Sadness and Aging

Aging can be difficult. Both our minds and bodies are no longer as spry as they used to be. Our fresh and youthful looks give way to sagging skin and a weather-beaten appearance. Also, the longer we last, the more likely it is that we will outlive friends and loved ones. It is quite easy to feel lonely as we get on in years, particularly if our physical conditions reach the point where mobility becomes a challenge. Those of us who lived independently for decades often find it tough to accept that they will now need the help of others to accomplish basic tasks.

Even if life manages to go fairly easy on us in these regards, we can also live through the decline and loss of a beloved partner or best friend. This can be especially tough if the healthier person assumes caregiver duties.

Seniors in long-term care facilities can also find it very difficult, particularly if they are among the younger people there. Cognitive decline, understaffing, poor food, varying degrees of care and attention, and lack of interesting interaction and activities can also bring about depression, even in someone who entered in good spirits and health.

Fortunately, there are good options for anyone in this situation. First, they should visit their regular doctor for a check-up and recommendations. The GP can then refer them to a therapist who specializes in working with seniors and their challenges. Talk therapy can be an excellent way to work through problems and formulate solutions.

Group therapy also brings about good results for many people. The chance to meet with other people going through the same struggles can be very helpful and even lead to lasting friendships.

If need be, psychiatry is another option. Psychiatrists use methods similar to therapists, but can also prescribe anti-depressant medication to supplement therapy sessions.

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Can’t Afford to Go Out? Here are Some Fun Stay-In Date Ideas

It doesn’t matter whether you are dating in your teens or in your 60s: it can be quite expensive. A meal at a quality restaurant can run well over $100 and even a night at the movies will set you back about $40, if you can’t resist the temptation of the snack bar.

When all is said and done, dating is not about where you go, it’s about the time you spend together. And you can absolutely have a nice time just staying put.

Here are some ideas for stay at home date nights that go beyond just “Netflix and Chill”:

Cook a Nice Meal Together

Most couples usually have one partner who excels at cooking and one that…doesn’t. This is a great opportunity to work together creating a lovely meal for the two of you. The half who loves cooking can provide tutoring.

Play Board Games

Both life and entertainment these days are so fast paced, it can be quite refreshing to sit down to an old school board game like Monopoly. Bring out an old favorite from childhood or try one you haven’t played before.

Karaoke

Do you love to sing, but are mortified by the idea of doing it in public? Wail to your heart’s content at home with no one but your patient spouse to hear you butcher classic songs.

Indoor Camping

Love the idea of camping, but hate dealing with the weather, insects, and wild animals? Try setting up a small tent and sleeping bags in your living room. You can use the fireplace as your camp fire, toast marshmallows, and do all of the other things you would normally do outside without all of the hassle.

These are just a few basic ideas to get you started. Bottom line: the true magic of an evening usually revolves around the people involved and the connection they share.

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Things to Keep in Mind When Shopping for a Therapist

It can be a big decision to decide that you require therapy. However, that still leaves the issue of finding a therapist. This can seem quite daunting as there are usually a number available to you. In a way, choosing a therapist is not so different from selecting another service professional. Here are some tips that will help to make the process easier for you:

Have any of your friends or family ever been in therapy? Ask what sort of the therapist they saw, their opinion of them, and whether they would recommend that you also try this person. You can also access online reviews, but make sure that you also study the therapists’ backgrounds. Some therapists specialize in a particular form of treatment, while others feel they have the experience to help a variety of clients. If there is a particular issue plaguing you, it is wise to start with therapists who claim to specialize in treating that form of problem.

When you have made your choice, call and speak to them on the phone. This is your chance to ask questions about what a typical session is like, their success in helping people with your issue, and what the fees are. If you are happy with the answers, go-ahead and try an appointment.

First appointments with a therapist can be quite intimidating. It is common for clients to be a bit reserved at first as they decide on whether or not they have a relationship with the therapist that will allow them to be open and honest.

If the appointment does not go well in your estimation, do not hesitate to try someone else. It is common for people to switch therapists if they do not find one to be satisfactory, and therapists understand that completely. In fact, most would encourage clients to see someone else if they feel they are not getting their money’s worth.

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Ways That You Can Stay Mentally Sharp

Do you worry about staying mentally sharp as you get older? Very few people are as sharp at 90 as they are at 19, but that is a normal circumstance of getting old. Fortunately, you do not have to necessarily succumb to such issues, even if there is no actual way to completely prevent them. Doing any of the following will help to keep you mentally sharp and none of them require much time or effort.

Watch your diet

Many people in search a quick mental fix will load up on coffee or soda that is full of sugar. While this may be a short-term solution, studies have shown that your memory suffers when your body has chronically elevated sugar levels.

Spend quality time with friends and loved ones

While being alone may provide a nice opportunity to get some reading done, if you really want to keep your brain engaged, you need company. Spending time with friends and loved ones means that you are engaging in conversation, celebrating, playing games, and often doing things that require a good measure of brain activity.

Exercise

Exercising is not just for your body! Physical activity can also help to keep your brain in shape, believe it or not.

Limit your alcohol intake

We all know that alcohol destroys brain cells, but you have no doubt gotten drunk and then felt no different afterward. The problem is that all of those lost brain cells add up over the years, so you end up having lost quite a few by the time you are older. We are not saying to quit drinking entirely, just cut back a bit.

Try not to worry so much

It is common for people to worry, but doing it excessively is not good for your mind as it causes you stress. It can also prevent you from pursuing activities that improve your mental well-being and growth.

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Achieving Just the Right Balance of Busy

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” — Dale Carnegie

Many of us complain nowadays that we are too busy…and that may well be true. Excess work and lack of proper rest are bad for both body and mind. However, that fantasy you have every workday around 2:00 when you wish you could be sitting by the ocean sipping margaritas and watching the waves might not be great for you either.

Here are some reasons why it is actually good for you to be at least moderately busy:

Keeps Your Brain Working

Sitting around may be good once in a while, but ultimately, your brain is not getting the kind of stimulation it needs to come through for you on a regular basis.

You Will Learn New Things

Even if you are just doing your regular routine, there is a good chance that you are learning new things and acquiring new skills.

You Feel Challenged

Most of us spend so much of our lives doing things that feel like a waste of time. When you are busy, you are out there getting things done and feeling accomplished.

Boredom is Not a Factor

See above. No time to be bored when your plate is full.

Holidays Mean More

If you are genuinely busy during the work week, a holiday means more to both body and mind.

Productive Distraction

If there are things weighing on your mind that cannot be solved in the here and now, that can be very difficult to deal with. However, if you are busy, such worries have to be put aside for the time being, in favor of things you can address and problems you can solve.

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How to Survive Middle Age

Have you experienced a midlife crisis? In movies, this is always depicted in such extremes as a staid businessman suddenly buying a super expensive sports car and ditching his wife for someone 20 years younger. In reality, most people who do experience middle age problems don’t have such a reaction, but it can nonetheless remain a challenging time, particularly if you are looking for answers and don’t know where to turn.

Here are some things to keep in mind during periods like this:

Reduce Your Amount of Worrying

Any time in life can cause people to become uncertain about the future, but this issue seems to increase in middle age. Don’t assume that a mild health setback is automatically a sign of cancer, and don’t think that money woes now guarantee you will spend your twilight years in abject poverty.

Do Things You Have Been Putting Off

While climbing the ladder of life, it is common to put off things. You’re busy with work, so you put off spending time with your kids, traveling, or doing other things that can help to enhance you as a person. Now is the time to reshuffle your priorities and get caught up. If it means making up a bucket list, go ahead.

Switch Off at Night

Even if you are in the C-suite at your company, know when it is time to turn off your smartphone and enjoy your evenings in peace and quiet. If your company so badly needs someone to be on watch at all times, find a subordinate to assume this duty. Should there be a genuine emergency, then that person can contact you. Otherwise, they can handle it for now and you will have a look in the morning.

Make the Best of It

You could be dead. Pretty much anything is better than that, right?

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The Psychological Effects of Aging

Everyone ages, though the effects of aging differ from person to person. No matter how diligent we are, our bodies and mental faculties gradually decline and things that were once easy become progressively more difficult.

How well a person accepts these changes can also vary. People who were fiercely independent for most of their lives often have trouble coping with the fact that they need assistance later in life. They may also find it tough to accept that they cannot do the sorts of physically challenging things that were once easy for them.

Psychological difficulties at this point in life can also arise from other factors that one normally encounters in life. Losing a partner, friends, or children can easily cause someone with no previous mental health concerns to develop depression and/or anxiety problems.

Psychologists working with this population employ a number of strategies that have proven effective. These include CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), talk therapy, anti-depressants, behavior modification, disease management strategies, and health promotion through regular exercise and proper diet.

Things can be especially difficult for adults living in long term care facilities. They often feel isolated, sad, and unable to relate to those who also live there. It is important for relatives and friends to visit them whenever possible and keep close tabs on their condition. If anything seems wrong, they should immediately report it to the head nurse or facility director, and then follow-up to make sure that corrective action has been taken.

While psychological difficulties may be more common for people in their golden years, they do not always have to be debilitating. It is up to people who work with this population to accurately diagnose when issues are present and then take proper steps to rectify the problem(s). That will help to ensure that people can live out their remaining days with a degree of dignity and happiness.

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It’s Time to Transfer Those Old Home Movies

Home movies have been around for the better part of 100 years. However, they were not so simple or economical at first. Anyone could own a 16mm film camera and shoot movies that way. The cost of the film and the developing charges could be considerable, however. Eventually, the smaller 8mm and Super 8 formats helped to bring down the cost, and both the cameras and projectors were smaller.

Consumer grade video cameras became prevalent in the 1980s, with people first shooting on Beta and VHS. Other more compact formats came along, like VHS-C and Video 8. Both the cameras and tapes were cheap by this point, and the convenience of video resulted in some people accumulating many tapes of home movies. Digital eventually replaced analog via DVD-R and digital files, both of which have some advantages over analog videotapes.

So what of all those tapes from the ’80s and ’90s sitting in people’s basements? Unfortunately, they are all deteriorating. No format lasts forever and even properly stored videotapes will degrade over time. That means even lower quality for a picture that already does not live up to high definition standard of today. However, memories can be irreplaceable, so it would be a shame to lose that 35 year-old footage of your daughter’s acting debut in the school play or your son’s first time on the football field.

You can buy a VHS/DVD-R recorder and transfer the contents of the tapes to DVD-Rs. Unfortunately, the market for these devices has declined in recent years, so they are becoming harder to find. There is also the alternative of having the tapes transferred by a professional video service. These are not hard to find, but if you have a large number of tapes, the cost can be quite high (the charge is often $25-40 per tape).

Don’t take too long to decide. Those tapes are not getting any younger and your precious memories could end up lost on an unplayable VHS.

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How to Live With Anxiety

Anxiety is something that we all live with at one time or another. However, for most people, this form of fear and unease is usually over with after a short period of time. Chances are you did not enjoy the way you felt while in the grip of anxiety; now imagine what it is like to spend most of your waking hours dealing with just such a problem.

People suffering from anxiety disorder find themselves plagued by constant worry and negative thoughts. They typically feel a loss of control in their lives and may even experience panic attacks, which are physically debilitating.

Here are some things you can try that will help you live with anxiety:

See a Therapist

While your anxiety might seem like a mild problem, there is the potential that it can become more serious and even life-threatening. If you experience anxiety regularly, it is wise to see a therapist for an an evaluation. Should you find that your therapist is not a great fit, try another one.

Be Open to Accepting Help

Anxiety can even cause someone to not accept help overcoming their anxiety. Do not let fear defeat your desire to live a happier life. If your therapist thinks you should try medication, do so. If he or she requests that you join a therapy group, try it. Even just the fact that you are working on solving the problem can help to alleviate some of your anxiety.

Learn CBT

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a way of stopping those negative thoughts before they overwhelm you. Clients are taught to challenge these thoughts whenever they occur and then through a series of questions, they can come to the realization that the negative thought is not rational and can be dismissed. Done on paper initially, CBT eventually becomes a process you do automatically in your head.

 

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When is a Child Old Enough for a Smartphone?

Technology is increasingly a part of almost everyone’s life and a large percentage of the population now has a smartphone. Children seem to become tech savvy at younger and younger ages now and they are asking their parents for smartphones at an age when most of us would have been content to own a tape recorder.

Do you have a child asking you for an iPhone? Are you curious about what is the appropriate age for such a device? According to Influence Central, some kids are getting their first phones by age 10 and, occasionally, even younger.

Part of the problem that comes from determining an appropriate age is that no two children are alike. Some children demonstrate maturity and responsibility from a young age, while others can take considerably longer to successfully demonstrate comparable advancement.

We all know (possibly on a very personal level) how addictive smartphones can be. Parents sometimes have great difficulty getting their kids to do their homework and chores already; give them a phone and the situation will likely become even more problematic.

There is also the fact that smartphones can give children access to just about anything on the internet, if the phone plan includes data. Certain filters will block out content on home computers, but parents can have a much harder time policing what their kids are watching on phones.

The cost of the device is also a factor. While certain cases provide adequate protection for day-to-day use, smartphones are not toys and may not stand up to the amount of wear and tear a child can put them through. There is also the fact that kids do not demonstrate the same level of thought about where they put their phones, so it could become lost.

From a science standpoint, the prefrontal cortex does not finish developing in humans until they are in their 20s. Its functions are related to impulse control; children and teens simply do not possess the same degree of control in that area.

All in all, my advice is to adhere to licensing rules: don’t let your child have a smartphone until they are old enough to get a license and drive a car.

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2017 Continuing to Be the Year of the Big Wet for Canadians

If you are of a certain age, you may find yourself conferring with similarly decrepit friends about the state of the weather these days. Chances are, you have found yourself saying something along the lines of, “I don’t remember there being such extremes in weather when I was a kid!”

Climate change has definitely made the weather more unpredictable and, at times, downright fiercer. The last couple summers in Ontario probably left you parched: brown lawns were the norm on every block. By sharp contrast, this year has seen a tremendous amount of rain in the province. That means everything is lovely and green, but you had better keep an umbrella with you at all times. I can’t recall a season where things have alternated so rapidly between sunny and rainy. Meanwhile, our friends on the west coast in British Columbia continue to suffer through a prolonged season of disastrous fires that are claiming homes by the dozens.

Dubbed by Environment Canada as the “Year of the Big Wet,” 2017 has certainly been a soggy one. Between April 1st and July 11th, rain fell on 71 of those 102 days, which seems more like a forecast for a Brazilian rain forest than the Great White North.

This can’t be a good summer to be a hiker or a drive-in owner as there have been few totally sunny days; it seems like rain always makes an appearance at some point. So, how have you been dealing with all of this extra moisture? I’m tempted to say that you should go jump in the lake (don’t take that personally), but it’s not safe to swim in the rain. Have you been staying inside more? Or are you one of those people who not only don’t mind getting wet, but actually rather enjoy it? Tell us in the comments!

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Have You Ever Been a Victim of Road Rage?

A dramatic crash brought about by an instance of road rage in California made headlines today. The available video does not show what started the confrontation, but we do see a motorcyclist kick a car, which then swerves towards him. The cyclist is able to regain control of his vehicle before it hits the median, but the car’s driver loses control. He or she then crashes into the same median and then crosses over into the next lane and hits a truck, causing it to roll over. Reports do not detail the degree of injuries sustained, but it would be very surprising if there were none.

Many people live in a state of near-constant stress today and that spills over into their driving habits. Maybe they are late for work or fatigue, anxiety, and impatience are causing them to act irrationally. Whatever the case, losing your temper and acting out is one thing; doing it in a car or truck is much more worrisome and potentially deadly for anyone in the vicinity.

When we are caught up in the moment, it can become incredibly easy to forget the consequences of our action. What might seem like a simple reaction to a rebuke can lead to serious and even fatal injuries. The consequences can be truly tragic.

A disturbing survey by State Farm Canada revealed that one third of Canadian drivers admit to engaging in road rage at least once per month. If you spend a lot of time traveling in your car or are a regular commuter, that means you have no doubt found yourself in such a situation as either the giver or the receiver.

How did you react? Did you lose your cool and cause an incident or keep a level head when confronted with one? Click the comment button and let us know.

 

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