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Ageless Aging - Your questoins
February 11, 2014
OK. I am a bit late sending this month's newsletter but I was traveling and going from Cold and Snow of Newburgh, New York (USA) to sunny and palm tress of San Diego, California (USA) AND back into snowstorms - took me a bit of time to adjust. But I have been thinking of you and want to get this issue to you today. .
If you are a caregiver - especially for someone with Alzheimers or other dementia, you may want to look at this online seminar. It is free. It started earlier this week but they are leaving the videos up for a couple days. Here is the link. (I hope you find it useful and uplifting.)
First, of your requestsLast month I asked what topics you'd like me to address in future issues - a number of you sent me topics. Thanks. .
Today I want to say a few things about one of these topics that you sent. I think it is important....and common after age 55. It may or may not fit your life right now but if your 55th birthday is a memory, you are likely to have friends who might benefit from these ideas. So what I am talking about? A serious but seldom discussed event in our older years: Depression. .
Yes, serious...there is a high rate of suicide among the old! Now you may not be feeling suicidal. Even so depression can sap the joy from these years. So, I hope you will read his....maybe file it away for future use...you may have a friend who will need it.
Depression is NOT a NORMAL part of our elder years. Still it can hover or even grip us for weeks, months and even years. Our days feel dull, gloomy or maybe we just have no 'get up and go'. And we often want to sleep ...or drink (alcohol which is a depressant so in the end it winds up making things worse).
Possible causes/ ways to alleviate depression:1. An undiagnosed medical condition often shows itself in depression. I know that before my heart attack and then again when I had cancer, I was rather depressed beforehand. So a good physical is always a place to start.
2. An allergy. Yes, you read that correctly. I remember when Drs. Shenkin and Schacter, two US army psychiatrists, found that if they removed all exposure to milk products, many cases of depression were cured. Mold and other allergens can cause depression too. .
(When I went to their clinic, I discovered that chicken was my nemesis. Yes, chicken) If you have lived with low grade depression (or serious) you might want to test yourself with an 'allergy rotation diet'. (There are books and probably web sites about this.)
You see when we are allergic to something, we often eat it often...need to keep it in our system. It is almost like an addiction. If you stop eating it for a period of time so it gets out of your system.... then when you eat even small portion again...you have a STRONG reaction. And you know, OK...I need to avoid this food, not eat it more than once a month etc. ( Allergy Rotation Diet books explain all.) Oh, and there are many other conditions: arthritis, migraines are two of the most common etc. that can also be causes by food sensitives. .
3. Lack of exercise and/or sun can lead to depression. No you do not need to run 5 miles a day but a walking program...start with a block or two and add a bit more each week until you are doing 2 miles a day. Now, 2 miles is 10,000 steps. I learned of a shut-in who counted the steps from one end of her apartment to the other...and does 'pilgrimages' - measuring miles on a map and imagining her walking as going from one city to another each winter. She gets books from the library to know what scenes each day's walk would show, imagines them. Sings as she goes. So creative!
4. Not enough socialization can also lead to chronic depression. Friends die or move away. Unless we make new friends and friends with younger persons, we can feel terribly alone in our old age, Volunteering...joining local groups...mentoring. Yes, it may seem strange at first BUT your life will be enriched...as well as the lives you touch. (For me, you are part of my 'community' - even if I do not hear from you, I know there are several thousand people who read these letters. Gives me a sense of connection. .
5. Depression is a sadness. And as we age, there are lots of things that we find sad - there are losses. (You can probably make a list of your own.) I some times think of that Elderhood is like being sculptured - pieces being cut away until only the purest essence remains.
That is how Michelangelo did his sculpture work....cutting away to reveal the image withing. DAVID may be beautiful but in the process a lot of stone was cut away. And yes, this can be painful - especially if we forget that in the end our essential beauty will shine out. .
Also depression can be caused by unrecognized anger that is covering some deeply buried hurt. Here is where a good counselor can be of real help. Someone who cares and who has the skill to know how to support us as we explore why we are depressed. Many localities have support groups - for those grieving a death, those will diagnosed ills. BUT many elders find that individual counseling helps - a lot! A call to your local Office of the Aging should give you names of some counselors who work with elders. Or many hospitals have an out patient mental health unit. Just be sure to say you want someone who likes working with older persons. (There are those who work best with children - and that is not who want now.) .
So what am I saying. It is NOT unusual to go through a period of depression as you transition from one stage of Elderhood to another. The key is to DO something about it. There is no reason why you need to suffer from depression weeks on end. A few sad days is one thing, but persistent sense of 'down' needs attention.
I encourage you to reach out...take some action to bring yourself out of the grey world. And if you have friend who seems entrenched in depression, do encourage him/her to start with some of the above. (Become a walking companion and if the sadness continues, do raise the issue of counseling.... maybe you can help with getting that first appointment....and/or transportation to it. The key is to remove any stigma. Needing counseling is so common in our older years, that in the USA Mediciare will pay for it,
(Always ask a counselor about this - with some you will need to submit your own paper work.) .
OK....an important topic. One that can make real change in our lives. I hope you have found this post useful...for yourself or for someone you know.
. By next month, the sun will be 'returning' and millions in the Northern Hemisphere will find their spirits rising. (Yes, SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder can cause depression and here are special lights that help with this. )
Thanks for reading this far.
Final noteWhen I was in San Diego, the workshop leaders suggested that I do online WEBINARS. But I am not sure. Many of my friends [age 68 - 85 do not like webinars....will not watch them.
Do you use them? Like them? I do not want to spend the time and money creating a webinar if that is not something you would like. Any opinion most appreciated [and yes, if you give your age that might help me too.]
Kate - always something new on the horizon.
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