Archive for Medical Stress & Caregiving


The Benefits of Humor and Play

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I believe in striking a balance between acceptance of things as they are and working to improve things.  One way that this manifests is in emotional experiencing.  One way to accept things as they are, is to experience whatever emotion may occur… positive or negative.  Sometimes it is appropriate, necessary and natural to allow one’s grief, despair, fear, or anger to be processed.  Conversely, working to improve your emotional state might involve nurturing, cultivating and exposing yourself to positive emotions such as hope, fun, courage, joy, and love.  I’d like to talk about the latter today, with the qualifier that, just as any coping skill, eliciting humor and playfulness are not always the right answer for a particular situation.  We need a variety of coping skills and principles to draw on, so that we can apply them in a variety of situations.  But in that toolbox of coping skills, humor and play hold a special place, endearing and sweet.

Let’s start with a video of piano-comedian Victor Borge to set the mood:

(if you can’t see this embedded video, click here to watch on YouTube)

Increasing Enjoyment and Pleasure

It may seem obvious to say that humor and play increase enjoyment and pleasure in life.  The main reason we are playful is because it’s fun.  But think about this for a moment, and don’t take the meaning of the above words for granted.  What a gift it is for someone in pain, for example, to have a moment of mirth… a smile, a playful exchange.  And what a loss if these were not available.  I propose that humor and play are not only an important day-to-day skill, but can also make challenging situations more tolerable, and can re-charge us to face life’s stress.

Who doesn’t want to find more enjoyment in life?  Why not try to nurture a little more humor and playfulness, no matter what your situation?  Perhaps reviewing the following benefits might remind you of their importance.

Play Early in Life and in Adulthood

We usually think of play as something that kids do, and certainly they do benefit from it.  Initially play helps kids learn to interact, to perceive another’s emotional state, and to respond appropriately.  Roughhousing prepares the young for fighting and hunting, role-playing is practice for various life roles, and games hone our skills and abilities.

An interesting finding is that kids smile about 400 times per day, whereas adults smile about 20 times per day!  Perhaps this is because adults have much more responsibility and often more stress.  We all know some adults who have a knack for humor, and a lighthearted sense of the world’s ironies; but for the rest of us, it may require a little more conscious effort to engage our humor and playfulness, and to continue to benefit from humor and play throughout life.  Let’s look at some specific benefits.

Physical Benefits

Physical play helps us to build and maintain strength, coordination, balance, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness.  Laughter can slightly decrease pain, and increase immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.  Thus it improves resistance to disease.  Laughter and play can also improve your sleep, respiration, blood vessels and heart health.  Some types of play can be relaxing, and a good hearty laugh has been shown to relieve physical tension for up to 45 minutes.

Mental Resilience

Humor and play can help you feel restored.  They can increase your quality of life and your will to live.  How?  For one, play can be a distraction from difficulties, frustrations and fears.  Also, humor eases anxiety, and provides perspective, so that you feel less overwhelmed.  Laughter is also very cathartic!  It releases built-up tension.  For example, a unique brand of humor is especially pronounced in high stress professions such as the military, firefighting or police work, where it helps people to manage high levels of tension.

Furthermore, laughter and play create a mood in which other positive emotions can be put to work.  They add joy, vitality and zest to life.  Humor adds to a positive, optimistic outlook in difficult situations.  Laugher uplifts, encourages and empowers… it lightens our burdens and inspires hope.  Laughter also lowers stress hormones and triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.  Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being.

Brain Benefits

Play stimulates nerve growth in the entire brain, and especially in: the amygdala (where emotions are processed), the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (where executive decisions are processed), the frontal cortex (where most cognition occurs), and the cerebellum (involved with coordination, balance, attention, rhythm, and language).

Lifelong engagement in play activities reduces risk for dementia and other neurological disorders.  People who routinely engage in cognitively challenging games and activities may have as much as 63% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than the general population.  Play also helps maintain cognitive flexibility, focus and alertness.

Additionally, researchers in England have discovered through brain imaging, that one smile can stimulate our brain reward mechanism as much as 2000 chocolate bars or $25,000!

Social Benefits

Humor helps us to maintain relationships, ease tensions, discuss difficult topics, and collaborate more effectively.  Playfulness attracts others to us, puts us in sync with those around us, and keeps us connected.  Smiling makes others see us as more likeable, courteous and competent.

Additionally, light heartedness in relationships allows people to be more spontaneous, let go of defensiveness or anger, release inhibitions, and express their true feelings.  Play refreshes and fuels long-term adult relationships, and it is essential to intimacy.  It promotes the shared enjoyment of novelty, enjoyment of mutual storytelling, and capacity to be open and deeply connected.

Play and Work

I was listening to a radio show recently, about engineers who grew up tinkering with gadgets or machines, and whose play involved exploring the nature of things and the principles of science.  The conclusion of the show was that the decrease in this type of play has led to the decrease in the quality of our nation’s young engineers.  This is a good example of how childhood play can positively influence your work in adulthood.  But being a playful adult can also impact your work, and not just in the negative way that many would imagine.  One company that is famous for recognizing the benefits of playfulness among their employees is Google.

Let’s put it this way:  the opposite of play is not work… the opposite of play is depression.  Play can be quite similar to work, in that they can both be creative, social, active, skillful, imaginative, strategic, motivated, competitive, etc.  By contrast, depression is characterized by a lack of motivation or enjoyment.  Thus, your work can benefit when you can incorporate play into it (in a way that does not get in the way of the work).  This is why finding work that you like is such an important key to living a satisfying life.  But even if your work is very serious or dreary, supplementing it with hobbies and fun leisure activities can carry over a positive attitude into your work life.

Humor and Play in Serious Situations

I was recently invited to present on the importance of laughter and play at Arden Courts,  a memory care community.  As a facility dealing with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, you can imagine that they’re often dealing with very stressful situations, illness, sadness, fear, loss, and perhaps at times, despair.  You might think that this is the last place for humor and playfulness.

There is a time for serious work, conversations, and for the processing of painful emotions.  These should not be ignored… but neither should the need for laughter, play and enjoyment.  It is precisely in such stressful situations that we most need an infusion of cheer and a moment of relief or easing of tension.

I’ve seen some of the best uses of humor by emergency room personnel dealing with a suicidal patient, and by hospice nurses dealing with individuals at the natural end of life.  Recognizing the usefulness of playfulness in serious situations can help you give yourself, and the patient, permission to smile and relax a little.  Allowing laughter and play, rather than demanding a constant somber seriousness, can also encourage family members to spend more time with the chronically ill patient.

Dealing with Day to Day Hassles

Can you think of an example of humor or playfulness when dealing with day to day interactions or hassles?  Making a joke about the traffic, car problems, awkward social moments, the weather, or other common stressors can lighten your mood and allow you to share a chuckle with others.  And although it is normal to commiserate at times by complaining, most of us prefer our relationships sprinkled with a bit of humor here and there, perhaps even while complaining!  You don’t have to be a comedian or class clown, but you might find that cracking a smile every once in a while helps make the day go more smoothly.

Ideas for Increasing Humor and Play

I hope that the overview of benefits above might help you see that time spent in play and humor are not just “unproductive time” that you have to feel guilty about.  Instead, these are ways to increase enjoyment, and ways to recharge and to cope with life’s stressors.

Exploring ways to increase play and improve humor are outside the scope of this article.  You may already know what works for you… what you find funny, what’s fun for you.  But if you feel that you’ve lost your sense of enjoyment in life, you may want to deliberately investigate options for increasing humor and playfulness in your life. The books cited below, at the end of this post, may be a good starting point.


Any good coping skill has the potential of being misused, so here are a few qualifiers (just in case):

  • Often, something positive can go awry if you take it too far.  For example, some people try to avoid ever directly dealing with difficult topics, moods, or realities in life by distracting excessively with humor or play.  So don’t be a pleasure junkie, but don’t be play-starved either!
  • Also, as I said in the beginning, play and humor are just two skills in your coping toolbox.  Sometimes they’re not the one’s you’ll want to use, and you may need others.
  • I’m not talking about a mean-spirited humor or laughter at other’s expense.

Laughter Yoga

Let’s leave off with one more video about an interesting recent phenomenon: laughter yoga.  I encourage you to capitalize on the contagious nature of laughter as you watch this.  You will see that in laughter yoga, the exercises start out with an artificial laugh, but that when people do this (especially in a group), it can quickly become genuine laughter.

(if you can’t see the embedded video, click here to watch on YouTube)


  1. Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul – By Stuart Brown
  2. The Healing Power of Humor: Techniques for Getting through Loss, Setbacks, Upsets, Disappointments, Difficulties, Trials, Tribulations, and All That Not-So-Funny Stuff – by Allen Klein

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Ananda Shankar Jayant Fights Cancer with Dance

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Here is a powerful story about the power of mind to persevere through and “conquer” cancer.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Headache Assessments

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“Every head has its own headache,” according to an Arab proverb.  One way or another, all of us have our share of “headaches” in life, some of us figuratively and some of us literally.  Those who experience recurrent headaches know that pain and stress are connected.  If it isn’t stress that caused your headache, then certainly your headache will cause some stress.

Headache Assessments can Clarify the Problem

When dealing with recurrent pain, we want to know what to do about it and how to prevent it.  But before we can get the answer to that question, we have to clarify the problem.  There are many types of headaches… tension, migraine, cluster, sinus, caffeine, dehydration, etc.  Each type requires different strategies.  Here are three headache assessments that can help you to narrow things down:

1. First, from the Real Age Headache Center:

For personalized advice on headaches and migraines, choose one of the four free health assessments today. You’ll find out:

  • Whether your head pain is a migraine or another kind of headache
  • How to prevent and take care of head pain at home
  • Whether you should see a doctor
  • Which and when medications might be right for you

See Real Age headache assessments here

2. Second, from the Discovery Health Headache Center:

What Type of Headache Do You Have?
This self-assessment asks a series of questions to help you determine the type of headache from which you suffer. Each headache type responds best to a different treatment.

  • Do you have pain or tightness in your neck and shoulders with your headaches?

See Discovery Center headache assessment here

3. Third, from the American Headache Society:

If you know that you get migraines, this migraine disability assessment test helps to assess how much of an impact they have on your functioning.

The MIDAS (migraine disability assessment) questionnaire was put together to help you measure the impact your headaches have on your life over the last 3 months and to communicate this more effectively. The best way to this is by counting the numbers of days of your life which are affected by Headaches. You can do this for yourself as follows:

Please complete Questions about ALL your headaches you have had over the last month.  See MIDAS questionnaire here.

Having a couple of assessments to compare will help you to get a clearer picture of what symptoms to look for in determining what type of headaches you get.  There are many more out there that you can find by doing a search for headache assessments.  I hope that this information will also help you in communicating with your doctor and in finding further information on coping with your headaches.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Benefits of Support Groups

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What is a Support Group?

Support groups are groups of people who share a common condition or difficulty, such as medical conditions, grief, or substance abuse.  Members of a support group share their personal journey, comfort, support and advice based on their own experiences.  Such groups are often run by nonprofit organizations, hospitals, clinics or other established organizations.

Support groups are different from therapy groups in that they are not necessarily run by a licensed mental health professional.  They are often member run and organized, but some do invite a mental health professional to facilitate the group or to consult about how to make it most helpful.

Support groups do not focus on “group process” and therefore are not meant to uncover or treat the psychological or pathological dynamics of the members.  They are simply an opportunity to meat with a supportive and understanding group of people who have had similar experiences.

When Should I Consider a Support Group?

Support groups are especially helpful in the first few months of an illness or disability, as the reality of the situation begins to set in. This is when people tend to feel alone, overwhelmed, and may not know where to turn for information.

Support groups can also be very important to people with long lasting or chronic illness, because the ongoing difficulties can otherwise wear on a person’s emotions, motivation and relationships.

What Are Some Benefits of Participating in a Support Group?

Support groups offer a variety of benefits, from the emotional to the practical.  Some benefits of support groups include:

  • Emotional connection and support: Sharing your honest feelings with a group of people with similar concerns can help you to feel more emotionally connected and less alone, especially if you’re feeling isolated from friends and family. A safe and welcoming environment, filled with compassion, reassurance and understanding, can also reduce any stigma you may feel over your condition.  Support group members often realize how their experiences in the group have created a special bond and identity between group members. By sharing feelings, accomplishments, losses, and humor, members can develop strong emotional ties to one another.  Participants sometimes form friendships that can continue beyond the support group.
  • Understanding and shared experiences: It helps to know you’re not alone and to talk to others who have been through similar experiences.  Hearing others’ stories can be very validating and can help you to see that your reactions, struggles or feelings are not “crazy.”   A support group can offer acceptance, and can appreciate you for who you are.  It is often a relief and reassuring to find others with the same illness and understand what you are going through.
  • Exchange of useful information: A group can provide and share information about the issue that the group focuses on, whether it is community resources, medical information, treatment developments, or related community events.  People involved often say this exchange of information is one of the most valuable elements of participating in a support group.
  • Coping skills: Group members share ideas for coping.  Support groups offer the chance to draw on collective experiences. Others who have “been there” may have tips or advice about coping with your condition that hasn’t occurred to you. Brainstorming with others may inspire even more ideas. For instance, swapping information about medications can help you see how others handle side effects.  By learning how others have coped with similar problems, and witnessing the coping styles of others, members can improve their own problem-solving abilities. Furthermore, groups can offer members realistic feedback as they consider or try out new coping strategies.
  • Emotional release: Support groups offer people the opportunity to appropriately release powerful emotions you may otherwise keep to yourself. It is an opportunity for you to share your feelings, fears, and concerns.  Members who already have a highly supportive network of family and friends can find that a group provides a place to continue to share feelings without overburdening their loved ones. A safe, non-judgmental environment enables participants to acknowledge and verbalize their feelings.
  • Emotional and psychological boost: Support groups can improve your mood and decrease anxiety and stress. Sharing experiences and making connections can make you feel better about life in general. Seeing others making progress in coping with their illness may give you hope and optimism about your own future.  Also, your self-esteem will increase as you improve your coping abilities and as you get a sense of perspective that comes from facing difficult life challenges.  Facing your challenges together as a group can make it easier to achieve personal growth through your struggles.
  • Motivation: An environment of positive reinforcement, emotional support and hopefulness can encourage you to take good care of yourself. Meeting with a group of understanding individuals on a regular basis can help you to feel motivated to follow through on goals.  With encouragement from a support group, you may find it easier to take a more active role in your treatment, to seek out more information, or to follow through on your doctor’s recommendations.
  • Contributing: A support group is also a place to contribute, so that you might reach out to help others, and in so doing you might lift yourself up as well.  Contributing is a good way to increase your sense of meaning and purpose in life, and to make use of all that you have learned on your journey through a difficult experience.  At support groups you can hear about opportunities to participate in events that educate the larger community about your condition, or that support research efforts.

You may be nervous about sharing personal issues with people you don’t know.  So at first, you may benefit from a support group simply by listening. Over time, though, contributing your own ideas and experiences can help you get more out of a support group.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Willpower and Stress as Key Obstacles to Meeting Health-Related Resolutions

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From the American Psychological Association:

…According to the APA poll conducted online by Harris Interactive in early March, fewer than one in five adults (16 percent) reported being very successful at making health-related improvements such as losing weight (20 percent), starting a regular exercise program (15 percent), eating a healthier diet (10 percent), and reducing stress (7 percent)1 so far this year, although about nine in 10 adults (88 percent) who resolved to make a health-related change say they have been at least somewhat successful at achieving it since January. Despite these efforts, about three-quarters (78 percent) of those who made a health-related resolution say significant obstacles block them from making progress, such as willpower (33 percent), making changes alone (24 percent), and experiencing too much stress (20 percent).

“Lasting lifestyle and behavior changes don’t happen overnight. Willpower is a learned skill, not an inherent trait.  (continue reading about willpower, stress and health related changes)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Weight Loss Slideshow: 9 Best Diet Tips Ever from WebMD

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For many of my patients, weight loss is a secondary issue that they struggle with, in addition to depression, low self esteem, social anxiety, relationship issues, or difficulty coping with overwhelming emotions.

His WebMD slideshow gives 9 best tips for losing weight.  Even if you only start practicing one of them, its a step in the right direction.  And doing several consistently can really make a big difference over time.!

Weight Loss Slideshow: 9 Best Diet Tips Ever from WebMD.

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The Rewards and Challenges of Caregiving

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I had the pleasure of presenting on the rewards and challenges of caregiving at St. George parish in Tinley Park yesterday.  I was glad to see such a good turnout, especially in the midst of Chicago’s first winter storm.

Rewards of Caregiving

We often hear about the difficulties of caregiving, but not so much about the rewards.  Of course there are very challenging aspects of caregiving, but I felt it was important to emphasize the rewards, which are so often overlooked.

I will not go into all the details of my presentation here, but I’m happy to give you a quick rundown of the main points. We can categorize the rewards of caregiving as follows:

  • Positive Emotions:  Research has found that caregivers report approximately three times more positive than negative emotions related to caregiving.  96% report feeling “loving”, 90% report feeling appreciated, and 84% report feeling proud.
  • Relationship Rewards:  Caregivers can experience increased closeness with their care recipient, other caregivers, and their own support network.  Caregiving provides an opportunity for meaningful discussions, resolution of old issues, and expression of forgiveness and love.
  • Sense of Purpose and Meaning:  People find it meaningful to care for someone, to reduce someone’s suffering, to fulfill their role as a family member or friend, to rise to a challenge, and to achieve important goals.  Therefore caregiving can be a very life-enriching experience.
  • Spiritual Growth:  Caregiving can help clarify one’s beliefs and deepen one’s sense of their own values, compassion, and patience.  It can cause one to reconnect with their spiritual community or spiritual practice.  Also, seeing the care recipient coping in a spiritual way can be inspiring.
  • Logistical Savvy:  While caring for someone, the caregiver learns how to help with medical care and activities of daily living.  They also learn about dealing with various helping professionals, about services and resources and how to access them, about legal and financial planning, and about managing their own time and delegating.  These skills can come in handy in the future.
  • Self Confidence and Self-Esteem:  All of the above rewards can help the caregiver to improve their self confidence and self-esteem.
  • Posttraumatic Growth:  Even traumatic events can be followed by posttraumatic growth – a positive psychological change experienced as a result of the struggle with a highly challenging situation.

Challenges of Caregiving

Ironically, many of the above rewards would not be possible if caregiving were not challenging in the first place.  No matter how well you cope with a caregiving situation, its very nature is challenging – because it involves the loss of independence, comfort, ability, health, and ultimately, life.  Here are some examples of the challenges of caregiving:

  • Logistical Challenges:  Finances top the list of logistical challenges for many people, especially with the recent changes in the economy.  Additionally, it can be a challenge to manage time, coordinate care, learn about options, and make difficult decisions.
  • Relationship Challenges:  Caregiving can be an isolating experience, especially if you are the primary caregiver and are not getting any help.  Also, relationships may be strained due to disagreements with other caregivers or unresolved family conflicts, and friends may pull away because they feel awkward or don’t have the time to help.  In the case of dementia, the caregiver also gradually loses their companionship with the care recipient him or herself.
  • Emotional Challenges:  More than half of caregivers experience significant worry and anxiety.  Over a quarter report feeling depressed or sad, and almost a quarter feel overwhelmed.  Caregivers may also struggle with denial, over-involvement, anger, and guilt.
  • Physical Challenges:  Caregivers take worse care of themselves by eating poorly, exercising less, skipping their own doctors appointments, and sleeping poorly.  Eventually, the chronic tension of caregiving can impact your health, diminishing your immune system, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, and (for elderly caregivers) even increasing the risk of mortality.

The Good News

The good news is that caregivers can decrease their stress, increase their effectiveness, and reap more rewards if they educate themselves about coping, utilize their support system, and access community and health-care resources.  Positive ways of coping and helpful ideas include:

  • Active Coping and Problem Solving: learning logistical skills
  • Positive Re-Focusing: focusing on meaningfulness or positive aspects of caregiving
  • Communication: clear and open communication with care recipient and other caregivers
  • Self-Care: taking breaks, delegating, attending to own nutrition, exercise, and sleep
  • Informing Yourself: about services, the illness, coping, legal issues
  • Spiritual Community:  emotional support, volunteers, guidance, spiritual perspectives
  • Counseling/Support: individual or family counseling, support groups, classes, community
  • Geriatric Case Management: professionals who help you with logistics and resources
  • Respite: finding ways to take breaks from caregiving and to relax or enjoy yourself
  • Supplementary Services: home alterations, home delivered meals, volunteers, etc.

Want To Learn More?

Here are some links to additional resources about caregiving:

Community Resources for Older Adults

More Resources for Older Adults and Their Caregivers

Family Caregiver Alliance

National Family Caregiver Association

National Association of Geriatric Care Managers

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The Psychology of Mindless Eating

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Nutrition and Weight Issues

Many of the patients I work with see me because of stress related to health problems, including diabetes, weight issues, high cholesterol and heart problems  But even those who see me for other reasons often want to improve their health as a secondary goal.  One very important aspect of health is nutrition… especially weight management.


Additionally, one of the things I learned while leading a Dialectical Behavior Therapy program, is the importance of mindfulness.  Being aware of how you are feeling, what you are thinking, and what you are doing takes effort.  But going about life mindlessly leads to many problems and requires more effort and struggle in the long run.

The Psychology of Mindless Eating

This article from  Johns Hopkins combines both topics and gives a few easy tips to help you avoid problems related to mindless eating.

The average American makes more than 200 decisions about food every day, many of them subconscious. What’s more, subtle and not-so-subtle cues from our surroundings often “trap” us into eating 100–200 calories more a day than we need or want. The result: Slow but sure weight gain as we age. Here are 7 practical strategies to help you limit those extra calories.

Food psychologist study why we eat the way we do — and why so many of us are overweight. What these experts are learning is that… (click here to continue reading about mindless eating)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.

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Money Problems Signal Dementia

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Some cognitive decline is a normal part of aging.  This leads to confusion about how to know when a person is starting to have more trouble with memory, thinking and decision making than is normal.  This article addresses one possible warning sign of dementia.

Money Problems Precede Alzheimer’s

Declining financial skills are detectable in patients in the year before they develop Alzheimer’s, according to US researchers.

The researchers say this could be a useful indicator for doctors supporting people with memory problems.

Previous studies have shown that problems with daily activities often precede the onset of Alzheimer’s.

But charities said most people having trouble working out figures should not be alarmed by the study.

Financial skills

The research from the University of Alabama in Birmingham is published in the journal, Neurology… (click here to read entire article)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.


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Sleep is Fundamental

If you’ve ever gone without sleep for several nights in a row, you know how necessary and fundamental it is.  But the problem is more complicated than just going without sleep.  Some people can’t fall asleep, others can’t stay asleep, others have an irregular sleep schedule, and for various reasons.  Here is an article that gives tips for nine different sleep problems:

Most of us have experienced those maddening midnight moments when, no matter how tired we are, we either can’t fall asleep, can’t stay asleep or our sleep is of such poor quality it feels as if we were awake. For anyone who has tossed and turned at night, here’s some expert advice for solving nine sleep problems.

The Night Waker

Her challenge: After a stressful breakup two years ago, Meredith Crowell, 40, a single real estate property manager and yoga instructor from Boulder, Colorado, would wake up in the middle of the night filled with sadness and anxiety. But even after she felt better emotionally, the sleep troubles continued. Although she typically falls asleep easily around 10:30 p.m., she is wide awake three or four hours later. She falls back into a fitful sleep, then gets up around 6 a.m. to begin her day. “I never wake feeling well rested, because it feels like I don’t get more than about four hours of truly deep sleep,” she says. To no avail, Meredith has tried myriad remedies — warm baths, hot milk, a glass of wine before bed, no food before bed, relaxation techniques, and prescription and homeopathic medicines. She took a prescription medication, but that didn’t give her more than four hours of sleep. She even tried taking the medication when she woke in the middle of the night, but that left her too groggy in the morning.  Expert advice: “The good news is that Meredith’s insomnia seems to…(click here to read entire article)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.

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