Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Joy All Around
Christmas is almost here, and there’s joy all around. It’s time for family and friends, for gifts and for laughter and for smiles.
I wish all my readers the best of life and the joy of the season.
I am taking a few weeks off, and will be back in January.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Our Future
Some folks still hang on to the idea that climate change is not real, just something cooked up by naysayers. Such a denial should worry all of us because the predictions of the scientific community are dire indeed if we continue in our current path. One consequence will certainly be an increase in numbers and intensity of natural disasters. After a year where disasters killed so many people and caused so much damage all around the world, we can no longer afford to ignore the warnings if we want a future.
            For example, I don’t think we can afford to continue being a throw-away society. Recently, my washing machine stopped working. When a repairman came he easily found the problem: an accumulation of lint in the pump which was easily cleaned. My machine is more than 25 years old, and the repairman told me he seldom sees machines that age because they last a long time. He says that what he sees now is the newer models that are not as well built. Newer is not necessarily better.
            In my neighborhood there was a fellow who repaired electronics. Some years ago he repaired my VCR (remember those?). He is now retired and when I saw him recently he said he was sad that few people repair their television sets today. They prefer to buy something new with the latest innovation in picture and sound. So more garbage is being generated! Do we really need to have the latest product as soon as it comes out? And where does it end?
            When one of my aunts moved into a retirement apartment from her home, she told me that the thing she missed most was her clothesline. She had hung her clothes outside all her life and had a difficult time adjusting to only using a clothes dryer. I understood because I have been using a clothesline most of my life. There’s nothing like the smell of clothes dried outside.
            I am hopeful that the young generation coming after us might turn things around. They are certainly trying. My granddaughters hang their washed clothes on folding expandable racks that can be used in the house as well as outside.. They do it because it is easier on their garments than tumbling then in a machine, but also because it helps the environment. Imagine if everyone did this how much energy we would save!
            Another point for the younger generation is that many of them are vegetarians. It’s no secret that meat production accounts for some 2/3 of the greenhouse gas emissions, and the millennials have taken notice. Because of reduced red meat consumption in North America, there has been a steep decline in the number of beef cattle, a trend which will surely continue. In a few years, this is bound to have an effect on the environment and hopefully prevent an increase in natural disasters.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

To Sleep or Not to Sleep
As the years pile up, sleep patterns can become disturbed. The reasons for this state of affairs are as varied as there are people. For some it’s recurring pain, for others it could be worry and stress, medication or depression. The list goes on and on.
            The point is that being unable to sleep at times just proves that we are human. The question then becomes: what are you supposed to do about it? Or rather, with it?
            My sister tells me that every so often she spends the whole night awake and is terribly tired the next day. While I believe she may be awake for part of the night, she probably dozes off for some time here and there without realizing it. She turns on the TV in her bedroom and watches infomercials until it’s time to get up, but I am of the opinion that she sleeps through many of them. In any event, having a television set in the bedroom is not a good idea because we may be tempted to watch movies late at night, movies that may keep us on the edge of our seat – rather our bed – making it hard to fall asleep afterwards.
Lack of sleep is no laughing matter, and a doctor should be consulted if it is the norm rather than the exception. You might simply need more exercise, and an after-dinner walk can do wonders for the body. Or your spouse may be a loud snorer or a restless sleeper and thus affect your own sleep. Discuss the problem with him or her.
A friend who eats dinner early says she often wakes up during the night because of hunger. The solution seems simple to me: eating a little something before bed can be helpful to counteract the problem.
            Because we often become light sleepers as we age, outside sounds such as an airplane, a loud car or thunder can wake us up without our realizing exactly the cause of the problem. To counteract such things, some people use earplugs, but I doubt that everyone would be comfortable wearing them to bed. 
            Another problem is suffering from insomnia when traveling. Many people cannot sleep, or at least sleep soundly, when in a bed other than their own often because the mattress is much softer or harder than the one they are used to. For some, sleeping on a foam cushion on top of the mattress solves the problems.
            It is certain that we all get used to our own space, no matter the age. I live in the city, and two of my grandchildren live in the country. When visiting me one weekend, my grandson was unable to sleep. It was a warm spring night and I had opened the window to let in fresh air, but my grandson complained that the people talking as they walked on the sidewalk made it hard for him to fall asleep. He is used to complete silence, something I find difficult to adjust to when I visit his family. The total silence prevents me from falling asleep quickly. 
            Some of the reasons we do not sleep well can be remedied once we become aware of what they are, i.e. the mattress, the snorer nearby, etc. However, you may have a sleep disorder if most of the time you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep; or you wake up not feeling rested and need to take a nap during the day. A sleep disorder should be discussed with a doctor. We all need our sleep, and can only be our best when we are rested no matter our age.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Hidden Losses

We all must cope with various losses over the span of a lifetime. Some are relatively minor while some are life-changing, but always grieving properly is a primordial need.

When someone passes away, relatives get support from those around while social rituals facilitate the mourning process. But how to cope when the loss is on-going and doesn’t result in a funeral and in tears shared with family and friends? Yet, such a loss can be as devastating as the death of a dear one.

A friend is undergoing such a loss after her son was diagnosed with a serious mental disorder. The family unit has been shaken to its very foundation, and she and her family are having trouble coping. They can`t mourn publicly and they are not receiving social support because so many people feel somewhat awkward discussing mental illness so they simply avoid the subject totally.

Meanwhile the family is suffering the full impact of the many stages of the losses in their lives, from facing the pain of seeing their child suffer to their own pain of a diminished future. It`s a heavy burden.

Whatever the time of year, we should all see the importance of discussing mental problems. It`s more than time for all of us to let go of old prejudices and acknowledge that mental disorders are no more shameful than physical ones. Simply different. We all rally around those suffering through medical procedures and treatments, so why not do the same for families facing diseases of the mind?


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Alzheimer Awareness
November is Alzheimer Awareness month. Those of us who have a relative fighting the disease know only too well how devastating it can be, not only for the person suffering but for those around him or her.
     Memory impairment and Alzheimer are increasing at an alarming rate. Now 1 in 8 seniors is affected while the disease’s early onset, i.e. before the age of 65, is appearing more frequently.
          We are all aware of the steps we need to take to lessen the risk of dementia—keeping mentally active certainly heads the list. We all know that that our minds are capable of learning new things even in very old age, yet some people think that once they reach a certain age, there is no need to learn or try anything new. In my view they are letting life pass them by and at the same time not helping their future. There is lots of information available on line or at local libraries on how to lessen the risks of dementia and Alzheimer.
Recognizing the signs of dementia in those around us is also very important. A few years ago, a close relative began having some problems and many everyday tasks were not properly attended to which to me was indicative of Alzheimer. Other family members simply dismissed my worries because they were convinced (or convinced themselves) that there was nothing wrong with her. I have often wondered if they simply refused to accept a very painful reality.
I was proven right when a police officer called in the middle of the night to say that my relative needed care. She had called the police several times because the wind was too loud!
This month is a good time to watch out for unusual behavior. Burying one’s head in the sand does not stop or alter anything. Experience has taught me that those who are affected with dementia should be diagnosed early so they can benefit from treatment and care.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Power of the Mind
The connection between body and mind is very fascinating and has always intrigued me. The more I read about it, the more I am convinced that in our efforts to lead healthy lives the power of the mind must be part of the picture.
            Take for example placebos which have health benefits in spite of having no scientific merit. Some people have seen symptoms disappear when taking sugar pills simply because they had been told that they would be cured. And the mind believed it.
            I read recently about a man who was taking part in a trial for a new antidepressant. After a fight with his girlfriend he decided to kill himself and took all the pills he had been given. Soon feeling ill he was taken to the hospital where he collapsed. All tests proved negative, and when doctors contacted the organizers of the study it turned out that the man had attempted to kill himself with sugar pills. Of course the man recovered rapidly.
            A very strong case for the power of the mind is certainly voodoo. Some people who believe in the power of voodoo have been known to die because they were certain that they had been cursed. Powerful, wouldn’t you agree?
            The subconscious mind accepts what the conscious assumes is true. To me that means that we are in control and that we can choose how we react in all aspects of our lives. We can overcome fear by affirming the good which the mind will accept as truth. When faced with health challenges, we can certainly lead our subconscious mind to expect a positive outcome.
            I believe that in many ways we are masters of our own fate. We can make up our minds to be powerless or we can make positive thinking a habit, it’s that simple. The mind will accept whatever message we sent its way.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

These days the rallying cry for women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted by men is #MeToo, and the movement is steadily gaining momentum. This, of course, follows the revelations about the behaviour of Harvey Weinstein, and other executives in high profile companies.
            It’s about time, I say. I myself was the victim of men who used their power to demean women in the workplace. I never said anything because I felt totally powerless, somewhat ashamed as if it were my fault. Of course, if this happened to me today I can assure you that two men who made my life miserable would be cooling their heels in prison.
 As many of you will remember, some decades back, men sexually harassing women was the worst kept secret in large corporations. Women didn’t dare say anything for fear of losing their jobs especially when the economic situation was dismal. Thank God, things are changing and women are finally speaking out. The #MeToo movement is certainly showing that there is strength in numbers.
Being sexually assaulted by men is more than a mere social faux pas. It has been proven that for women it is a devastating life event that can lead to post traumatic stress disorder with varying degrees of anxiety and long-term depression.
I believe that we of a certain age have a duty to encourage our granddaughters and all younger women around us to be aware that some men do prey on women and that these men should immediately be reported. This should be a lot easier now that #MeToo women are banning together to lift the stigma of shame women who were sexually assaulted in the past had to endure. Women have a right to be heard no matter what.
Years ago, my mother and my aunts joined other women who fought for women’s rights and they were successful. Today, the #MeToo movement is another milestone in women’s fight to be respected.
As far as I am concerned I don’t need to worry too much about a granddaughter who told me that if a man ever tried to touch her or insulted her, he would be the recipient of punch in the face.
Go Girl!