Spouses of Alzheimer’s disease patients often struggle with depression while caregiving and are desperate for support. Some have started new relationships while their loved one is still alive but no longer recognizes them. Acceptance of such infidelity is highly individual. Experts and a woman involved in such a relationship discuss how it can benefit even the incapacitated spouse, as long as families find it acceptable.
Dr. William Uffner, board certified geriatric psychiatrist, Friends Hospital, Philadelphia and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Drexel University
Sharon B. Shaw, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Group Psychotherapist, New York
Tammi Reeves, author, Bleeding Hearts: A True Story of Alzheimer’s, Family, and the Other Woman
Aging is something that ultimately we all have to face. Everybody reaches a point when they’re not quite as sharp mentally, and physically they may need some assistance. In most cases, before we have to deal with our own aging, we face the aging of our loved ones. Dr. Melanie Merriman is a hospice consultant with a focus on the system of healthcare in relation to illness and growing old.
Dr. Merriman likens the process of her own mother aging to clenching a net beneath a balancing tightrope walker, waiting for the inevitable fall. Her memoir, Holding the Net, details the pitfalls of caring for her defiant mother, as her independence is challenged by the aging process. She says that most people wait too long to have conversations about growing old. Instead of being proactive, most wait to discuss the need for assistance or the move to a nursing home until it’s time to make those tough decisions. She also adds, it’s important for both parents and children to discuss what they expect from each other as the aging process progresses.
Joy Loverde, author of Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?, adds to the discussion by asking the question; What do you want for yourself when you grow old? She stresses that relationships constantly evolve. Friends, and even family, come and go. It’s up to you to envision and plan for your own retirement and aging. Of course, a lot of it comes down to financials. Even if you’re on your own, many services and care options are available for the right price.
For many, independence is an idea entangled in pride and the fear of not being able to control the future. Dr. Merriman says dependence on others as you age is not weakness. The hardest part of planning is getting started, but a simple Google search for aging agencies in your area is a great place to start.
Melanie Merriman, author, Holding the Net: Caring For My Mother On the Tightrope of Aging
Joy Loverde, author, Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can cause many physical and mental problems that last a lifetime. Dr. Eva Redei, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University, says that most children who grow up with fetal alcohol syndrome usually never live independently because their neurodevelopment was stalled, and if they make it to adulthood they will require help. Babies with the most severe form of FAS are characterized by wide-set eyes, a flattened crease above the upper lip, a low IQ, and other cognitive and behavioral issues. About one percent of children born in the US have a severe form of fetal alcohol syndrome, with two to five percent falling on the fetal alcohol spectrum. But because there is no definitive test, some children are never diagnosed on the spectrum.
Dr. Joanne Rovet of Hospital for Sick Children explains that adults with fetal alcohol syndrome are at risk for mental illness. They also have an increased chance of getting in trouble with the law. About fifty percent of juvenile delinquents had prenatal alcohol exposure.
A study conducted by Dr. Redei on rats indicates that FAS can be treated at birth. Rats were given alcohol and split into two groups, with one group’s babies given a thyroid drug or a diabetic drug like metformin. The other group of babies which wasn’t given medication showed signs of FAS. Both drugs were shown to reduce or reverse the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure. Dr. Redei is now working on starting a human trial.
Maggie, parent of son with fetal alcohol syndrome
Dr. Eva Redei, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University
Dr. Joanne Rovet, Senior Scientists, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, and Senior Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto
Many teenage boys are labeled as lazy because they spend too much time online, playing video games or watching TV.. Dr. Adam Price, author He’s Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe in Himself, says these actually want to do well in school, but are afraid of failure. To deal with this pressure, and the issues that come along with it, they choose to opt-out. They choose activities that don’t give them anxiety like school does.
Dr. Adam Price says kids need to be internally motivated to put more energy into school, and suggests an approach using the three Cs. The first is Competence, the belief you can do something motivates people to want to do it. Teach students the growth mindset — meaning that you can always get better, and there is no limit. The second C, Control, involves allowing the student to take control of some choices as long as they also deal with the consequences. The third C is Connection, meaning that the adult needs to listen to the teenager, to understand and respect them.
Dr. Price also says that parents should let kids fail because that is how they learn. When the parents become more comfortable with failure and uncertainty, it allows their kids to grow and become successful adults.
Dr. Adam Price, author, He’s Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe in Himself
Colleges are required by Federal law to present anti-sexual assault training to new students, but rather than instilling “no means no,” some experts think we need to do much more to enlist men to help prevent sexual assault. Experts discuss how it can be done by making men allies, rather than regarding them as potential perpetrators, and through bystander training.
Teenage Boys: They’re Not Lazy
Teenage boys are often labeled as lazy by parents who see that their homework isn’t done and their attitude is one of disinterest. An expert psychologist explains the inner workings of teen boys and how parents can bring out the best in them.
Only children, also known as “onlies,” have sometimes been labeled as the spoiled and selfish children of society. In studies from the 1980’s, being an only child was likened to having a disease. Beth Apone Salamon, Director of Communications & Television at Rutgers University, and Lauren Sandler, author of One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One, approach the concept of only children in different ways. Salamon voices her concern that once her parents are gone, she won’t have anyone to share family memories with. In contrast, Sandler loves being an only child as well as raising an only child: “We’re just selfish people raising selfish children.” Dr. Susan Newman, psychologist and author of Parenting an Only Child, points out that it makes sense that many onlies thrive more than children with siblings do, because the attention and time allotted by parents to their one child is more concentrated than if they were to divide these things among multiple children. Newman also talks about the importance of the “sibling substitute,” a friend, cousin, or family member with whom the only child can relate to and become comfortable with. By building relationships with “sibling substitutes,” onlies are able to connect with people other than their parents, which has proved beneficial in the long run. Additional studies have debunked myths about only children, concluding that the number of siblings a person has has little impact on his or her personality and life.
You may need to rethink your drink. A study in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia shows that excess sugar, especially the fructose in soda, may damage your brain. People who drink a lot of sugary beverages are more likely to have a poor memory, a smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s important for learning and memory. But researchers say don’t reach for lo-cal soda. Another study in the journal Stroke, shows that people who drink diet soda are nearly three times as likely to have a stroke and develop dementia as those who don’t drink diet soda.
Courses that teach mindfulness and meditation help women, but a new study shows they don’t help men at all. The study in the journal Frontiers in Psychology shows that while women are more prone to depression and downcast mood overall, learning mindfulness significantly helps them overcome it. However, men are mostly unaffected.
And finally, where a baby’s born makes a big difference in how much they cry. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics finds that on average, babies cry about two hours a day their first few weeks of life. Over three hours per day is officially a colicky baby. And you’ll find more of them in England, Canada and Italy than anywhere else. About a quarter to a third of babies there cry more than three hours a day. The lowest percentages were in Denmark and Germany, where only about five percent of babies spend so much time crying.