~ by Richard Sgaglio
June is National Aphasia Awareness Month, yet few Americans even know what aphasia is. According to the National Aphasia Association, 2 million people in the United States have aphasia, but 84.
~ by Carol Vartulli
The older we grow, the more losses we experience. We lose our supple skin, our hair, our flexibility and muscle strength. And as years pass, we lose more people we love — spouses, siblings, colleagues, and friends.
There is a myth that grieving follows an orderly process of clearly defined stages leading to acceptance. “In a sense, grief is wild; it can circle back and hit us just when we think we’ve gotten everything under control,” explains Marie Mitarondo, a grief recovery specialist and hospice chaplain in Collingswood, New Jersey.
Each person’s path through the days, weeks, and months after a loss is unique. Although it is painful, acute grief is normal and usually subsides within a year.
Some people experience persistent grief that leads to profound changes in their mental, emotional, and physical health. This is called ‘complicated grief,’ in which the individual has feelings of intense worthlessness, internal questioning of personal beliefs, a strong yearning for the person who passed, and an inability to accept the passing.
A study by a branch of the National Institutes of Health found that “among the elderly, those between ages 75 and 84 years have a higher risk of developing complicated grief compared with a younger age group.” Conversely, the study noted that people aged 85 years and over were less likely to suffer abnormal grief.
Complicated grief can have serious effects:
• Serious depression: experienced by about half of those with complicated grief
• Suicidal thoughts: experienced by 40 to 60 percent
• Insomnia: causing sleep anxiety and worsening depression
• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): flashbacks, nightmares, and a need to avoid reminders (people, places, things) of the one who passed
• Anxiety disorders: extreme, persistent worry over money, health, family, work
• Substance abuse: harmful use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs to ‘cope’
Dealing with complicated grief requires help. Your general practitioner may recommend a psychiatrist or counselor. Cognitive behavioral therapy in private or group settings can help you confront your loss and learn techniques to channel your grief. More specific treatments may be prescribed for depression, PTSD, or substance abuse.
Helping Yourself and Others
Losing, and grieving the loss of a loved one, are part of the human experience. If you are working through a loss, you can do several things to help yourself stay healthy. You can likewise support a friend during their time of bereavement.
Self-care includes taking some time away from your regular obligations, to allow yourself to absorb what has happened and acknowledge the profound change in your life. Give yourself space and permission to cry, if you want to. Consider keeping a small notebook in which to write about your loved one and your feelings.
While you may not feel like eating, remember that keeping yourself hydrated and fueled with healthy food has an impact on your stamina, which is vital during this stressful time. Sleep is likewise important to your health; if sleeping is difficult, you may need short-term medication to ensure you get enough rest.
Above all, lean on family and friends. You may need someone to listen to your thoughts, or to simply sit nearby. Tap into your spiritual connections, whether it’s a faith community, or a walk among nature.
Grief can be described as the flipside of joy. In time, grieving gives way to precious memories of those we have loved.
The information in the above article is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
~ by Richard Sgaglio
Seeing Clearly Ahead
~ by Carol Vartuli
Most people associate the term 'cataract' with an eye condition in older people. That's because, according to the National Eye Institute, more than half of all Americans over age 80 have cataracts...
~ by Carol Vartuli
Most of us are so comfortable in our own skin that we forget we’re encased, head-to-toe, in the body’s largest organ. Like other organs, the skin is susceptible to injury and disease; its largest...