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The Family Center: enrichment programs for families and professionals

Tips for the Sandwich Generation

Ask the Experts by Sharon Maier and Heidi Uhlig

Q. My aging parents are in need of more help from me, plus I have two small children to take care of. I struggle to care for them both. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle caring for both my parents and my kids?

A. When caring for your aging parents, know that you are entering new territory and you will need new skills and knowledge to adapt. You can gain knowledge on resources through the web or through local organizations such as Services for Older Citizens. While everyone’s situation is different, experts can help you walk through the process. 

It is important to be willing to change how you do things and determine what is important. If you find that you are spending your valuable time shopping for two households, yours and your parents, consider taking advantage of local grocery store delivery for your parents, such as Door to Door Organics. A small thing like empowering your parents to get their groceries without your help increases their independence and will save you time. 

Read more: Tips for the Sandwich Generation


Talking to Kids About Alzheimer's

Ask the Experts by Barbara Roden

Q: I'm struggling trying to help my 14 year old son to understand why grandpa is being more forgetful over the past 6 months. The two of them have always had a close relationship. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's earlier this year. Might you be able to offer some suggestions as to how I might be able to help my son understand what is happening now and what to expect in the future?

A. It is important when having a discussion about his grandfather and explaining the situation is to be as clear, honest and calm as possible. 

One of the hardest parts about the disease especially in the early stages is that you cannot visually see that something is wrong. 

You can start your discussion with the common functionalities of the brain (language, memory, balance, vision, senses etc.) and how all these functions help us do things throughout the day. Then you can explain that dementia is a brain disease that causes some of these functions to fail. 

Read more: Talking to Kids About Alzheimer's


Snowboarding Safety

Ask the Experts by Glen Clark, M.D.

Q. My friends invited me to go snowboarding, but it’s been a few years since I’ve been on a board. Any advice before I hit the slopes?

A. Get in shape. Follow a regular fitness program to strengthen muscles and build endurance to help prevent injuries. It is important to warm up and stretch before you hop from the car to the chairlift. Focus on calves, hamstrings and quadriceps, as well as your shoulders. Many snowboarding injuries are from people trying to perform advanced or difficult feats beyond their skill set.

Q. I hate wearing a helmet. If I wipe out, will a helmet really protect me?

A. Yes. Wearing protective equipment, such as helmets, wrist guards and goggles, is a simple way to prevent serious injuries while snowboarding. Helmets are always crucial for preventing potentially life-threatening head injuries.

Read more: Snowboarding Safety


Sports Injury Prevention Tips

Ask the Experts by Kunal Kalra, MD

Q. What can I do to prevent injuries when my kids play sports?

A. The new school year brings the return of Fall sports and that can mean injuries ranging from sprained ankles to ACL injuries and concussions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, sports-related injuries are the leading cause of emergency room visits in 12-17-year-olds. Injuries from organized and unorganized sports also account for 775,000 emergency room visits annually. Common Fall sports related injuries can include sprains and strains, stress fractures, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, bruises, dislocations, pulled muscles and concussions.

The good news is a little preparation can go a long way in preventing some injuries. Here are some tips parents and athletes should consider before participating in any sports related activity.

Read more: Sports Injury Prevention Tips


Identity theft can happen to anyone, at any age, at any time

Ask the Experts by Carolyn Van Dorn

Q: My mom has recently moved into a nursing care facility and I have power of attorney over her finances. Do I still need to be concerned about identity theft for her?

A: Absolutely! Identity theft is rampant in today's society and has no age boundaries.

In February 2013, The Federal Trade Commission released The 2012 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. Their statistics showed that the occurrence rate in the under- 20 group, which includes infants and children, was almost equal to the rate of occurrence in the 70 and older group.

Some consider the senior population to be easy targets due to the fact they are normally financially stable and less likely to be opening new lines of credit. Most seniors also do not routinely check the status of their credit report, which allows for a lower probability of fraud detection.

Read more: Identity theft can happen to anyone, at any age, at any time


The Importance of Monitoring Medications

Ask the Experts by Mary Ellen Brayton

Q: My 82 year old father lives alone and is doing pretty well overall. Lately, however, we’ve become aware that he is not always taking the right dosage of his medications. He forgets some days and other days may be taking double the dose because he’s unsure if he took it. What are some options to make sure he takes the prescribed amount so we don’t have to worry?

A: Staying on medication for a long period of time requires some work, but a drug won't be effective if it's not administered properly. Noncompliance seems to be one of the biggest issues in healthcare today. In fact, according to a report by Harris Interactive, "roughly half of all prescriptions for drugs to be taken on an ongoing basis are either not completed or are never filled in the first place".

There can be many reasons for this and with the senior population, like your Dad, factors can range from cognitive issues to depression to physical problems.

Sometimes people think they don't need the medication because they don't feel any results or think it's doing any good. This is particularly true with blood pressure and cholesterol medication but long term effects from not taking a prescribed dosage could be devastating.

Here are a couple of ideas:

Read more: The Importance of Monitoring Medications


The Affordable Care Act

Ask the Experts by Tom Gordon

Q: I’m confused, I’m a senior and I’ve heard a lot of things about the Affordable Care Act. Can you provide any targeted benefits for me as a senior?

A. The Affordable Care Act goes into full effect January 1, 2014. The law will expand health care benefits to the 55 million Americans without health coverage. It also increases benefits for those who are underinsured, including seniors.

Insurers are required to meet standards set in the law. There are currently 9 million adults between the ages of 50 and 64 without health care and an additional 4 million who buy it on their own. When the new health insurance marketplaces open on October 1, 2013, ambulatory patient services, also known as outpatient care, will be available. This is the most common form of health care and nearly all plans already offer this coverage. However, the size of networks must be sufficient under the new law.

Read more: The Affordable Care Act


Skills for Success in Kindergarten

ASK THE EXPERTS by Dorothy Heitjan, Deb Kraft and Kristen DeVooght

Q. How can we as parents help our preschooler make a successful transition into Kindergarten?

It is vital in the preschool years to provide your child with the experiences that will build the foundation for later success in school. Keep in mind the amazing developmental changes that occur in a child's body and brain during the preschool years.

In order to help your child build these neural connections, parents should provide:

Read more: Skills for Success in Kindergarten


Love and Logic Helps with Bedtime Routines and Homework Battles

Ask the Experts by Lynn Kaiser

Now that the school year is in full swing many parents might find themselves struggling, here are some tips to keep your sanity.

Q. How do I get my kids into a bedtime routine and end the bedtime frustrations?

A. Start by using a "slowdown time". A slowdown routine is essential. Children's brains operate at a high frequency and don't shut down as quickly as adult brains. Parents should announce the beginning of slowdown time about 40 minutes before bedroom time.

Next give your children choices. There is magic in choices and this makes your children feel like they have some control in their own lives. Give as many choices as you can, as long as either option is okay.

Examples might include:

Read more: Love and Logic Helps with Bedtime Routines and Homework Battles


The College Research, Application and Selection Process

Ask the Experts by Beth Walsh-Sahutske & Milissa Pierce

Striking the right balance in helping your child through the college preparation process is no simple task. Parents want to instill a college mindset and encourage their child to maintain high standards while still keeping an eye on family/life stability. The potential to disrupt home with stress to child and parents is great. The optimal solution is to reframe the approach that the whole family takes towards the college investigation process. If we look at it developmentally like the natural evolution of the student’s lifecycle then we can more effectively integrate the research, application and selection process into this next phase of life and the dream of college becomes to find the perfect match instead of the treasured prize.

Q: My child just started high school. Is it too early to start talking about college?

A: Chances are you have been talking about college his whole life via favorite sports teams, family alma mater or some cool random mascots. That’s great! Now is the time to explore beyond those familiar names to take a casual look at some other convenient colleges.

Read more: The College Research, Application and Selection Process


The Middle School Years: Brain Matters

Ask the Experts by Mary Beth Garvey, LMSW

Q. I have one child in middle school and another about to begin middle school. I have seen behavioral changes in both of them and don’t know what is “normal” for this age. What would be helpful for me to understand about these middle school years?

A. The pre-teen years bring enormous cognitive, social and emotional changes for early adolescents – some welcomed and others quite challenging.

These changes can be complex, sometimes making the child we love unrecognizable. Though there are many issues influencing pre-teens, ranging from peer relationships to technology, one of the most significant is how their brains are developing. Just around the time our kids are entering middle school, their brain undergoes a period of rapid development and growth. They have an increased ability to do work, their intellectual interests expand, and their capabilities continue to develop.

Despite cognitive leaps, however, there are many critical brain functions which are undeveloped – this during a period when kids are moving towards increased independence, greater challenges, more complex social relationships and significant risk taking. Consider these issues in your efforts to support your adolescent as they negotiate the middle school years:

Read more: The Middle School Years: Brain Matters


Finding “Normal” in the Middle School Years

Ask the Experts by Michael Dib

Q: What is considered a normal middle school student?

A: Many times parents are worried by changes in their middle school aged child. Please keep in mind that there will be many internal chemical and hormonal changes that occur during adolescence. You will experience behaviors that were not prevalent or observable during elementary school.

While each middle school student has her/his own interests, personality, and likes/dislikes, there are many developmental issues that students face during their middle school years.

Read more: Finding “Normal” in the Middle School Years


Reducing Stress Through Mindfulness Meditation

Ask the Experts by Maureen McKinley Light, LMSW

Q: I can’t seem to get a handle on stress. It seems to affect every part of my life, including my ability to parent. I feel overwhelmed by everyday life. What can I do?

A. There is a growing recognition that we can have more control over our emotions than we suspect. Often we fall victim to our reactions to life. In recent years new approaches to psychology such as cognitive behavioral therapy have demonstrated that we can moderate our emotions by observing our thought patterns and how they are affecting us.

Put simply: Our thoughts from moment to moment have immediate impact on our emotions, one way or another. If we are worrying about something which may happen, or obsessing about something that already happened, we are caught up in “ruminating thoughts” which often have extreme emotional consequences. If we worry, “What if Josh doesn’t make the little league team his friends are on? He will be devastated!”, our emotional distress will be just as immediate and intense as though the event already happened.

Read more: Reducing Stress Through Mindfulness Meditation


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