precariousness. I found that we do a lot to keep our strong feelings away from the employer, we shrug our shoulders in resignation, we talk about layoffs as new opportunities for growth, we even convince ourselves we are glad not to keep working there anyway. Most of all, we blame ourselves. And while that blame can be corrosive for both men and women, there is something unique in the scarring that results for men, who often see work as a primary measure of masculinity.

For working-class men, it is something of a crisis. There’s a lot of critical talk about the moral character of working-class men - generally conceived of as those with less than a college degree - and most of it revolves around work, reflecting some latent anxiety about who is shirking and who is carrying. We know they watch more television and do less childcare than working-class women, and are less likely than more affluent men to work long hours. Working-class men themselves value being “hard working” among the qualities they prize the most; for the white working-class men who march in the reserve army of US talk radio, working hard is highly prized, and deeply respected. It forms the bedrock of their outrage at those who, talk-radio culture likes to say, “refuse to work.” (For their part, black men value work but also talk about collective solidarity). Underneath the moral language on both sides is the notion of work as the arbiter of honour in the US.

Yet the landscape of jobs in the US has radically altered the configuration of who does what and for what benefit. In contrast to a few decades ago, a much higher percentage of women and people of colour are in the labour force: about 47 per cent of workers today are women, compared with 38 per cent in 1970, while the 36 per cent of non-white workers is almost double their proportion in 1980. Meanwhile, the proportion of men with full-time jobs has shrunk, from 80 per cent 45 years ago to just 66 per cent. The jobs men do have are also increasingly insecure at first due to shifts in types of work across the economy but, since 1996, likely due to the spread of layoffs as a management tactic.

Work might still be a moral measure then, but the distribution of work is increasingly uneven, with some men working too much and many men working too little, and both ensnared in conditions not entirely of their making. For men at the top, work colonises ever more of the days’ 24 hours, while those at the bottom, such as Gary, can face despair, hopelessness, even as was reported recently 0 declining life expectancy. And mens’ changed relationship to work bears implications for their changed relationships at home.

Masculinity has long been written in men’s relationship to work and, despite the onset of feminism, involved fathering, and the slacker, this is even truer today. In 1979, there was a certain rationality to the link between income and hours: the more you made, the less you worked. The bottom 20 per cent of earners were more likely than the top 20 per cent to work very long hours. By 2006, that relationship had reversed. Now, the more money men make, the more likely they are to put in what are often called killer hours. What is behind the reversal? Why would rich men work longer?

Scholars debate the causes. Some credit the long-hours, premium that professional-managerial class men earn meaning the extra money they get for near-constant availability and work - while others point to pay discrepancies within occupations acting as incentives for increased hours (men want to earn more than the guy in the next cubicle), and still others attribute the trend to anxieties about job insecurity that grew in the 1980s and 90s for white-collar workers.

But these arguments overlook the emotional resonance of work, its profound capacity to tell us something about ourselves. What it signals to men is a form of honourable masculinity, as expressed in the moral code of “work devotion,” demanding an enormous time investment and emotional commitment to the career or employer.

Men of the professional-managerial class are the big winners in this transformation of work. For them,"ёinsecurity" can look like “flexibility,” as they jump from company to company in search of a better match for their skills. Highly educated workers are less likely than blue-collar or low-level service workers to suffer job displacement, and when they do, they experience less of a pay loss.

Still, it is well to remember that even at the top the choices can often be strangely constrained: for most men, their only “choice” is either to work intensely or to get off the train. This all-or-nothing scenario has dramatic implications for men, women and families, impeding many men from being the fathers they want to be, funnelling out of promising careers many women who resist the extreme schedule and, for heterosexual couples, creating families that can explode over mismatched goals and possibilities, or conform to more traditional norms than the couple ever planned.

The transformation of work might have quickened the pace of the treadmill for professional men, but it has thrown other men off of it altogether. In the past 50 years, the number of men working full-time has fallen from 83 per cent to 66 per cent; between the 1970s and the ґ90s, the proportion of jobs lost by prime-age working men almost doubled. The change was even more dramatic for black men, partly because disproportionate numbers of them in the US were employed in the dwindling manufacturing sector, not to mention the disproportionate impact of incarceration policies. 

For those men who do work, pay has stagnated, with the purchasing power of the average hourly wage peaking more than 40 years ago in 1973.  These changes have accompanied the withering of unionised labour’s power, which the latest report puts at just 6.6 per cent of private-sector workers. Today, there are more than one and a half times as many contingent workers’ as there are union members in the US.

What does it mean to prize something to understand it as a primary measure of what it means to live a life of value - when it is becoming scarcer? How do men reconcile themselves to the likelihood of their own failure, particularly men with just a high-school degree, who are unemployed at more than three times the rate of college graduates? If work is what it means to be a man, what do you do when work disappears?

One option is to get angry. When I interviewed laid-off men for my recent book on job insecurity, their anger, or more often a wry bitterness, was impossible to forget. By and large, like Gary the laid-off tradesman, they were not angry at their employers.  At home, however, they sounded a different note. I have a very set opinion of relationships and how females handle them,ґ Gary told me, rather flatly. Itґs what Ive seen consistently throughout my life.Ғ On his third serious relationship, Gary talked about the hurt thatґs been caused to me by a lack of commitment on the part of other people, and he complained that Ғmarriage can be tossed out like a Pepsi can. In the winds of uncertainty, Garyђs anger at women keeps him grounded.

Most Americans might expect very little from their employers as one layoff survivor told me: ҖJust a paycheck and a certain amount of respect, I would say. They might shrug their shoulders about job insecurity as the inevitable cost of doing business in a globalised economy (even though some economists have found that layoffs usually end up costing firms rather than boosting stock prices or productivity). At home, however, workingѢclass men expect more of their intimate partners, and brittle yearning turns those expectations into betrayal if they fall short. Abandoned by both employer and wife, Gary aims his ire at just one of these.

It is wrong, however, to read this anger as simply the outrage of a dethroned king who has lost his prerogative. Working-class men such as Gary long for a time when they had rights to women
s loyalty, deference and caring labour, and when, in their view, they earned that right by virtue of the hard work they themselves contributed. The transformation of work dislodged their ability to put up their share of this bargain, one that netted them benefits, to be sure, but also involved years of their backbreaking labour. It is this morality tale that enables them to count themselves wronged, and lends such intensity to their concerns about those mythical emblems of entitlement: able-bodied people who refuse to work. What they want, they maintain, is the opportunity to work hard for their rightful place, to be a working-class hero.

Perhaps a more powerful response to the transformation of work is to change what counts as honourable masculinity. Some men I spoke with seemed to be pursuing a form of independenceђ. They owed employers as little as they themselves were owed which they maintained was not very much indeed ֖ and, at home, they cultivated a careful freedom, even when their feelings ran strong.

Stanley, an actor who had been laid off from several day jobs, was in the middle of a divorce. Bringing up the common trope of working on a marriageђ, he said that we need to redefine the term. Because the work changes,ђ he said. The work can be in letting go. Thatђs the right thing to do. So, yeah, thats all the work. Because I think bottling it up or denying it, if thatҒs what happens, its not going to work either.Ғ Independence dislodged men from domesticity, but although they sometimes celebrated it as freeing, their accounts often echoed with loneliness.

Others try to reshape masculinity not by shrinking obligation but by redirecting it towards the home. Clark had been laid off repeatedly, and was now struggling to bring in enough money by working part-time in retail and playing in a band on weekends.  He talked a lot about how he was raising his daughter making her home-cooked meals, meeting her at the bus, warning her about social media. ֑I wanted her to have a secure life, where she knew there was somebody there for her, he said.

The news is full of stories of involved fathers doing it differently than their own distant dads. To be sure, stay-at-home moms still outnumber stay-at-home dads by about 100 to one and, while fathers who live with their children have doubled their childcare time, they spend fewer hours with children than do mothers; meanwhile the percentage of non‑resident fathers has increased sharply since 1960, with more than a third of children now living without their dads. Still, many men today are finding purpose and meaning in a close relationship to their children.

When I talked with men who were active caregivers, they would often inveigh against those well-meaning but clumsy comments from others exclaiming over their extraordinary dedication; as Owen described them: ґWell-meaning people making comments like: Oh, gosh. Most men would have walked away.Ӕ Yadda yadda yadda. And that used to make me so mad I used to get offended by that.Œ Characterising what they do as a commendable choice is annoying because it implies that they might not have stepped up to do this refashioned masculine duty. It is precisely that it is not a choice, but instead part of their good character, their honourable soul, that makes active fatherhood an alternative heroic masculinity.

Nonetheless, most working‑class men such as Gary are trapped by a changing economy and an intransigent masculinity. Faced with changes that reduce the options for less-educated men, they have essentially three choices, none of them very likely. They can pursue more education than their family background or their school success has prepared them for. They can find a low-wage job in a high-growth sector, positions that are often considered womens work, such as a certified nursing assistant or retail cashier. Or they can take on more of the domestic labour at home, enabling their partners to take on more work to provide for the household. These are “choices” that either force them to be class pioneers or gender insurgents in their quest for a sustainable heroism; while both are laudable, we can hardly expect them of most men, and yet this is precisely the dilemma that faces men today.

What does it take to turn the anger of despairing men into violence? The grief and antagonism that erupt after every school shooting focus on either a prevailing gun culture or mental health problems, but masculinity is surely an indispensable component. Research has shown that the roots of these paroxysms of violence are in the toxic relationship between ґmasculinity threat Җ a mans individual perception that he cannot live up to the ideals of dominant masculinity - and a cultural betrayal, the sense that men are owed something they are no longer getting.

In the meantime, the code of work devotion is nothing but lucky for employers, part of the moral glue that keeps us all beholden to the job. But if theres a love affair happening with work, it is in large part unrequited. Employers have backed away from the old reciprocity norms, while affluent men labour ceaselessly to prove their mettle, and less advantaged men languish in despair. Is there any way we can respond?

It is worth pointing out that work precariousness is not inescapable; policies that encourage longer-term employment do exist in other countries (and some states). They are of three kinds. The first rewards employers who want to offer stable work, through such ideas as ґshort-time compensation, or the use of unemployment insurance to enable work-sharing instead of layoffs. The second builds stronger relationships between employers and workers, including incentives for workplace training, or an improved accountability framework holding employers responsible even for subcontracted or outsourced labour. The third makes it easier for workers to do their jobs well, such as paid parental leave or measures to improve unpredictable scheduling.

But there’s reason for skepticism about any policies that fall short of those that amplify labour’s voice, which in the US is now quite muted. Other rich countries with higher union density take steps to enable both employer flexibility and worker security, through income supports and retraining. In the US, better enforcement of labour law provisions that protect the right to organise would enable workers to slow down or impede layoffs, or to shape how they happen. A more subtle outcome would nonetheless be just as important: some scholars think that, just like the black church seems to do for black men, unions could remind more white working-class men to prize not just “hard work” but also solidarity and other values. 

While we can tackle the distribution and character of work, it is less clear whether we can dislodge its moral monopoly. Given radical economic shifts, perhaps more men will redefine the honourable, so that dominant masculinity reflects other traits and qualities, perhaps even contributions that more of them can reliably make. Still, we must not underestimate a core attribute about masculinity: it has long involved social norms that are widely understood and upheld but that only a few can actually live up to. Given that history, we cannot assume that the increased scarcity of a decent job will weaken the hold it has over honour, nor lead to masculinity’s remaking. That will require another seismic shift, this time in the cultural landscape.

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Posted by Elvis on 08/10/17 •
Section Dying America • Section Spiritual Diversions • Section Personal
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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Deaths Of Despair

image: Depression

The mental health of the unemployed deteriorates the longer they are out of work and this is a barrier to securing future employment, research has found. While different ways to reach this group are being trialled, no solution is firmly in sight.
- Daily Mercury, Feb 9, 2016

1st Scientific Analysis of Suicide Notes Lends Insights into the Heartbreaking Act

By Philip Perry
Big Think
April 4, 2017

For decades, the mortality rate across the US WAS IN DECLINE. That’s why the results of a 2015 report were so shocking. For the first time in generations, middle-aged white people saw their death rate increase. Husband and wife economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton discovered this disturbing trend, which began back in 1999. The researchers labeled these “deaths of despair,” resulting from SUICIDE, drug or alcohol abuse.

Approximately 40,000 PEOPLE take their own lives each year in the US. A NEW BOOK tries to isolate the origins of the uptick, currently at a 30-year high, and what can be done. The upward trend was found in all age groups, absent the elderly. Now a new book is lending greater insights into this most personal of tragic acts. Its entitled Explaining Suicide: Patterns, Motivations and What Notes Reveal. The authors say this is the first sweeping, analytical attempt to understand the motivations behind the act, across different age groups.

A multidisciplinary team of academics was involved in this study. They were psychology professor Cheryl Meyer at Wright State University, psychologist Taronish Irani at SUNY-Buffalo State, historian Katherine Hermes at Central Connecticut University, and the late Betty Yung, who was an associate professor of psychology at Wright State University. They wanted to obtain a holistic view using psychology, history, and the social sciences to tackle suicide.

To conduct the study, which would form the basis of the book, researchers examined suicide datasets extensively, including from places as far away as Europe and Oceania. They also collected 1,280 suicide notes from coronerҒs offices across Southwestern Ohio, written between 2000 and 2009. These werent all notes in the literal sense. Many were pictures of notes written on mirrors, towels, coffee filters, and more. One man even spray painted his note on the floor of his barn.

Last words such as these are only found in 14% of cases. The authors began to notice differences between note leavers and non-leavers in their research, as well as people who attempt suicide and those who complete the act. They believe these findings could help develop better suicide prevention strategies.

The academics also evaluated motivating factors, and to what extent each is capable of pushing a person toward suicide. These included: mental illness, substance abuse, interpersonal violence, physical pain, grief, and feelings of failure. They also explored what factors may help protect one against suicide, and make them more resilient. Meyer said after reading all the notes and examining the data, she knew they had a book on their hands.

Many notes were addressed to one person. Others were to no one in particular. There was even someone who addressed the note to their dog. Meyer said it’s hard to understand why some people leave a note and others don’t. According to their research, it all comes down to WHAT MOTIVATED the suicide.

There is a faction of note leavers who lash out at the person or group who controlled, manipulated, neglected, or abused them. But most absolve loved ones of any guilt. 70% were motivated to escape overbearing pain, be it physical or psychological. Nowadays, being a white male is the single biggest risk factor. WHY IS THAT? According to Case and Deaton, drastic changes in the LABOR MARKET is the MOST SIGNIFICANT factor. Meyer claims another driver.

“Hegemonic masculinity,” or a perception that heightened MASCULINITY must be portrayed at all times, a goal that no male can live up to. Sooner or later everyone needs to be vulnerable and let their emotions out. This inability to fit into such a rigid framework causes psychological pain in the form of guilt, shame, disgust, and self-hatred. This builds to the point where the person can no longer take it.

Another 23% of note writers ended it all due to unrequited love or love lost. 22% said they themselves created the problem which led to their decision. This includes the loss of a job, a breakup or divorce, legal troubles, arrest or an impending jail sentence, a looming financial problem, or a devastating medical diagnosis. Meyer says thereԒs a correlation between legal troubles and taking ones own life. “There is a really strong tie between things like DUIs and killing yourself,” she said.

The vast majority of notes absolved love ones, saying nothing could have been done to prevent the act. Most people who commit suicide find their own pain too overwhelming to bear. About a third of the notes mention religion, faith, or God. More women left notes than men. And oddly enough, more of the notes were written on the first of the month than any other day.

ItҒs unfortunate that many people have been touched by suicide in one way or another, yet most are resistant to talking about it. The authors hope the book will help those who are wrestling with it, or who have been hurt by someone who committed it, to speak out, and seek help. So what can we do to help lower instances of suicide? Meyer suggests limiting access to guns, dangerous pharmaceuticals, and other common means.

She also thinks everyone should take a course, much like how we go through driverӒs ed. to acquire a driverԒs license. Every student would be taught to recognize the warning signs and know how to get the person the help they need. Adults in higher or continuing education or the elderly in senior centers could also be offered such a course.

The biggest preventative aspect according to Meyer, rather than sense of resiliency, is acquiring more social connections and developing ones own sense of purpose. Those who feel isolated or adrift are more likely to consider suicide. “Part of it is the responsibility of the individual, but part of it is our responsibility of keeping that person connected,” she said. We usually perceive the warning signs, but don’t feel it’s right to interfere.

“In the coroners’ reports that we viewed, many people had called for welfare checks on their loved ones. They knew or feared that the person had harmed or killed himself or herself. If the impulse to intervene had occurred at an earlier point, the suicide might have been interrupted and averted. We must learn to trust our guts and to get past our own fears when someone is in trouble and in need of help.”

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Posted by Elvis on 05/30/17 •
Section Dying America • Section Spiritual Diversions • Section Personal
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hopeless in 2017

wish_i_were_dead.jpg

Losing your job at 50 or 60 is not good for your health.  There is compelling evidence that no matter who you compare the older job loser to, he or she does worse physically and mentally.
- Why Stress Is Making You Sick - William Gallo, Yale University School of Medicine, AARP, May 2009

Day-to-day, the single-most intimidating OBSTACLE I face is not the unemployment rate or another round of hapless job interviews, but ATTACHING AN IDENTITY to THE MAN I make eye contact with each morning in the vanity mirror.
- Trials of a Stay-At-Home Boyfriend - Salon, March 13, 2012

I began to doubt my ability to find another full-time job.” Being fired from a job that you’ve poured your heart and soul into can be particularly gut-wrenching. “I don’t get involved with people like I used to,” he says. “I probably never recovered from that layoff. It was like family.”
- Life Aftert Layoff - Discarded and Demorazlized - September 4, 2006

While older workers are less likely to be laid off than younger workers, they are about half as likely to be rehired. One result is that older workers have seen the largest proportionate increase in unemployment in this downturn. The number of unemployed people between ages 50 and 65 has more than doubled… The prospects for the re-employment of older workers deteriorate sharply the longer they are unemployed. A worker between ages 50 and 61 who has been unemployed for 17 months has only about a 9 percent chance of finding a new job in the next three months.
- The Human Disater of Unemployment - NY Times, May 12, 2012

---

And Now, a Few Words From the Long-Term Unemployed

By Hamilton Nolan
Gawker

lmost four million Americans officially suffer from long-term unemployment. Unable to secure any meaningful legislation to help them, President Obama is reduced to begging corporations to pledge not to discriminate against them. What is long term unemployment like?

In tonight’s State of the Union address, Obama will doubtless take a stab at describing the plight of those out of work for many months or years, as a prelude to the announcement that he “has secured pledges from a number of major U.S. employers to adopt hiring policies that discourage discrimination against the long-term unemployed.” That’s a paltry remedy to a crushing problem.

Throughout the course of our 40-volume Unemployment Stories series, we heard dozens of people speak of the financial, social, and psychological trauma that accompanies long term unemployment. We have quite a few stories that we didn’t have a chance to run in that series. We’ll share a few with you now. Here, some words from America’s long term unemployed:

Defeat

I’m an art director. I knew pursuing a career in art was going to be a rocky road when I was a kid. I worked hard, went to art school, paid my dues, found success. Even as a freelancer, I could always find work. It’s typical in these pieces to mention the level of your previous success. I usually just tell folks that they’ve probably seen my work somewhere. Advertising is like that.

That seems like another world now. At this stage of my extended unemployment, I’ll do anything. Digging ditches, washing dishes, I don’t care so long as there’s some sort of paycheck.

The worst part of extended unemployment is a sense that people blame you for it. As if somehow you’re choosing this. Anything you may have achieved before is irrelevant. Now you’re lazy, unmotivated, a drain on the system and the target of all sorts of condescending unsolicited advice. Gosh, thank you! I hadn’t considered applying at Wal-Mart, the gas station, Jenny’s diner. Wow! There are job fairs?!? OMG! I had NO idea!!! I’ve been too busy enjoying my life of luxurious relaxation. Go back to school! Brilliant! Not only will my bankruptcy make it tough but I can destroy my credit even more while becoming even more overqualified to be a stockboy!

After a while, it doesn’t matter how well meaning the would be job counselors might be. All of it makes you feel less than human.

After a while, you drop out of everything. When friends and family decide to get together someplace you opt out. It’s too humiliating when you can’t afford a glass of soda. Besides, how many times can you listen to someone tell you there’s a job fair going on at some hotel conference room?

Even positive activities become points of criticism. You ran five miles? How much did that pay? You watched the game? Bet you made a lot of money doing that!

It’s NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO STAY POSITIVE. Low level depression is a constant state. Regular rejection attacks your self image. You begin to doubt all the habits you built up to become successful, no matter how successful you were.

At any given moment you waver between giving up completely or absolutely losing your temper. Maintaining an even keel is exhausting.

You lose so much more than a job with extended unemployment. You feel like you lose the things that make us people. Not just money, a home, independence… you lose your value as a person.

When you finally come to the point where you realize you’ll take a minimum wage position you know that such a job won’t provide for any kind of life… you’ll be lucky to pay for transportation to get to and from work.

You can’t vent your frustration. If you do, you simply prove to others that you’re not worthy, you’re not trying, you don’t want a job, you’re a screw up, you’ve already decided you’re defeated.

Defeat is a great word to sum up the experience. Talk politics, economics, strategies, psychology… doesn’t matter when you get turned down for yet another job. Day after day, month after month, year after year, defeat. You lose.

How remarkable is it that people who deal with exactly that reality set their alarms every day? Find a way to get online, submit resumes day after day, put on a brave face and find a way to get through it all? Dig deep and smile when people mention that they saw on the news x or y company is hiring two hundred people?

Most of us are so far past any sort of reasonable breaking point even we can’t tell you how we continue. Press any of us about it and we’ll say ‘what choice do we have?!?’

Reality kicks you in the teeth

I’ve read the unemployment stories and many of them reflect my own.Even though it may be repetitive to writethese words I still feel the compulsion to writethem down and share them with you.

In thinking about laying out the facts of my story, I do realize that a lot of it is my own fault.Some might say “no”, but that’s how it seems to me.I went to college and for the longest time I didn’t know what I wanted to do.I had walked a very long and crooked road to try to find something that I could do with even a little competence and enjoyment.I started in the math and science area.I could barely get passed even the most remedial areas.Then I tried the technical college.I could barely hack it there.Finally, I found that in the English department was where I could do my best and so I went on to study both professional and creative writing.

I had thought that I might get into an entry level position where my skills might have been of some use.Sadly, that wasn’t the case.I searched and searched and searched.The days turned to weeks.The months bled into two years.I couldn’t even land jobs washing dishes, washing cars or cleaning toilets despite my willingness to do those jobs.

And there wasn’t a lot of support for this.

One of my family members even said to me, “If things don’t change in five years, you might as well kill yourself.”

And during that time, I was living at home because of the fact that I had no income source to find any kind of home of my own.Then to make matters worse, my mother was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.And she passed away within a month.

She had no will or life insurance and so, her house (the home I was living in) went back to the bank along with her car.It was only by the purest good fortune that my eldest brother allowed me to live with him out in California.

I did try to remain optimistic about coming to California, thinking that this would be a new chapter in my life and that I would continue to soldier on in the face of my mother’s passing.But, once again, reality kicks you in the teeth.I searched and searched and searched.Days turned to weeks and the weeks bled into months and still nothing.I’ve applied to be a dishwasher at Chili’s, a night time stocker at Toys R Us and many others.Still nothing.Even people at the temp agencies and staffing centers said that they couldn’t help me.That in itself almost seems like a sign to give up, doesn’t it?

Already, I know that there are those out there who would tell me that this is my own fault because I had chosen a degree in an area that is pretty much useless.I’d be willing to concede that.On the other hand, when it comes to jobs listings at job sites and company sites constantly say that they want experience.But to get experience one must have a job.And so the vicious nonsensical merry-go-round continues to spin.

It’s at times like this that I start to think of the writers and artists who’ve come before me:Kurt Cobain, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Vincent Van Gough, Hunter S. Thompson, Spalding Gray and Richard Jeni and the question that I find myself asking is, ”DID THEY HAVE THE RIGHT IDEA at the END OF THEIR LIVES?”

Signed,

The Failed Writer

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 03/21/17 •
Section Dying America • Section Personal
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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The INFJ Male

image: infj
The Plight of Being the Incredibly Rare INFJ Male

By Personality Growth

We all know that INFJs are rare folks, with rich inner minds and a surprising way of reacting to the world around them. INFJ males are even less common, and because of this they are often faced with unique struggles. Being different can leave them feeling alienated from the world around them, and even cause them to experience certain levels of self-doubt. Here are a few things that make the INFJ male both unique and incredible.

They Dont Fit Into Traditional Roles

INFJs in general simply do not fit into traditional roles most of the time. They follow their own set of morals and beliefs, and dislike being shoved into a box. They will often push against anything that is traditional, simply because they donҒt enjoy not being allowed to be themselves. They also despise when other people are forced into a role that does not make them happy. INFJs believe in standing up for people, which can often make them appear different from others. They often do not fit into what society believes is rightӔ or normalӔ and will definitely go their own way.

This type of ideal can sometimes be difficult for INFJs, especially male INFJs. They do not always fit into the stereotypical image of what a man should beӔ and will often have their own unique way of looking at things. This doesnt mean that an INFJ male wonҒt still possess many of the typical male thought patterns and behaviors, but they simply appear more like a lone wolf in many ways. They often do not stand for other peoples sometimes selfish actions, and are much more in tune the emotions of others.

They Are In Touch With Their Emotions

INFJs are in touch with a more emotional side to themselves, even INFJ males. This can be seen as strange, since it doesnt fit into societies somewhat ridiculous idea of how men should behave. They are not overly emotional individuals by any means, and often prefer to keep their feelings to themselves. They are independent and private, which makes their emotional side only visible to those closest to them. INFJ males do however have a rather compassionate nature, and will come to the aid of those in need. They enjoy helping people when they are in pain, and want to be there for people as much as they can. They are in touch with the world around them, and might even come to someoneҒs defense if they are being bullied or hassled. This sense of caring and consideration makes them strong individuals, who are comfortable with emotions instead of terrified of them. In many cases the people around them will truly appreciate this warmth, making them AMAZING FRIENDS AND PARTNERS IN LIFE. At a younger age though, this sense of compassion can get the INFJ into trouble themselves. It takes people who understand them to fully appreciate their depth and sensitivity.

They Are Nurturing

NFJs are very nurturing people, who enjoy taking time to help others. They will not shy away from someone who is hurting, and will often be willing to comfort them. This is not always connected to typical male behavior, which can sometimes be confusing to others. INFJs males might even feel the need to stifle these qualities when they are younger, in order to fit in. They are in touch with the emotions of others, and truly care about people. They want to do whatever they can to help and to make a real difference in the world around them. This feeling often begins at a very young age, which will often leave the INFJ feeling completely alienated from most people around them.

They often do connect with their masculine side and enjoy having time with their male friends. The issues arise when they are around friends who are boastful and enjoy acting deplorable or obnoxious. The INFJ will often be more than willing to speak up against this behavior, especially if it is deemed as an injustice to someone else. They do best around friends who are sincere people, not simply show-offs looking to impress others.

They Keep to Themselves Most of the Time

INFJs are independent and introverted people, who enjoy plenty of time to themselves. This means that even in college or during their younger years, many INFJ males probably preferred to spend time with their favorite people, rather than go to a raging party. When they do attend these types of events they often find themselves wishing they had not gone against their better judgment. They prefer quiet time, often reading or absorbing something that they truly enjoy. This may cause the INFJ male to appear rather different than the typical outgoing, excitement driven male. This is often more of a struggle during their younger years, when it is seems important to be social and in many waysobnoxious. INFJs arenŒt like that, and would prefer to spend time focusing on real encounters.

INFJs can sometimes appear moody or distant, simply because they require time to themselves. Sometimes they are feeling drained, and need to separate themselves from others. This can be confusing, since they are actually very empathetic and warm people. They are emotionally driven, but they are also extremely logical individuals. They need time to think and process things on their own, which can throw people off sometimes. This need for alone time and space, might cause the people who care for them to become hurt. This can also be a struggle for an INFJ male, since most of the time people are expecting a man to be aggressive by nature. INFJ males are capable of going after what they want, but they arent always extremely forward and aggressive about it. They will express themselves, but they wonҒt push people if they seem resistant.

They Dislike Anything Shallow, But They Contradict Themselves

NFJs often feel out of place and like they dont fit in with many others. They are unique and rare people, especially the unbelievably rare INFJ male. They often feel disconnected from what people expect them to be, simply because they are some of the most uncommon individuals on the planet. Their way of thinking and processing their world is very different from many other people. They dislike anything shallow, and will often want to avoid the typical ғfun activities that others might enjoy. INFJs want to make real and lasting connections, and might even hate the idea of continuous one night stands. Many times this will cause the INFJ to appear odd to others, since they would prefer to let people into their lives who truly deserve to be there. They donԒt want to spend time conversing in small talk, and would much rather share in a deep meaningful conversation with others.

INFJs males enjoy aesthetics, but also hate anything shallow. They fit into the continuously baffling INFJ paradox, and will often contradict themselves to outsiders. They simply are complex people, who have a depth inside of them that is not visible to others. They do care about how they look, and might be extremely hard on themselves when it comes to appearance. At the same time they hate anything superficial, and want much more depth than most people are willing to offer.

INFJ males will often hide their less stereotypical male qualities, instead of allowing others to see them. Because of the way the world operates they might feel afraid to be completely open at a young age. This leads to a rather unhappy INFJ, since they will feel alone and completely insincere. It is vital for an INFJ to be true to themselves, so hiding in this way can be very bad for them. Feeling like they have to keep their true nature a secret, can cause them to recluse into themselves completely. They might even find themselves apathetic and incapable of operating in the world around them. When they arent allowed to be themselves and let their less common qualities shine, the INFJ is simply not being true to who they really are. It is vital for them to find people who cherish their qualities, and who appreciate how unique and special they are. When they finally do get around people like this, the INFJ simply needs to become open with themselves in order to begin to shine. If they arenҒt allowed to live up to their full potential, their incredible inner light will fade away.

They Make Incredible Partners In Life

The INFJ male might be incredibly rare, but they are also very special. They have a connection to others, and are warm but also thoughtful people. Their ability to be compassionate makes them wonderful friends and romantic partners. They have both feminine and masculine qualities, which make for an almost perfect balance- one that lets face it, we are all kind of hoping for in a partner. They possess many different qualities that can often be confusing until you dive deep into their soul to learn everything that makes them who they are. Once you are allowed into the world of an INFJ, do not take that for granted. They might have their stubborn moments, they might drive you crazy when they desire to be rebellious- but they are warm, loving and amazingly understanding people. They are hopeless romantics at heart, who sometimes desire to hide that part of themselves away. It is important to help your INFJ and keep them from hiding their light. Cherish them, and appreciate the qualities that make them so unique- they will definitely thank you for it.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 12/21/16 •
Section Personal
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