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In the News: Do You Have Caregiver Burnout?

For several years now, we have seen a “role-reversal” where many adults are finding themselves in the role of caregiver for their aging parents and/or siblings. Oftentimes caregivers are so busy caring for others that they forget to care for themselves or their immediate families.

Experts refer to this condition as “caregiver burnout.” The symptoms of caregiver burnout mirror the symptoms of depression and stress, but they may also include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy.
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both.
  • Getting sick more often.
  • Using alcohol or sleep medication too often.
  • Feeling blue, cranky, or hopeless.

But what causes caregiver burnout? Besides neglecting themselves, burnout can also be caused by:

  • Role confusion – if you have been a caregiver for a long time, you can forget how to be a parent, spouse, or friend.
  • Lack of control – you may feel like you lack the skills, money, or resources that your loved one needs.
  • Unreasonable demands – you may take on too much, mainly because you are the taking on the task alone.
  • Unrealistic expectations – you may expect your care to have a positive effect on your loved one, when in fact it might not.

While caregiver burnout is the harsh reality for so many, all is not lost. You can reverse the burnout you feel simply by knowing your limits, asking for help, setting realistic goals, and most importantly taking time for yourself.

In the News: Seven Reasons for Memory Loss

We have all been there… we have walked into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator door and forget what we were going in there to get. Or we walked into a room and didn’t know why we went in that room in the first place. While many of us will instantly blame dementia or other memory loss conditions, experts say that there are several things, or a combination of things, that may be the culprit. Here are seven of them:

You are stressed or anxious- the stress hormone that keeps you all revved up, affects the hippocampus and the other parts of the brain that are involved in memory.

You’re feeling depressed – research shows a link between depression and cognitive impairments, including memory loss.

You’re a woman in or around menopause – among the many issues involving menopause, cognitive impairment is also on the list.

You’re not sleeping well or enough – poor sleep can affect your memory in a big way.

Maybe your medications are fogging your mind – certain medications (unfortunately those that help you combat depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness) are known to affect memory.

You could be drinking or partying too much - abusing alcohol or any substance (such as opioids) that can slow your central nervous system may affect memory as well.

Perhaps you have a thyroid issue – Hypothyroidism (which is when your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone) not only causes forgetfulness and brain fog, but research has shown that the condition can result in shrinkage of the hippocampus.

In the News: Laugh your Way to a Healthier You

We have all heard that “laughter is the best medicine”, right? But have you ever wondered what that saying means? Sure, people laugh during good and happy times, but sometimes you will notice that even to get through tough or tragic times, people start to laugh. 

So, what are the benefits of laughing? Laughter helps you to:

 

  • Reduce negative emotions – feelings of stress, anxiety, anger, and sadness don’t feel as intense when you are laughing.
  • Relax and discharge negative energy – stress is reduced by the action of laughing and pushed away from the body.
  • Change how you think and feel about a situation – laughing can help you see the situation in a different light and feel less overwhelmed about that situation.
  • Give you the power to cope – as your perspective changes about a situation, you might find that you are better able to distance yourself from a situation. In doing so, you may find yourself stronger and able to take on challenges.
  • Become closer to those around you – because laughter is contagious, once you find the humor amongst the darkness, it is likely that others will, too. That’s why “sharing a joke” is a great way to bond as well.
  • Feel physically healthier – some of the physical benefits of laughing are a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure and better sleep.

 So, laugh as if your life depended on it… because it helps!

Health 101: Exercise Your Brain at Any Age

Despite what many people think, our brain can remain sharp, active, vital and creative no matter what our age. Studies suggest that the more stimulating and intellectually challenging that we make our lives, the better our odds are to keep our brain sharp as we get older. Some ways to keep our brains sharp include:

Brain Exercises

Reduce stress: stress can wear down the hippocampus, which plays a major role in memory function.

Exercise regularly: exercising delivers more oxygen-rich blood to the brain which is vital for producing new brain cells and preventing atrophy.

Eat low-fat and healthy: glucose spikes and fatty plaque deposits due to overeating can damage the brain, so a lower-calorie diet promotes better circulation and helps to control weight.

In the News: Exercise Your Brain

Despite what many people think, our brain can remain sharp, active, vital and creative no matter what our age.

Our brain can create new brain cells and new connections between them over the years, but our brain vitality is completely up to us.  Maintaining that vitality is truly a “use it or lose it” situation.

Studies done by a number of schools of medicine suggest that the more stimulating and intellectually challenging that we make our lives, the better our odds are to keep our brain sharp as we get older.

Brain Exercises

Some ways to keep our brains sharp include:

Reduce stress: stress can wear down the hippocampus, which plays a major role in memory function.

Exercise regularly: exercising delivers more oxygen-rich blood to the brain which is vital for producing new brain cells and preventing atrophy.

Eat low-fat and healthy: glucose spikes and fatty plaque deposits due to overeating can damage the brain, so a lower-calorie diet promotes better circulation and helps to control weight.

Challenge your brain: challenging your brain by learning and doing something new every week helps to create new neural pathways, helping to make your brain more versatile and able to multi-task.