Worried? Confused? Losing your Focus?
Maybe you’re Depressed
Let me make this perfectly clear.
I am not a Psychologist, Psychiatrist or authority on the subject of depression.
Do not attempt to treat depression without first consulting with a healthcare professional.
My experiences are exactly that, my own.
With that being said, let me tell you why you may be needlessly suffering from what you may think is you just getting old.
First, a little background info.
Before May 19th, 2009 I considered myself to be a pretty normal (whatever the hell that means) person.
I suffered from the usual ups and downs of living in a modern society.
I had just entered upon the next chapter in my life, Retirement, which meant that money would now be somewhat of a problem.
Unfortunately, I was forced to take early retirement because my job essentially went out of existence and finding another that paid as well was (at age 62) impossible.
This meant that my Social Security benefits would less than if I had waited until 65 or 66 to retire.
That, and because I was not yet eligible for Medicare and had to pay for my medical insurance out of pocket, made things a bit tight.
But I had some money in the bank, some un-cashed CDs and an IRA to help me over the rough spots.
That, plus a little frugality, and I had no doubt that I could make it.
I had no doubt, that is, until that fateful day when my plans for the future fell apart and my life changed forever.
I got sick.
Sick enough to be taken to the hospital and subsequently spending the next 3 years in and out of various health care facilities including two years in a nursing home sitting in a wheelchair.
And, although the condition that sent me on that journey through America’s health care system was eventually resolved, I was left with a feeling of utter hopelessness and despair.
For all my life I had been a person who prided himself on being solidly in control of my situation.
Most of the decisions that I made in regards to how I lived my life, how I controlled my money and who I trusted were made only after much forethought and consideration.
However, now three years of institutionalization (As well-meaning as it may have been) was causing me to make irrational choices under a cloud of apprehension and foreboding.
The uninsured cost of the nursing home was costing me a fortune, which nearly left me destitute.
I stupidly gave up my apartment because I thought I would never get out of that wheelchair.
And I even stopped eating or caring about my health and appearance.
I slept most of the day and was losing weight at an alarming rate.
Rapidly enough so that my doctor sent me to the hospital for tests on my thyroid.
As it turned out, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Because I had private health insurance, I was visited by a slew of doctors “interested” in my case.
One of those doctors was a psychiatrist, a lovely women, who we shall call Dr. L.
While I had spoken to psychologists in the past (who’s only interest in me seemed to be whether or not I had suicidal tendencies), Dr. L was the first actual shrink I had ever had a conversation with.
And, although I had my doubts about how she could help me, I decided to give her a try.
Her first and practically only question to me was, “Why are you here (In the hospital)?”
It was a simple but amazing question.
For the next twenty or thirty minutes, I told her of my health problems, my life of hospital visits and nursing homes.
We spoke about the loss of my brother and that I had no living immediate family members left.
At the end of the interview, she shook her head and, without hesitation, said to me, “You’re depressed, I would be too if I had been through what you have.”
She went on to tell me that she could help me with my depression.
“You mean drugs”? I said hesitantly.
She sensed my distrust and went on to say that what she had in mind are not anti-psychotics or mind altering drugs.
They would not make me sleepy of dopey.
Though still dubious, I acquiesced.
I left the hospital with my thyroid condition resolved and 10 ml. of an anti-depressant called Lexapro.
Now here comes the tricky part when dealing with depression and medication.
Although she said that it might take three, four, or more days for the medicine to “kick in”. you are never quite sure when it has begun to work.
Unlike aspirin or an antibiotic which show signs of actually working by relieving your headache or curing your infection, anti-depressants are subtle.
You don’t realize that they are working until you start to realize that things seem a bit different.
For me, it was a clearing away of the cobwebs which had prevailed and perverted my life for the past three years.
I was more aware of my surroundings and my interest in things returned.
Even my physical therapy improved because now, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Soon after that, I was ready to leave the dispiriting surroundings of the nursing home to the more open and less constrictive confines of assisted living.
As I said, one can never be sure whether it’s the medication that has improved my situation or whether it just improved by itself.
All I can say that now I think more clearly than I ever have (including the time before I became ill).
I am more and more aware of where I am in this world and where I am going.
I question things more and speak up for myself more than I ever had.
I am, in a word, less “depressed.”
For many years, depression and related illnesses were looked upon as taboo subjects. Something that would best be left to quiet discussions with bearded doctors followed by strong medications that left you in a state of dis-associative euphoria.
“Out of it” so to speak.
But things are different now,
Depressive disorders are out in the open and more benignly treated.
Depressed people are not crazy or psychotic.
Depressed people are like you.
As I said. Only a professional can accurately diagnose depressive disorders.
But I urge you. If you even have just an inkling that something might be wrong and before you start making yourself and others around you crazy, ask your primary care physician for a referral to a psychiatrist.
It may be the half hour that changes your life.
6 Little-Known Signs of Depression in Older Adults
Learn to identify the signs and get help
By Kristen Sturt
Although the following food review(s) is intended primarily for the enjoyment of the residents of the Westchester Center for Assisted and Independent Living, others may find it informative and entertaining.
To celebrate a recent change in our food service management (Our chef left for personal reasons), the table 22 breakfast bunch decided to take a ride over to our favorite local diner, the 7 Brothers Diner to be exact.
And, while a changing of the guard is always a good reason to rejoice, this is not the primary reason for our bi- monthly sojourns into Yonkers haute cuisine.
We go because of one simple thing that the 7 Brothers Diner (And practically every other diner on the face of this earth) has and what we residents of the Westchester Center for Independent and Assisted Living can’t get, and that’s an egg with a runny yolk.
And by “runny yolk” I mean a fried egg sunny side up, a poached egg (as in the case of the Eggs Benedict pictured above) or a soft boiled egg.
As I have explained in previous blogs, the reason for our yolkless conundrum is due to a rule set down by the NYS Dept. Of Health that prohibits kitchens in nursing homes or assisted living facilities from serving eggs cooked below 145 F, which makes anything even looking like a runny yolk nonexistent.
I mentioned that we have a new head chef in the kitchen.
Unfortunately, he is not a new cook to our facility.
And, while we appreciate that he was promoted from the ranks, the chances that anything as far as what and how food will be cooked and served will also change is slim to none.
We do, however, wish him well, but It will likely be more of the same old same old……………………ff.
How Our Broken Health Care System Treats The Elderly
By Laurie Levy
“I can’t pretend I have an answer to how to fix the mess of health care for the elderly. But it seems like there is nothing between neglect and overkill. When my mother-in-law was in a nursing home at the end of her life, she would frequently become dehydrated. These episodes led to many trips to the ER for fluids. Finally, we asked why they couldn’t give her fluids at the nursing home. The answer: they needed a doctor’s orders. Once we got this in place, she no longer had to suffer the pain and disruption of taking an ambulance to the ER and staying there for hours.
Sometimes, the solution to a huge problem is actually something simple. If there were a way for the elderly to be evaluated, and even given basic treatment by a doctor, they would not end up in our emergency rooms and being hospitalized. How to make this happen is the big question.”
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Long-Term Care: The Ignored Issue in the 2016 Election
What it will take to get the presidential candidates' attention
By Bob Blancato
One issue I fervently wanted raised (but sadly was not) is one that millions of Americans face each day. And it’s one that, left unaddressed, will also be the biggest financial liability facing the boomer generation. I’m talking about long-term care and the services and supports for it.
There were questions about caregiving at the Town Hall debate. You just didn’t see them being asked.
I had the good fortune to address a summit on this topic convened by The SCAN Foundation in September.
I’m sorry to say you can’t find much to celebrate in either of the parties’ respective platforms about long-term care.
The Republican platform barely checks the box when it says, “We will make home care a priority in public policy.” The Democrats go further, but more with lofty aspiration than action, proposing to “take steps to strengthen and expand the home care workforce, give seniors and people with disabilities access to quality, affordable long-term care, services and supports and ensure that all of these resources are readily available at home or in the community.”
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