July 29, 2015

Dealing With Depression…

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:42 am

ALL ABOARD!!!

 

First a reminder.  You can listen and read by clicking the radio button see upper right

When I first started this blog  I had intended for the focus to be on the “Baby Boomer” generation since I just barely slide into that category…All heck, …ok, I’m a baby…”baby Boomer” …ok? Much to my surprise I was chastised by non-boomers (some young folk friends of mine) that the LiFeTrain should be for everyone, i.e. people of all ages. For the most part I have tried to stick to that maxim.

Today however, I would like to focus the microscope on those of us who are aging and the possible signs of depression. But first, I am not a doctor nor a psychologist. As a matter of fact I am not the most intelligent of lads. However, as I have said in the past, I know smart people,  I read, think and have opinions (that I like to share here on the train).

Now, on to this week’s topic as part of Mental Health Awareness week.   [Depression] is not a normal part of aging, although many older people and their caregivers think the two go hand in hand. As we age, we might encounter many familiar sources of depression, including losing loved ones and facing health problems. Still, depression can and should be treated in people of ALL ages.

I recently read that about 15% of adults over age 65 have significant depressive symptoms, and about 3% have major depression. Note, the risk of suicide increases with age: The National Institute of Mental Health reports that older Americans are disproportionately likely to die by suicide, and that white men over age 85 have the highest suicide rates in the United States. Two studies further underscore why older people with even minor depressive symptoms need treatment: One, published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, found that older adults with signs of depression had diminished immune responses, which may affect their ability to fight off infections or disease. Another, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that more depressive symptoms in older adults meant more limitations on daily activity and a greater need for care. People with no depressive symptoms received three hours a week of care on average, those with one to three depressive symptoms had about four hours of care a week, and those with four to eight depressive symptoms needed six hours of care a week.

As we age, so are our parents, grand-parents, aunts, uncles…you get the thread. Keep an eye on them. Check in on them and while you are at it…Check in on you! None of us are super-humans.

Checking in on you…This is what I mean. All over the world, depression is much more common in women than in men. In the United States, the ratio is two to one, and depression is the main cause of disability in women. One out of eight women will have an episode of major depression at some time in her life. Women also have higher rates of seasonal affective disorder, depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder, and dysthymia.

Why are women so disproportionately affected? Many theories have been advanced to explain this difference. Some experts (and myself) believe that depression is underreported in men. But of course there certainly other, more complex reasons for women’s greater vulnerability to depression.

Before I close out this part of our focus. Just let me close by explaining why I chose such an unpleasant topic this week. Let’s admit it – emotions can be hard to talk about for everyone. The best I can convey is because it [depression] is real, depression is very real. I have seen the effects on many folks close to me. I’ve seen it manifest it self through drug abuse, alcohol abuse, food addiction and if I can keep it real here…even sexual addiction. And as much as I hate to admit it…well refer back to part I for my disclaimer.

Some people can find it “uncomfortable” to be around a person who is upset. It embarrasses them because they don’t know what to say, or do, or how to help. It can even be hard to hear or accept “I Love You” for some people and they barely acknowledge you have said it. Lots of us are just not emotionally confident and even our own feelings make us sometime feel uncomfortable.

So how are we going to react to or help a son or daughter, sibling, or parent (or ourselves) with depression…? Simple actually, very simple. Don’t be embarrassed, …”GET HELP”.

Don’t die of embarrassment, guilt or shame. Listen, biology isn’t personal. Biology isn’t our fault. Our biochemistry isn’t a character flaw or personal weakness.

There is no shame in having diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s ALS, EMS, MS, Alzheimer’s, appendicitis, or being hit by car !!

As passengers here on the train we must learn this, know this & believe this:

Depression is truly an innocent, shameless, blameless, physical disorder that makes you believe that something is wrong with YOU instead of your biochemistry. It is not a mystery anymore. When I was a child growing up we didn’t even utter the word. Most men I know just drank the pain away. It isn’t your fault. It could simply just be a physical disorder, imbalance or deficiency.

The more we know and learn about our own biochemistry, the more often we will be able to see ourselves as separate from ourselves a split second at a time. Think about it…

All Aboard! The LiFeTrain!

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July 13, 2015

I Really Want to Know, “What do you say?”

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 1:13 pm

All Aboard!  As you board the Train today I hand you a simple black and white business card that just says…

“WHAT DO YOU SAY?”

Please read this, watch the video and go back to my Facebook and answer the question my fellow passenger, “WHAT DO YOU SAY?”

 

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!

July 8, 2015

“2nd Chances…”

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 4:28 am

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!

Over the years, Just like JOB I lost some things (well…almost everything, all at once) precious and dear.  The pain of  loss was sometimes unimaginable.  Had it not been for Jesus in my life, my

In the middle of the madness, Hold on ...SADE

In the middle of the madness, Hold on …SADE

understanding parents (Mom was still alive), friends and family, I could have very well checked out.  I wondered what I did wrong…I couldn’t help but feel that I could have avoided it. If I had only examined every detail of the situation (totally impractical if not impossible).  But these are the thoughts
we think when painful things happen.

Internal bargaining (the woulda, shoulda, couldas) is part of our grieving process, and without going through it, we can’t move on with our lives. This whole circle of life thing (yes, I saw “The Lion King”) is, at once, beautiful and horrible. Learning to ride the waves, sometimes a gentle ripple and sometimes a tsunami, is much harder than it seems from a distance.

Throughout our lives there are opportunities to make up for losses and give ourselves, as well as those we care for, second chances. Even if you think that you could never replace what was lost, life has a way of giving back what was taken away. It may come as a surprise, or it you might develop over time; in either case, what we think has been lost may someday and somehow return.

I am privileged to share in this experience called life…Here on the LifeTrain…So I write…

All Aboard…

 

June 16, 2015

Talking Anxiety with Dr. Emily Hath PhD.

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:05 am

All aboard for Therapy Thursday on the LifeTrain.  Today we mosey on back to the clinic car and sit for a spell with my good friend, Dr. Emily Hath PhD. (Dr. E).  Today’s topic of discussion…”Anxiety”.  In this interview, we hope to give you some understanding about the nature of anxiety and what you might do to help yourself.

Reminder:  You can listen to LifeTrain Radio while you surf our site…see button upper right…

Chuckie:  Dr. E!
Dr. E:  Chuckie!

Chuckie: We’ve missed you!  I thought you had forgotten about us.
Dr. E:  No my dear friend, I’ve had an extremely high case load lately but, no…I look forward to my rides with you on the Train, having some anxiety?

[LAUGHTER!!!]

Chuckie:  Well I did start a new position but, overall I’m not ready for meds yet.

[more laughter]

Chuckie:  Dr. E, give us a little initial insight on Anxiety.

The only shame is not getting help...

The only shame is not getting help…

Dr.E:  Well Chuckie, the chances are fairly high that either you or a loved one has had a history of anxiety. In any given year about 17% of us will have an anxiety disorder—and over our lives, about 28 % of us will have an anxiety disorder.  And, if you have one anxiety disorder, then you probably have two or three anxiety disorders—and, possibly, depression.  The most common anxiety disorders are panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and specific phobia. 49% of the general population has a history of anxiety, depression, substance abuse or some of all three major problems.

Chuckie:  In doing my homework for today I found that Anxiety disorders have effects on your health.  Your thoughts?

Dr E: People with panic disorder are more likely to have mitral valve prolapse, hypertension, peptic ulcer, diabetes, angina or thyroid disease. In fact, men who have anxiety disorders are also at greater risk for cardiac disorders, hypertension, gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory illness, asthma, and back pain. Women with anxiety disorders are more likely to have a history of cardiac problems, hypertension, metabolic, gastrointestinal, dermatological, respiratory disorders and arthritis.

Chuckie:  I also read that anxiety has been increasing.
Dr.E:  Yes…The average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950’s.  We are getting more anxious every decade.
Psychologists have speculated about the possible reasons for this increase in both anxiety and depression over the last fifty years. Some of the reasons may be a decrease in “social connectedness”—we tend to move more, change jobs, participate less in civic organizations, and we are less likely to participate in religious communities. People are far less likely to get married, more likely to delay getting married, and more likely to live alone. All of these factors can contribute to worry, uncertainty, anxiety and depression.

Chuckie:  I was thinking, with all of technology and societal pressures do you think tha our “life” expectations have changed over the years?
Dr.E:  Yes, excellent observation.  We expect to have a more affluent life-style now then in say the 50s and 60s.  We are driven by unrealistic ideas of what we need (“I need the latest ipod!!”), and we have unrealistic ideas about relationships and appearance.  In the 1950’s sociologists would write about “The Organization Man” who worked for the corporation for his or her entire career. Today many people would love to have a job that had that kind of stability. And our expectations about retirement also lead us to feel anxious. We now have to rely on our own savings—rather than a company pension plan—to help us survive during retirement.

 

There is help...

There is help…

And anxiety isn’t helped by the fact that we have all the bad news all the time. Turn on your cable stations and you can immediately see the latest catastrophe—sometimes as it is actually happening in “real time”. Bad news sells—and reminds us— that we can all be in danger. Even though we live longer, have better health care, travel is safer, we are richer, and we have safer cars— we now think that there is a disaster on the horizon. Because we are constantly bombarded with bad news, we think that we are in greater danger. We may not be in greater danger—but it’s what we think that counts in the way we feel.  No wonder we are nervous wrecks.
Chuckie:  Dr. E that’s about enough for this session although we could go much longer on this topic.  When you return can we talk about some remedies?
Dr.E:  Sounds like a plan my good man.

Well Fellow passengers, another therapy session in the can.  Hope this helps.

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!!!

 

June 8, 2015

All Aboard!

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 3:40 am

All Aboard for another ride on the Train.  I decided to keep it short and simple for this week’s kick-off…the song…the prayer and the thought…

I hope you see the messages….in all its simplicity.  All Aboard!

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Father in the name of your son Jesus, please bless any and all who join me this week on the LifeTrain.  Thank you for the work ou have given me to conduct.this daily ride.  IN JESUS NAME, AMEN!!!

Fellow passengers, this week remember the following:

mm

ALL ABOARD!  The LifeTrain!!!

 

June 1, 2015

Words for the week: “Never give up!” 

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 8:46 am

Thanks for hoping a board.  And again…..let me share my motto:

If your plane crashed in the water, and everybody died…would you drown on purpose…or try to survive?  NEVER give up.  Never doubt the power of God.

I often discuss how “GANGSTA” the Bible can be with a good friend of mine.  Like how Elijah taunted the 450 boys, Yeah dudes…where’s your God?  Yo Yall yell louder, maybe he is sleep.  And then how GANGSTA Jezebel must have been to scare him later, because think about it.  he had talked to God and just witnessed his awesome power up close and in person.  Jez must’ve been a bad chick!

Anyway, this week let’s not forget to tell others not to forget…Who’s in charge and just how powerful he is.  To illustrate Read on.

In the Bible there is a man written about named Elijah.  He was used to demonstrate God’s power and call the people of Israel back to a life of worship.  Elijah witnessed the miraculous and unequaled power of God as he prayed during his confrontation with the 450 prophets of Baal; “The fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, … and also licked up the water in the trench” (1 Kings 18:38).

We serve a mighty God....

We serve a mighty God….

After this unquestioned answer to prayer, Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and prayed for rain – there had not been rain in the land for three years.  Once again, Elijah witnessed the miraculous hand of God; “The sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose and a heavy rain came” (1 Kings 18:45).  But within a few days of these great spiritual victories, Queen Jezebel vowed to have Elijah killed.  As soon as Elijah heard of the Queen’s threat, he became afraid and ran for his life into the desert.

1 Kings 19:4

“He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die.  ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’”

Elijah was a man who spoke directly with God and clearly witnessed His awesome power; yet, he fell into great despair when faced with this new adversity.

What caused Elijah to become so discouraged and fragile?  Had he already forgotten God’s power?  Had a few victories caused him to take his eyes off God and begin to rely on his own strength?  Or was he just worn out from being on the front line of ministry?  Whatever the cause, in his moment of greatest victory  Elijah became the most vulnerable to attack and failure; “I have had enough, Lord.”

With all your heart....

With all your heart….

When life is a struggle, we must pray and “trust in the Lord with all our heart” (Proverbs 3:5).  When life is running smooth, we must pray harder and trust even more.  But when we experience victory and dance on top of the mountain – when we begin to feel strong and “self” assured – we must pray as if our very life depended on it and lean on the Lord as never before.  Our moments of greatest vulnerability to enemy attack come when we begin to think we no longer require God’s help.

So my fellow passengers, as we start our week off let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and continue to renew our strength through prayer and the study of His Word.  We must always remember how He told His closest followers, “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).  The only way we accomplish anything is through the strength of Christ.  And as His promises are fulfilled in our lives, we must prepare for a sustained and constant walk of faith.  Let’s examine our need to daily walk in His presence and always guard against a fragile victory.  “All aboard…The LifeTrain!!!”

May 19, 2015

Legally Speaking with Attorney Ewing Carter III – Tell Your Lawyer the truth! The whole truth! Nothing but the truth!

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:28 am

Well passengers today, as promised we are stopping the train at the Lawoffice station.  Today we continue with our  recurring offer of Legal tips (Legally Speaking with Attorney Ewing Carter III).  I am going to spare you our on-going debate as to who is the superior athlete at the beginning of each of these interviews and get right to it. But first…

KICK IT (the youtube music)  “OR” better yet go to the LifeTrain’s own personal radio station see right corner…ALL ABOARD!

Here we are at the legal station, let’s pick EC III’s brain.  And remember feel free to comment and or send in some questions.  Hey, free is free!  But, on the real, if you have friends and relatives in the North Carolina, Piedmont Triad, tell them the LifeTrain conductor HIGHLY recommends this guy!  Like he says…”He takes it personal!” (www.ecarterlaw.com ).  He’s not much of an athlete but, in a court of Law, you definitely want this guy between you and the Judge.
EC III:  HELLO!!!  I can hear you!  I can whip you in anything from jacks to hop scotch to the hoop!
Chuckie:  Whatever dude!  Listen, with all the hype about football injuries, concussions and such, before we get started today I have a question.  If my godson, EC IV was back in high school or even at Hampton Univ., where he’s a student

www.EcarterLaw.com

www.EcarterLaw.com

now, and he told you that he wanted to play football, would you allow him to play?  I asked this question here on the “Train,” and you know how crazy I was when we played in high school……yep!……. and how much you admired me…. (grinning)….oops, I’m getting off track…What are your thoughts on this issue before we begin this week’s topic on “Legally Speaking.”

EC III: I would let him play in high school, if that’s what he wanted. I began playing when I was nine (9) years old. Football helped finance my undergraduate degree and I was able to meet some very good friends, so the experience was good for me.  But I think that starting to play tackle football in college for the first time, is ill-advised, and I would be against it.
Chuckie:  Ok, cool.  I was pondering over if there was a CPD III would I let him play.  More on that in another day’s post.  Now, here’s the deal for today.  I pumped you in terms of your one ability that I can vouch for, the law and being a Lawyer.  And I was thinking how I prepare to speak with my Doctor, accountant and even my minister.  I prepare with notes and even images showing my doctor “where it hurts”.  Now there is a question in here somewhere.  How important is it for the passengers to understand the importance of coming totally clean to one’s attorney?
EC III:  Well Mr. Conductor, a good conversation piece.  As an attorney I’m actually glad you brought this up; in a way I get to purge.

EC III:  We have all heard a portion of this phrase recited by a Clerk of Court to a testifying witness about to take the stand:  “Please place your left hand on the Bible and raise your right hand — Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?  And this is your solemn promise or affirmation?  Answer: “I do.”
Chuckie:  Right, ok…

 

EC III:  Well for the sake of understanding let’s create a scenario: You have a looming legal problem that you’ve procrastinated about for some time.  You’ve finally called a lawyer and scheduled and office consultation to discuss the matter and you’re feeling apprehensive, distrustful, and somewhat embarrassed by the problem.  You were hoping that the problem would just go away or resolve itself over time — but it hasn’t.  Now, you’re about to meet this lawyer who you’ve heard about, but don’t know.  Your thoughts are — how much is this going to cost?  Do I have to appear in court and testify?  How long does this entire process take?  What is the likely outcome?  Do I have the right lawyer?

EC III:  These are all normal thoughts and concerns, now let’s use them to your advantage during your first meeting with your prospective attorney.

Rule #1:   Begin by telling your lawyer everything about your case from the beginning to the end.  Well, you may wonder:  Why do I have to tell this person everything?  Some of this stuff is personal and none of his business, and should not have anything to do with my case. ….If those are your thoughts, you may be mistaken.

lgspkWhile you’re sitting across from the lawyer evaluating whether you want to hire them, they are deciding whether they want you as a client.  I can say from my own personal experience, that an important element in
determining whether I choose to represent someone or not is: that person’s ability to be forthcoming and honest about their problem.  As human beings, none of us are mind readers.  If you don’t tell your lawyer, doctor, accountant, or any professional, everything about your case, regardless of how bad you think it is…. you are setting yourself up for disappointment.  I’ve heard a lot of “stuff” in legal cases over the years.  However, It’s somewhat amazing how a good legal remedy can be fashioned around a bad set of facts.  For this to happen, the lawyer must be made aware of everything that has happened and should not have to guess what happened, or waste time persuading the client “to tell it all.”  It is frustrating and embarrassing to be working with someone and to get “blind-sided” by a crucial fact that now hurts your case, because your legal counsel wasn’t put on notice and had time to prepare for it.  So remember, your answer to the question: Do you solemnly swear to tell your lawyer the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God, concerning the facts of your case?  “I do.”

Tell Your Lawyer the truth! The whole truth! Nothing but the truth!

Chuckie:  Well, once again, good stuff Mr. Law guy!  The whistle is blowing so…All Aboard!
EC III:  Must you be so loud?

Oh passengers before we pull out, in case you were wondering, I am to this day the superior athlete!  And since I control the content of the LifeTrain, there will be no rebuttal!!!  LOL!

 And that’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

May 11, 2015

This week, “Carpe Diem!”

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:53 am

Welcome back to another week on the Train, the LifeTrain.  This week may I suggest the following for us…this week and beyond, “CARPE DIEM!”

Don’t forget to start your music…see radio button right.

As you board the train this week I hand you a white business card with simple black lettering.  It reads:

Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great!~Orison Swett Marden

One of the reasons I started to blog eight years ago was to hold myself accountable. As the days go by, I want to spread the word to continue to
raise my personal accountability level.

This concept has enabled me to take chances that I never could have imagined.  This experience has benefited me greatly. I initiated contact with strangers who are now my closest friends.

I have done things that brought smiles to people having a boring, routine day. I have been able to introduce myself to others in a more confident way. I even got the opportunity to start a ministry:  www.PRAYING4YOU.org.

If you need a little help putting yourself out there and becoming more assertive, you may find these reminders helpful:

1. Not trying guarantees you won’t get what you want.

Part of the reason why people hesitate to make an initial move in any situation is their fear of rejection.

If you’re in a big group of people and want to share your idea, you face the fear of rejection. If you want to share your feelings with someone you care about, you face the fear of rejection. If you want to ask for a promotion in a job, you face the fear of rejection.

MERRY MONDAY! Don't forget this, this week....

MERRY MONDAY!
Don’t forget this, this week….

However, if you do not act, you’ll never know if they would’ve accepted your offer. Not being assertive and letting the moment slip away gives you a 100% chance of not getting what you want.

2. People aren’t looking to hurt you.

Many of the negative outcomes we imagine are, in fact, imaginary. The majority of people are going to be polite once you say hi to them or initiate conversation. Many times people will do what they can to fulfill your request.

From what I’ve experienced, people feel terrible if they have to reject you—but sometimes it is a good thing when they do. You wouldn’t want a potential date to accept your invitation unless the person was interested, right?

3. We don’t need other people’s approval.

The girl you tried to talk to tells you to get lost. The group laughs at your idea. These are risks worth taking to seize possibilities.

4. Strangers around the situation aren’t paying attention.

Sometimes when we hold back, it’s because we feel self conscious with people watching. But think about it—do strangers really care about what you’re doing? Most of the time, they’re not even paying attention. If they are, so what? Does it really matter?

I started conversing with someone on the bus today and so many people turned their heads towards me that I thought I woke everyone up. I decided to tune them out because their thoughts didn’t affect the outcome of my conversation.

Even if they had some sort of judgment, they were entitled to that. It didn’t affect me.

5. The three-second rule can work wonders.

Ideally, it is good to talk to someone within three seconds of seeing them so that anxiety can’t form in your mind. Once more time elapses, it becomes more difficult. Save yourself the trouble and act as soon as the instinct arises.

6. Accept mistakes and don’t be too hard on yourself.

All Aboard!  This week....The LifeTrain!

All Aboard! This week….The LifeTrain!

I’m pretty sure I have said things that were a bit awkward or with the wrong tone of voice. Making mistakes is a part of learning how to become assertive.

At some point, everyone has said something that felt like the wrong thing. No matter how badly you messed up, feel positive about yourself because you took a chance.

7. Realize your negative thoughts aren’t facts.

Nothing holds us back like negative self talk. Find your own personal way to overcome the negative idea.

It may help to mentally isolate the negative emotion and realize it’s separate from you. What works for me is to imagine a metaphorical mirror that reflects everything I suspect people are thinking about me. I then put a cover over the mirror to avoid that trap. Our actions and words stem from our mindset.

When I have a hard time being assertive, I remember that moment when I didn’t share my feelings and a girl I loved slipped away. Now I ask myself: Would I rather risk rejection, or have to wonder, “What if?”

PS.  Don’t tell anybody I just told you this…

All aboard, the “LifeTrain!”

May 4, 2015

A reminder….

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:01 am

All Aboard! It’s the beginning of the week and as such I would like to start you out with a  few thoughts to ponder and meditate on this week. But first, the music, See the radio button , right hand upper corner!

Sometimes we let affection go unspoken and our love go unexpressed. Especially towards those we love the best.  This week why not show a little love to those who need to know that they are

Not a sermon, just thought....

Not a sermon, just thought….

loved.  Why?  Because the most painful love there is, is the love left unshown.  A love that cannot be expressed, affection left unknown. The love that withholds touching, afraid of what it would say, and the most painful thing about unexpressed love is it never fades away.

Thought for the week:

You can share a meal, a movie, a moment and give yourself a break from any stress, anger or sadness from this week. You don’t have to carry it through every moment of your day. Don’t worry—if you feel you need to remember it, you’ll still be able to recall it later. But as you allow yourself pockets of peace, shared with people you love, you may find you need that story a lot less.

Have a great week, I wish you all a Love that will never end…

All Aboard, the LifeTrain…

 

April 30, 2015

Thursday Therapy, With Dr. Diedra Hayman Ph.D

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:15 am

Hey Passengers welcome aboard and back for another session on the good Doc’s couch.   I really believe this was one of our better sessions.  I would humbly encourage you to invite anyone you know to the train to review this interview.   I found the information to be incredibly enlightening.   So, let’s mozey on back to the Doctor’s car, oh and stop by the cafe car and bring me some salted peanuts in the shell and a diet coke please…

Kick off the music (See radio Broadcast Button upper right), I hope this helps

Dr. Dee: So, Chuckie, one of the passengers has made a special request to discuss coping with a family member who has Alzheimer’s disease. Are you game?

Chuckie: “CALL THE POLICE!”, not only is this woman a brilliant Doctor but, she reads minds as well!   Come mere gurl!  Gimmie a hug!
Dr.Dee: “Security!”

Chuckie: Yes, it seems that this topic has been a theme in my life in terms of coming in contact with friends dealing with this.   How shall we begin?
Dr Dee: First of all I think we ought to talk a little bit about what exactly Alzheimer’s disease is. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia. Not all dementia is Alzheimer’s but Alzheimer’s is characterized by dementia. This is a disease where a person gradually develops memory problems which are more and more severe. They begin by forgetting little things, and as the disease develops, they forget procedures we take for granted such as brushing their teeth getting dressed, and they forget people close to them and even their own name, as well as other personal bits of information. Usually the disease takes a slow course, and develops over several years.

Chuckie: I can see how this would be really sad, and frustrating for a family member.
Dr. Dee: Yes this can be very, very frustrating. In fact, the passenger who suggested this topic mentioned that from her perspective, dealing with a family member with Alzheimer’s is even more difficult to cope with than dealing with someone with a terminal disease.

Chuckie: Wow. That’s pretty heavy stuff. Why do think that might be?
Dr. Dee: Well, as with other situations, Alzheimer’s disease involves coping with a great deal of loss.   But unlike divorce, where that person is still the same person you were married to, only they’re just not there anymore, and unlike most terminal diseases where that person may have physical decline, but is still essentially the same person, Alzheimer’s disease involves a relatively physically healthy individual, who looks the same as you’ve always known in most cases, except that they’re getting older. When you look at this person who looks the same as they’ve always looked, you expect them to know you as they’ve always known you, and behave, as they’ve always behaved. But they don’t.   And they don’t because they are losing their memory and memory forms the basis of who we are.  Not only that, Alzheimer’s is a slow moving disease.  So, just as you get to the point where you feel you have accepted some loss of who that person was, something else of that person you know and love, fades away, and you are right back at the beginning again, having to mourn the loss of something new, that is now no longer there.

Chuckie: So, what can a person who has a family member who is suffering with Alzheimer’s do? How can they cope with this constant series of losses that can apparently go on for a number of years?
Dr. Dee: Chuckie, this is one of those cases where a really good support group can be a life line.  In a support group for Alzheimer’s caregivers, a family member can meet with others who know exactly what the family member is going through. They can also offer helpful tips for coping with the little changes.

Chuckie: What kind of changes are common  for family members of patients with Alzheimer’s?
Dr. Dee: Two major kinds of changes have to be dealt with. On the one hand, dealing with a family member who has Alzheimer’s requires changes in role and relationships.   For instance, the Alzheimer’s patient may have been the one who handled the finances or the taxes or the cooking or the housekeeping.   But gradually they become unable to carry out those roles, and someone else has to step in and begin to do them.   This can be overwhelming and frustrating for the family member.   Sometimes they have to learn completely new skills, such as in the case of dealing with finances. Sometimes it involves leaving their own job to devote themselves to full-time care of the Alzheimer’s patient.   This can also be quite frustrating because jobs can define people in many ways, and to have to give that up can affect a caregivers self-esteem.   Sometimes caregivers feel guilty about these shifts in roles.   At other times, the may feel angry and resentful, that they now have to give up significant portions of their lives to become a caregiver.   The other major change that goes along with that, is the process of letting go of the person you once knew and loved, and beginning to accept the person who is evolving before you.   And that person changes from day to day and year to year,  so again, this process of letting go and accepting can go on for years.

Chuckie: Is there any cure for Alzheimer’s disease? Can anything be done to help patients with Alzheimer’s?
Dr. Dee: Unfortunately, no, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But there are a few treatments that are available.   However, the treatments, only appear to slow the progress of the disease. There are lifestyle modifications that can help in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s.   As a person becomes more and more forgetful, it may be helpful for family members to create simple scrapbooks including pictures of loved ones with a few words, describing who they are, such as a picture of a daughter, with the words, “your oldest daughter” underneath.   Or even a picture list in the bathroom, describing what needs to happen in there, such as brushing teeth, bathing, toileting.   Of course, as the dementia, increases, they may likely forget exactly how to brush teeth, or bathe, or toilet appropriately. Simplifying the choices that an Alzheimer’s patient has available to them can also be very helpful.   For instance, if they have trouble deciding what to wear, cleaning out the closet of everything but 3 or 4 pairs of pants, 3 or 4 tops, 3 or 4 dresses, and a couple pairs of shoes, may be just what the doctor ordered.

Chuckie: What do you advise family members to keep in mind as they deal with loved ones who are gradually forgetting everything about who they are and what their lives have been like?
Dr. Dee: We need to always keep in mind that Alzheimer’s disease is no picnic for the patient either. They don’t suddenly wake up with dementia. It’s a gradual process where they often recognize that they are becoming more and more forgetful, and the world is gradually becoming more and more confusing for them. So, when they become angry or react in ways that don’t make sense, its helpful for family members to remember that the patient is often confused and frightened, and the world no longer makes much sense to them either. They are not intentionally trying to be hurtful and difficult, they simply can’t help what is happening to them. And, unfortunately neither can anyone else.   If family members can find a way to reframe the behaviors of the Alzheimer’s patient in a way that takes into account their own confusion, helplessness, and fear of this strange world developing around themselves, it can not only change the way a family member behaves toward the patient, but it is often helpful for the family member as a means of coping, as well.

Chuckie: Thanks for addressing this impromptu topic. Any parting words?
Dr. Dee: Sure. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get connected to an Alzheimer’s support group. There are major changes that have to come, over the course of dealing with the family member with Alzheimer’s, including eventually placing them in residential care. This can bring about all kinds of feelings in family members, including guilt, anger, and fear. Having the support of others who have been through that fire, or are going through it themselves, can be a major means of coping.

Chuckie: Doc, as far as I’m concerned you knocked this one out the park.   I know that many will be blessed by your willingness to let us partake weekly of your knowledge.   May your rewards be many in Heaven.
Dr.Dee: Thanks Chuckie, my pleasure.

Chuckie: Oh, Doc…one last question.
Dr.Dee: Yes?

Chuckie: Knock, Knock…
Dr.Dee: What?

Chuckie: Knock, Knock
Dr.Dee: “SIGH!” “…ok who’s there”

Chuckie: DOC!  We need to get you some help!   You are sitting here looking right at me and you axe,  “WHO’S THERE?”
Dr.Dee: BOY BYE!  GET OUT!!!

Roll credits…

regards11