Recent research suggests there is a link between higher levels of anger and ill health in older people.

In our Wellbeing centres, we offer a wide range of activities proven to have a positive impact on anger levels.

The Research

The American Psychological Association has concluded in a recent study that high levels of anger in older people is associated with inflammation. Whilst inflammation – the body’s reaction to perceived threats, such as infection – is generally a helpful and healthy bodily response, long-lasting inflammation can ultimately lead to chronic illnesses. These might include heart disease, arthritis and cancer.

Meaghan Barlow, lead author on the study, examined the reasons older people might experience anger;

As most people age, they simply cannot do the activities they once did. They may experience the loss of a spouse or a decline in their physical mobility and they can become angry.

Higher anger levels can become especially pronounced in older men. So-called ‘irritable male syndrome’ arises from the common drop in testosterone levels that occurs as men age. Doctor Ridwan Shabsigh, head of the International Society of Men’s Health, explains;

“Patients with low testosterone tell me they feel less capable of concentration. And they feel less capable of tolerating the nuances of everyday life – from family, friends, colleagues and customers. Whatever you do, you have people around you, and you get irritated sometimes. The ability to tolerate or deal with it is reduced when the testosterone is low.”

How We Help

The NHS has a number of ideas and advice on how we can manage anger in our everyday lives. Many of their suggestions are included as standard in our wellbeing centres in Wallsend, Killingworth, and North Shields .

One suggestion is maintain a regular exercise routine, with clinical psychologist Isabel Clarke noting that ‘exercise as part of your daily life is a good way to get rid of irritation and anger’. In our wellbeing centres, we’re looking to keep older people physically engaged through ‘exercise snacking’. These short bursts of light exercise have been found to improve muscle mass, as well as mental wellbeing, and falls prevention.

Another NHS proposal is to engage with creative hobbies such as painting, musical instruments or singing, or craft activities. Seasonal crafts are a regular activity in our wellbeing centres, and always well received. Anger management expert Anna Martin states;

“There are many creative options to explore when looking for effective ways to channel your anger. Listening to soothing music, dancing to favourite tunes or painting all induce a relaxing effect on us.”

All of our wellbeing customers enjoy the chance to socialise with friends and staff given to them within the wellbeing centre setting. Regular socialisation is also recommended by NHS experts, and mental health charity Mind, as a way of managing anger;

“Talking to a trusted person who’s not connected to the situation, such as a friend, family member, counsellor or peer support group, can help manage an anger outburst.”

Two older women with white hair are pictured in three different portraits, socialising and playing.

Two customers enjoying socialising at our wellbeing centre.

Researchers from Westminster and Essex universities have also established a link between gardening and anger management. They found that working in an allotment, for example, can have a positive effect on warding off depression, low self-esteem, and anger. Our wellbeing centres have landscaped and accessible gardens, enjoyed by our customers in nice weather.

As demonstrated by this emerging research, activities that allow us better control over our anger are integral to keeping healthy in later life. Such activities are offered not only through our wellbeing centres, but through our parent charity, Age UK North Tyneside.

For information on how you can secure a free half day trial in one of our wellbeing centres, please visit: https://www.everydayuk.org/wellbeing/, or call 0191 287 7028

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