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Pursuing your passion

In Children and Family, Health, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on March 18, 2017 at 9:36 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

I once read that great things are unique and unconventional. I’m certain that’s true and in order to achieve great things we, ourselves, must be equally unique and unconventional. We have to step outside our comfort zones. Or, as is often the case with me, run screaming outside them and be willing to screw up big time and embarrass ourselves in the process. To do any less will mean perpetual mediocrity.

I used to believe that everyone searches for purpose in life. But, what I’ve learned in my nearly half-century on this earth, is that there are people who just don’t care. That’s not meant to sound harsh, I just mean that day-to-day living is, for all practical reasons, their “purpose.”

Still, some can find meaning in the most superficial of accomplishments however self-serving others might see them. Achieving great things means different things to different people, some more superficial than others. But it’s all in how you look at it.

In my experience, finding that sense of self-worth is incredibly difficult and a constant personal journey for me. I have no real answers to how to get there, but I have discovered that the path begins with three steps – locate your passion, apply your talent and help others. Let’s look at the details.

First, “locate your passion.” According to Dictionary.com, the most accurate definition of the word “passion” in this context is, “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” Such as, “he has a ‘passion’ for music.”

My friend Jim Karns, and the rest of “The Brothers & Co.” and I find some of our purpose in bringing laughter and music to others.

This is probably the most difficult part of the process because even the very concept is ambiguous. I know it’s always been hard for me to nail it down and then figure out how that fits with work, family responsibilities and goals.

Finding your passion requires a great deal of personal exploration, reflection, and trial and error. The journey to discovering your passion is the search for that one “thing” that makes you forget to eat or go to the bathroom.

Whenever I hear someone talk about “passion,” particularly related to an occupation or job, it usually comes from some crunchy granola-type artist or non-profit worker. I’m not sure I’ve ever found a single, motivating passion in my life. I have several, all of which have equal importance to who I am. I’m still working on it, and it’s very likely to be a continuing effort of weeks, months, or even years.

Second on my list is, “apply your talent.” Here the idea is to take whatever talents you have – natural or learned, yes there are both – and apply that skill and energy to your passion.

For example, let’s say your passion turns out to be writing. You’ll probably first want to decide what kind of writer you want to be. Do you pen Shakespearean drama, or do your talents flow more towards “Fifty Shades of Grey?” What makes you want to write? What kind of writing makes you want to sit down and just let the stories flow onto your computer screen, to the exclusion of everything else? That’s where applying your talent to your passion really comes into play.

Third, and possibly the most rewarding and important of your first steps, is helping others. As you achieve a certain level of awareness and success, it becomes more important for you to share your knowledge and understanding with those less accomplished.

This in no way implies that you have to be an expert or have every aspect of your life’s pursuit nailed down. It just means that you should try to help those who may not be as advanced in their search. Mentoring is one of the most rewarding of experiences to come out of this process.

Mentoring is not the only way to help people while continuing your personal growth. I’ve found that volunteering to work in an organization or for a cause that falls within your passion interest can also be incredibly valuable to both the beneficiaries of the effort and to yourself.

Giving your life more meaning by pursuing a personal passion is not easy and it’s certainly not right for everyone. We only get one life and one future so don’t waste it.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd.  More at gerydeer.com

 

What’s in a label?

In Education, Health, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on March 18, 2017 at 9:22 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

One things that human beings have in common is an insatiable need to label each other, both individually and by groups. I’m no expert at human evolution or psychology, but I’d guess that categorizing our fellow man must have been a leftover from prehistoric times. Our instinctive ability to size up a potential adversary may have served us well as cave people, but today, those emotions can inadvertently damage our relationships in the civilized world.

For our discussion purposes, the term “label” generally implies a negatively-focused word that’s used to identify someone based on visible stereotypical characteristics, like behavior, clothing, language, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. It’s not a factual assessment but rather an assumption, and it’s nearly always wrong. I’ve never found labels particularly helpful and arrived at from a single action or characteristic.

It gets a little confusing when you think about how to accurately describe someone without bias or negativity. If I were a Muslim, for example, it would be OK to say, “He’s a Muslim,” if you are stating a fact. On the other hand, if it’s stated in a way that has a negative connotation behind it like, “He’s one of those Muslims,” that’s not a fact, it’s a label. It comes with images of terrorism or other undesirable stereotypes.

In fact, trying to find any unoffensive example of labeling was a challenge, but I figured if I use myself as the subject that would be OK, so here it goes. I was raised on a farm in a rural community. Some people have a predetermined “image” of what someone like me should look, act and sound like.

My corn-fed brethren might even be labeled with a term that I find incredibly offensive – redneck. Despite what some might think, it’s just as intolerant to pin a racial slur on a white person as anyone else. It does, indeed, go both ways.

People are people – not labels. (Infographic courtesy of TrustLifeToday.com)

The general assumption is that someone with my background is uneducated, ignorant, with a “hillbilly” accent, bad grammar, less than stellar dental hygiene and who prefers to date within his or her own family. Throw in some right-wing, gun-totin’, Bible-quotin’, racism and that’s pretty much the way the liberal left sees us too.

Absolutely none of this is accurate where I am concerned, nor is it for most people I know. I’m well educated, I have no discernible accent, I’m not racist and, while my grammar isn’t perfect all the time, I’d like to think I’m above average in that area. The point is that the “rural” label is usually so far off as to be laughable. In fact, when people meet me they generally have no clue as to my background. None of this implies anything positive.

All that said, a close friend reminded me recently that labels have a positive side as well. In some cases, when people are vastly different from ourselves, a label can sometimes give us a reference point to understanding.

If you’re like me, a rural-raised American, you may have never met someone from, say inland China. When that opportunity arises, a label might be helpful as a starting point. If I say, “she is Chinese,” you probably already have an idea of what that means in your mind and an image forms based on your past understanding.

This type of labeling can be helpful provided the assessment does not end there and you keep an open mind about the individual. We must be respectful of the fact that we are each far more than the sum of our parts. I’m a farm boy, but a quick Google of my name will tell you there’s nothing “typical” about me. And that’s true for most of the people I know who grew up like I did.

Remember that labels are generally bad, but could have a positive application if people are willing to look beyond the surface and learn about the individual. Categorizing anyone can be incredibly destructive and serve only to perpetuate nonconstructive stereotypes. Give people a chance and learn about them before you slap a tag on their forehead. Our diversity in the world really is our strength. Let’s start behaving that way.

 

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

 

Even legal immigrants fear ICE raids

In history, Local News, National News, Opinion, Uncategorized, World News on February 27, 2017 at 10:18 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGODuring the third week of February, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of the Department of Homeland Security, arrested hundreds in operations across the United States. Raids on homes and businesses in New York, Illinois, Florida, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, resulted in the arrest of approximately 600 in a two-week period, 160 in Los Angeles alone.

So, who are those being arrested? Reportedly, 75-percent of them had felony convictions, the rest had either misdemeanor convictions or were in the country illegally. More than three dozen were immediately deported back to Mexico.

Officials have stated that these raids are part of routine operations and not necessarily a result of the presidential crack-down on illegal immigration. DHS Secretary John Kelly stated in a news conference that ICE is, “Upholding the law,” and insists, “No one is being ‘rounded up.’ The people being arrested are illegal immigrants, and then some.”

What does not seem to be taken into consideration anywhere in this problem are the children of illegal immigrants who are United States citizens by birth, but whose parents are undocumented. When the parents are deported, kids are left with family members, often who are illegal themselves and may be sent away as well.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) SWAT officers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) SWAT officers.

Still, people are scared. Immigrants, legal and otherwise, their American relatives, friends, and other immigrant family members are terrified. Parents are being ripped from children, and anyone who is here legally that may need to return to their home country for any reason is scared they won’t be able to return.

This is a sticky conundrum. The great majority of illegal immigrants have risked great danger are to come here and work and make a better life for their families. Are they breaking the law? Yes. Are they felons and rapists and murderers? No, not by any stretch of the imagination. Can they be helped to obtain legal status? Yes – easily. But no one working for the current administration is ever going to do that.

The fact of the matter is that when someone comes into the country illegally, they’re taking a risk, one made even bigger where other family members are concerned. The risk of being deported is always there and it’s hard to get Americans on board with the idea that these individuals should be allowed to stay and provided easy access to citizenship.

But there actually are some genuinely negative economic effects of illegals working in the country. According to a February 12 New York Times article, “Similarly-skilled native-born workers are faced with a choice of either accepting lower pay or not working in (a particular) field at all. Labor economists have concluded that undocumented workers have lowered the wages of U.S. adults without a high-school diploma — 25 million of them — by anywhere between 0.4 to 7.4 percent.” That’s bound to bring on some resentment by Americans.

 

But what Americans should also know is that undocumented immigrants are already taxpayers. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a research organization that works on tax policy issues, reports that, collectively, illegal immigrants paid an estimated $10.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2010. Apparently, the U.S. Government is fine with “looking the other way” on illegals, so long as they’re paying taxes.

The big issue here is awareness; awareness by Americans to the real problem with immigration – crime. Yes, we should be deporting criminals at every turn. Not a year after their convictions, but the instant the sentence is handed down. They should go from the court room to the authorities of their country of origin to be deported in custody, not released at the border like some captured raccoon from your trash cans.

Those who are here working and making a better life for their families have rights. To those people reading this I say, know your rights. An ICE officer cannot enter your home without your permission and a warrant signed by a judge. If you’re arrested, say nothing, sign nothing without talking to an attorney. Hang in there. America really is the place you came here for – it’s just that sometimes even good people make bad decisions. Have faith and stay strong.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Veterans do not want pity

In Health, history, National News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on February 27, 2017 at 10:12 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOThe way in which we care for military veterans in this country is shameful, to say the least. And, so far in the Trump administration’s first term, there has been no movement to correct it. Strangely, some people still think veterans are just whining or wanting some kind of pity from the rest of us.

Well for those of you who think they’re whining, here are some facts. There are more than 21.5 million living veterans in America. From that group we know that they are 26.3 percent less educated than the average citizen, earn more money on average, about $8800 per year more, and 71 percent of them vote in general elections.

Nearly 2 million veterans and almost 1 million of their family members, lack health insurance and more than one-sixth of all veterans have an active duty related disability that they can’t get the Veterans Administration to recognize. If they do recognize it, some veterans must wait up to three years for treatment to begin.

Veterans don't want pity - they want what they were promised.

Veterans don’t want pity – they want what they were promised.

The divorce rates for veterans is at record levels while declining among the civilian population. Veterans are half as likely to be homeless as non-vets and more soldiers have committed suicide this year than have died on the battlefield. These statistics are incomprehensible to any sensible, thinking person.

My questions are simple. Where is the outrage? Where are the protests? Where are the executive orders? None of the above have happened, nor are they likely to.
Sure, occasionally you get an appropriations bill coming through congress that’s supposed to shore up resources for veteran programs, update medical facilities, or increase money for benefits a bit. But that’s it, and even that money gets whittled down repeatedly until the overall impact is negligible.

Dozens of veteran-focused organizations are out there with the mission to assist individuals with problems like jobs, housing, welfare, whatever. But these are people who have protected us from at least one full generation that has done so voluntarily. No one conscripted them – they went willingly to take up the front lines.

While elected officials debate and

Those of us with veterans in our families understand the reality of waiting weeks for a doctor’s appointment or months for treatment of a diagnosis. But it’s not all about medical care.

Make no mistake. Veterans don’t want our pity but our respect and to have the U.S. Government fulfill its promise of lifelong care for their service. In this writer’s opinion, beyond race or gender, a veteran should be given first consideration for jobs, loans, business opportunities and so on. They’ve earned it. They put their civilian lives on hold, and sometimes their very lives on the line for all of us.

To put it into perspective, members of the U.S. Congress receive lifelong retirement and health insurance benefits befitting most other federal employees at the same pay level – on average around $220,000 per year. But it’s a sure bet that none of them would have to wait three years for any diagnosis or treatment but all of them get to decide on how much money goes towards caring for the veterans who will.

It’s disgraceful that any serving enlisted military member must survive on welfare of any kind. Then, once they finish their tour – or tours – of duty, they must depend on the V.A. for services that are so low in standard as to be laughable. And change is moving at a snail’s pace.

I’m not a veteran. I considered going into the U.S. Air Force after high school, but health issues made that impossible. Still, as a citizen, I’m constantly impressed and in awe of the level of which military men and women, active and retired, serve with no regrets, and who express unshakable loyalty to a country which has done virtually nothing to support them after the fact.

Veterans don’t want a handout. They want an opportunity; an opportunity to receive what they were promised when Uncle Sam accepted their signature. There’s nothing charitable about that – it’s just the right thing to do.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Catch the podcast version, free,  at MyGreeneRadio.com.

It’s not me, it’s you

In Children and Family, Local News, Opinion, psychology, Uncategorized on February 7, 2017 at 6:39 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAre the people around you accepting of changes you make in your life for the better? In other words, if you altered major factors in your life right now, in positive ways, would your friends and family support and encourage you?

That’s a problem many people face when they realize there are things they’d like to improve about themselves, particularly if they involve major changes in lifestyle, work, or personal relationships.

Let’s face it, when you decide to make a major transformation in your life, the world around you can also change dramatically. Those close to you may have trouble adjusting to your alterations. A good, albeit extreme, example might be when someone quits drinking alcohol.

Alcoholics or even people with a moderate level of alcohol consumption have reported that after they go on the wagon they lose friends and even family contacts because of it. In that situation, it’s most likely because those people also have a problem with drinking and are uncomfortable being around someone who has made the decision to stop.

Sometimes, making a change requires major alterations in lifestyle. You might change your eating to help lose weight or quit smoking or look outside your home area for a job change. All of this can be upsetting or even intimidating to people around you. And whether your closest ties will accept your changes and support you or not can affect your success. Case in point – my choice to create a healthier lifestyle for myself.

Because of childhood health issues, I’ve always felt I wasn’t as strong as I could be. And, with the half-century mark just around the corner for me, I’ve spent the last six or seven months thinking about how to shore up my overall health.

Watching my mother deteriorate from Alzheimer’s disease and my father’s struggle with Parkinson’s and diabetes, and knowing I really can’t do anything to prevent those things entirely, I am still determined to give myself the best shot at the longest, healthiest life possible. So, a few months ago, I started making more dramatic changes in how I eat, handle stress – that is, taking down time – and getting exercise.

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

I’ve always been a pretty active person, bicycling, general manual work, at home and around our farm, always felt like it was enough to keep me in decent physical shape. I was wrong, but it’s always been hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of “exercising” for no productive purpose. The thing is, I was my own worst critic. This was for a constructive and productive purpose – to help my strength and endurance so I could better handle aging and illness as time goes on. Once I accepted that, I was on my way.

I haven’t talked to family much about it, other than to say that I have started swimming. I’ve adjusted my work and home schedules around it – making all of this a priority because if I don’t, it won’t be successful.

But my close friends are looking at me sometimes like I’ve got three heads. Rarely has anyone seen me dressed in anything but boots, jeans, or business attire. I’ve never been one to sport an athletic wardrobe, yet suddenly, there I am in warm ups and workout shoes. Granted, I’m a bit set in my ways, so their disbelief is as much my fault as theirs.

No one’s been unsupportive, though. In fact, quite the opposite. I’ve felt better than I have in years, and that probably shows just in my activity level. Changes like this can be incredibly obvious and might only affect those around you in that you’re choosing a bowl of mixed raw veggies at the big game party, instead of downing a whole bag of Cheetos.

Also, I’m certainly not suggesting you should be all smug and superior like, “See what I’m doing? You should too.” What’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for them. Earnest Hemingway said, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” But if people can’t accept that you want to improve yourself then it’s their issue, not yours.

 

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

 

A matter of alternative fact

In history, Media, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized, World News on January 30, 2017 at 9:24 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOThere has been a great deal of discussion in the media of late about “facts” and the incomprehensible notion of “alternative facts.” Considering such dialogue, it’s only fitting to review what constitutes a “fact” and if, indeed, there can be any possibility an alternative to any fact. Confused yet? We’re just getting started.

First, we need to define the word, “fact.” What does it mean? Where does it come from? Is a fact out of context still a fact? Is a fact the same thing as the truth?

Well, according to merriam-webster.com, the definition of the word “fact” is listed as follows.  Pronounced, “fakt,” it is a noun meaning: 1. A thing done 2. Archaic 3. The quality of being actual 4. Something that has actual existence or an actual occurrence and 5. A piece of information presented as having objective reality. OK, that’s a lot of material, so let’s focus on definitions 4 and 5 from our list.

Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway spins the "alternative facts" from the White House.  Photo courtesy NBC News

Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway spins the “alternative facts” from the White House. Photo courtesy NBC News

Starting with number 4, “Something that has actual existence or an actual occurrence,” we might best illustrate this in the following phrases. “It is a fact that water is vital to life,” or “prove the fact of damage to the house after the storm.”
If you stop watering your plants, they die. Stop drinking water and you die too. These notions are “facts” because we know them to be impartial. If a house is destroyed by a storm, the wreckage is visual and cannot be disputed. These things are all “facts.”

Moving on to definition number 5, “A piece of information presented as having objective reality,” the key word to focus on is, “objective.” To be objective something must be taken impartially and without bias.

For example, two people could easily agree on the color of a house, in this case without worrying about a specific shade. Bob says the house is green. Mary says the house is green. Bob and Mary aren’t looking at the location, style or anything else that may prejudice their judgment of the structure, only that it is green. That’s what it means to be objective. Therefore, for information to be factual, it must be viewed objectively.

Somewhat confusing, however, is that a fact can be argued for its validity of context, but not as to whether it is a fact. A great example of this is the idea of global warming.

Politically, there’s a good deal of disagreement between liberals and conservatives about this concept. Scientists have factual evidence that the earth is, “in fact,” growing hotter, over all. But the context of the facts is where the disagreement lies.

Is the fact of global warming a direct result of man’s poor energy choices and pollution? Or, is global warming the natural result of the planet’s life cycle and nothing we do will have the slightest effect one way or another? This is where the argument takes the facts and places them in opposing context.

Where does “truth” come into all of this? Most people make decisions about politics, religion, and just about every other emotionally-charged concept, based on what they believe to be the truth, with little thought to what might be factual. That’s where this all gets a bit murky.

Indiana Jones may have offered the best explanation of this idea, from a scientific perspective. In “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” he said to his class, “Archaeology is the search for ‘fact,’ not ‘truth.’ If it’s truth you’re interested in, (the) philosophy class is right down the hall.”

What he meant was that in something like philosophy, as in religion and politics, “truth” is largely dependent on your point of view (a subjective belief). While archaeology, and other sciences – physics, meteorology, chemistry, etc. – are based on objective, factual study, unemotional and unbiased.

What all of this objectively leads to is the conclusion that a “fact” cannot have an alternative – it either exists or it doesn’t. It’s logical then to deduce that an ‘alternative fact’ can likely be only one other thing – a lie.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Hypocrisy and rants of the Hollywood left

In National News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized, World News on January 18, 2017 at 10:14 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

When actor Meryl Streep took the stage to accept her Golden Globe award on January 9, she did something that has become a bad habit among the Hollywood elite. Instead of a sincere speech giving thanks for the honor, Streep chose to use the network TV time, and captive audience, to lash out in a thinly vailed diatribe against president-elect Donald Trump.

Meryl Streep and her entertainment cohorts have a right to voice an opinion. But the awards show is not the proper venue in which to vent. Grandstanding to whine about the inequities of life because you have a viable platform to your advantage is exactly what the liberal left is always complaining about.

img_6238I need to be clear, I don’t think much of Streep, and I’m sure she could care less about my opinion. But I believe most of her type are hypocritical millionaires who are incredibly overpaid to pretend for a living.

Primarily a group of babied, narcissists who live in multi-million-dollar mansions, and surrounded by personal assistants, yes men, and “handlers,” these people are far more out of touch with reality than any of the politicians the spend so much time attacking in the media. Which brings me to the second point of this piece – why do Americans put so much value in the opinions of these people in the first place?

Rather than listen to the thinking minds of the day, whether academic or political, or even the few top-notch journalists that are out there, the politically apathetic tend to absorb the opinion of actors and celebrities. It makes no sense to me. They have no qualifications to offer any such opinions but “act”- pun intended – as if they have the pulse of the socioeconomic state.

I have a great deal of respect for those I have worked with in the entertainment industry over the years. I’ve known incredibly successful and famous people as well as those who are just getting by.

Most of them do their best to entertain, earn their pay, and move on to the next project without feeling the need to stump for a political cause. That’s not to say being public about your politics is bad, it’s just that there is a proper time and place to voice your opinion.

The truth of politics, religion, even science, is that people hear what they want to hear and repeat what they “believe” to be the facts – or the facts according to personal perception. The challenge is altering that perception so that it’s more in line with the facts than with the opinions of someone else.

To me, hijacking the stage at an awards show is very much like someone who rants at their job all day about politics to whoever will listen. Same goes for religion, or whatever else might not be the best conversation in a professional setting.

Make no mistake, I believe Trump is a bad move for our country. But I must point out that back when Barack Obama was elected, anyone who voiced a negative word against him was immediately labeled (by the liberal left) unpatriotic, or worse yet, a racist.

It’s obvious that the media is firmly against Trump and his buddies. He is unlikely to ever get a fair treatment by the press – nor is he going to give them any latitude without flashback for all the negative coverage. It’s not a press holding power accountable – they just don’t like him.

Trump doesn’t seem to care what the media says. The Donald’s take more like the schoolyard bully who gets away with shoving some kid to the ground and then, thumbs in ears and fingers up like rocking antlers, sticks out his tongue in an exhibit of, “Nanny, nanny boo boo.”

Streep’s rant – however graciously delivered it may have been – was inappropriate for the setting. Much in the way that I don’t want to listen to a musician’s politics when I’ve paid to attend a concert. Save it for the op-ed pages or write your memories or something, but if I’d wanted to hear a political speech, I’d have tuned into C-SPAN instead of the Golden Globes.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines can be seen online and on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton program in video form. Visit gerydeer.com for more.

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.