A Mixed Bag of Emotions during Christmas Time

The Christmas season is full of joy, with all of its frivolities, like gift exchanges, church bells, singing choirs, family gatherings, hoof noises on the roof, rich foods, and the real reason for the season of whom many still celebrate.  Depression, or anxiety, or irritability, or frustration just don’t fit with the holiday season… or do they?  Actually, reality hits most of us in the face as we realize that holiday cheer isn’t exactly a given; especially with high expectations, money woes, and even with the pressure to be cheerful despite not feeling that way.  So, what do we do to improve our holiday cheer with a mixed bag of emotions?

Here are some tips:

-Make plans ahead of time; figure out what needs to get done and make it a priority.  Stay on track until it’s completed before you start the next “to-do” task on your list.

-Try to get along with everyone; avoid conflicts during this time of year and instead make a time later on to disagree and work through stuff when the house isn’t full of company and stress is at its foremost.

-Focus on the good; enjoy your blessings.  Find gratitude in what you do, what you experience, the interactions you have…

-Try to relax and let the “need to be perfect” size way down to “enjoying the moment”.  No one really cares if your house is perfect or if you have one more item made for Christmas.

-Take care of your own health; don’t cut back on sleep, eat nutritiously, don’t forget exercising, and get outside a bit to get refreshed.  Your body drags along with you during this holiday season; why not take care of it.

-Focus on what matters; we all have our own significances.

-Smile anyways; it makes others feel good and it also can have a positive effect on you as well – “Fake it ‘til you make it”.

-Allow others to give to you; let someone in, especially if you are sad or grieving, or if you are stressed or frustrated, or if you feel alone and vulnerable.  We all need each other, especially during a holiday season.  Allowing someone in helps the giver and the receiver.  It is important to feel connected.  We need each other.  It is part of the human condition. 

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

St. Williams Mental Health

4 Reasons Why Assisted Living is Better Than Living Alone

Home is where the heart is.

While this statement is absolutely true, it can be tough to take the leap and leave your home behind for good. This is especially true as we age. We become set in our routines, making change difficult and overwhelming.

But sometimes change is exactly what we need to improve our lives. A little assistance can go a long way toward a more healthy and social lifestyle.

In this article, we’ll give you four good reasons why assisted living is better than living alone.

1. Maintenance? What Maintenance?

Do you love shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, repairing leaky faucets, and fixing a broken A/C in the heat of summer? Not so much!

Home maintenance can become a big burden as we age. It becomes harder to keep up with even the most minor of tasks like cooking and cleaning.

When you join an assisted living community, these chores are taken care of for you. The best part is, you can choose the level of assistance you need. There are a variety of optional amenities to add to your daily routine. They include nursing care, in-house doctor visits, bathing assistance, and personal laundry.

2. Leave Loneliness at the Door

Socialization is a wonderful way to keep your mind sharp as you age. If you spend much of your day alone, an assisted living community is just what you need to improve your social life. There are regular social functions planned on the community activity calendar.

Join in when you want to or opt to stay in your apartment for some alone time if you want to. You have the option.

3. Move It or Lose It

Regular activity is essential for your physical and mental health. Assisted living communities offer lots of extra amenities like whirlpool baths, fitness centers, and even in-house occupational therapy to help you recover from illness or surgery.

There are lots of activities planned to get your out and about. And there are plenty of indoor and outdoor common areas so you can easily take a walk to get your blood pumping.

4. Great Food? Yes, Please!

Some of us love to cook… some of us don’t love it so much. That’s okay! In an assisted living facility, you have the choice to cook for yourself or to enjoy regular breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided by the kitchen.

The meals are delicious. And the best part? You don’t have to do the dishes when you’re finished eating!

Are You Ready?

At St. William’s Living Center, we have 15 beautiful apartments in our assisted living called McCornell Court. Our goal is to provide you with the peace of mind you need and the comfort you deserve.

Call us today to find out how we can assist you!

What Every Child Wants Their Parents to Know

“Dear Parent, as you understand further about what I’m going to tell, you will know more about how to help me grow up.  Just to blurt it all out: ‘YOU’ are the most important person in my life! You may not believe it, but our relationship either shapes me or breaks me.  No matter what is going on with you, I NEED YOU to be there for me!!  MY LIFE IS AT STAKE!  I NEED you unconditionally!  I need you when I cry.  I need you when I don’t want you.  I need you when I can’t sleep.  I need you when I say, “I hate you!”.  I need you to help me when I make mistakes.  I need you to say you’re sorry.  If I scream or throw food on the floor, let me know you love me.  Help me learn to calm down so I can let you know why I’m angry.  With love and discipline, guide me as I try to figure out how to deal with my problems, don’t yell at me and tell me I’m a brat.  I need you to love me through and through – no matter what, despite my mistakes. 

Unconditional love is actually the main ingredient that helps my brain grow normally.  You see, my brain shapes and grows as it is fed through my thoughts and feelings about what happens to and you and me; and the more I feel loved, the more I feel secure and safe and more able to put the pieces together.  However, the more I feel dismissed or a problem-child, the more my brain tells me that maybe I’m not worth much. Even if you don’t mean it but I am placed in the shadows when you are struggling with adult problems, I can take it personally.  Or, if you tend to be sad a lot or angry and we don’t have that love connection, I can blame myself for your heartache. Or, if you aren’t secure, will I learn that life is uncertain and project it through a monster under my bed who gives me nightmares, or even worse some day?  My brain hasn’t fully developed so am wide open to interpretation. 

It is time for you to help me figure out how to deal with all the stuff I don’t even know about. You know, I’ve never lived before so there is everything I don’t know.  I am in your hands!  You are the one to help me grow up with confidence and loved.  Keep me in your mind.  Let me know that you ‘get me’. Stay with me and share my mind with yours.  As you enter my world, you will understand me.  As you enter my world, I will better understand you.  Let me feel loved and cherished.  As we become like one mind, we may meld into our own beautiful dance together.   I know that this, in itself, is the most important gift of all.   Then, I will know you are with me and I can trust you to care for me, no matter what; even if your crabby or sad, even if you had a bad childhood, even if we have some bad genes…I know we are connected and you will always be there to be alongside me, especially to guide me as I try to figure out who I am and what I’m all about. 

Thank you for being with me, through thick or thin.  Thank you for thinking that I’m the best thing that ever happened to you.  Thank you for dealing with your issues so that you can be the best parent in the world for me.  We set our focus on tomorrow.  Thank you.    Luv, Your young little child.”

Claudia A. Liljegren, LICSW, Clinical Psychotherapist

They Served for Us…

They fought for rights. They fought for values. They fought for freedom. They fought to defend Old Glory. They fought because someone else fought before they did. They fought for what was right.

They fought on foreign soil where they were hated. They fought against those who had no regard for human life. They fought to save women and children. They fought to free the oppressed.

They provided security to those who lived in constant fear. They gave medical care to the wounded. They brought food to the starving and water to the desperate. They gave hope to those who had lost everything.

They are men. They are women. They are young and full of life. They are aging gracefully. They come from all backgrounds. And they all have one thing in common…

They served for us.

Veterans are our nation’s greatest treasure. They protect our lives. They protect our liberties. They protect our happiness. They hold our history in their hands. 

On behalf of the St. William’s Living Center community, we thank you, veterans. 

You served us. Now we serve you. 

SAD During the Holidays

Despite the joy of the season and with all of its good cheer and merriment, most of us find only shifting spurts of jolliness here and there during the holidays.  Of course, this oftentimes is self-imposed, with the expectations of “doing it all”, like putting up the most awesome Christmas tree and lights, doing cookie and candy exchanges, sending packed Christmas letters, and buying the right presents for everyone and their brother, and making sure this Christmas is the best one for the kids.   Too much of a good thing, I suppose, sometimes.

But, how about those dear people who find this time fraught with sadness?  There are all sorts of reasons or situations that preclude some from the Christmas spirit, be it lingering loneliness with a lack of family connection or close friends, the reality of setting the table for one less person due to a loss in the recent or remote past, being paled with increased pain and suffering from surging medical issues, having no money, or dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder whose vision is shadowed by dark colored glasses.  ‘Tis the season to be joyful, with fistfuls of love and compassion thrown out to all who can grasp it, like candy at a parade; it is part of the Christmas spirit!  Yet, sadness can be spotted any which way you look during the holiday season, if we choose to see it. 

Spite our nose and off our face, most of us have “good reason” for keeping those fistfuls of love clutched in our own hands.  Oftentimes, we become discombobulated with our own list of “must do’s”, putting off the other list of “extra’s” or niceties until the end, if there is time.  And, then there are those awkward moments that keep us from reaching out to help a stranger; “What should I do?  What if my approach is wrong? What if I say or do the wrong thing? What if they think I’m nosy?  Would my effort even be worth it?  What if I offend them when I try to help?”.  So, on with our traditions; celebrate with our spurts of joy as we rejoice in the season of Christmas, and leave well enough alone, right?  Still, for many of us, there is that looming sadness underneath it all that just stays inside.

And in our silent ways, we all know that somehow, during the holiday season, giving out love and touching someone who needs it, seeing the joy in their face and feeling a little shiver inside, has to be one of the greatest gifts of all?  So, what does all this mean anyways?

And, you may wonder what this has to do with good mental health during the Christmas season.  You guessed it; it has everything to do with it!  Feeling good, doing good, feeling loved and giving love makes it all better for most.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

How to Spot the Signs of Memory Problems in a Loved One

Did you know that about 40% of people aged 65 and older have issues with memory?

For most people, this is just a sign of an aging brain and not a major health issue. But, in about 1% of these cases, the person goes on to develop dementia or other forms of advanced memory loss.

It’s important that you learn to spot the signs of memory problems in your elderly loved one. Keep reading to learn how.

They’ll Fight the War of the Words

If you’ve ever tried and failed to come up with the right word to describe something, you know how frustrating it is. People who have issues with memory experience this war of the words often and you’ll notice it happening more and more as they age.

Your loved one might have to pause longer when speaking in order to get the words out correctly. They may stop in the middle of a sentence and get lost in thought. Or they may fail to join conversations at all for fear of not being able to speak how they’d like to speak.

This applies to written words too. You may notice their handwriting becomes shakier and uneven. They also might make more spelling and grammar errors than you’re used to seeing.

You’ll See All the Emotions

As we mentioned, not being able to remember words is super frustrating. And you might notice your loved one getting angry when they can’t participate in a conversation. Someone who’s normally sweet and kind might lash out at others in situations where they can’t think of the right words.

You also might notice more frequent mood swings. They may be happy one moment and sad or withdrawn the next because they can’t remember something from their past.

Other common emotions are fear and anxiety. If they’re having issues remembering what they did in recent days, they may become anxious or even suspicious of those around them.

The Familiar Becomes Unfamiliar

Simple daily tasks, like shaving or cooking breakfast, may become more difficult for them to perform. They may forget how to turn on their oven or how to hold a razor. Or they may repeat things because they’ve forgotten they did them in the first place.

Misplacing items is common with those suffering from memory problems. You might find a cell phone sitting in the sugar bowl or other strange occurrences like that. And they’ll lose common items, like car keys and gloves, more often because they’ll lose the ability to retrace their steps.

Social Butterfly, No More

It’s often difficult for people to deal with the changes that come with memory loss. They’ll know there’s something wrong, but won’t be able to put their finger on it. A normally social person may become withdrawn and depressed.

You might notice that they have a hard time planning ahead and remembering when they need to be at certain places. They may lose interest in hobbies or attending activities because of fear that they’ll forget how to participate.

When to Seek Help for Memory Problems

There are some things that you can do to help your loved one improve their memory. You can talk to them often and make sure they’re eating a good diet and drinking plenty of water. Many times, memory problems are caused by dehydration or fatigue.

But if you notice that the issues are getting worse and memory lapses are becoming more frequent and distressing, it’s time to get some help. Make an appointment with their doctor to discuss your concerns about their memory problems.

At St. William’s Living Center, we offer a variety of care services to help our residents navigate life as they age. Call us today to talk to one of our experienced staff members.