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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Guarding Against Substance Abuse in Later Years

As the baby boomer generation heads into retirement, the country will be populated by a larger than ever demographic of older (over 55) citizens. The truth is that not all of those entering their golden years are prepared to handle the challenges of retirement and older age. AnRecovery 1 alarming number of seasoned citizens are turning to substance abuse as they begin to feel overwhelmed.

A Growing Problem

Close to 3 million older adults suffer from alcohol abuse, a figure that is expected to double to 6 million by 2020. And while most seniors take one or more legal prescription medications, the rate of illicit drug use increased more than double from 2002-2013. Substance abuse is becoming a growing problem among older Americans.

One decade-long study of 52-75 year olds has revealed that while retirement is a major contributor to substance abuse, it is not the sole factor. The end of a working career is just one significant change among a host of changes which take place as people transition into retirement age. Few are prepared to cope with the avalanche of change.

Many Changes in a Short Time Span
Lack of daily structure and work is certainly one tremendous adjustment created by retirement. But so is the resulting financial constraint most people face. At the same time, crumbling health, the loss of friends (through death or relocation) and lack of social connection combine to overwhelm those not prepared to deal with so much change and loss.

Awareness and Mental Health
Awareness is a powerful guard against substance abuse after retirement. Understanding the scope of change in advance can be preventive. Nonetheless, not until a person is in the midst of the change and loss can they truly understand its impact. If you are tempted to blunt the loneliness and sense of purposelessness created by retirement with alcohol or drugs, consider talking with someone instead.

Family Guidance has decades of experience helping individuals and families navigate through the troubled waters of loss, depression and change. It is possible to learn how to cope even with momentous changes. Let us show you how.

How Can You Support a Loved One With Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder 2Bipolar disorder is an illness that touches everyone around the person with the condition. When someone close to you is living with bipolar disorder it can be tough to know how to respond to many situations.

Your heart understands that the illness drives much of the behavior you see. At the same time, it is easy to get frustrated and overwhelmed. So how can you support your loved one without giving up necessary boundaries?

1. Become informed. Learn all you can about bipolar disorder including the treatments available.

2. Be a good listener. Although your loved one’s emotional swings may sometimes be extreme, not all of their feelings are symptoms of their illness. Avoid disregarding their perspective before giving it fair consideration.

3. Be alert to emotional shifts. It can often be the case that you will be the first to notice an emotional change in your loved one – even before they recognize it themselves. You never want to come across as intrusive, but the sooner episodes are identified, the easier they are to treat. Talk with your loved one in advance about how to let them know when you see a shift occurring.

4. Be available to help. Ask your loved one what you can do to lighten the load during times when they feel overwhelmed. Your readiness to step in will communicate love and support.

Sometimes, your help may come in the form of encouraging the person to stick with treatment. You may need to drive them to counseling or doctor appointments or a check up to be sure that they are faithful with therapy. Try not to let them isolate themselves, but stay engaged with them in fun ways as well as keeping an eye on treatment.

You and your loved one need support. Family Guidance offers support to those with bipolar disorder as well as to the loved ones living with and caring for them. You can be a support to them. Let us support you.

Helping Your Child Deal With Anxiety

Mental Health 11Anxiety is a form of fear that many people deal with at some point in life. However, rather than direct fear of an immediate, in-the-moment situation, anxiety is more comparable to worry – it is a fear of what could be or might be. Sometimes this anxiety can become paralyzing. Unfortunately, it is not only adults whose minds are able to stray into the realm of unpleasant possibilities…children can also deal with anxiety. As the parent of a child with anxiety, you need a plan for teaching your child to cope with this kind of gripping fear. Here are some ways to help them cope with anxiety:

Place Worries in a Box
One way to help your child deal with anxiety is to have them verbalize what frightens or worries them. Maybe they are afraid of dogs or talking to new people or being left in a new place such as a school or daycare. Acknowledge what concerns them and then tell them to imagine placing that worry inside a box. Then lock the box. The worry is not gone, but it isn’t allowed to be present without permission.

Find a Distraction
Getting your child’s mind off of their anxiety is key to leaving worries inside the box. Think of this as changing the channel in your child’s brain. Tell your child they hold the remote control and they can change channels. Read a book, watch a movie, play a game, bake some cookies – whatever is needed to redirect thinking.

The Power of Words
Words are powerful. Tell your child that when they hear worries talking to them, they are free to talk right back. Teach your child to say things like “that may not even happen”, “it could be easy”, “I don’t have to listen to this” or “that is not necessarily true”. Spoken words have power.

There are other helpful techniques for overcoming anxiety. At Family Guidance Center we have helped many children learn to deal with intrusive fears and we can help your family too, give us a call today.

The Serious Effects of Untreated Depression

Depression 4Depression can affect people of any sex, social class or age. In many cases, symptoms of depression are ignored and left untreated, of which the consequences can be serious. Even though occasional feelings of sadness are normal, depression that lingers and affects normal everyday activities is cause for concern. Ignoring those symptoms can lead to long term consequences.

Ignoring Depression as a Possibility
Someone who loses interest in formerly enjoyed activities, who withdraws from others, who becomes listless and tired could be showing signs of real depression. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away, but could lead to more serious consequences. Often the fear of stigma from being diagnosed with a mental illness stops someone from seeking help for depression.

The Facts About Depression
Every year depression affects people of every age group

  • 12 percent of adult women
  • 7 percent of adult men
  • 20 percent of the elderly
  • 3 percent of teens
  • 5 percent of children

Depression is a serious condition that deserves attention and treatment. The risks of not treating depression are staggering. Consider that 15 percent of those with depression commit suicide every year. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens in our country. White men aged 85 years and older are five times more likely to commit suicide than others. Suicide is a permanent response to what can be a temporary problem. Treatment is key.

Don’t ignore depression either in yourself or in someone you love – no matter what their age. At Family Guidance Center we have professional mental health professionals who can show you how to overcome depression. You just need to take the first step and call us today.


Planning an Addiction Intervention

Recovery 1There are many behaviors which can become the basis of addiction. The hard part for those close to someone caught up in an addiction can be watching a downward spiral at the same time that the loved one denies having a problem. Sometimes the only way to help is to join with others in the form of a planned intervention.

Successful intervention requires the combined efforts of loved ones, a mental health professional or a physician. Together these people who truly care about the person in the midst of an addiction will create a stage for confronting and directing the loved one. Typical steps for intervention include:

1. Meeting as a group to learn about the specific addiction (alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorder, gambling etc.) and available treatment options.

2. Planning in advance exactly what will be said being sure to include instances of unhealthy behaviors and how those behaviors affected the individual and those around them. Interventions are often highly emotional exchanges, so careful and thoughtful wording is imperative.

3. The loved one with an addiction is invited to a pre-arranged location without being told ahead of time what will take place. The intervention team should be at the location and prepared to lovingly confront.

4. Together the group explains what has been observed, its impact and offers a specific plan for treatment.

5. Each member of the group explains how they will respond should the loved one refuse to pursue treatment. Be sure that everyone is prepared to follow through with stated consequences.

At Family Guidance, we offer a range of treatment options for those ready to work through addiction. You don’t have to helplessly watch your loved one with an addiction. You can step in with a plan and offer hope. Call us and learn how we can help.