In the United States, the rich have gotten richer while the standard of living for the middle class and poor have declined, the New York Times reported April 23.
For the first time, the American middle class is not the world’s most affluent, having been surpassed by Canada. That’s reflective of a broader trend that has seen low- and middle-income workers in other advanced countries getting larger raises than their counterparts in the U.S. Poor people in Europe, for example, earn more money than poor Americans, on average.
Median per-capita income in the U.S. has remained virtually flat since 2000, while it has risen in many other countries. By per-capita gross domestic product, the U.S. remains the world’s richest country. But that wealth is increasingly concentrated in fewer hands, experts say. Compared to other first-world countries, top executives in the U.S. get paid more, but the minimum wage is lower and unions are weaker. Rich Americans also pay less in taxes than in many other leading nations.
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Everyone needs the occasionally nap, but older adults who nap daily were at greater risk of dying during a 13-year study period — with those who napped longest at the highest risk — researchers say.
Fox News reported April 22 that daily nappers ages 40-79 were especially at risk of dying from respiratory illnesses.
Individuals who napped for less than an hour daily were 14 percent more likely to die during the study period than non-nappers, while those who napped for longer than an hour were 32 percent more likely to die. The link between napping and mortality risk was highest among the younger people in the study — those ages 40-65.
The results held up even when researchers controlled for other health and lifestyle factors. The study could not say whether napping itself was unhealthy or if it was an indicator of other problems. ”Excessive daytime napping might be a useful marker of underlying health risks, particularly respiratory problems, especially among those 65 years of age or younger,” according to the study from the University of Cambridge.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
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Should the end of life be viewed as a struggle, or part of a journey? It’s an important question to answer before the inevitable end arrives.
he New York Times reported April 22 that major illness is often described in combat-related terms — terminally ill people are described as “fighting” a disease and urged not to surrender; those who die are said to have “lost the battle” with their illness. In some cases, critical healthcare decisions — such as whether to continue chemotherapy — can be influenced more by a sense of shame about “surrendering” than what will offer the best quality of life in the patient’s remaining time.
“The fight metaphor assumes an opponent. Fighting has connotations of violence and competitiveness. The goal is to win, and if you don’t succeed, you can feel like a failure,” says linguistics expert Elena Semino of Lancaster University in England.
In the U.K., however, doctors are more likely to talk about the end of life as the final steps on a journey, with milestones along the way. “There’s a lot of awareness that battle metaphors can be very harmful to patients,” says Semino. “Professionals are conscious of the problems, and they’re advised not to use them.”
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Mindfulness could be a powerful tool for workplace productivity, suggests a new study that finds on-the-job distractions to be commonplace.
According to the report from Steelcase, 41 percent of workers say that have difficulty concentrating at work, resulting in an average of 86 minutes of lost productivity daily.
“Mindfulness means balancing the intense pace of life with being fully present in the moment,” says Donna Flynn, director of Workspaces Futures at Steelcase. “With the proliferation of technology and growth of distributed work across time and space, workers are facing unprecedented distractions combined with pressures to be always on, leaving them stressed, tired, and overwhelmed. Healthy and mindful employees are a competitive advantage in today’s business world, but to achieve it workers need supportive environments that give them the emotional capacity to interpret and experience events in a way that leads to productive, positive actions.”
Steelcase says employers can encourage more mindfulness by:
- Offering spaces where people can seek solitude and respite, or connect with others without distractions or interference.
- Designing areas that allow workers to control the amount of sensory stimulation they are exposed to and enable them to amp it up or down.
- Creating spaces that help people stay focused as they interact with others one-on-one and eye-to-eye.
- Offering places that are calming, through the materials, textures, colors, lighting and views.
Mindfulness is one of six dimensions of worker wellbeing described by Steelcase; the others are optimism, vitality, belonging, authenticity, and meaning. ”Creative work is all about making connections, being open to new ideas, taking risks and experimenting,” says Flynn. “These behaviors are impossible in a stressed state of mind. For creative work to thrive, the workplace needs to be a supportive and positive environment.”
Almost one in five Americans take some sort of non-vitamin herbal supplement, making these the most common form of alternative/complementary medicine in the U.S., LiveScience reported April 16.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the most popular types of alternative medicine are:
- herbal supplements: used by 18 percent of Americans
- chiropractic and osteopathic treatment: 8.5 percent
- yoga: 8.4 percent
- massage: 6.8 percent
- meditation: 4.1 percent
About half of Americans take some type of dietary supplement, mostly multivitamins.
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