Tag Archives: isolation

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

Millions struggle with substance abuse, including underage drinking, alcoholism, prescription drug abuse, and illicit drug use. It costs our communities an estimated $193 billion. Learn more with us for National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

Caring adults that children can trust and talk to can make all the difference in helping prevent substance abuse in young people. Support the young people in your life.

Supportive Adults and Substance Abuse

 

Self-confidence, self-image, and self-control are all key qualities that can help individuals avoid substance abuse, especially in young people.

Self-Confidence and Substance Abuse

 

Being comfortable in social situations can help you avoid substance abuse too. Having the confidence and ability to tell people no, avoid peer pressure, and make responsible choices in social situations is very important to never trying drugs or abusing alcohol.

Making Smart Social Choices

 

Don’t become isolated. Make sure you build a community of support for all things in your life. Not only is this an important factor in reducing symptoms of depression, but it’s also a key factor in preventing substance abuse.

Build Community to Prevent Substance Abuse

 

Some people may be predisposed toward substance abuse based on genetics and heredity. Know your family’s history and keep this in mind when talking to your doctor about prescriptions and making personal choices around substances like alcohol.

Family History and Substance Abuse

 

Opioid use is on the rise, and back pain is a leading cause of it. Learn more about avoiding substance abuse while treating your pain.

My Healthy Journey: Chronic Back Pain

Mental Health Month

Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month, and we’re talking about some important mental health issues facing Americans all week.

Being exposed to violence or trauma as a kid can have long-term effects, from derailing development to increased mental and physical issues. Long or repeated stress can be toxic for kids, especially if they’re lacking adult support in their lives.

Childhood Trauma

 

Adverse childhood experiences can include emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, community violence, household addiction, parents divorcing, poverty, and bullying. Know the signs to help the children in your life.

Signs of Childhood Problems

 

Taking care of your mental health in college is especially important. 1 in 5 young adults experience a mental health condition, and 75% of those begin by 24 with many emerging in the college years.

Mental health issues affect students’ success at college. College can be difficult and isolating, and 45% have felt that things were hopeless at some point. Over 45% of those who stop attending could benefit from mental health support.

Support in College During Isolation

 

Only 1 in 3 of the people who need mental health help actually seek it out, even though treatments for the most common conditions are effective 80% of the time. It’s also the leading cause of disability in the U.S.

Mental Health and Work

 

In the wake of the opioid crisis, it’s important to understand how it affects mental health. Over time, addiction changes brain function, inhibiting a person’s ability to control substance use.

Brain Function and Opioids

 

Long-term use of opioids can cause a chronic brain disorder, which causes problems with the brain reward system, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Encourage loved ones to see a doctor to explore treatment center options.

Recovering from Addiction

Healthy Relationships Done Right

Healthy Relationships

It’s Dump Your Significant Jerk Week, so it’s the perfect time to think about healthy relationships, especially with your kids.

Healthy relationships have boundaries that you set together. You can have your own hobbies, interests, social media accounts, and privacy in a relationship.

Boundaries in Your Relationship

 

You should feel comfortable speaking up and communicating in a healthy relationship.

Love Done Right

 

Compromise is important. In healthy relationships, couples work together to solve arguments in fair ways.

Relationships should be based on respect, not power and control. Make sure you know the warning signs of abuse, most of which aren’t physical.

A Healthy Couple

 

If you’re worried your relationship is abusive, connect with your support systems. Isolation is often a part of abuse, so get support and feedback.

Reach Out for Support

 

People can only change if they want to, so if your relationship is bad, you can’t fix it alone. Make sure your needs are being met too.

Recognizing Unhealthy Relationships

 

If you feel unsafe in your relationship, it’s not healthy, and you should think about breaking up.

Breaking Out of Unhealthy Relationships

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Fight Caregiver Fatigue

Long View: Nobody Is an Island – Recognizing and Addressing Caregiver Fatigue

The holidays are supposed to be a time for family gatherings, parties, traveling, and opportunities to laugh and relax with the ones you love. For some, though, the holidays have different associations, like stress, anxiety, and isolation.

Caregivers can often feel stressed during the holiday season. While others are enjoying this time of year, caregivers may feel isolated as they focus on the care of a loved one. Caregivers selflessly provide around-the-clock, unpaid care to seniors and people with disabilities. They are tasked with accompanying their loved one to medical appointments, managing their medications, and handling their financial affairs, all while balancing their own obligations.

Caregivers also often overlook their own mental, emotional, and physical health. As a result, they can feel a sense of isolation, like they’re alone on an island. This feeling is called caregiver fatigue.

Mitchell Forrest, a social worker at Central Illinois Agency on Aging in Peoria, provided insight into caregiver fatigue. “Caregivers who feel a sense of hopelessness, are socially withdrawn, not sleeping, and experiencing illness and weight loss, may be suffering from caregiver fatigue and should seek out supports to help them manage their stress,” he said.

If left untreated, caregiver fatigue can take such a physical and mental toll that they can no longer care for their loved one.

But caregivers can find a network of encouragement through support groups. National organizations, like the Alzheimer’s Association, offer local support groups for caregivers of people with different diagnoses.

Respite services can be another vital resource. For a fee, nursing homes and adult day services offer a safe, supportive environment where the loved one will be in trusted hands for a few hours or longer, so the caregiver can rest. In-home personal aides can also provide additional assistance to the caregiver.

While no resource is a remedy for the anxiety of caring for a sick loved one, caregivers should know that they are not alone. Talking to someone is invaluable, and there are many counselors who specialize in the needs of caregivers.

Area Agencies on Aging offer resources and referrals to support seniors, people with disabilities, and their caregivers. If you feel alone on the island, send a signal and help will find you.

Chris Maxeiner is a community liaison with Health Alliance. His background is in the fields of healthcare and government programs. His favorite superhero is Batman, and he is an avid Chicago sports fan (Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and White Sox).

A Helping Heart

Vantage Point: Have a Helping Heart this Valentine’s Day

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”  – John Holmes

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate loved ones. But what about seniors in our communities that don’t have a sweetheart? Winter can bring on depression and feelings of isolation, especially if one is living on a small fixed income that, if no other catastrophe happens, barely covers basic needs.

What if during this year’s season of love, we gave the gift of time and attention to someone who has nothing to give back but gratitude? If this call speaks to you, look to the Catholic Family and Child Volunteer Chore Service Programs, run by Amber Bryant in Wenatchee and Tammy Huber in Moses Lake.

The volunteer program, funded by federal grants, the United Way and Serving Wenatchee, is based on volunteer hours. It can be direct services, such as cleaning a senior’s home, shoveling snow, delivering a hot meal, or providing transportation, or indirect services such as clerical work or, like Health Alliance staff did this winter, donating winter coats, blankets, and hand sanitizer.

If you are interested in volunteering, a coordinator will ask the amount of time you can give and ask what kind of tasks you’re comfortable with. Both Amber and Tammy have many creative ways they can utilize volunteer hours.  One successful idea is enlisting groups, such as coworkers from an office or members of a club. Many hands make light work and volunteers are more comfortable entering someone’s home in a group setting. Plus, the project helps groups work as a team.

One misconception about the program is that you have to be Catholic to volunteer. This is not true and you don’t even have to share your religion. Beyond finding people to volunteer, coordinating the program presents many challenges including serving the mentally ill, those living in extreme poverty, and those with adult children who reside in the home. I am in awe of Amber and Tammy’s passion, as they both volunteer in addition to coordinating the program.

If you are someone who has time and a helping heart, please contact Amber at 509-662-6761, abryant@ccyakima.org  or Tammy at 509-765-1875, thuber@ccyakima.org . They will find a way to match you to a client or project that can create great joy for all involved.

The Right Kind of Falling in the Winter

Long View: Don’t Let Falling Lead You Down a Slippery Slope

Our central Illinois weather definitely challenged us this winter. Slippery conditions are my least favorite. I took a tumble in a local grocery store parking lot and “fortunately” there were plenty of spectators to help me up. I am guessing it was on camera, too.

For some of our older friends and family members, the potential for falling is not based on the weather, but a year-round concern. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Every 15 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 29 minutes, an older adult dies following a fall.”

Sobering statistics, to say the least.

This year, Health Alliance Medicare, with Catholic Charities of Decatur, St. Mary’s Hospital, and the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging (ECIAAA), is supporting a program called A Matter of Balance. This evidence-based program helps people learn to avoid falls and teaches them how to increase strength and enhance balance.

Mike O’Donnell, ECIAAA executive director, reviewed the training materials and told me, “Older adults at risk of falling often fear injury, a broken hip and having to be in a nursing home. This program encourages us to reduce the risk of falling by using sensible safeguards. We can all choose not to allow fear of falling to take over our lives by using good judgment and common sense. The fear of falling can often lead to isolation and feeling out of touch.”

Specially trained volunteer coaches lead the eight, 2-hour classes that make up the program. The classes involve group discussion, problem solving, skill building, video tapes, and exercise training. A physical therapist attends one of the classes to answer questions and discuss safety issues.

Now that I think about it, this kind of training wouldn’t hurt any of us. As usual, prevention is the best course.

The program is open to anyone, whether you’d like to learn for yourself or to better help others.

If this seems like a good idea, please contact Nicole Kirlin at Catholic Charities of Decatur at 217-428-0013, or by email at Kirlin_dec@cc.dio.org. She would be happy to talk with you and let you know if A Matter of Balance is available in your area.

I had every intention of signing up myself. I guess it must have slipped my mind. I won’t make that mistake again!