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The invisible side of caregiving.

In Children and Family, finances, Health, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on January 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

12191385_10153464406329342_2088873762632508759_oWhen you think of the term “caregiver,” you might have the image in your head of the dutiful family member looking out for an elderly parent or disabled child. What you see in public or on the surface is someone helping a senior citizen do her shopping or teaching a child with limited mobility to use an iPad. But, it’s the stuff you never see that is really the hard part of the job.

Caring for a family member is not something that comes with many benefits. Actually, there is only one benefit – looking after your loved one. Yes, there are some people who get paid to take care of a family member, but that’s rare and extremely difficult to

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Shower prep for caregivers can be like gearing up for battle. Helping a senior parent with every day personal care can be hard to get used to – for both – but extremely necessary.

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Medicines must be cataloged, dosed, and set into daily dispense containers. Tracking of administration is also necessary to ensure proper care, safety and financial maintenance.

Personal care is one of the hardest parts of caring for a senior parent. Different than helping a child with these issues, an elderly adult has a different perception of self-sufficiency and personal dignity. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for my father that he now needs help just to do something as simple as shaving or taking a shower.

As a Parkinson’s sufferer, Dad can’t hold his hands still enough to shave with a safety razor and we’ve had to go to an electric model. He does his best to try to do it on his own, but his hands can’t apply any pressure to the razor on his face so it misses, well, pretty much everything. So once a week, we do a complete, clean shave starting with a trimmer.

Showers also require some consideration to personal dignity while trying to ensure complete cleanliness. When I help Dad with a shower, it’s like gearing up for battle. It’s tough to get used to, for both of us. But we do our best. I just try to make sure he gets in and out without injury, get him clean and get him dressed. How would you feel if, suddenly, your children had to help you with trimming nails, combing hair, or washing? You have to be aware of your charge’s discomfort while still meeting the needs.

Managing medications is also a challenge for caregivers. I’m actually pretty lucky in our situation because Dad’s meds – for now at least – can be divided into two daily packets. Every Sunday, I refill a daily box dispenser and we have a record book to record every dose administered and by whom.

14192078_10154177027939342_4999691246789055042_nMoney is probably the biggest sore spot for many caregivers as well because we end up having to handle our own homes as well as the finances of our charge. It wasn’t long after my mother became ill that I learned who the money manager of the house was as I grew up.

As is common with many elderly folks, Dad was letting bills go unpaid, utilities were being cut off, debt was mounting and statements lay unopened, piling up on the kitchen table – Never again. My siblings and I took over managing his money and paid off all his major debt so we only have living expenses, medicines and doctor bills to worry about.

The problem is that things won’t stay that way. People don’t understand how little Medicare and its supplements really cover and the expenses continue to mount as a senior’s care grows more complicated because things like Parkinson’s continue to progress.

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Adjusting work to caregiver life is rarely easy, sometimes it is impossible. Many caregivers have to choose one over the other.

Naturally, The U.S. Congress is far too busy voting itself another ridiculous raise and cutting Social Security to bother considering how to better spend money to care for its citizens. After all, it’s “our” money. And there is no outside financial support for caregivers.

So, the bills continue to roll in – co-pays, lift chairs, vaccinations, home care (yes, it’s mostly self-pay), unforeseen changes in the health of the patient and the understanding that with Parkinson’s, diabetes and glaucoma, my father will get worse, even with the best possible care.

Tons of other things come into play too. When you’re a caregiver, you’re often the housekeeper, accountant, chef, chauffeur, nurse, clothes and dishwasher, and much more. The rest of the world doesn’t see the countless hours spent making sure the things like cracker packets and juice bottles are stored in a way he can easily open them with limited mobility.

Over the years, I’ve written many times about my experiences in helping to care for my parents. But people I meet always seem to be shocked how much we have to do that no one ever sees. So, when you see someone out in public dealing with something like this, just remember how hard it is and open a door for them or be patient when they’re sorting groceries for two households at the checkout. We appreciate it.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is available as a podcast at MyGreeneRadio.com.

Hope in a world of tragedy.

In Health, Holiday, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on December 30, 2016 at 10:46 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOHope – A small word that carries a great deal of weight. Hope inspires people, gives them purpose, direction, even courage. For some, hope is all they have to motivate them.

If you look up hope in a dictionary its synonyms include: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, and so on. But I’m not entirely convinced that these are accurate. In my mind, hope is not a simple thought or expectation, but one of the most powerful of all emotions.

Yes, hope is an emotion. It has no medical or biological origin. It is a complete figment of the heart, which can move the mind and body to do incredible things. Unlike other aspirational emotions, I believe that hope requires the additional element of faith.

The type of faith depends strongly on the individual. It could be faith in God or some other supernatural belief. It could be faith in one’s own character and accomplishments. For me, faith in the integrity, loyalty and support of others is what fuels my hope. If hope is to have weight, faith must be unwavering and consistent.

Action is also needed in the equation in order to move you towards your goal. You can’t just sit idly by and dream of something, you must act. You “hope” your child will be accepted to a good school. So you do things to support that hope by helping her along the way providing, music lessons, math camp, whatever supports the end goal.

Hope without action is merely a wish, void of substance or direction. A wish is fine if you’re throwing a penny into a fountain, but hope is usually focused around a mindset of action.

Sometimes, people still have hope for things over which they have no control. A great many people hoped the 2016 U.S. presidential election would have turned out differently.

Others hope the new president will do all of the things he says he will and meet their hopes for America. Either way, it’s all about your perspective – and that’s often the very nature of hope.

In hope, as in life, perspective is everything. Your hopes are dependent upon your life view. You hope for things that will improve or enhance the lives of yourself and those closest to you. Hope also requires time.

Action is rarely instantaneous, so time is required for hope to be a motivator. That’s hard sometimes, particularly if someone is in dire need. When we hope a sick family member will recover, we have to be patient while the treatments are applied.

Also, we generally “hope” for things to turn out for the best. Our anticipation may grow because of hope. Good news about a potential raise or promotion at work can build hope. It’s not often that hope is associated with something negative.

But again, hope is nothing without faith and action. If you are someone who generally sits idly by praying that God or someone else will fix your problem, I’m afraid you’re in for a big disappointment. You have to take steps towards what you want – even if it doesn’t feel you have much control over it.

With so much tragedy in the world – wars, mass shootings, and xenophobic politicians – how can you find hope? If I had the answer to questions like that, the Dalai Lama would have some competition or his job.

The fact is that we should have hope despite tragedy. Keeping our hope alive is what gives purpose to human beings in perilous circumstances. No matter how well off someone might seem to be in position, finances, love, work, whatever, we all have hopes for something.

Hope isn’t as much about answers but more about questions. What do you want out of life? Have you done anything to move towards getting those things? Are you making a plan to get there?

It’s been said that hope is the desire for something with the expectation of getting it. Well, as I’ve pointed out, I don’t believe it’s quite so simple. If it were, hope wouldn’t be such a powerful influence on human existence.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. 

 

Resolving for a better new year.

In Education, Health, Holiday, Opinion, psychology, Uncategorized on December 22, 2016 at 11:55 pm

img_3313Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

 

 

 

DIH LOGOWell, the holidays are upon us once more and 2016 is nearing an end. It’s safe to say that the past year has certainly been filled with remarkable change. What did 2016 mean to you? Was it an end or a beginning? Did you experience triumph or tragedy?

If you’re like most, it was a mixture of both. Sometimes it’s hard to discern the difference. What some see as catastrophe, others view as a success. It really depends on your perspective. Of course, the New Year is always a good time to make a change for the better in your own life.

But be aware that most statistics show that only around 46 percent of resolutions continue past six months. At the same time, people who set a goal based on a resolution are 10 percent more likely to succeed than those who do not.

However you do it, in order to change your life for the better you have to get up and take the first step. And, sometimes attitude is everything where life changes are concerned.

You have to stay positive, dismiss the naysayers and keep motivated and moving forward. So, whether you start because of a resolution or just because you think now is a good time, your potential success or failure rests largely with your motivation.

Additionally, remember that you can’t force someone else to change either. If they want a different life, they have to take the steps toward that end.

For example, suppose Lisa is dating Mike and she’s having a tough time because he is addicted to role-playing games. Lisa wants to eventually marry Mike, but she cannot handle the gaming.

Lisa believes, however, that she can change him, help him to see the error of his ways. She believes that she can set a resolution to reform him with love – or a rolling pin (just kidding, she doesn’t bake – she actually uses a frying pan).

Mike is never going to change because someone else wants him to do so. If he wants to quit playing he will have to do it for his own reasons. I am certainly no psychologist, but I do know that for any New Year’s resolution to be successful, the desire to change has to come from within.

I may be wrong, but I think the motivation for change at the start of a new year comes from a deep desire in all of us for a fresh start. Most people want to strive for something better, no matter what our situation. Of course, there are still people out there who simply don’t care and are either complacent or resigned.

For some, the new year offers an opportunity to get “it” right – whatever your particular “it” happens to be at the time. In any case, it’s up to you to make those choices and follow through. If you don’t, you have no one to blame but yourself.

You can get things moving by creating a list of the things you want to accomplish in the coming year. For the record, I’d leave out a lottery jackpot and focus on more realistic expectations, like finishing your education or pursuing a career change.

Then figure out what it takes to reach those milestones and make a plan to get there (the “make a plan” part is pretty important). You will likely have a great deal of work to do and, for some at least, a long-term goal may require multiple short-term steps. Be patient, work hard and stay focused.

Incidentally, staying focused may indeed be the biggest challenge you face. The aforementioned plan is vital. Lay it out, be consistent, stick to it one step at a time, rather than trying to do everything all at once, and you can be successful.

A New Year’s resolution can be either a step towards improving your life or it can be a fruitless, frustrating endeavor that causes you stress and worry. It all depends on how committed you are to the kind of change you want in your life. However you do it, the choice rests with you.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Listen to the Deer In Headlines podcast free at MyGreeneRadio.com.

 

There is always another way

In Education, Health, Holiday, Media, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Uncategorized on December 12, 2016 at 8:55 am

By Gery L. Deer
Deer In Headlines

For some people, maybe even among those close to you, every day can be an emotional struggle. The problem might be not enough money or too little work. Still, others struggle with personal demons, addictions, mental illness, or family difficulties. The list is endless and, often, there is no way out for those fighting such overwhelming internal battles.

edouard_manet_-_le_suicideWhen life becomes too difficult to manage anymore and the odds seem totally stacked against them, some simply choose not to go on. According to the most recent statistics, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, averaging 117 per day. Those are staggering numbers.

Much of the time, a suicide attempt is a plea for help. The sufferer will talk about it, threaten it; even make the attempt. But when someone really wants out, there is rarely a warning or long, dramatic leader – they just do it.

By then, it’s too late to help. Sometimes it’s up to the rest of us to try to recognize and help the individual before it gets that far. Sadly, that doesn’t always work. You can’t help someone who is unwilling, or if there is mental illness or other medical issues in play, the sufferer may not even realize it.

Life can be daunting for someone dealing with these kinds of struggles especially when trying to meet the expectations of others, exhibit self-expression without judgment, or just deal with outside criticism. All of that can really knock joy out of even the happiest of everyday activity. Usually, there is a clinical reason for all of this, whether it’s ever treated or not.

Let me be clear, I’m no psychologist or counselor so I’m speaking generally and colloquially about all of this. But suicide has touched my life on more than one occasion.

I know that for those struggling with severe depression or suicidal thoughts, the world must seem a really dark and unforgiving place. It doesn’t help to lob useless platitudes at someone like that either; it’s neither helpful nor productive.

And the reality of someone considering suicide is not obvious or cliché like it is on some Lifetime TV movie. Someone struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts may not look “sad” or anxious in any way to an observer. People who have to deal with this kind of roller coaster of emotion can learn to hide it pretty well.

Also, expecting or nagging someone to just “snap out of it” is not only impossible it can actually make matters worse. When you do that you may be reinforcing the idea that there’s something wrong with the person, that they’re not “normal.” A caring, nonjudgmental ear can go a long way easing some of the emotional pain.

The truth is, depression and other similar issues are, in fact, perfectly normal. It’s the level and cause of the issue that changes the effectiveness of treatment. But every treatment is dependent on the individual seeking out help – and that can be tough. But suicide is not inevitable. Opening the conversation is a start.

If you’re reading this and know someone who might be dealing with these kinds of issues, there is help available. If that person is you, I have a personal plea – please don’t give up. Think of the people you love and who love you and what you mean to them and what losing you will mean. We all have a much bigger effect on those around us than we realize.

Confide in someone close to you. If there is no one then call a local hotline or visit a nearby support group. You can usually stay anonymous and people can help direct you to where you can get long-term assistance.

If you’re in need of support right now, please don’t give up! If you have no one else or can’t talk to those close to you, then call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. It’s free and confidential.

It might not seem like it, but there is plenty to live for, just take the first step, ask for help, and give it a chance. You have no idea what it will mean to those around you. There is always another way.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communication, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Stories, the tapestry of our lives

In Dayton Ohio News, Health, Literature, Opinion, Uncategorized on November 9, 2016 at 9:35 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines
DIH LOGOLong before man learned to put pen to paper, stories kept the history of human kind. Passed down from generation to generation, our stories weave the tapestry of who we are as a people, the perils and the promise, the struggles and successes.

One might think in this modern age of nonstop information, digital data and wearable technology, that we would have abandoned the need for sharing stories verbally. Thankfully, I’ve learned not only that the practice is alive and well, but also takes place often in the most unlikely places.

Recently I was privileged to attend a storytelling event hosted by my friend Michael. For more than two decades, he and some of his closest friends have gathered each year to share stories of all kinds.

Painting by Albert Anker

Painting by Albert Anker

Everyone brings a snack or beverage to share and gather, goodies in hand, to lose themselves in the tales spun by each reader.  Those chosen to read take, in turn, the “reader’s chair” to share aloud an original story or a piece by a favorite author.

I’ve both hosted and attended author readings before. But I’ve never been to something like this. But there is no formal group or organization involved here. There is no religious or political agenda – something I found beyond refreshing.

The entire evening is focused, not the quality of the writing or the impact of the stories, but the fellowship and common interest of long time friends and new acquaintances. It was the modern day equivalent of a tribe sitting around a campfire.

What I was most impressed by was everyone’s level of attention, respect and admiration for the person in the reader’s chair. This was not something people were compelled to attend. There was no work obligation or social requirement.

And, while some of us who were there are writers, most were not. Add to that such a variety of people who really had only one thing in common – our host. One person whose circle of friends combined for this single purpose, a couple of hours of distance between us and the chaos of the world outside.

The stories chosen were also captivating, not as much because of the tales being told but the teller. Each reader had his or her own, individual style, some more animated, others more calm and quiet. To say it was entertaining would be an understatement.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that in our “immediate” society, it was really nice to calm down, relax and just be there, in the moment, among friends and new acquaintances.

You know what else? No one was looking at their smart phone or any other kind of screen for a couple of hours! Sure people checked for texts once in a while from the sitter or verified the ringer was off. But, for just a little while, no one was nose-down into a glowing box.

It might sound corny to some people but there’s something great about the disconnection from the outside to connect with the in. That’s saying something since socializing is not my strong suit. I’ve never been that comfortable at social gatherings, always feeling awkward and out of place, but not this time.

Everyone was engaged and welcoming in this setting, with no hidden agendas, no ulterior motives, no business maneuvering. This was just some great people getting together to enjoy an evening of calm, thoughtful writing.

Yes, it’s probably a bit nerdy and may sound pretentious to some people. But, I can assure you it wasn’t. If anything, it gave me a break from the hustle bustle of the week and I got to see my friend Michael in a different environment, something we should all try to do from time to time.

Sharing stories creates our history and weaves our society together and we need to remember that it started with two people communicating with each other – directly, person to person. Try it sometime. You might just find you have more in common with those around you than you may have thought. And thanks again to Michael and his storytellers.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Catch the Deer In Headlines podcast at MyGreeneRadio.com.

 

 

Detach and de-stress from politics

In Health, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology on May 17, 2016 at 7:57 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOA July 2014 article in The Washington Post included a headline that read, “Politicians are the No. 1 cause of stress in our lives.” The article focused on a stress survey in which, “Americans cited, ‘Hearing about what the government or politicians are doing,’ as the most frequent daily stressor on their lives, and at a substantially higher rate than the usual annoyances like commuting, chores and general schedule-juggling.”

That was nearly two years ago and reactions to day-to-day politics were driving the survey. At that time the dizzying level of ridiculousness surrounding the 2016 presidential bid had yet to shift into high gear. Now, with just a few weeks until the first convention, the stakes have never been higher, and neither has our collective blood pressure.

In the time between now and the conventions, it’s unlikely anything of consequence will occur. There will be blustering and feather ruffling from candidates, but, in the end, the convention is the next decisive event. It’s time to back away for a while.

If the presidential race has driven a wedge between you and those close to you, it may be time let it go. It’s not important. The truth is, very little that takes place on the presidential campaign level will affect those of us down here in the real world.

And it certainly is not worth the loss of close friendships. So how do you disconnect? Well, here are a few short tips.

First, step away from social media – immediately! As if the cable news blather wasn’t enough, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest of social media is inundated with opinion, and certainly not necessarily what you would call, “informed” opinion.

maxresdefaultMost people, for whatever reason, have a difficult time recognizing fact from rhetoric. How many times have you been taken in on Facebook or Twitter by some fake news story? Generally those kinds of things are harmless. But when conflict and gossip are presented as factually based information, things get murky and you have to know the difference.

Along with the computer, switch off the TV as well. Face it you’re never going to get an “objective” view of any candidate, party or issue from corporate news agencies. Every organization introduces the spin they want you to hear. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and all the rest, have their own political agendas and when they want you to think, they’ll tell you how.

Consider also, how you feel when you encounter political news. Take close note of your emotions when you’re reading, watching or listening to political material. Does your heart rate jump? Do you feel angry or enraged? Well, believe it or not, that’s exactly what they want; “they” being the media manipulators.

But, you don’t have to fall for it. You can choose what information to which you are exposed and how it affects you. If you just let them get to you, that’s your own fault.

Probably the best way to keep from being overwhelmed by the election hype is to be informed. Do your own research on the candidates and issues and get the information as first-hand as possible. The more facts you know, the less likely you are to get sucked into the garbage.

Politics can sometimes be a fun diversion, though for whom I haven’t a clue. But when things are as charged up as they are this time around, most of what results is stress, angry feelings and regretful behavior.

Remember that politicians at that level – including Hillary, Bernie, and Donald – have no stake in your life. They could care less about anything save their own quest for power, ego and personal benefit. And they’ll say anything to get the votes they want. Anyone who sincerely believes otherwise is a bit naive.

So as the election creeps up on us, be prepared to go vote your conscience when the time comes. Until then, shut it all down, tune it all out, and relax!

For further study and resource …

6 Ways To Cope With Political Stress by Dr. David Lowenstein

http://drlowenstein.com/2016/03/10/6-ways-to-cope-with-political-stress/

5 Ways To Avoid Stress and Stay Healthy In Political Campaigns by PoliticalCampaigningTips.com

http://www.politicalcampaigningtips.com/5-ways-to-avoid-stress-stay-healthy-in-political-campaigns/

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

 

 

Confronting your greatest fear

In Children and Family, Health, Local News, Opinion, psychology, Uncategorized on April 26, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

In the aftermath of the 1974 Xenia tornado, people in surrounding communities did what they could to help with the cleanup. Although my father was a teacher at the vocational school at the time, he also had heavy trucks so we went to help as well.

Everywhere you looked was devastation. Stunned families cried or stared blankly as broken water mains sprayed the splintered remains of unrecognizable homes. It was horrific. Even as a first-grader, what I saw that first day among the shattered remains of Xenia was inexorably seared into my memory and cultivated a fear of storms that’s hard for me to, even now, put into words.

During my first couple of years of college, I was fortunate enough to live at home and commute. One after class I went home and settled in to watch a movie and scarf down some drive thru before hitting the books. It was a dark, rainy day and the sky had that “look” about it.

Ever since that day in 1974, I’ve been keenly aware of unstable weather, as if I had some kind of built in, biological barometer in my head and this was one of those days when that sense was at its peak.

As I plowed through my burger and onion rings in front of the TV, the power flickered several times, but I did my best to ignore it. I was home alone, and as the wind and rain picked up, the trees in the valley surrounding our small farm it sounded like wild animals roaring in the distance.

At one point, I ventured out the back door and stood behind the house, watching the clouds off to the southwest. The wind became still. The rain stopped. It was dead quiet. I walked to the other side of the house for a better view on the far side of our barn. And there it was. About a hundred yards away, spinning down from the sky to the pasture in front of me – a tornado. It was small, gray, kicking up debris and dancing its way across the field in front of me as if with some kind of purpose in mind.

The 1974 Xenia Tornado was one of hundreds in a massive storm outbreak on April 3.

The 1974 Xenia Tornado was one of hundreds in a massive storm outbreak on April 3. This is probably the most famous photo taken of the giant twister from Greene Memorial Hospital by Fred Stewart.

I was frozen; not with fear, but with fascination. There it was, right in front of me, the thing I feared most; no, more than that. It was the only thing I’d ever been afraid of. Any normal person would have bolted to the nearest cellar. But I didn’t. I stood there, motionless.

A moment later, the funnel met the ancient wooden sideboards of one of my dad’s old farm trucks and they exploded into splinters with a sound like the cracking of a dozen brittle bones. I still didn’t move. I wasn’t afraid at all.

It seemed like it took an eternity for it to cross the 10-acre spread of pasture field, but it was probably more like 30 seconds. It bounced across the road a quarter mile away, circumvented one neighbor’s home completely but then crashed into an adjacent barn, destroying it in the blink of an eye and scattered bits of wood, sheet metal and hay for miles. I stood there, still motionless, taking it all in.

And as quickly as it came, it was gone. After it wrecked the barn across the road, it dissolved into nothing. A moment later, I realized I was being soaked by rain but still staring off across the field. It left a path of small debris along the way and mashed down the high grass as if some kids had tromped a trail through the field. But it was over. And any fear I once felt of these storms was gone.

As I got older, I studied everything I could about tornadoes, even going on a few local storm chases back in school. Over the years, I faced with two more of the swirling monsters but no longer fear any kind of storm. Today I am respectful of their power and unpredictability and still have a sixth sense when things aren’t right in the wind. The best thing any of us can do during Ohio’s tornado seasons is to be alert and prepared.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com.

Exercise and de-clutter this spring.

In Children and Family, Entertainment, Health, Opinion, psychology on March 24, 2016 at 11:02 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOSpring has sprung and, even though temperatures aren’t quite sweltering yet, it’s time to get off that couch and get moving. No more excuses. You can do it! It’s time to get things done and here are two ideas to help.

If your goal is to get into a new outdoor workout routine, it’s best to get started sooner than later. I can’t help you much on running or some of the other athletics, but, for our would-be bicyclists out there, here are some suggestions from my own experience.

Growing up where I did, a bike was a necessity. Early on, I had to learn the rules of the road, long before there were “bike paths,” or lanes anywhere around our farm. So, my first recommendation for would be cyclers, do your homework.

Before you hit the road, be sure that you know the available routes and trails understand the rules. Hit up the local parks and recreation websites to learn about off-road, public trails and street-based bike routes.

Take extra care to plan out your route with each excursion and take a friend. It’s best not to ride alone on back roads or on isolated trails. Use the buddy system to stay safe.

Since many bike paths replaced former railroad lines, some of them go through small towns and take you onto sidewalks and thoroughfares. Be sure to watch for directional signs, both at eye level and painted on the pavement.

Make sure your cycle is in good shape as well. If you don’t do that kind of stuff, take it in for professional maintenance. Nothing’s worse than being stranded from a poorly maintained chain or crank.

Another thing that’s great about this time of year is the fresh start it brings. So how about those of you for whom a spring goal is to clear out the garage, basement or storage rental. It’s good for the living space and great exercise.

12903726_10153764334789342_1452602020_oMy friend Tami Doling is the owner of Silver Lining Organizers, LLC, and a fellow contributor to the WDTN-TV2 Living Dayton program, as well as Dayton Parent Magazine. She has some great advice on her website and blog on how to clear out the clutter, but it all begins with list of some pretty tough questions.

In her “ask the organizer” blog at Dayton Parenting Magazine, Tami offers the following “test” you can take to decide whether to keep something or not.

Begin by asking yourself the following: do you love it? Would you buy it again? Is it broken? Is it worth cleaning and storing? Can someone else use it?

I’d probably expand on the “cleaning and storing” question a bit further. For example, if you haven’t properly maintained an item, that is, you didn’t keep it well cleaned or stored, why would you start now? Probably time to chuck it.

But possibly my favorite of Tami’s advice is her 60 second rule. “If it takes you more than 60 seconds to decide to keep it,” she writes, “you probably don’t need it.” She also suggests that you try not to do too much at once. You could get blindsided by a sense of being a bit overwhelmed.

“Just start, and start small,” Tami says. “Pick a closet or drawer. Empty it and get rid of anything that you no longer need or use. Enjoy the clutter free area and use that feeling to motivate you as you tackle the next area.”

For the last several months, I’ve been in a state of consistent de-cluttering at home. I’ve thrown away things I didn’t even remember keeping, or why they were still there. Broken lamps, old VCRs, TV remotes – why did I keep old TV remotes?

This spring, I’m using the good weather to clear out a great many other areas too, and you can do the same. You can find more of Tami Doling’s articles, TV spots and great ideas about organizing and de-cluttering at silverliningorganizers.com.

Whether you’re starting a new exercise routine or getting some long overdue items checked off of that “honey do” list, the onset of spring is a great opportunity to start. Get up and get moving and I’ll see you outside!

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Living in the family museum

In Health, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on February 7, 2016 at 7:57 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAlthough there is a lot of talk about millennials returning home to live with parents, the majority of Americans still move away from their family home. As a teenager, most people long for independence to explore different worlds, expand careers and so on while at the same time freeing themselves from the obligations and responsibility associated with living close to parents and immediate family.

But that wasn’t me. Yes, I had the same desire to see and experience the world, but I seemed to need a grounding to make it work properly for me. I did move away from my hometown for brief periods during college, a few years for work and the like. But for the majority of my life, I’ve remained within just a few miles of my family farm, where my father still lives.

12674271_10153643748619342_101686889_nFor the last two decades, my family music group has called our family farm “home” and that’s where we practice and produce our shows. But it wasn’t until I began helping to care for my mother in 2009 that I ended up having to spend far more time in the home where I grew up than one might think is usual – or psychologically healthy.

My mother passed in 2011 but, a few years later, I had to repeat that effort as my dad’s health made it necessary for us to assist him as well. Fortunately, not to the degree Mom needed help, but once again the situation required me to be at his house several days each week.

My family home is pretty much as it always was with minor changes here and there. But to me it seems simultaneously totally familiar and completely foreign. My job makes it easy for me to work remotely, but there’s a constantly present, underlying distraction.

I’m not entirely sure it’s psychologically healthy to be in this situation sometimes. I’m surrounded by the past every day, as if my dad’s home is a museum with dusty, disorganized exhibits displayed out of context and unvisited.

Growing up, our family home was always a bit of a sanctuary for me, a place the difficulties of the world didn’t penetrate. Today, it can sometimes seem more like a workplace. There’s something disquieting occasionally about walking the halls in what used to be a nurturing home but that now serves another purpose.

Of my siblings and me I am the only one to have grown up in the house. Still, it can still feel very strange to be there now. Today, Dad occupies only certain rooms, but once upon a time the whole house rang with laughter and music, as the smell of homemade food wafted throughout. Now I walk through the dark, silence wondering where the years went.

Maybe it’s having come so close to losing my brother to a serious illness last summer that has triggered some of these deeply buried thoughts. But, whatever the reason, they’ve come blasting to the surface like a volcanic eruption.

Mostly I’m troubled by the fact that my father is so very alone in the world now, having outlived everyone close to him save his children. Within just a few years of each other he lost the aunt who raised him, his brother-in-law who was like a little brother to him, and, most tragically, my mother.

There’s no one left of his generation except a sister, who lives a few hours away, a half-brother whom he doesn’t know very well, and a couple of school friends he speaks to on the phone. These are problems he has that I can’t fix.

Someday, because of my birth position in the family, I’ll likely be the only one left of my mother, father and siblings. I can’t replace what Dad’s lost, so I spend my time with him trying to give him a good quality of life in the present. But there are days when we both sit melancholy and remember the past in the quiet emptiness and solitude of our family home.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

Game Plan for Super Bowl 50: Are You Drinking or Are You Driving?

In Education, Health, Sports News, Uncategorized on February 1, 2016 at 9:45 am

This is NOT the Time for an Option Play

XENIA, OH – The Super Bowl is America’s most watched national sporting event. On Super Bowl 50 Sunday, February 7, there will be lots of game day socializing that may include drinking. That’s why the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Greene County Safe Communities Coalition and Greene County’s highway safety and law enforcement officials are urging football fans to call the play now: drinking or driving.

safe communities logoIf you plan on drinking on Super Bowl Sunday, designate a sober driver to get you home safely. NHTSA’s Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk campaign encourages people to make plans ahead of time that will prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking.

Driving impaired could result in injury or death for you or others on the road. According to data from NHTSA, in 2013 10,076 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in the United States—31 percent of all vehicle crash fatalities in the nation. The numbers go even higher on weekends. (There were 5,637 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, making up 41 percent of all fatalities that occurred during weekends.)

A driver is considered alcohol-impaired with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, the set limit in all states. This February 7, don’t become a tragic Super Bowl stat.

“Drunk driving is completely preventable,” said Ashley Steveley, Greene County Safe Communities Coordinator. “All it takes is a little planning. We want fans to remember that it’s a choice. Drink or drive—but never do both.” For those who plan to drink, leave your keys at home. Designate a sober driver, whether it’s a friend, relative, taxi, ride share or public transportation. Use NHTSA’s new SaferRide mobile app.

The app helps people who have been drinking get a safe ride home; it helps users call a taxi or a friend and identifies their location so they can be picked up. The app is available for Android devices on Google Play, and Apple devices on the iTunes store. For those who plan to drive, refrain from any alcohol.

Instead, enjoy the game with food and nonalcoholic drinks. Being a sober, designated driver is a key role on Super Bowl Sunday. You might just save a life. Press Release Page 2 of 2 If you’re hosting a Super Bowl 50 party, designate a responsible driver before the game begins. One way to thank your designated driver is by tweeting us their name during Super Bowl 50, which will appear on NHTSA’s Wall of Fame.

If you’re the designated driver, be sure to tweet us your name during Super Bowl 50, and make NHTSA’s Wall of Fame! For more Super Bowl weekend safety information, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/SuperBowl For more information on the Greene County Safe Communities Coalition, please contact Ms. Steveley at 937- 374-5624 or email her at asteveley@gcph.info.