Category: Family Life Services

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Living with Alzheimer’s … some bonds just can’t be broken

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that progressively harms and ultimately destroys brain cells, leading to memory loss and changes in thinking and other brain functions.

People are at the greatest risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease if they are more than 85 years of age; they may have a reduced risk of developing memory loss-related diseases if they maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives, according to the National Alzheimer’s Association.

Because people experience Alzheimer’s disease differently with varying symptoms, it is important that a doctor provide the diagnosis. Symptoms generally include the loss of problem-solving ability, impaired judgment, and loss of short-term memory.

Alzheimer’s disease occurs gradually. In fact, after a diagnosis is made, family members often say they believe they should have “seen it coming.”

As families learn to deal with a loved one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, they must become aware of the reality they face—the disease gets progressively worse and families should make plans to handle that decline.

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Mirror, mirror….am I thin enough?

By the age of 6, girls start to express concerns about their weight or shape, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Approximately half of elementary school girls (ages 6 through 12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat.

The statistics on individuals struggling with eating disorders are startling. In the United States alone, 20 million woman and 10 million men struggle or have struggled with an eating disorder.

What is an eating disorder? I can tell you what it isn’t—a trend, a lifestyle or just a phase someone is going through. It is a serious problem that more often than not requires professional intervention. And the sooner the intervention takes place, the better the treatment outcome tends to be.

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How to be the real MVP (most valuable parent)

Youth sports continue to be of interest to blogs and media, often with mentions of “helicopter” parents, disrespectful players and belligerent coaches.

So what, you may wonder, can parents do to make the experience a positive one for their children? Jeremias Garcia, who oversees the Center Point Day Program at the Diakon Wilderness Center near Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, not only has extensive experience working with young people of all backgrounds, but also has coached various ages and levels of boys and girls basketball and girls soccer.

We asked him to share his experiences and advice:

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A reflection on the journey to recovery …

Drinking and partying just become an everyday ritual when you do them for a long time. Drinking becomes part of every event. You simply must find a way to incorporate it because you are so used to it being part of everything you do. You try to change that, that pattern or direction. But it seems very difficult to do, because you believe drinking is part of you.

The drugs, the depression, and drinking increased, but none of that cured the pain. That’s when it got so bad for me. I was in such a dark place that I realized I needed to reach out for help. Stopping and looking at the reality of where I was emotionally, financially, and in terms of being able to support the people I care most about—my family—caused me to realize I needed help.

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Feeling SAD?

Changing seasons and holidays can result in other changes …

Daylight savings ends, bringing an extra hour of sleep (at least for one day) and a little extra sunlight in the morning—but it sure gets dark early.

For me, the first thing I notice is that I have one fewer hour to let the kids play outside. One fewer hour to go for a run before it’s dark … so treadmill it is. Sometimes I feel as if I miss the sun altogether after sitting inside all day at work, just to get home as the sun is setting.

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Fall family health and fitness

It’s Friday—so how about doing something healthy this weekend and enjoying what the season has to offer?

For example, take time to re-energize with family or friends. When we are too busy and distracted, it can be difficult to make good choices particularly concerning our health. I think our children—and ourselves as adults—often participate in so many activities that we’re all pressed for time. So it’s much easier to grab fast-food or a snack on the go instead of sitting down to a family meal or something homemade.

Those quick “grab & go” options are convenient and time-saving, but we miss out on valuable opportunities not only to teach our children about healthy eating and meal planning, but also to spend quality time together enjoying one another’s company.

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Helping others on their path to recovery

It is National Recovery Month, so it’s a good time to discuss what it means to have a behavior disorder or addiction and how you can help loved ones affected by one of these illnesses. Common behavioral issues include eating and mood disorders, depression, ADHD, social phobias, post-traumatic stress disorders, and panic/anxiety disorders. Substance abuse is an extremely prevalent behavior disorder.

 “Addiction is the compulsive use of the addictive substance.” ~ Father Martin (recovering alcoholic and public speaker)

The amount of substance used makes little difference to the nature of this illness. How the substance use affects one’s life and the lives of others is what matters. Whether it’s happening as a result of problems concerning money, family or work, individuals facing an addiction typically stay that way if they don’t get help. Like many other illnesses, addiction will get worse without intervention.

We asked several Diakon Family Life Services staff members to share their insights and suggestions on this issue that affects numerous individuals and their families …

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Entertainment or addiction?

“Megan is glued to her phone texting her boyfriend and ‘bestie’. I wish I knew how to get her to cut back.”

“I haven’t figured out a good way to limit iPod/computer time yet. Sometimes I allow them an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. Then the next day, I let them play all day. I’m not consistent with it. What drives me really crazy is when we are doing something together and all of the sudden one disappears and goes to play Minecraft without me knowing (I think he/she is heading to the bathroom).”

Do these statements sound as if they’re describing your family?

It has been a few weeks since school ended and children are home for the summer. How many of them, however, are glued to their cell phones or computers?

While most children and teens enjoy using their cell phones and computers for playing games and connecting with others via social media and can do so responsibly, engaging too frequently in these types of activities—in which use becomes obsessive—may be more harmful than just being an annoying habit. “Process addictions,” such as rampant overuse of cell phones and the Internet, are becoming of increased concern because of possible health risks. Some countries in Asia, in fact, are labeling these addictions as some of their nations’ most significant public health risks.

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Listen, don’t label … ask, don’t fear

Earlier this month, organizations across the country designated a special day for children facing mental-health issues, with awareness-focused events promoting positive mental health for children and young adults under the theme “Listen, don’t label … ask, don’t fear.”

That’s a powerful—and very needed—message. As a professional social worker, I’ve seen the need for that message over and over …

Parenting a child with mental-health issues can be challenging, demanding, and exhausting. Parenting a child you know is struggling with a mental-health issue that you have no idea how to address is heartbreaking.

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Puppy love

Sometimes, it’s good to let things go to the dogs!

I’ve used therapy dogs—all three have been golden retrievers—for nearly 16 years—making important connections with children and others facing a variety of life’s challenges.