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Wednesday
Sep042019

Ask Dr. Barb: Mom's accidents may be early signs of dementia 

Dr. Barbara Rosenberg

Dear Dr. Barb:

My mother has been forgetting food on the stove until it burns. She seriously scaled her hand while washing dishes, and she stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake while parking and crashed into her house. She seems of sound mind and fine otherwise, but I worry that these are early signs of mental decline. My brother and sister think we should start looking for a nursing home. But I’m against it. My mother always says how much she loves her house and her garden. I know she wouldn’t want to move — not even to live with one of us. I’ve read so much about problems in nursing homes, and of instances where older people who seem healthy die shortly after moving to one. Is it possible that negative emotions around being removed from one’s home could shorten someone’s life? I think it would be better for my mother to live with my family than in a facility. What can we do to make the right choice?   


Dear Reader:

The dangerous accidents your mother recently has had may be more than normal forgetfulness, and more possibly early signs of diagnosable conditions, such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. It is understandable that you and your siblings are concerned.

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Saturday
Jul062019

Ask Dr. Barb: Consider kids when dating after divorce

Dear Dr. Barb:

I’ve been divorced five years, but only recently started dating. My three children are now teens, but my youngest son still gets upset when I date. There is someone I like very much who has a teen daughter. I can only describe her as a spoiled brat. She is never courteous and has talked to me in ways that I consider disrespectful. I have raised my own children to be courteous and respectful to adults, so I find her behavior intolerable. I like this gentleman very much, but I am concerned that our children will be a problem in the future. I don’t want to stop seeing him. Can you advise on what I can do about my own son and his daughter?

Dear Reader:

Getting back into the dating world can be enjoyable, though at times pretty frustrating. You may have several disappointing dates before you meet someone who appears to be a great match for you. It’s exciting to finally feel that way about a new person, and it may be tempting to involve your children too quickly.

 

 

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Friday
May032019

Ask Dr. Barb: Anxiety treatment requires understanding its cause

Dear Dr. Barb:

My wife tells me that a friend is taking medication for anxiety, and she wants to talk to our doctor about whether she needs to be on a similar program. I recently saw that there is even anxiety medicine for pets. I never knew that anxiety is a condition that requires medication. I always thought it was an emotional state that related to a certain situation that would eventually pass. My thoughts have been that feeling anxious is something that we all experience from time to time and learn to cope with. When did this change so that anxiety is now something that requires medication?

Dear Reader:

Anxiety is an emotional state in which one feels tense, apprehensive or uneasy in anticipation of something — even something unknown. Nearly everyone deals with anxiety from time to time. Stressful events like public speaking, job interviews or difficult life circumstances such as divorce, job loss or family illness can cause one to feel anxious or nervous.

In general, anxiety is caused by a combination of psychological, social and physiological factors. As an example, some individuals are prone to be anxious based on their genetic predispositions.The tendency to become anxious often can be passed down from one generation to the next. However, parental role models also can generationally transmit anxiety. For example, if a parent has a tendency to worry a lot, a child will grow up learning about everything there is to worry about. Also, when children grow up feeling psychologically neglected or unsupported, they develop feelings of anxiety and insecurity.

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Monday
Dec312018

Ask Dr. Barb: Layoff hurts, but begins a new phase in life 

Dear Dr. Barb:

I’m a 59-year-old who was laid off from a job with highly specialized skills. I’ve been in this field for more than 30 years, so I haven’t had to job hunt for a long time. I now find that I’m completely out of touch. I’ve never taken part in social media, but it seems to be required for every job I see listed. I’ve learned that “robots” now read resumes and rate them based on “keywords.” At every job-hunting seminar I’ve attended, the advice is to “hide” my age. I have many friends and colleagues who are in the same boat. We’re too young to retire, but apparently too old to get hired.

I have persistent bad dreams, clenched jaw pain, feelings of isolation, bitterness, anxiety, worthlessness, fear of going broke, and depression. I used to wake up at 7 a.m.; now I wake up between 4:30 and 5. Do you have any ideas I can apply in my day-to-day life to improve my outlook?

Dear Reader:

You should be encouraged that you realize you are not alone in your predicament. It isn’t easy to accept the sad reality that older workers often can be the first to be let go and the last to be rehired. Furthermore, it is understandable that you are becoming more sad and anxious about your dilemma. Already your sense of worthlessness, bitterness and isolation is negatively affecting your physical and mental health. Your feelings do matter and you have every right to feel worried and angry, but there is a healthier way to cope with the situation.

As an example, there are ways to build up your self-esteem in order to change your negative beliefs. First, try to be as compassionate and supportive to yourself as you would to any friend in your situation. There is nothing shameful about losing one’s job. Unemployment is a fact of life. Losing your job does not make you a loser. The fact that you were at your job for 30 years suggests that you did a great job while you were there.

Although at this time you are feeling depressed, it is important to take care of yourself and live your life as normally as possible. Of course your priority may be looking for a job, but leave time in your day for doing rewarding and effective things like exercising, eating healthy, spending times with supportive friends and loved ones, and plain old having fun. You can accomplish these goals by getting active and staying active with a daily and/or weekly plan. You may not be in the mood, but acting in a way that is opposite of how you feel can put you in a better mood.

 

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Monday
Nov052018

Ask Dr. Barb: Change in perspective can stop road rage 

Dear Dr. Barb:

My husband suggested that I write to you about what he considers an extreme problem with road rage. I admit I am constantly blowing my horn at idiot drivers, and there are a lot of them these days. I see people using both hands to send texts while they should have them on the wheel with their eyes on the road. I often complain and curse when in heavy traffic, and get very angry when people cut me off. I confess I’ve followed people to yell out the window at them for stupid driving that almost causes an accident. I know this anger raises my blood pressure and probably affects my health. My husband is concerned I will one day pull up on the wrong person and get hurt. Am I supposed to just let these things happen and stay calm? I would find that hard to do; however, I would appreciate any advice.

Dear Reader:

It is good to hear that you are able to listen to your husband’s concerns about road rage, which is an aggressive form of driving be havior. Examples, as you mentioned, include constant horn blasting, tailgating and cursing at those you consider to be “idiot drivers.” Road rage often is caused by low tolerance for frustration, feelings of intense irritability and poor impulse control. It can result in extreme emotional distress.

 

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