Birthday Blues

July 1st, 2007
by George S. Crimmin

[private] v5-7-Speaking OutFor the past decade, I have heard the claim that among senior citizens, heart attacks occur more frequently on birthdays than on other days of the year. I guess it stands to reason that, if the stress of being fired, or the strain of physical exertion can set off a heart attack, why not the emotion associated with birthdays. Right? But what about proof? Well finally it’s here. Recently an extensive examination of this claim was conducted by Canadian researchers and published in the journal Neurology. In the study which was released last summer (06), the researchers tracked over 50,000 patients, with an average age of 70 (Seventy), who were treated at hospitals in Ontario over a two year period. They found a strong relationship between birthdays and the onset of so-called vascular events. Strokes and heart attacks were 27 percent more likely to occur on birthdays than on any other day. We typically think of a birthday as a time for celebration. And for many it is, but for others however, birthdays can be filled with intense pressure, a day of despair due to unfulfilled expectations. Scientists tell us that this is particularly true with the elderly, who are more likely on birthdays to think of their lives in terms of how much time is left, rather than how much time has passed. I wonder how relevant the results of this study are for seniors here in the Bay Islands. While it’s quite sobering for many of us to look in the mirror and realize that you have more past than future, my experience tells me that most seniors here are grateful and proud of their longevity. There are bound to be exceptions, but for the most part, those seniors that I have come in close contact with over the years, express gratitude to God for time accrued, and look with hopeful anticipation to their next birthday event. Seemingly their emphasis is predicated on how much time has passed, and to a lesser degree on how much time may be left. This is in direct contrast to the conclusions reached by the researchers in this study. But why? I am not a scientist and my observations may be flawed, but I would argue that perhaps a major reason for this perceived discrepancy is attitude. As one local senior citizen recently told me, maybe life is better understood by looking backward, but it is better lived by looking forward. Looking forward with hope and optimism regardless of age. He optioned that instead of spending time adding up our troubles, we should be counting our blessings. And while some people complain because God put thorns on roses, let’s praise him for putting roses among the thorns. What a positive attitude! One final thought, it isn’t your position in life that makes you happy or unhappy, it’s your disposition. In other words, your attitude. [/private]

Comments (0)

Comments are closed.