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PREVENT BLINDNESS DECLARES NOVEMBER DIABETIC EYE DISEASE AWARENESS MONTH

In Charities, Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Education, Health, Local News, National News, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on November 6, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Dayton, OH – In an ongoing effort to help educate the public on diabetes risk factors and prevention strategies, Prevent Blindness has declared November as “Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month.”

Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults. The National Eye Institute reports that diabetics are 25 times more likely to become blind than people without the disease. But when detected early, the blinding effects of diabetes can be lessened.

According to a recent study from Prevent Blindness, more than 8 million Americans have diabetic retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease. By 2032, that number is projected to increase by 35 percent.

This is something like the world might appear to someone with diabetic retinopathy.

This is something like the world might appear to someone with diabetic retinopathy.

Those suffering from the disease may not experience any symptoms at first. However, as the disease progresses, patience experience a variety of symptoms including spots in the field of vision, varying blurred vision, and complete vision loss.

“With diabetes reaching epidemic levels across the US, Prevent Blindness urges everyone to get a dilated eye exam annually or as often as your eye health care professional recommends,” says Katie Neubert, the Dayton Area Manager of Prevent Blindness. “Eye care professionals can detect diabetes in its early stages, sometimes even before the patient has any idea.”

Diabetics are at risk of developing diabetic eye disease that can permanently damage their vision and even lead to blindness. Some factors can put some at higher risk for vision loss, include, age, ethnicity, duration of the disease, blood sugar control, hypertension, kidney disease and pregnancy.

“For those already diagnosed with diabetes, a doctor can help monitor vision and advise you of the necessary steps to take today to help lessen the impact that the disease may have on your sight,” Neubert says.

Prevent Blindness offers a variety of free resources dedicated to the education of diabetic eye disease including its dedicated website, preventblindness.org/diabetes. For more information contact Dayton Area Prevent Blindness by calling (937) 223-8766.

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Struggling to care for seniors at home

In Children and Family, Health, National News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on September 14, 2015 at 9:33 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOA recent article in The Atlantic discussed the question of the difficulty of finding adequate care for America’s senior citizens as more of them are choosing to remain in their own homes as they age. In the article, published April 27, 2015 by Alana Samuels, the author relates the story of her grandmother’s plight to find adequate, affordable home care near the college town of Amherst, Massachusetts.

A shortage of qualified Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) coupled with outrageous hourly fees made the task of caring for her Parkinson’s ridden spouse that much more difficult. The author’s grandmother eventually gave up on agencies and a friend helped out until her husband’s death a couple of years later. It’s a story becoming all too common today.

By the year 2030, more than one quarter of all Americans will be over the age of 65. More than ever, those people are choosing to remain in their homes as long as possible, relying on home health care and the assistance of family for everything from grocery shopping to bathing.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 9.31.25 AMOver the last few years, a host of “non-medical” in-home care agencies have sprung up all around the country, spread by franchise. Most offer no skilled health care services and little more than baby-sitting. They can help with things like shopping, cleaning and some companionship for homebound seniors.

But, these home care workers are not permitted to help in medical matters, not even to distribute medications, as would a CNA or other state-registered, skilled health care worker. One published estimate by Genworth puts the cost of non-medical home at a range of $10 to $36 per hour. The extreme discrepancy is attributed to variations in region and the type of care required.

One question families should be asking is exactly what could an unskilled worker possibly do that’s worth $36 per hour? Still, most have few options available; it’s either a nursing facility or home care.

Plus, the home itself can be more hazardous than the disabilities suffered by the senior. It may be necessary to modify the home to accommodate “aging in place,” with zero-clearance shower stalls, raised toilets, grab bars, and much more. This also carries added expense and attention to which families might be unaware.

The fact is that it’s much better, psychologically, and far cheaper for seniors to remain in their own home. But most people caring for an elderly family member cannot be with them all hours – people have to work and care for their own homes and families – and still need outside support.

The first place to start is with the local agencies on aging. Most counties or regions have a non-profit organization such as this to help put families and seniors in touch with needed services such as meals on wheels, in-home healthcare, and more.

Be aware, however, that most services referred by these agencies are self-pay and are not covered by Medicare or insurance. The advantage, however, is that they can generally offer a discounted rate on certain services based on the income of the senior. Contact the local agency for details.

For support on in-home modifications, consult the local builders association for referrals to certified aging in place specialists. Most can provide design and construction information for everything from a simple grab bar installation to more complex additions such as elevators.

Additionally, financial and insurance companies out there might be missing the boat on a potentially golden profit center – “in-home care insurance.” Separate from long-term care or other types of health insurance, this could be a specific product that addresses the far less-expensive options of keeping a senior at home rather than in a skilled care facility. Give it a slightly lower premium and the ability to purchase later in life, and it would likely be less difficult to sell.

Before hiring anyone, caregivers should do their homework. Get at least three references from previous clients and do a thorough Google search on the agency you choose.

Whatever the overall solutions to the home health care problem, it’s clear something has to be done in a hurry. With incidents of elder abuse on the rise in nursing facilities, it’s imperative that families have alternate care options.

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

5 Pieces of advice for my younger self

In Health, history, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology on August 27, 2015 at 11:54 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOImagine if you could go back 10, 20, 30 years and talk to your younger self, what would you say? What advice would you have knowing what you know now? Well, believe it or not, you might find out some of that advice is just as relevant as it would have been back then. So if I could have a conversation with my younger self, I have five things I’d tell me, him, you know what I mean.

My number one piece of advice would be, and I know it sounds cliché, not to sweat the small stuff. Every day our life path carries us down one road or another, each with its own set of obstacles, successes, failures, and milestones. The important thing to know is how to recognize which is which and remain calm and in control, regardless of what is thrown your way.

There’s no way to really offer much more to anyone else on that subject though because everyone’s definition of “small” is going to be somewhat different. For example, to me small stuff is a flat tire on the car or having to retype a report I’ve worked on for days. As devastating as some events can seem at the time, when weighed against the larger mass of things, most fit the “small stuff” category although we’re often too consumed with the situation for a clear view.

The second thing I’d say to the “younger me” is to ignore people who say you are destined to … whatever. Your life is shaped by the decisions you make. That is, your story isn’t written yet. Every choice you make is like shaking the Etch-a-Sketch, the picture is redrawn at every turn. So, if you want something, go after it and don’t let anyone get in your way.

Number three is borrowed from some philosophical and religious concepts, which tell us that you are the only one who can cause yourself injury. I don’t mean injured in the physical sense, like being whopped over the head by a crowbar, I mean the kind of damage that’s done to the one swinging it. We only hurt ourselves when we cause pain and injury to others.

old youngThe fourth piece of advice is never to take yourself, or life, too seriously. Despite what you might think, you are so not “all that,” and you need to have some humility if you want to get along in the world. But it can’t be artificial because that’ll come back and bite you in the … well, you know. Be good to people because you want to and because it’s just the right thing to do. Sometimes it’s hard to accept, but the needs of others will often have to come way before yours.

My fifth and final piece of advice for my former self would be to relax a bit more, while you have the time. Life gets harder as days go on, not easier, regardless of what you might see in the media. Take whatever time you can when you have it, but never at the expense of others.

So, for now, that’s all I would say to me 30 years ago. No, actually, there is one other thing. I’d tell me to give my Mom a hug every chance I got and spend as much time with her as possible. Her absence has left an indescribable open wound that will never heal.

Oddly, the funniest thing about all of this is that, as a younger person, it’s highly unlikely any of us would have listened because we knew everything already, right?

The truth is people were giving you advice like this all the time but it just flew in one ear and out the other. After all, what did old people know? You had the world on the end of your line and you were reeling her in.

Now that I understand some of this, I know that some of the best people I know are on a constant journey of self improvement. Remember, it’s never too late for a little sage advice. Take care out there.

 

Watch the television version of this piece from WDTN-TV2’s LIVING DAYTON program …

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 2.58.23 PM

 

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

Fragile life, one to a customer.

In Health, Local News, Opinion, Science, Senior Lifestyle, Technology on July 18, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGORecently, I was reminded again of just how fragile life really is for us. The human body is an amazing bit of engineering. Each of us is comprised of a mass of carefully balanced electromechanical systems that may seem at times indestructible but at others so delicate that the slightest damage could be catastrophic.

The adult body is supported by 206 bones, around 6 quarts of blood, a pair of lungs, two kidneys, about 20 feet of intestines, one heart and stomach, and 31 pairs of nerves. But for all of this, and more, the most important component is the brain, the body’s control center.

The human brain is incredibly resilient, resisting failure through high fevers, concussions, and countless other kinds of injuries. But, like an electronic circuit board, the brain’s delicate electrical system can “short out,” causing failure in other areas of the body, sometimes without warning.

Last week my brother, Gary Jr., was complaining of numbness in his right arm. He was having trouble gripping things or using simple tools. He worked through it, but over the next several days the symptoms advanced to become Parkinson’s – like tremors, causing his arm and hand to shake and flail.

IMG_3857

Gary Deer Jr. with brother Gery (left) and father Gary Sr. just prior to surgery.

At the emergency room, doctors first thought he’d had some kind of stroke and he was admitted for further tests which revealed some type of mass on the lower left part of his brain. At this point, they’re still not certain whether the spot is a tumor or some kind of infection, but any type of stroke has been ruled out.

During the first day at the hospital, he experienced several seizures similar to those caused by Epilepsy, each more invasive than the last; violent shaking of one side of the body, garbled speech and periods of unconsciousness. Medication settled the seizures but doctors are still waiting to figure out how to treat the lesion on the brain. Hopefully there will be something positive to report later on, but for now we wait.

Until his arm went numb and the tremors started it seemed like there was no warning to all of this, high insight revealed that the clues were everywhere. Most of his early symptoms were easily dismissed as fatigue or previous injury.
He had been more tired than usual in recent weeks, even falling asleep during conversations. He was having trouble with the right arm before as well, but attributed those issues with a car accident he’d been involved in a few months earlier.

So the point here is, if something seems out of the ordinary don’t wait until it turns into something more to get it checked out. At this point, there is no way to know if earlier detection would have made much difference for my brother, but, assuming a full recovery – and that’s the only outcome I can imagine right now – it might have helped decrease the yet to be known long-term effects.

For a guy in his early 60s, my brother is in relatively good health, having only ever gone to the doctor for severe cases, such as pneumonia or to be checked out after that car accident. Even though he eats like a teenager on a diet of hot dogs, popsicles and soda pop, he is usually energetic and on the move. Still, this thing snuck up and bit him when he wasn’t looking, as many serious illnesses tend to do.

Sometimes it’s hard to accept your own mortality or imagine that something the size of the end of a ball point pen could cripple you or end your life. We are incredibly fragile creatures. Gary Jr. and I joke often that we each should have died several times over from events we’ve experienced in life – a truck crash, lightning electrocution, something – but I never imagined either of us being taken out by something so small.

I survived serious health issues from birth, so I don’t play games with life – extreme sports, drinking, smoking, etc. – and this is one example of why. So if you’re experiencing odd symptoms, or don’t feel like yourself for whatever reason, don’t wait. Go get checked out. People need you more than you might realize.

Update: July 18, 2015 – My brother’s case has changed since this column was first submitted. Surgery on July 15th revealed no tumors or cancer but instead a serious bacterial infection which created a tumor-like abscess in the brain. The infectious mass was removed but the overall infection will have to be treated with intravenous antibiotics for several weeks followed by many months of continued antibiotic therapy. At this time, he is still in the hospital but recovering and is expected to be released soon to home care.

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

Jamestown variety group to headline Tipp City 175th

In Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, history, Local News, News Media, Senior Lifestyle, Theatre, Uncategorized on June 17, 2015 at 12:33 pm

tipp logoTipp City, Ohio – The City of Tipp City will be commemorating its 175th Anniversary this year with a two-day celebration, Friday July 3 and Saturday July 4. The festivities will be held at Tipp City Park and include live entertainment, food, vendors and family activities.

“This is an exciting time for Tipp City, as we will be commemorating the 175th Anniversary of our wonderful city.” said Tipp City Mayor, Pat Hale. “The Planning Committee is working hard to put together a great event for the entire family. We are inviting the entire community to join in on the celebration.”

Friday evening will kick off the weekend with live entertainment, horse and buggy rides and guest speakers in the historical district. On Saturday afternoon, things get started with a parade celebrating Tipp City’s heritage. At Tipp City Park, visitors will enjoy food vendors, family activities and live entertainment headlined at 5:00 p.m. by The Brothers & Co. Music and Variety Show followed by an ‘80s band leading up to the evening fireworks display.

DSC_1589“We’re glad to be a part of such an historic event,” noted Gery L. Deer, of Jamestown, who serves tripple duty as performer, publicist and manager of The Brothers & Co. show. “That area of Miami County is rich in events that shaped the Miami Valley and Dayton’s outlying regions. We are going to give the visitors there a fun, family-friendly taste of old-style Americana entertainment.”

City Councilmen Matt Owen is chair of the 175th Planning Committee.“We are encouraging the entire community to get involved with the celebration.” he said.  “Throughout the year Tipp City has many events and activities and we are encouraging them to create their own celebration or activity within each of those events.”

More information can be found on the event Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/events/686370538176430/  The Brothers & Co. Show is presented courtesy of Gibson Law Offices and GLD Enterprises Communications.

 

Old dogs and new tricks

In Dayton Ohio News, Education, Local News, National News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, Technology, Uncategorized on March 23, 2015 at 11:38 am

DIH LOGOSome people are of the mind that there is a certain age when learning something new is neither a priority nor even a possibility. As I approach a half-century on this earth, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that, at some point, people just stop learning.

Barring some kind of dementia or other mental disorder, it’s hard to understand why anyone would “choose” to be an old dog, totally uninterested in learning a new trick. In my lines of work, I am frequently exposed to innovative technology and new ideas and I’m expected to keep up or I don’t pay the mortgage.

I spend a considerable amount of time researching, learning new concepts or updating my skills in some way so I can stay relevant in a world that seems to change by the nanosecond. Part of that continuing education includes reading, networking with others and going to conferences and workshops. I just returned from one such conference that was, for me, one of the single best I have ever attended.

A couple of months ago, I was asked by a friend to speak at an upcoming technology event known as, “Dayton WordCamp,” a two-day series focused on the website content management system called “WordPress.” As with most tech, this event would be dominated by much younger, more advanced presenters.

Originally, I hesitated, feeling as if “at my age” (and technical level) I would have little to bring to the table. But, with a little effort I found a spot where I fit into the program nicely and agreed.

Dayton WordCamp

Dayton WordCamp

Dayton’s event is one of hundreds of WordCamps around the world, all presented for the benefit of those using WordPress as their website platform. Lovingly referred to by organizers as an “unconference,” the atmosphere is very relaxed and laid back, with most people wearing jeans and T-shirts.  One of the perks of speaking is the opportunity to attend the event as a spectator as well.

One of the first things I noticed upon arrival was that I was not the oldest person in the room. Of roughly 120 attendees the bell curve probably favored the younger crowd, but there were plenty of people my age and older as well. Such diversity says something for both the reputations of the scheduled presenters and the usability of the software about which we had all come to learn.

As the first day’s session began my apprehension diminished and I began to settle into a comfortable atmosphere for learning. By the conclusion of day two, I was not only charged up to dive in and apply my newly-acquired information, but I wanted to find a way to be more involved in future sessions.

At this point, I have to give a shout out to my friend Dustin Hartzler and his fellow organizers, particularly Nathan Driver, who invited me to speak at the event while also allowing me to be a student as well (that’s not the norm at such functions). These folks gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge, allowing me to better serve my clients, plus I got to take a couple of days for myself, something for which I rarely have the opportunity.

In my experience, most people who have stopped learning have done so, in some manner, by choice. Learning is not just academic. Expanding your horizons at any age is not limited to taking college classes or immersing yourself in books for hours on end. You can attend free, hands-on workshops, watch “do it yourself” shows on television, or just dive in and try something on your own, learning as you go.

My point is that there is simply no reason any of us should be stagnant. Opportunities for growth exist in many areas of our lives and all we need to do is take the first step. What is important is that you get out there and try, whether your interest is gardening, motorcycles, computers, music, or maybe you want to try something new. Don’t be an old dog with no new tricks.

For more about WordCamp check out the Dayton WordPress Meetup – http://www.meetup.com/Dayton-WordPress/

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

Water: Here’s to your health.

In Education, Health, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Science, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on February 9, 2015 at 1:37 pm

DIH LOGOHi, I’m Gery and I’m a recovering soda-holic (or “pop”-aholic if you prefer). There was a time when I would drink a 12-pack of soda (generally Cherry Coke) within a couple of days. I was an addict – sugar and caffeine were my drugs of choice.

Since I come from a family with a propensity for diabetes, I’d have to guess that drinking that much soda would only push me closer to the Insulin fan club. But all of that changed for me when I was helping to care for my mother and discovered, first hand, the health-promoting properties of water.

My mother, Lois, had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia when she broke her hip and entered a local nursing home for physical therapy. During her stay, her dementia symptoms seemed to worsen more quickly than anticipated.

Soon she more anxious and unresponsive and always seemed to be suffering from some kind of urinary infection. Most of these issues were waved away by the staff as “normal” for a medicated, bed and wheelchair-bound senior with Alzheimer’s disease. Not in my book it wasn’t.

I paid closer attention to her daily care and noticed that she rarely drank anything. Once in a while a staffer would fill a plastic hospital-style pitcher with water and place it on the night table. But that was all; they just sat it down and left.

By this time dementia had diminished Mom’s awareness of hunger or thirst and even if she had wanted a drink she wouldn’t have been able to get it herself. Unless I, or another family member, poured it for her, the water usually sat there, untouched.

Gery and his family used the green tumbler in the photo to measure the amount of water Lois Deer received. It was filled twice per day - apx 0.5 gallons total.

Gery and his family used the green tumbler in the photo to measure the amount of water Lois Deer received. It was filled twice per day – apx 0.5 gallons total. (Photo Copyright 2015 GLD Enterprises Communications.)

She seemed to get worse so we decided to take her home and care for her ourselves. First on the agenda was to increase her water intake to around a half-gallon a day. That may not sound like much but, since water makes up approximately 60-percent of a person’s body weight, at 78 pounds the volume was significant.

Mom was given water regularly throughout the day and at meal time. With proper hydration and more consistent, personalized care, her physical and mental health improved more than I can adequately express.

Alzheimer’s disease continued its rampage, but we cared for her full time until her death in 2011. Still, I am convinced that better hydration increased her quality of life over those last two years in ways no medication could have achieved.

I’ve also since learned we had been right about the relationship between her behavioral deterioration and dehydration. In seniors, dehydration can lead to serious health problems, such as constant urinary tract infections, skin deterioration, and even present symptoms such as confusion and behavioral changes, much like classic dementia.

Many seniors resist drinking water, but I couldn’t tell you why except there may be a generational component perhaps related to quality. My parents, for example, grew up in the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio where most of the drinking water came from creeks and shallow wells where the water probably wasn’t too palatable.

While I was caring for Mom I nearly eliminated soda from my diet and quadrupled the amount of water. It was an acquired taste, to be sure, but now my glucose levels are much lower and I genuinely “feel” better. It may not seem like much but I consider this achievement significant, particularly since it was pretty much the only major change I’ve made.

I still have a Coke a couple of times a week (which I rarely seem to finish) but I’m convinced that more water has made all the difference in improving my overall health. Hopefully by starting now, I won’t be so hard to convince at age 70 when any level of dehydration could cause more serious problems.

As for how much you should drink, the typical recommendation for adults is 8 glasses of “fluid” each day. But there really is no precise amount. You’ll have to judge for yourself based on the needs of your own body. Either way, you’ll feel better.

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

Creative people are not predisposed to mental illness.

In Entertainment, Health, National News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, State News, Uncategorized on December 12, 2014 at 2:12 pm

When it happened, I did not want to be one of the millions of journalists writing about the tragic death of comedian Robin Williams. I wanted no part of the relentless armchair quarterbacking of commentators who so easily claimed to have the man, “figured out.” No one knew what was in his head or heart and pretending to in order to secure 15 seconds of publicity on the morning talk shows is disrespectful on countless levels.

As a kid, “Mork & Mindy” was a favorite television show of mine. Naturally, I was too young to understand that Williams’ extra-terrestrial comic genius may have originated from a man with deep, emotional fragility in a constant struggle with personal demons. However, Williams’ death led to interesting dialogue about whether brilliantly creative people have a higher tendency toward mental illness.

Psychologists have long debated the relationship between the creative mind and various mental illnesses, particularly bipolar disorder.  Personally, I reject the psychobabble that suggests creative people innately suffer from a myriad of mental and emotional disorders.

I’m not a psychiatrist or a physician but I am one of those creative people, albeit that I walk the line to the other side of the brain as well. I can rebuild an engine, write this article, and produce a television segment, all in the same day. But am I, by nature, mentally ill?

Benjamin Franklin was one of the most creative and inventive people in American history. He was a statesman, a writer and an inventor, and there is no evidence to suggest he had any sort of mental illness.

But in today’s era of mass publicity, there are other pressures that can affect the creative mind’s health besides that to produce new work. Anyone who becomes successful or is thrust into the public eye at any level has an entirely different set of stresses to deal with.

From my own, small experience, I can tell you first-hand that, as a public figure, you are expected to be “on” all the time. Because of your public work, people believe they know “you,” and anticipate you to behave a certain way to meet their expectation.

When you don’t, they are disappointed and react negatively. The pressure of not being able to meet those expectations can take a toll on someone who already suffers from self-doubt, depression and other areas where a negative personal image is already prevalent.

Most creative people are in the business they love in order to do a good job at work then go about their lives as normally as possible. Often, however, the public won’t allow it.

Williams’ death serves as a reminder that every creative person is just that, an individual, whether working from their garage or signing million-dollar movie deals. Every day they struggle with the same concerns as you and I, it’s just that the scope of view might be a bit larger or different.

Has anyone considered the possibility that people who already have mental illnesses choose to go into a more creative line of work because it fits their “disability?” It’s no secret that actors and writers tend to be introverted, keep to themselves and often reject the idea of the 9 to 5 job and even general social conformity. Since mental illness isn’t something a person just contracts, like the flu; it’s logical to conclude that it’s got to be in the genetics somewhere waiting for a trigger. Depression and other illnesses can also be affected by the lifestyle of the individual through alcohol and drug use, exacerbating the problem.

Therefore, it is entirely likely that those with mental issues actually choose the more fluid existence of the creative lifestyle early on.  The common absence of structure and responsibility probably plays well into their ever fluctuating mental state.

In other words, it’s a chicken or the egg problem. Are creative people mentally ill (as a generalization), or do the mentally ill choose the more creative path? A great talent was lost in Robin Williams and he was by no means the first. Sadly, regardless of how it comes about, it is unlikely he will be the last.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and contributor to WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton program

 

 

For some, depression darkens the holiday season

In Children and Family, Health, Holiday, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on November 24, 2014 at 1:54 pm

DIH LOGOIt’s never great to lead off with a cliché, but there may really be a silver lining behind every dark cloud. The hard part is that it’s up to the individual to recognize and interpret it. During the holiday season, however, for some the darkness may become overwhelming and everyone else should be sensitive to those around them suffering from seasonal depression.

As the Thanksgiving Day holiday heralds in the Christmas season, it’s important to try to remember that not everyone is happy and cheerful during this time. Many people suffer from various types of clinical depression, exacerbated by the holidays.

Seasonal Affect Disorder, or SAD, is a seasonal pattern associated with a recurring depressive disorder. It’s a fact that people experience mood changes along with the seasons but some may actually experience an even more sever bout during the stressful holiday season.

According to Healthline.com, “Depression may occur at any time of the year, but the stress and anxiety of the holiday season—especially during the months of November and December (and, to a lesser extent, just before Valentine’s Day)—may cause even those who are usually content to experience loneliness and a lack of fulfillment.”

baileygeorgeNot surprisingly, depression during this time can result from loneliness. Healthline.com reports that a 1999 Canadian study of patients treated by emergency psychiatric services during the Christmas season, states the most common stressors were feelings of loneliness and “being without a family.”

Experts also suggest that part of the problem is a level of media bombardment, mostly advertising, that depicts cheerful holiday festivities, smiling families, and so on. The joyful, light-heartedness of the season might to a depressed person seem much more a requirement and painful nuisance than a genuine, heart-felt emotion.

The elderly often suffer from depression caused by any number of contributors including, serious medical problems, poor diet, loss of a spouse, chronic pain and more. Depression may worsen in the elderly, not expressly because of the holiday, but that it brings memories of happier, more fulfilling times, and it might be hard to spot.

Helpguide.org suggests that elderly patients suffering from depression might display rapid mental decline but memory of time and date, as well as awareness of the environment, remain. They may also exhibit more outward concern than usual about slipping memory and their motor skills may be normal but noticeably slower.

Regardless of age, depression is a painful illness to endure at a time of year when the sufferer is surrounded by the usual excitement of the season.  There are many ways to help combat depression.

Social isolation can be a major contributor to depression, particularly during the holidays.  Start by getting involved and being among friends and family wherever possible. Of course, sometimes, family can be the cause of stress. In those instances, it might be better to spend time with close friends or attend some kind of social activity, go to bingo at the local community center, or anything else to avoid being alone. But remember to feel free to leave an event if you feel uncomfortable. Adding stress to depression would be seriously detrimental to the purpose of the interaction.

Other ways to ward off “holiday blues” include, beginning a new tradition, volunteering at local charity centers, or get outside and take a walk or go on a bike ride.  Self-care is an important step to fighting depression. Even with decreased appetite, it’s important to remember to try to eat well, exercise and maintain a regular sleep schedule.

Seek medical treatment as well. General practice doctors can help determine what sort of specialized treatment may be beneficial. Depression is an illness with treatments available to help people live active, involved lives but nothing can happen without taking that first step. Proper treatment may help people have a happier, more meaningful holiday season.

On a final note, although it is a myth that more suicides occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas, those suffering severe depression might still be dealing with suicidal thoughts. Contact one of the local crisis lines, 24/7: Greene County Crisis Services: (513) 376-8702 or Dayton Suicide Prevention Center, Inc.: (937) 297-4777.


Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at gerydeer.com

 

 

Medication adherence vital to senior health

In Business, Dayton Ohio News, Education, Health, Local News, National News, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on November 19, 2014 at 7:16 pm

PrsnlCareSrvcs-300x300Dayton, OH – According to studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine, approximately one-half of senior adults who take at least one medication per day find keeping to the regimen difficult to maintain. Elderly patients can often become confused about dosage and scheduling and sometimes do not even understand the purpose for each prescription.

Because medication is metabolized differently as people age, timing is important. To be most effective, many medications have to be taken exactly as prescribed for the full benefit to be achieved. Unfortunately, many seniors may be taking prescriptions at the wrong time or missing doses entirely.

Medications can also get mixed up when there is more than one elderly resident in the home, creating an additional danger to the individuals. Without daily monitoring, it may also be difficult to identify older adults who may be at risk for medication nonadherence. In the absence of daily oversight by close friends or family members, one helpful alternative is a professional senior care provider.

Becky Kearney is the Senior Director of Operations for Golden Heart Senior Care in Centerville, Ohio. She notes that, along with other tasks, one of the jobs asked of Golden Heart caregivers is to help seniors maintain their medication adherence.

“Our caregivers frequently deal with the effects of over or under medicating,” Kearney says. “Improper medication administration can create havoc for both the individual and his or her family members.”

Daily home care providers can help to ensure that medication is properly taken, in the accurate dosage and by the correct method (oral, topical, etc.), and at the right time. “Mishandling of prescriptions can cause long term, if not permanent damage to the physical and mental health of the individual.  All of which could be prevented with medication monitoring by a caregiver,” adds Kearney.

As a senior’s health and independence decline, constant prescription changes can also become more confusing and difficult to manage alone. For those with elderly friends or family, inquire how he or she is managing medications and if no one is monitoring the situation, suggest a call to an in-home senior care agency or contact the local council on aging for a referral.

To learn more about getting help for senior medication adherence in the Miami Valley area, contact Golden Heart Senior Care by calling, 937-506-0190.