Caryl Greenberg, MSW, LSW
People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their emotions and their behavior. They are able to handle life’s inevitable challenges, build strong relationships, and lead productive, fulfilling lives. When bad things happen, they’re able to bounce back and move on. Unfortunately, too many people take their mental and emotional health for granted – focusing on it only when they develop problems. But just as it requires effort to build or maintain physical health, so it is with emotional health. The more time and energy you invest in your emotional health, the stronger it will be. The
good news is that there are many things you can do to boost your mood, build resilience, and get more enjoyment out of life. According to Monique Marie, people who are emotionally healthy have many characteristics some of which include: An overall sense of contentment, a sense of meaning and purpose, flexibility to learn new things and adapt to change, ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships, and self-esteem. (This is by no means
a comprehensive list)These positive characteristics of emotional health
allow you to participate in life to the fullest extent possible through productive, meaningful activities and strong relationships. These positive characteristics also help you cope when faced with life's challenges and stresses. Being emotionally and mentally healthy doesn’t mean never going through bad times or experiencing emotional problems. We all go through disappointments, loss, and change. And while these are normal parts of
life, they can still cause sadness, anxiety, and stress. The difference is that people with good emotional health have an ability to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress. In the psychological world that is referred to as resilience. People who are emotionally healthy have the tools for coping with difficult situations and maintain a positive outlook. They remain focused, flexible, and creative in bad times as well as good. One of the key factors in resilience is the ability to balance your emotions. The capacity to recognize your emotions and express them appropriately helps you avoid getting stuck in depression, anxiety, or other negative moods; having trusted people you can turn to for encouragement and support will boost your resilience in tough times as well. There are many skills one can use to improve resiliency and one of those is hearing from others in the same
boat and comparing coping strategies If you are interested in joining
‘Stress Busters’ a short term group to start sometime in September to talk about improving and developing approaches to increase emotional
resiliency please let me know.
We generally don’t think about this but what words we choose to use matters. What we say has an impact. Words could be encouraging, complimentary, supportive and kind or they can come from a place of jealousy, negativity and be cruel, full of gossip and ultimately create barriers. Can you remember a time when you went 24 hours without saying something negative about someone else? We all do it; its human nature and it doesn’t mean that we are bad people but what will make us better? Engaging in conversation that raises others up so that at the end of the conversation you both walk away feeling good is good karma. That is what will make us better.
A famous author, Joseph Telushkin talks about words that heal and words that hurt. I recently attended a presentation where he was discussing this topic. One bit of advice that he gave that really stood out for me was the following: when you are upset with someone the two words that he said you must never use is ‘always’ and ‘never’. When you disagree with someone focus on the specific issue. Don‘t say ‘you are ‘always’ late and you ‘never’ care about how I feel’.... The better way of dealing with this scenario is something along the lines of ‘Because you were late, I missed the show and I am angry and hurt because it feels like you don’t care about me and my needs.’ When you speak about the specific incident you do not put the person on the defensive, you are not personally attacking them you are simply dealing with the here and now.
Because words are intangible we don’t think about the harm they can do. But they do harm. Hurtful gossip is usually exaggerated to gain the allegiance of the person we pull into our web so we are not only criticizing someone but we try to create an ‘us against them’ situation. When we walk into a room and overhear a conversation about our character our wound can last a lifetime. So what do you think about our very own ‘Speak no Evil’ day? Keep note of how you do with lifting people up and by the end of the day you will be a better person for it.
So what do you think of having your own ‘Speak no Evil’ day?
‘I only drive locally and I never drive at night.’ Sound familiar? Give yourself kudos if it is because you have insight regarding your driving limitations. No one says aging is easy, but what is the alternative? Having to think about ones future independence is more than a practical matter. The emotional impact of having to count on others and not having the ability to come and go as one pleases is beyond words. How and when do you decide you need to give up driving completely? There are no simple answers to this question. Age is not necessarily the issue;’ are you driving safely’ is the million dollar question. According to experts, older drivers are good drivers. They have a lifetime of experience and often self-regulate by limiting driving in bad weather, at night and in heavy traffic. But as people age, vision, mental speed and physical abilities often decline and that can affect things like driving reaction time, night and peripheral vision, complex decision making and concentration.
Here are some early warning signs to consider should you want to think about yourself or someone else’s ability to drive safely:
Are you having problems finding your way on unfamiliar streets, obeying traffic signs or reacting to traffic? Are there unexplained dents in the car or are you receiving traffic tickets and/or warnings? Is there a loss of muscle strength? Do you have pain of age related conditions creating a decrease in range of motion? Any one of these alone might not mean anything but, if you find a pattern it should raise a red flag. Incidentally, there are assistive devices that need a prescription from your doctor that might make driving easier and safer. For example, for someone who has a difficult time turning the steering wheel, a steering wheel knob is available to act a as lever to amplify rotational force exerted by the driver. There are also grippers to assist when someone can’t strongly grip the steering wheel. These devices as well as others might help to extend years of safe driving and accessing these devices is easier than you might think!
TED is a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — I have been watching TED Talks for some time and thought it would be wonderful to watch as a group and discuss topics ranging from personal to global. Please come and spread the word!!
Video and discussion, facilitated by Caryl
Caregiving, Maintaining Friendships
And joining a Caregiving Support Group
Many of you have shared with me your thoughts, concerns, feelings and challenges when it comes to being a caregiver. Though I have not personally experienced caregiving for an older adult I can see while it has many gratifying moments, it is intense, exhausting and all consuming.
Caregiving is defined as providing unpaid assistance for the physical and emotional needs of another person raging from partial to 24 hour round the clock care.
Caregivers are ‘on call’ 24/7. If you are out enjoying time with friends or family your mind often defaults to worrying about how your spouse or loved one is doing. Just because someone is in not at home does not entirely change your role as caregiver.
Another reality of being a caregiver is how difficult it is accepting or making plans with friends. It is tiresome to always say ‘you can’t’ and it’s probable that person doing the asking will eventually stop asking. People will ask ‘how are things going’ and you find yourself responding with the shortened version so you don’t ‘bore them with details’. You do appreciate their concern but you reflect on if they are just being polite. It can be very isolating to be a caregiver.
You have shared that you feel most people don’t know how to relate to you anymore. Is it that they still have reasonable ‘normal’ lives or fear that one day their life might be as intense and all too consuming as mine? Whatever the reason, you have said your social life is going by the waste side.
We all know how important social relationships are in every stage of life. If you are not a caregiver I bet you know someone who is one. Is there anything you can do to reach out to that person? If you are a caregiver can you figure out a way to give yourself a break?
One way to manage caregiver stress is to join a support group. ‘You are not alone’ is very encouraging and empowering. Please give me a call if you would like to join a support group which will be newly formed and take place at the senior center: time and dates to be determined.
Attention Veterans and Their Dependents We are very excited to announce that The NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Veterans Service Officer will be coming to the Senior Center quarterly to assist Veterans. Joe Battito will be available on June 9th from 8:30 am-noon. The Veteran Service Officer will assist veterans and dependents in regard Veteran benefits, claim work and referrals that you may be eligible for. To schedule an appointment please contact Joe at 732.937.6347.
The Yiddish language has been the subject of a class at the center for a while. This is a small group and the hope is to gain some additional participants. They concentrate on reading (using transliteration) and converting to English, various stories that are generally short and humorous. A little knowledge of Yiddish is helpful especially if you grew up hearing the language spoken. They meet on Thursdays from 1:15-2:45 pm in the Art Room. Come drop by and schmooze a bisl (chat a little bit) with the other members
Join A Group...
What's on Your Mind
"What's On Your Mind" meets on Fridays at 2:15 p.m. to discuss current events and information that interests you. We welcome new members. You can drop in anytime. Call Caryl for more information.
Monthly Bereavement Support Group
Ongoing support group which meets the first Monday of every month at 11:45. Participants offer mutual support to each other as we share our struggles and grief in a safe non-judgmental venue.
The Senior Center also offers a six week Bereavement Support Group when there has been a more recent loss of a significant other. Please call Caryl for more information.
A weekly group using literature as a conduit for discussion. Participants share thoughts and feelings about what they have read and relate it ‘if applicable’ to their life experience. We meet every Thursday (except the first Thursday of the month) at 10:30 am. Please call Caryl for more information.
VISION LOSS SUPPORT GROUP
Meets the first Friday of every month at 10:30 a.m. in the conference room. This is an opportunity to meet new people, share information and benefit from mutual support.
Veterans age 55 + meet monthly to share stories and strive to re-create the camaraderie that is experienced when sharing a common bond. This group meets monthly on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 10:45 a.m.
Social Work Services
As more individuals are choosing to ‘age in place’, the senior center offers ‘home visits’ by the Social Worker to the HOMEBOUND elderly. We can provide limited case management services, emotional support and counseling. Many issues include loss, care giving concerns and tensions, coping with health problems, relationship issues, independence, depression, substance abuse, isolation and more. The Social Worker also sees individuals and couples on site. Please contact Caryl Greenberg for further information.
I am now a NOTARY PUBLIC in the state of NJ. If you need something to be notarized, free of cost, to ensure you are not disappointed please call first to make sure I am in.