Posts Tagged ‘Behavior’

Help for Families Dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease

April 28, 2016

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive, irreversible disease that affects brain cells and produces memory loss in as many as 4.5 million American adults. This disease affects people of all racial, economic, and educational backgrounds. People with AD become increasingly unable to take care of themselves. Caregivers of people with AD face the ongoing challenge of adapting to each change in the person’s behavior and functioning. The following general principles may be helpful to family members caring for someone with this disease.

  • Think prevention. It is very difficult to predict what a person with AD might do. Just because something has not yet occurred does not mean it should not be cause for concern. Even with the best-laid plans, accidents can happen. Therefore, checking the safety of your home will help you take control of some of the potential problems that may create hazardous situations.
  • Adapt the environment. It is more effective to change the environment than to change most behaviors. While some AD behaviors can be managed with special medications prescribed by a doctor, many cannot. You can make changes in an environment to decrease the hazards and stressors that accompany these behavioral and functional changes.
  • Minimize danger. By minimizing danger, you can maximize independence. A safe environment can be a less restrictive environment where the person with AD can experience increased security and more mobility.

Is It Safe to Leave the Person With AD Alone?

This issue needs careful evaluation and is certainly a safety concern. The following points may help you decide. Does the person with AD:

  • become confused or unpredictable under stress?
  • recognize a dangerous situation; for example, fire?
  • know how to use the telephone in an emergency?
  • know how to get help?
  • stay content within the home?
  • wander and become disoriented?
  • show signs of agitation, depression, or withdrawal when left alone for any period of time?
  • attempt to pursue former interests or hobbies that might now warrant supervision such as cooking, appliance repair, or woodworking?

Caregivers should seek input and advice from a health care professional to assist in these considerations. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, these questions will need ongoing evaluation.

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Smile as You Work Through Difficult Challenges, Failure and Tragedy

April 7, 2016

Author Andy Andrews has determined that there are seven characteristics that each successful person has in common. He strongly believes in “the butterfly effect”: even the smallest action can have dramatic consequences. It has been found that the flap of a butterfly’s wings is inexplicably intertwined with the birth of a hurricane around the world.

Using these seven principles can make positive changes in your life:

  1. Be responsible – make a decision. Harry Truman signed his name on a sheet of paper that authorized the atomic bomb used to end World War II.
  2. Seek wisdom – listen to the guidance that is offered from people you trust. Napoleon lost at Waterloo because he failed to listen to his troops.
  3. Be a person of action – seize the moment. Bill Gates decided to drop out of Harvard to build a computer system that would one day become Microsoft.
  4. Have a decided heart – ignore rejection; let your passion be your guide. Thomas Edison tried and failed over 1,000 times before creating the incandescent light bulb.
  5. Choose to be happy – put a smile on your face. If there are two prospective employees with the same qualification but one of them complains, and the other one smiles and is happy, whom would you hire?
  6. Forgive! Forget anger management – use anger resolution. Joshua Chamberlain was chosen by President Lincoln to accept the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. There, Chamberlain stunned the world with a show of forgiveness: he ordered his troops to attention, saluting General Robert E. Lee and the defeated South.
  7. Persist without exception. Nelson Mandela sought to transform a country filled with racial oppression into an open democracy. His qualities of forgiveness, patience and persistence were revealed to the world after he was released from prison.

(Source: Mastering the Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success by Andy Andrews)

Stress Self-Assessment

March 14, 2016

Feeling stressed? While everyone reacts differently to stress, your body, brain, and emotions have a unique stress response. Understanding these reactions can help you fine-tune your stress-reducing strategies.

STEP 1: EVALUATE YOUR RESPONSES
  • Pain – Stress can bring on immediate or chronic pain, such as back pain, headaches, nausea, jaw or fist clenching, muscle tension, etc.
  • Depression – Extreme amounts of stress can lead to symptoms of depression, including feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty.
  • Anger – Arguing and feeling short-fused with coworkers or loved ones is a common reaction when under stress.
  • Anxiety – Stress can trigger you to feel anxious, worrying or fearing the worst possible scenario.
  • Substance Use – Smoking, drinking excessively and drug use are all unhealthy ways of self-medicating your anxiety.
  • Eating – Overeating, skipping meals, and eating junk food with little nutrition are all ways people change their eating habits when under extreme stress.
STEP 2: EVALUATE COPING METHODS

Ask yourself the following questions to understand how you’re managing your stress load.

  • Do you have a support network in place?
  • Are there activities you enjoy?
  • Do you regularly get enough sleep?
  • Are there responsibilities you can delegate?
  • Do you practice relaxation exercises such as mindfulness, yoga, or meditation?
  • Do you have access to professionals who can help you?
STEP 3: TAKE ACTION

After you’ve evaluated coping methods, here are a few action steps you can take.

  • Address physical concerns – See your physician to assess any immediate physical concerns or questions you might have. Seek their recommendations for changes in your diet, exercise, or other habits.
  • Start small – Start with simple tasks, such as turning off screens or electronics earlier before bed or taking five minutes for deep breathing.
  • Recruit a friend – Accountability is key, so choose a friend or family member to encourage you on the path to positive changes in your life.
  • Take notes – Everyone responds differently to relaxation techniques or organizational tools. Keep a journal or use an app to track the strategies working for you. Seeing your progress can be just the motivation needed to continue good self-care.

Maintaining Healthy Couple Relationships

March 1, 2016

Relationships are work; good or bad, they all take work. Establishing and building a relationship is hard enough, why not make it a good one that lasts? The following are a few things to consider in maintaining a healthy romantic relationship.

Embrace change – Your relations will undoubtedly evolve with life events, unexpected things, and family changes. Consider change as an opportunity to make your relationship stronger.

Check-ins – Talk with your partner about their expectations for the relationship and their personal goals. Checking-in with one another through regular, daily dialogue establishes a good routine, rather than just crisis management.

Know the family – Families are unique, and so are their ways of coping with stress and anxiety. While your family might tend to be emotionally distant, your partner’s might like to engage in conflict and confrontation. Consider what coping style you and your partner inherited from your families. Then, look for ways to work together to resolve conflict.

Right time – Dealing with a problem in the heat of the moment may not be the best time to “hear” one another. Take a few minutes to cool off and gather your thoughts. This opportunity allows you to listen to your partner’s perspective.

Stay current – A conflict is typically not the time to bring up previous unresolved issues. Attempting to solve multiple items typically leads to greater stress and little results.

Be responsible – Everyone has needs and wants in a relationship, but it’s important to remember some expectations may be unrealistic or unfair for your partner to meet. Consider what things you are able to do for yourself and take care of them.

THINKING WELL: Anger Management

February 15, 2016

Feeling angry is normal and healthy. What you do with your anger is what matters. We’re biologically wired to become angry in response to potential threats. However, we can’t respond with anger to everything. Anger management can help you learn the signs of anger and how to manage your reaction positively.

Some people are more likely to become angry than others. Even if they aren’t physically violent, they might be irritable, sarcastic, or constantly grumpy. Anger causes physical symptoms too, such as digestive and heart problems, high blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, headaches and the risk of substance abuse.

SEEKING HELP

How do you know if your anger is controlling you? If you answer yes to any of the following questions, consider seeking help.

  • Are you feeling constantly irritated or impatient?
  • Do you engage in frequent arguments with others?
  • Are you physically violent or considering violence?
  • Do you occasionally feel out of control?
  • Have you felt anxious or depressed about your anger?

HOW TO HELP

  • Identify stressors – Discover what is triggering your anger, such as work, rush hour traffic, or financial woes.
  • Notice indicators – Pay attention to any physical, emotional, or behavioral signs you experience when angry.
  • Examine thinking – Strive to correct your thinking and operate based on facts and good rationale.
  • Learn relaxation techniques – Practice mindfulness and deep breathing to soothe your body and focus your thoughts.
  • Focus on solutions

Anger management can help focus your energy on problems solving rather than frustration and hopelessness.

Remember, asking for help is never a weakness. Consult your doctor, mental health professional, or your employee assistance provider (EAP) for a referral. Consider attending a support group or check out other resources available online. Invest in yourself and learn to manage your anger instead of letting it manage you.

Reclaim Your Family’s Health from Substance Abuse

February 5, 2016

The family of someone with a substance abuse disorder is in great danger of emotional damage. If someone you love has an addiction problem, following the pointers below will help you to initiate the healing process, both for you and for the ones you love.

Start the Healing Process Now

If someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, they need immediate help. Any delay allows the problem to worsen, so step in now before things deteriorate even further. Have a thoughtful talk with your loved one and let them know how their choices are hurting you and the rest of your family.

Keep Yourself Safe

Talking to your loved one is a healthy first step, but you have to remember to protect your own emotional health. Don’t become so focused and emotionally invested in fixing the issue that you forget to take care of yourself. Surround yourself with support, either from family members or close friends. Also, in your attempts to help your family member, don’t put yourself in physical danger either.

Remember It’s Not Your Fault

Your loved one made the choices that led to substance abuse on their own. You are not to blame. Additionally, if you are unable to help your loved one change, that’s not your fault either. Encourage your loved one in any way you can, but accept the fact that, in the end, you are not responsible for the change, rather they are the one who must make the decision to change.

Tactics to Avoid

Stay away from resorting to threats and bribes. Don’t shield your loved one from the consequences of their substance abuse problem. They need to face reality in order to move towards healing. Don’t use subversive schemes such as hiding or throwing out drugs.

Moving Forward

The most important step for you and your loved one is to see professional help. Don’t let the situation get any worse before you take action to restore the health of your family.

Don’t Let Restaurant Foods Doom Your Diet

January 21, 2016

It’s no secret – most Americans love eating out with friends and family. After a busy day on the job or at home, sometimes it’s nice to sit back, relax, and enjoy each other’s company as well as some good food. Unfortunately, once you walk into a restaurant, your healthy eating habits can walk right out.

The smells and sights of the food drive your senses crazy, and you usually end up eating more than you should or would normally eat at home. But the good thing is, you don’t have to let your diet be ruined when you eat out. It is possible for you to remain in control of what you eat.

Use these pointers to help you stay on the right track:

  1. The calories can quickly add up when you eat appetizers, which are often loaded with calories and fat. Therefore, if you are going to order an appetizer, look for low-calorie selections such as a fruit cup, vegetable soup, etc. In doing so, you can save your appetite for a healthy, low-fat main course.
  2. Some restaurants offer chips or hot bread while you wait for your order. Just because something is free, doesn’t mean it is calorie-free. Ask the server to remove the food after yo have eaten a small portion. Better yet, request that it not be brought at all.
  3. Start at the fruit and salad section when going through a buffet. By filling your plate with low-calorie choices first, your plate will not have room for the less-healthy foods. Also, eat your meal before getting dessert. You will take less if you do this because you already be full.
  4. If your vegetables are going to be seasoned with cheese, butter, or almonds, ask that these be left off. Request that butter and sour cream for your baked potato be placed “on the side”.
  5. Many restaurants are making attempts to incorporate healthy choices into their menus. But, just because it is a salad, doesn’t mean it is low-calorie, or even healthy. Pay close attention to the list of ingredients – if there are cheese, nuts, bacon and breaded chicken, the salad could be more packed with calories than a burger! Salad dressings can be full of hidden calories too. Ask if there is a low-calorie or light choice of dressing available. If not, request the salad dressing “on the side”.
  6. You can usually have higher calorie items replaced with healthier choices. When in doubt, just ask! You are paying for your meal, you may be able to request whatever you want.
  7. Finally, if you haven’t’ noticed, portions seem to be getting bigger and bigger. Don’t take the chance of eating an entire huge portion. Request a carryout container right as your food is delivered. Split your entree in half and box it up. You’ll eat less and have a great lunch for the following day.

By following these helpful tips, eating out while eating healthy is possible – not to mention enjoyable.

Avoiding Burnout

December 4, 2015

There are many “outs” in life. We can be stressed out, worn out, and maybe even need a time out. As passionate as we may feel about our work, we are all susceptible to burning out if we fail to exercise good self-care and relaxation techniques. Burnout is a constant feeling of exhaustion and pessimism in the workplace, which usually results in a decline in performance and passion.

There are several early warning signs of burnout. Do you dread coming back from vacation? Despise work tasks you one enjoyed? Is your overall attitude pessimistic toward your coworkers and your performance? The answers to these questions can all be indicators of workplace burnout.

However, burnout is preventable; consider these simple tips:

  • Take small breaks – Failing to take short breaks negatively impacts your overall performance. Concentration wanes after too long, so take a quick five or ten minutes. Your brain will thank you.
  • Evaluate – Take a step back to see how you’re using your time. Where and when are you most productive? How is the quality of your work? Being efficient does not equal being effective. Take inventory and prioritize your time.
  • Set vacations in stone – If you are financially able, plan that trip today. It will give you something to anticipate. Alternatively, consider doing a “staycation” and rewarding yourself with some rest and relaxation.
  • Engage new passions – Look for a new hobby to catch your interest during the week. Often new activities reignite passions for old ones.

Taking care of yourself with proper rest, exercise, and nutrition is essential to reducing your risk for a workplace burnout. You will have more energy, productivity, and passion for what you enjoy most.

Mental Illness Plays a Role in Repeat DUIs

November 19, 2015

Roughly 60% of repeat drunk-driving offenders have suffered major depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new study from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE). Researchers studied people convicted of at least two DUI offenses during the past 10 years. A majority reported mental-health problems as well as alcohol or other drug dependency; female repeat DUI offenders were more likely than men to suffer from depression or PTSD.

“People who deal with drug and alcohol abusers need to understand there are often other disorders that need to be dealt with as well,” said lead researcher Sandra Lapham, MD, MPH, director of PIRE’s Behavioral Health Research Center. “That’s why we need to screen repeat offenders for multiple disorders. The offender should be viewed as a unique person with a unique set of issues. If they include psychiatric problems, these should be treated along with drug and alcohol issues.”

“The results of this study should encourage the courts to develop a more comprehensive approach to dealing with the hard-to-treat drinking driver,” added Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Eric J. Bloch. “Assessing the mental health of a DUI offender will help us choose the program that will reduce the change of a re-offense.”

The research was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol. (Reference: Lapham, S.C., C’de Baca, J., McMillan, G.P. and Lapidus, J. Psychiatric Disorder in a Sample of Repeat Impaired Driving Offenders, Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 67(5): 707-713.)

Another new report recommends that people arrested for drunk driving should be tested for other drug use and mental illness as well. The Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest in Albuquerque, NM, studied 612 women and 493 men, aged 23 to 54, who were convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol. The research established that 32% of the women and 38% of the men were found to use other drugs besides alcohol, compared to 16% and 21%, respectively, in the general population. This report is published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Meeting Your Health Goals

October 23, 2015

Every day we make choices about how to care for ourselves. From what we’ll eat to how active we’ll be, every decision has costs and benefits. Choosing healthy goals can feel intimidating, especially when we’re lacking the “New Year’s Resolution” momentum. Making specific, measurable, and attainable goals sets you up for the life you desire.

Goal-Setting Tips:

Specific – Many times, our goals are vague and too broad. This fails to inspire and motivate us to make a lifestyle change. Instead, clearly describe what you would like to do and with what specific behavior.

For example, you might say, “I want to get fit.” But how often are you going to exercise and for how long? There’s a big difference between, “I want to be healthier,” and “I want to go for an hour-long run, three times this week, so I will have energy to play with my kids.”

Measurable – In addition to specificity, goals should be measurable. Writing down our behavior or tracking it wan an app will offer clues as to why we’re moving toward or away from our goals. For example, if your goal is to lose 15 pounds, this might involve counting your calories or tracking your daily percentage of vitamins and minerals.

Attainable – Goals should be realistic, given your time, finances, abilities, etc. Set small, attainable steps toward the larger goal. These might be daily, weekly, or monthly. Besides offering encouragement, small and attainable goals provide opportunities for rewards along the way.

Setting health goals are best done in community. Surrounding yourself with supportive peers pursuing similar goals is very helpful. Also, say your goals aloud. Tell people what you’re working toward and how you’ll get there. The more you speak out your goals and why you’re doing this, the more you’ll believe you can actually achieve them. There’s no time like today, even if it isn’t January 1st.