Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Take a Break: Poems/Dia de los muertos

With Halloween on Friday and Dia de los muertos (Day of the Dead) on Saturday, here are two “take a breaks” for this week.

As a child, Halloween was a wonderful time of story telling and poetry, read or told by my Aunt Margaret and my mother. So in memory of them, I’m including several of my favorites

This coming Saturday, November 1, is Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). A few links to help explain what it is, how to celebrate and the all important, applying sugar skull make up.

• BBC Documentary on Dia de los Muertos: Excellent video 

• How to apply sugar skull make up: Note that many people just do half their face in this makeup.  

Not interested in today’s activity? Check out the Take a Break Pinterestfor lots of Take a Break ideas. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I know they’re sick, but they’re really pissing me off!

A hospice trainer related to me how the endless hours of care giving, lack of sleep, length of their spouse’s illness and continual demands, led them to become so angry, pissed and frustrated that they shouted, “will you just die already!” Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Yet, if you’ve been in that situation, you can relate and may even have done something similar.

Regardless of your relationship with the individual, or the type or stage of their illness, here are some things to consider when they are “getting on your last nerve:”

• Assess basic and immediate needs -are you/they hungry, tired or need to go to the bathroom? A therapist told me once that about 80% of interpersonal dynamics can be resolved by this assessment and acting to correct it. In the case above, having caregiver relief would have significantly reduced fatigue and frustration.

Take a minute and put yourself in their shoes. Are they getting sicker? Is this a new behavior that you haven’t seen before? Are they frightened?

What’s triggering your negative feelings?
- Are you in over your head? Do you feel you have no control over the situation?  Do you feel sorry for yourself? If you answer yes to these questions, you are heading towards caregiver burnout. In fact, take a few minutes and do the on-line “Are you heading for Caregiver Burnout Quiz. 

While it may seem trite to hear “take care of yourself,” when you don’t have five minutes to yourself, it’s absolutely critical that you do.  Caregiver stress can be particularly damaging, since it is typically a chronic, long-term challenge. You may face years or even decades of caregiving responsibilities. It can be particularly disheartening when there’s no hope that your family member will get better. Without adequate help and support, the stress of caregiving leaves you vulnerable to a wide range of physical and emotional problems, ranging from heart disease to depression. Check out Caregiver Stress and Burnout  to learn how to ask for help and where to find it.

- Do you feel they are rejecting or ignoring you? If so, honestly assess the situation. How much do you really need to be involved? Some people want to be left alone, so don’t ignore what they’re saying on this score. Check out They need help, but they refuse it or When you see a need for help but they reject it, what can you do? 

-In the case above, not only was the person experiencing caregiver fatigue, but they were also grappling with the fact that they accepted the person’s death and wanted it over. This is very hard for people to talk about because it can make you seem uncaring and even callous. I experienced this with a loved one and I finally came to the realization that the only way I was going to get through it was to live as mindfully as I could in the present and to give myself permission to think of other things. If this is something you are dealing with, seek out people that you can talk to and above all, recognize that you are having a very normal reaction to a very abnormal situation.

Accept them the way they are. If they’ve always whined, complained and made digs at you, being ill may actually make it worse. Remember you can’t change people, only how you respond to them.

Keep in mind that being ill is not a permission slip for them to be mean or disrespectful.  You do want to understand if there is something wrong, but it’s not okay for them to treat you like a doormat and say,” it’s my illness.” There’s a fine line between being understanding and allowing someone to be rude, inappropriate or abusive because they’re having a bad day, don’t feel well etc.

 If they are being inappropriate, you need to discuss it with them. Focus on the issue at hand and don’t hit them with a barrage of criticism.

• If it’s a co-worker: This is a lot more common than many realize. While exceptions are needed to help someone with a chronic condition remain in the workplace, if fellow employees feel that the accommodations are above and beyond what’s required, resentment is likely to follow. In such situations, be very clear what the issues are and be prepared to discuss them with your supervisor. Calmly outline the problem, what you have tried and the need to resolve the situation. Be realistic in your expectations so management does not perceive you as the problem.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Take a Break: Create a Temporary Halloween Wall

This is the fourth Halloween activity this month and I’m pleased to have found yet another interesting paper project. While my favorite has been the Paper Wigs,  think the idea of a temporary Halloween wall or door is a pretty cool idea. 

Try one of the following

• Find marbled paper, such as black and white, or paper with lots of pattern so it wont require perfect matching. Use the directions at How to Make Your Own Removable Wallpaper

• “Wallpaper” with fabric. The “How to wallpaper using fabric” has good directions as does DIY Temporary Fabric Wallpaper to Dress Your Walls for the Holidays. You can either make your own liquid starch or purchase it from the laundry isle of the grocery store. It’s pretty straight forward. Pick a space, measure, purchase the fabric, dip or roll the liquid starch onto the fabric and hang. Depending on the space you want to cover, this could be a two person job.

• Using a frame or piece of plywood, attach Halloween fabric or paper, using glue, staples etc. and then hang. The advantage of this method is that you can take it down and save it for another year.

Not interested in today’s activity? Check out the Take a Break Pinterest for lots of Take a Break ideas. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Journal Watch October 2014

 Complementary Health Approaches for Chronic Pain: This issue of the NCCAM Clinical Digest summarizes current scientific evidence about the complementary health approaches most often used by people for chronic pain. The scientific evidence to date suggests that some complementary health approaches may provide modest, short-term effects that may help individuals manage the day-to-day variations in their chronic pain symptoms. In most instances, though, the amount of evidence is too small to clearly show whether an approach is useful. 

• Acupunctureand Chronic Knee Pain: Researchers randomly assigned 282 patients with moderate to severe chronic knee pain to one of 4 groups, no acupuncture, needle acupuncture, laser acupuncture or sham laser. Treatments were performed for 12 weeks. There were no significant differences in pain relief or physical function between needle, laser or sham acupuncture either at 12 weeks or 1 year. And while there were modest improvements in pain and function comparing one or both of the active treatments with the control group at 12 weeks, the relief was not maintained at 1 year. JAMA 

 Jazz and Silence Help Reduce HeartRate After Surgery: Patients who listen to music or experience silence while recovering from surgery might need less pain medication, and may be more relaxed and satisfied, concludes a study of women undergoing elective hysterectomies. Anesthesiology 2014 Annual Meeting 

What20 years of cannabis research has taught us: A major new review sets out the latest information on the effects of cannabis use on mental and physical health. While cannabis does not produce fatal overdoses, long term users have a variety of adverse effects including: dependence syndrome, risks of psychotic disorders; lower educational attainment; doubles the risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Addiction 

• CAM Most Used for Chronic Conditions: Complementary and alternative medicine is most often used for the treatment of chronic skin conditions rather than acute skin conditions, and herbal therapies are the most common form of treatment used. JAMA Dermat. 

• Mars Chocolate North America Issues Allergy Alert Voluntary Recall On Undeclared Peanut Butter In M&M’s® Brand Milk Chocolate Theater Box 

• Approves the first combination tablet (Harvoni) to treat patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 infection. The tablet contains ledipasvir and sofosbuvir.

• Approved Lumason (sulfur hexafluoride lipid microsphere) for patients whose ultrasound image of the heart (echocardiograms) are hard to see with ultrasound waves. 

• Approved the Lutonix 035 Drug Coated Balloon Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty Catheter (Lutonix DCB). This is the first drug-coated balloon used to re-open arteries in the thigh (superficial femoral arteries) and knee (popliteal arteries) when narrowed or blocked as a result of peripheral artery disease (PAD).

• Approved Ofev and Esbriet to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

• Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors May Prevent 80% of Heart Attacks: Middle-aged and older men were much less likely to have heart attacks over an average of 11 years if they drank moderately, didn't smoke and did everything right on the diet, exercise and weight fronts. Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Can All Work and No Play Make You Diabetic? People who worked more than 55 hours a week at manual labor or other types of "low socioeconomic status jobs" were 30 percent more likely to develop diabetes than those who worked 35 to 40 hours a week. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology 

Nature Walks With Others May Keep Depression at Bay: Taking nature walks with other people may lower your stress levels and reduce your risk of depression, a new study suggests. Ecopsychology 

• Living Near a Highway May Be Bad for Your Blood Pressure: Among more than 5,000 postmenopausal women, those who lived within 109 yards of a busy road had a 22 percent greater risk of developing high blood pressure than women living at least half a mile away, researchers report. Journal of the American Heart Association 

• HealthyLifestyle May Reduce Stroke in Half for Women: Women with a healthy diet and lifestyle may be less likely to have a stroke by more than half, according to a study published in the online edition of the journal Neurology 

• Healthy Habits Might Reduce Colon Cancer Risks: Researchers examined how five lifestyle factors affected colon cancer risk: healthy weight; low amounts of belly fat; regular physical activity; not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption; and a well-balanced diet. This diet was high in fruits, vegetables, fish, yogurt, nuts and seeds, and foods rich in fiber, and low in red and processed meat.
The more of these factors people had, the lower their risk for colon cancer, according to the researchers. BMC Medicine 

• High Cholesterol Tied to Prostate Cancer’s Return: After surgery for prostate cancer, elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides may be linked with greater risk of the cancer's return, a new study suggests. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 

 Is“Slow and Steady” Weight Loss Really the Best Way to Loose Weight?: A new study found that that whether you opt for a "crash" diet or something a bit slower, the rate at which you shed excess pounds has no bearing on whether or not those pounds will come back. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology 10/15/14 

• More Evidence That Exercise May Help Fight Depression: Physically active people are less likely to show signs of depression, a new study finds. And exercise can help improve mood in people who already feel depressed, but there's a catch: Depressive symptoms appear to be a barrier to physical activity, the British researchers said. The findings, based on 11,000 adults ages 23 to 50, correlate with previous research suggesting that exercise can have a powerful effect on depression, although it's far from a cure-all. AMA Psychiatry 

Which cereals are the healthiest: Consumer Reports has taken out the guess work. Check out their chart for which cereals are the healthiest. 

• Gene Study Finds No Proof Vitamin D Guards Against Type 2 Diabetes: British researchers investigated the association between diabetes risk and vitamin D by focusing on genes that control blood levels of vitamin D. They found no connection between different variants of these genes and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology 

• Fish Oil and Fibrilation: High-dose fish oil does not stop AFib recurrence in patients who aren’t receiving traditional therapy. The researchers say the fish oil failed to reduce inflammation or stress markers, which may explain why it didn’t work. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 

• Mediterranean Diet Can Reverse Metabolic Syndrome: For people with metabolic syndrome, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts may help reverse the condition. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 

• If You Do Gain Weight, Polyunsaturated Fats May Prevent Some Damage: Muffins -- and other fatty foods -- can definitely put on the pounds, but those made with polyunsaturated oil may be safer for your heart than if they're made with saturated fats like butter, a small study suggests. That's because olive oil, sunflower oil and other polyunsaturated fats won't increase cholesterol like butter or palm oil, the researchers found. Journal of the American Heart Association 

• Even Decaf Coffee May Help the Liver: Another study suggests that coffee might actually be healthy for your liver, and that even decaffeinated coffee may have this effect. Hepatology 

• Behavioral Therapy Deemed Best forSocial Phobia: In a review of 101 clinical trials, researchers found that "cognitive behavioral therapy" often helped people with social phobia -- a type of anxiety disorder where people have a deep fear of being judged by others or embarrassed in public. The Lancet Psychiatry 

• Common Painkillers Tied to Blood Clot Risk, StudySuggests People who use painkillers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) -- which include aspirin, naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) -- may be at increased risk for potentially deadly blood clots, a new study suggests. Rheumatology 

• EvolocumabSignificantly Reduces LDL-C Levels in Patients With FamilialHypercholesterolaemia: Evolocumab is highly effective at reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels with few side effects in people with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), according to 2 studies published in The Lancet

• Long-ActingInsulin Superior to Intermediate-Acting Form for Patients With Diabetes: Long-acting insulin is safer and more effective than intermediate-acting insulin for patients with type 1 diabetes, according to a study published in BMJ. 

Leading lung health organizations releasefirst-ever evidence-based patient care guidelines in prevention of acuteexacerbations of COPD: The American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) and the Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) announced Oct. 16 the release of Prevention of Acute Exacerbation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: American College of Chest Physicians and Canadian Thoracic Society Guideline in the journal CHEST. The guideline, a first of its kind, provides evidence-based recommendations aimed at prevention of COPD exacerbations, which can cause frequent hospital readmissions, death during or after a hospital stay, and can potentially greatly reduce the quality of life for patients along with carrying a heavy financial burden. 

The More Wired You are, the Less Dense YourGray Matter: Researchers found that people who often use several forms of media simultaneously had lower gray matter density in a specific area of the brain than those who used just one device occasionally. It's conceivable that individuals with less dense gray matter are more inclined to multitask due to weaker socio-emotional regulation. But it's equally plausible that higher levels of exposure to multitasking situations can lead to structural changes in the brain. PLoS One

It's time to get mad about the outrageous cost of health care: Why it’s so high, how it affects your wallet—and yes, what you can do about it from Consumer Reports. 

5 Physical therapy treatments you probably don't need: The American Physical Therapist Association, in conjunction with Choosing Wisely and Consumer Reports has identified five treatments that you don’t need from a physical therapist and what you can do instead. 

• US Life Expectancy Hits Record High of Nearly 79 Years: Average life expectancy in the United States reached an all-time high of 78.8 years in 2012, federal officials reported Wednesday. The increased life expectancy is likely due to Americans living healthier lifestyles, according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mortality in the United States, 2012 

• Genes May Make Some More Prone to Heart Disease When Under Stress: Genes may interact with stress to trigger heart disease in some people, a new study suggests. The genetic risk occurs in about 13 percent of people, but only in those who are white. The finding could help these people reduce their heart disease risk through simple measures such as exercise, a healthy diet and stress management, the Duke University researchers said. European Journal of Human Genetics 

•  Chewing Gum While fasting beforeSurgery is Safe: Although chewing gum significantly increases the volume of liquids in the stomach, it is safe to administer sedatives or anesthesia to patients who have chewed gum while fasting before surgery, reports a new study. Anesthesiology 2014 

• Children with ChronicHealth Problems Less Likely to Graduate from High School: Approximately 32 million U.S. children have at least one chronic health condition, which can negatively affect their chances of receiving a high school diploma or its equivalent by age 21, finds a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health