A One-Month-Old Retiree’s Perspective

Grand Beach, Manitoba

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

My official last day of “work” was on Monday, June 7, 2021. I am reflecting on my last month as a new retiree and I wanted to share my thoughts with you. Most of my thoughts are good ones, so if you are into that sort of thing, you may enjoy what I have to say.

I had read in many places that it is good to retire with “a plan.” Instead of retiring FROM something, you should know what you are retiring TO. My plan for the three months following retirement was to rest, reflect and rejuvenate. One month into it, and I think I am accomplishing that. What I am going to do in the fall has not yet been determined.

Being newly retired after working in various social work positions feels like being on vacation. I felt the immediate sense of pressure, burnout, and overwhelm lift in the first couple of days of my retirement. I started feeling like “me” again. I was sleeping better (and longer), looking after myself, and enjoying the FREEDOM of not having any pressing plans or demands on my time and energy. Getting back to making myself a priority included serious and fun stuff, like:

  • colouring my hair blue, then purple
  • painting my finger nails and toe nails
  • reading/listening to books
  • started a “Diamond Art” project
  • saying “No” to some opportunities and commitments to honour my time of reflection and rest
  • shopping for new non-work clothes, shoes, and other fun things
  • getting a three-month yoga membership and doing yoga three times weekly
  • catching up with my friends and talking with them on the phone or FaceTime
  • going for walks
  • enjoying my backyard and my flower garden

The other things I have enjoyed is our camping trips with our travel trailer to two of our provincial parks. We went to Spruce Woods and Grand Beach. Although the temperature was around 30 degrees celsius, we made the beset of it!

Now that I have reconnected with myself and my husband (on our camping trips for sure!) my mind and heart are now starting to think about what I want to do with my time starting in the fall. As my energy and passion starts to return, I feel that the sky is the limit on what I can do. I am open to new opportunities, but I don’t want to overwhelm myself just yet.

I have taken my mom’s advice and have written a list of things I want to do each day. Getting a routine and building some structure to my day is helping. (And if I don’t get to it one day, I can carry it over to the next day!)

The biggest surprise so far is how fast the days fly by. I would have thought the days would drag on, but that is not the case for me! This is a reminder to make sure I am intentional with how I spend my time, for fear of “wasting” my life away. No other negatives have been experienced thus far.

I asked my doctor, “What advice would you give me, as a newly retired person?” She said, “Stay active.” I will definitely take her advice seriously.

I am still waiting on my retirement pension papers to arrive. It’s weird not having an income. Hopefully that will get sorted out soon.

No one has asked me (yet) “How’s retirement?” If someone asked me, I would say, “Great!” It still feels like a vacation to me – which is a good thing. How long will this feeling last? Only time will tell. I’ve never been retired before, so this is all new and exciting in it’s own way.

Book News: Updates and a New Book

I have been working on my books and I have two updates and one new book to tell you about.

Now in hardcover: “Flourish or Fade”

My newest book, “Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond” (2021) is now available in hardcover! This is the first book that I have been able to make into a hardcover version. Amazon had approached me to see if I would be interested in trying out this new feature they were offering, so I took them up on it. Let me know if you decided to get a copy of it in hardcover. I would love to know what you think.

Paperback updated for 2021: “Caring for a Husband with Dementia”

I have updated the paperback version of “Caring for a Husband with Dementia” for 2021. I have taken out some links that no longer worked. Many of the links were from the “Alzheimer’s Reading Room” which has been removed off the internet. I have also added a reference to a book by Marie Marley and Daniel C. Potts which has a lot of the information that was in the links which have been removed. Their book is called, “Finding Joy in Alzheimer’s: New Hope for Caregivers” (2015).

Temporary cover: “Caring for Someone with Cognitive Decline”

I have completely revised, updated, and expanded my book on dementia caregiving to create a new book, “Caring for Someone with Cognitive Decline: Information, tips, and support for caregivers” (2021). It’s reasonably priced at $12.95 USD (eBook is $3.95 USD). This book was a project I had been wanting to do for a long time. I had been told the original book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia” was suitable for all caregivers. After working with many people with dementia and their families, I felt it was time to complete this book project. The book is now available on Amazon, however, the cover is only temporary. I am currently in the process of seeking a new book cover design, so if you have any ideas, please let me know!

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Cycling to Work for 30 Years

27 Apr 2021

My husband, Agapito, has been cycling to work for the past 30 years. He remembers back in 1991 when he made the decision to ride his bike to work. We were married in 1990, and that winter we had moved into our first house. He had started taking the bus to work, but he found he didn’t like the public transit system. So, he started riding his bike. He never looked back.

Spring 1992. No helmet!
30 Nov 2020

He rides in all kinds of weather. Winnipeg winters can be brutally cold.

26 Jan 2021

His face covering gets all frosty in the cold weather. The winters are hard on bikes and he figures he went through about 7-8 so far. He has always bought used bikes.

04 Dec 2014 – “Tip of the day: Lots of free, all-day parking all over the city, even downtown.” 
04 Sep 2015 – “Got a bit of rain on the commute home. Managed to keep all my valuables dry under the garbage bag.”

He rides rain or shine!

I wonder how long he will continue to ride his bike?

27 Dec 2021

Congratulations on 30 years of cycling, Agapito! I wish you many more years of riding your bike.

Angela G. Gentile

Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond – Book Now Available

Angela Gentile’s newest book is now available for purchase from Amazon.

A perfect Mother’s Day gift for Mom (Sunday, May 9, 2021).

>>>Buy the Paperback on Amazon ($16.99 USD) 

>>>Buy the ebook (Kindle) on Amazon ($5.99 USD)

Join us at the Zoom Book Launch during National Women’s Health Week,

on Tuesday May 11, 2021 at 8:00 pm CST.

A recording on YouTube will be available if you are unable to attend the live event.

WIN PRIZES!

TAKE CHARGE OF THE WAY YOU AGE

Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond provides you with the information and tools needed to improve life satisfaction. The Flower of Wellness Method will help you devise a plan to balance your body, mind, and soul. 

You will learn how to enhance your overall well-being by exploring the ten dimensions of wellness: 

Physical, Emotional, Brain, Social, Sexual, Spiritual, Environmental, Recreational, Financial, and Occupational.

This anti-ageist, realistic, and optimistic approach to life in the middle years and beyond will provide you with inspiration and tips that will have you feeling confident, happy, and satisfied with whatever may come your way. 

The Flower of Wellness Method is a fresh and contemporary approach to finding balance.

Do you want to flourish or fade in the later years? It’s your choice. 

Angela G. Gentile, M.S.W., R.S.W., is a registered clinical social worker/specialist in aging with more than 25 years of experience working with older adults and their families. She was born and raised in Ontario and now lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

www.AngelaGGentile.com

“Flourish or Fade” Book Launch Giveaways and Contest Details

Celebrate National Women’s Health Week with us! On May 11, 2021, at 8:00 pm CST, Angela G. Gentile will be hosting a Zoom book launch for her newest book, “Flourish or Fade.” Register on Eventbrite to attend. There are a number of awesome books, services, and products that have been donated by some amazing women to help make this book event special. Please see the list below and enter to win! (see Contest Details below).

Flourish or Fade

1. Angela G. Gentile: “Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond” (paperback, $21.00 CAD value). Now available!

BrainShape Accountability Calls

2. Dr. Andrea Wilkinson: BrainShape Accountability Calls ($300.00 CAD value)

“Free Phase II Accountability Calls with Dr. Andrea of BrainShape” ($300 CAD value)

Accountability Appointments take place via TWO 60-minute video calls. 

CALL 1: Discuss your concerns and struggles + build a plan to help you address them (e.g., sleeping difficulties, chronically stressed, low energy, lacking mental focus, etc.) Whatever the problem, let’s talk about it & build a plan you can implement right away. 

CALL 2: Accountability Appointment to check-in on the goals you set out in Call 1.

The winner of the BrainShape Services prize will book their INITIAL CALL by visiting www.BrainShape.ca/call and book a time in Dr. Andrea’s calendar. This is a free offering of the supportive elements provided inside the Brain Vitality Blueprint, and helps people take the first step towards improving their health and well-being. 

How I Made a Huge Mess of My Life

3. Billie Best: “How I Made a Huge Mess of My Life” (paperback, $12.99 USD value)

https://billiebest.com/

The World Came to Us

4. Molly Duncan Campbell: “The World Came to Us” (paperback, $12.99 USD value)

http://mollydcampbell.com/

The Playground of Possibilities Card Deck

5. Kay Ross: “The Playground of Possibilities” (card deck, $20.00 USD value)

This card deck is a self-help, personal-development tool with 52 questions for you to ask yourself. Every question starts with “What would be possible for me if I…?”, to prompt you to let go of your old, limiting thoughts, beliefs and stories about yourself and the world, choose more useful ones, take inspired action, and improvise more resourceful, joyful ways of being. Kay was born in Scotland, grew up in Australia, and has lived in Hong Kong for 27 years. She’s passionate about personal development and healing, and is also an improv performer. The deck costs $20 USD plus postage from Hong Kong (the full amount depends on the number of decks ordered and the destination).  

https://playgroundofpossibilities.com/card-deck/

Seize the Moment!

6. Camille Goscicki, of Vitalaging4women, “Seize the Moment! A Guide to Living in the Present” (ebook, $4.99 USD value)

Do you live with regrets from the past, and fear the unknowns of the future?

It’s time to let go of fears and regrets and live for today. Seize the Moment! is your mini-guide to grab the present moment and live for today. It includes three bonus worksheets that will help you become more mindful. (Everyday mindfulness tips, practicing mindfulness, and becoming present for peace of mind.) Note: eReader not included.

https://www.vitalaging4women.com

The Unexpected Journey of Caring

7. Donna Thomson: The Unexpected Journey of Caring (hardcover book, $39.00 CAD value).

“The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation From Loved One to Caregiver” by Donna Thomson and Zachary White, PhD with a foreword by Judy Woodruff (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) Available at all online booksellers Hardcover – $39.00 CAD)

With a foreword by Judy Woodruff, The Unexpected Journey of Caring is a practical guide to finding personal meaning in the 21st century care experience.

Personal transformation is usually an experience we actively seek out—not one that hunts us down. Becoming a caregiver is one transformation that comes at us, requiring us to rethink everything we once knew. Everything changes—responsibilities, beliefs, hopes, expectations, and relationships. Caregiving is not just a role reserved for “saints”—eventually, everyone is drafted into the caregiver role. It’s not a role people medically train for; it’s a new type of relationship initiated by a loved one’s need for care. And it’s a role that cannot be quarantined to home because it infuses all aspects of our lives.

Caregivers today find themselves in need of a crash course in new and unfamiliar skills. They must not only care for a loved one, but also access hidden community resources, collaborate with medical professionals, craft new narratives consistent with the changing nature of their care role, coordinate care with family, seek information and peer support using a variety of digital platforms, and negotiate social support—all while attempting to manage conflicts between work, life, and relationship roles. The moments that mark us in the transition from loved one to caregiver matter because if we don’t make sense of how we are being transformed, we risk undervaluing our care experiences, denying our evolving beliefs, becoming trapped by other’s misunderstandings, and feeling underappreciated, burned out, and overwhelmed.

Informed by original caregiver research and proven advocacy strategies, this book speaks to caregiving as it unfolds, in all of its confusion, chaos, and messiness. Readers won’t find well-intentioned clichés or care stereotypes in this book. There are no promises to help caregivers return to a life they knew before caregiving. No, this book greets caregivers where they are in their journey—new or chronic—not where others expect (or want) them to be.

“Nobody grows up planning to be a caregiver, but many of us will become one and sometimes when we least expect it. Thomson and White bring powerful insights to help understand what it means to be a caregiver and how to truly support those of us who will travel this unexpected journey.” – Samir K. Sinha, director of geriatrics, Sinai Health System and University Health Network, Toronto; health policy research director, National Institute on Ageing

www.donnathomson.com 

Keeping it Together

8. Eleanor Silverberg: “Keeping it Together: How to Cope as a Family Caregiver without Losing Your Sanity” (paperback, $20.00 CAD value)

https://www.eleanorsilverberg.com/kit-book

I Could Be Wrong

9. Billie Best: I Could Be Wrong (paperback, $7.99 USD value)

https://billiebest.com/

Contest Details:

  • Contest open to adults aged 18+, worldwide. No purchase necessary.
  • Identify which prize(s) you would like to win. Submit the item name/number, your name and email address to Angela at caretoage@gmail.com. (Your name and email address will not be given out to anyone else, unless it is required in order for you to obtain your prize(s)).
  • One entry per person, per item.
  • Entries accepted from Wednesday April 21, 2021 at 5:00 pm CST until Saturday May 15, 2021 at 12:00 noon CST.
  • Winners will be drawn on or before Sunday May 16, 2021 at 12:00 noon CST.
  • Qualified winners will be notified by email and your mailing address will be required so we can ship you your prize.
  • Every attempt will be made to get your prize to you, however, in the unfortunate event there are restrictions in your country, you will be ineligible. In that case, another draw will be made to seek a suitable winner.

Good luck!

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

www.angelaggentile.com

Addicted to Anti-Anxiety or “Nerve” Pills — Benzodiazepine use disorder and what to do about it

woman-3351794_1920

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Many people, especially women, develop feelings of anxiety and worry. Some call it “bad nerves.” This predisposition to feeling anxious can cause problems with everyday living, coping, and sleeping. I have assessed and interviewed many older people with a range of problems with anxiety. Feeling anxious is a completely normal reaction to stress or a situation where you may feel fearful. However, being in a continuous state of feeling afraid can cause problems both mentally and physically. Some say they feel like they are “trembling inside.”

Anti-anxiety medications (also known as “nerve pills”) are used by many people. These pills come from the family of “benzodiazepines.” Some of the commonly prescribed anxiolytics in Canada or the United States include (but not limited to):

  • Clonazepam (Rivotril)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Diazepam (Valium)

A commonly prescribed non-benzodiazepine that acts like one is Zopiclone (eszopiclone in the USA). It is commonly used as a “sleeping pill.”

Generally, benzodiazepines end in “pam” or “lam.” Use of these medications can initially improve symptoms by offering a sedating effect, however, they can also be addictive. Side effects of these drugs include increasing the risk of cognitive impairment, confusion, delirium, falls, fractures, drowsiness, and motor vehical accidents. They are not recommended for use by older adults. In fact, older people are recommended to gradually reduce their dosage (a slow and steady decrease is recommended over a sudden discontinuance due to withdrawal symptoms). Always talk to a doctor about any changes to your medication. As the dose is gradually reduced and preferably stopped, it is important to identify and optimize alternatives to managing any underlying issues. These alternatives are preferably not other medicines.

Sometimes these medications are used on an “as needed” basis. For example, if you are afraid of flying, and you need to go on an airplane, you can take one of these medications (prescribed by your doctor) to use in specific situations. Or, if you have claustrophobia and you need to go for a scan such as an MRI, taking this medication may make it more bearable.

I have also seen where these medications are prescribed for help with sleep. People who have an anxiety disorder may be prescribed this classification of medications to see if it helps reduce anxiety or panic attacks. In older people, antidepressants are the preferred class of medications to help with anxiety.

Some other key tips to remember:

  • Avoid taking benzodiazepines with opioids or alcohol.
  • These medications are more often prescribed to women (Almost 1 in 5 Canadian women report to have used in the past year).
  • Almost 1 in 10 Canadians in Quebec have been reported to have an addiction to benzodiazepines.
  • If a benzodiazepine addiction is present, consider there may also be other substance use disorders or behaviours present (e.g, alcohol, opioids, marijuana, gambling).
  • If you are older, it’s best not to start taking benzodiazepines.
  • If the addiction is getting worse, an admission to a treatment facility may be necessary.

If you are finding yourself feeling “addicted” or “dependent” on these medications (or other substances or behaviours), you are “craving” these drugs, or you are needing to increase your dosage, you may want to see your doctor to discuss alternatives. Reducing the risk of harm is key.

For more details, The Canadian Coalition for Seniors Mental Health has published the Canadian Guidelines on Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonist Use Disorder Among Older Adults (2019) and is found online: https://ccsmh.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Benzodiazepine_Receptor_Agonist_Use_Disorder_ENG.pdf

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Cannabis and the Third Age: How Can Older Adults Benefit From This Plant?

Image from Pixabay

Image from Pixabay

This guest post is written by Bojana Petkovich. 

Cannabis (also known as marijuana) has suffered a fair share of stigma throughout the history of humankind. Even though plenty of its medicinal benefits have been known and tested for a long time, most of the world’s countries still keep cannabis illegal. Fortunately, Canada is not one of them any longer.

The Silent Generation and Baby Boomers clearly remember cannabis as illicit and all the stigma that went with it. One would think this mindset is perhaps the most difficult to change when it comes to fully embracing cannabis products, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Why Are Seniors So Attracted to CBD-Based Products?

The answer is rather simple: older age comes at a price — your body is not the same as it used to be when you were younger, and cannabis helps a lot. Your skeletal, nervous, and muscular systems have aged, and there are several age-related diseases seniors are prone to. 

Some of these diseases can, however, be mitigated and battled using cannabis and its major constituents, cannabinoids (CBD). Such substances are diverse, and thus can help with plenty of symptoms and negative side effects.

The main reason a lot of older people lean toward cannabis and its products is that it is not like other heavy prescription drugs. It has hardly any worrying negative effects on your body, and it can benefit you greatly. These products do not harm your gastrointestinal tract and your nervous system, as opposed to prescription drugs for various pains, inflammations, and diseases.

Still, cannabis is also offered as a prescription drug and should be treated as such; this means that its abuse can result in cannabis use disorder that leads to severe side effects.

The National Cannabis Survey conducted by the government of Canada revealed that there has been a rise in cannabis use in seniors. Statistically, just over 40,000 people aged 65 and older used cannabis in 2012. As of 2019, the number rose to more than 400,000 people from this age group who consumed cannabis.

Age-Related Diseases and Cannabis

Diseases such as arthritis, glaucoma, dementia, osteoporosis, and adult-onset diabetes are some of the most common ones that come with old age. Cannabis is, however, known to help with all of them and many others.

Osteoporosis and bone-weakening diseases are some of the most common ones for older adults. They cause severe pain, limited activity and mobility, and overall weakness of your bones. Cannabis use is especially helpful when it comes to such diseases, as it speeds up the healing process of your skeletal system through osteoblast stimulation. These cells act as rebuilders and repairers of your bones, making them up to 50% stronger once the CBD treatment is finished.

Dementia is difficult to deal with, both for the one suffering from it and the person’s loved ones. Other than forgetting crucial things about your life, such as close family members and places, many people with dementia experience severe agitation, aggression, depression, and similar. The neuron cells saturated by excessive amounts of amyloid protein get inflamed, causing this vile disease. Luckily, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is there to reduce the amount of this protein, while inducing calmness. 

Diabetes is a problem for a growing percentage of the world’s population, especially in adults and the elderly. Diabetes statistics show people who use cannabis have around 16% lower fasting levels of insulin compared to those who do not use it, and type two diabetes is rather uncommon in cannabis consumers.

Pain is linked to many diseases and is the most common symptom. Cannabis is known for its ability to reduce different types of pain. Factually, 62.2% of cannabis users choose this plant and products based on it so they can relieve chronic pain.

Arthritis, a disease that attacks joints, tends to trouble 1in 2 older people. The feeling of stiffness and pain, followed by fatigue and swelling are some of the most noticeable symptoms. A 2018 study from the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry reports a strong bond between arthritis and depression, and seniors have been using cannabis to fight this disease. Not only that, but in 2018 they were up to 20 times more likely to admit they used marijuana in comparison to statistics from 1984. 

Bottom Line

As we enter an era where many symptoms, illnesses, and diseases are becoming a part of a blurry past due to technological advancement, older people can finally start experiencing a painless and easy day-to-day life. Cannabis is already making a massive change, as people opt for CBD-based products more and more every year, and we cannot wait to see this plant’s full spectrum of benefits in the future.

 

About the author: Bojana Petkovich is always on the lookout for new adventures and creative drives. Bojana is currently mesmerized by the fast-paced cannabis industry and providing the internet community with valuable information via LoudCloudHealth. The information on LoudCloudHealth is backed up by scientific studies. The articles on diseases and conditions treated by cannabis or CBD have sources to scientific research in their links. The statistics pages have their sources listed at the end of each article.

Low-Risk Alcohol Usage Guidelines for Older Adults – Know your limits

depth of field photography of woman in pastel color sleeveless shirt and white sunhat

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Most adults enjoy drinking alcohol on occasion. Sometimes, though, this occasional drink turns into a daily habit. One drink turns into two or more. If a person is not mindful, this habit could turn into an addiction. Addiction is also known as dependency or substance use disorder.

People can become addicted to not only alcohol but drugs, including prescription drugs (such as benzodiazepines and opiates). For example, nicotine, the drug found in cigarettes, is very addictive. Addictive behaviour can also be problematic, as in gambling, sex, or online gaming.

Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences. People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life. They keep using alcohol or a drug even when they know it will cause problems. Yet a number of effective treatments are available and people can recover from addiction and lead normal, productive lives. – American Psychiatric Association, retrieved 03 Dec 2019.

For a number of reasons, it is essential to keep in mind that as we age, it is recommended we reduce our consumption of alcohol. For adults aged 65 and older, it is important to be aware of the low-risk guidelines.

Canada’s Low-Risk Guidelines (DrinkSense for Seniors) which is provided by the “Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction”, states that limits for adults (not older adults) who drink alcohol should be 10 drinks a week for women with no more than two per day, and 15 drinks a week for men with no more than three drinks a day on most days. There is no specific limit for older adults, but one of their “Safer Drinking Tips” includes the advice of “Always consider your age, body weight, and health problems that might suggest lower limits.”

standard-drink-picture_0

Standard Drink Portions:

      • Beer – 341 ml (12 oz.) of 5% alcohol content
      • Wine – 142 ml (5 oz.) of 12% alcohol content
      • Cider/Cooler – 341 m. (12 oz.) 5% alcohol content
      • Distilled alcohol/80 proof liquor (rye, gin, rum, vodka, etc.) – 43 ml (1.5 oz.) 40% alcohol content

Note: Not all wines are created equal. Some wines start at 5% alcohol content, some go as high as 18%!

I attended an “Aging and Addictions” course in November 2019 which was held by the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, and they supported the drafted recommendations entitled “Prevention: Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines” for those 65 and older (noted below).

Low-Risk Drinking Limits (65+)

    • Women: No more than 1 standard drink per day, with no more than 5 drinks in total per week.
    • Men: No more than 1-2 standard drinks per day, with no more than 7 per week in total.
    • Non-drinking days are recommended every week.

Source: Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Health. Canadian Guidelines for Older Adults. Prevention, Assessment, and Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder, 2019.

These drafted guidelines are more in line with what I would recommend. I have seen what alcohol dependence can do to people and it is heartbreaking. And as noted in a previous post here on my website, to help preserve cognitive health, experts recommend no more than 2-4 drinks per week (see my Memory Rescue book review.)

For those who have a drinking problem, there is often stigma and shame attached. Many people can’t abstain or reduce their drinking behaviour on their own (harm reduction) and need help. If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, addiction or dependence, please contact the Addictions Helpline in your area.

> Addictions Helpline Canada 

> Addictions Helpline USA

AA 12-Step (https://www.aa.org/) or Smart Recovery (https://www.smartrecovery.org/) are peer support options to consider as well.

If you are considering getting on top of your drinking problem and need someone to talk to, please contact me and I can assist you in finding the help you need.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

References:

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction

https://amho.ca/wp-content/uploads/Mon-300pm-IP1-3a-Older-Adults-with-Alcohol-Related-Problems-Best-Practice-Guidelines.pdf

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/substance-use/get-help/get-help-problematic-substance-use.html

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

https://www.aa.org/

https://www.smartrecovery.org/

https://www.drinksenseab.ca/drinksense-tips/seniors/

https://ccsmh.ca/alcohol-guidelines/

“A Standard Drink” image source: https://studentaffairs.lehigh.edu/content/what-standard-drink

One Day Without Caffeine – Here’s what I learned

person holding gray mug

Photo by fotografierende on Pexels.com

I have been doing a lot of reading up on and learning about substance use problems and addictions and I quickly realized that I was using caffeine on a daily and habitual basis. I wondered if I was “addicted” to caffeine. Addiction in the sense that there is a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance. Addictions always have negative consequences (think of those who are addicted to meth or alcohol). I have been having trouble sleeping at night so I wondered if caffeine was the culprit.

I also wondered if cutting out caffeine would cause me any withdrawal symptoms and if I was physically or psychologically dependent on it. I am not a heavy caffeine user. I have two, maybe three cups of orange pekoe tea (i.e. Red Rose) a day. Sometimes I have a special green tea drink. I rarely drink cola anymore. The chocolate I eat is also something I feel I am dependent on but that’s for another day!

I woke up as usual, around 7:00 am and boiled my hot water for tea. This time I put orange pekoe decaf tea in the cup (i.e. Typhoo). I added some milk and I realized in my mind, I was preparing for withdrawal such as headaches and fatigue. Most people are afraid of getting a headache as a caffeine-withdrawal symptom. I made sure I had my ginger tablets with me just in case. I enjoyed my cup of tea and tried to trick my brain that it had caffeine. Just to see if that helped.

By 9:30 am, while at work, I was noticing a “foggy and fuzzy” feeling on my face.

I imagined if I had had some caffeine at this point, perhaps the foggy feeling would go away. I had a glass of water to help with any dehydration/thirst symptoms.

At noon I had my lunch. I enjoyed another decaf tea with milk. I was feeling a little fuzzy in the face still. Kind of like what I feel like when I first wake up in the morning.

At 1:00 pm I was feeling some heat in my cheeks. A tired feeling was coming over me. I needed to be alert for work. I noticed I was craving sugar and carbohydrates. It’s as if my brain was telling me what to have to help perk me up if I can’t have caffeine. The second best option was sugar and carbs. So I had a couple of little candies. It helped for a short time.

By 2:30 pm I was feeling tired and was craving potato chips. I knew a cup of tea would help curb my afternoon crash, but I wanted to see if I could work through it. I had a few chips. It helped.

The need for carbs continued. At 3:45 pm I had some Nutella on a rice cake. By now I am totally convinced my body is craving sugar and carbs for a little energy boost to help keep me awake.

I can see how easy it is – and perhaps a healthier choice – to grab a cup of tea (or coffee for coffee drinkers) when you need a little “pick-me-up.”

Going for a tea (or coffee) seems a lot healthier than eating candies and potato chips. I then started to think about those who smoke and want to quit smoking. I have often heard how people gain weight when they quit. I can now understand why that is.

By 5:15 pm I was snacking before dinner. I ate a small piece of leftover garlic toast. I also had another glass of water to help me push through until dinner time.

During dinner, I told my family that I had not had any caffeine today and that I felt like I never completely woke up. 

After dinner, I felt very sluggish and tired. I had less energy and felt like having a nap on the couch. I fought it though.

When bedtime came around, I was yawning, felt tired, but unfortunately had trouble falling asleep.  My theory of  “a caffeine-free day will help me sleep at night” was disproven. The other theory of getting a “caffeine-withdrawal headache” was also disproven.

So, I’ve decided that it’s okay for me to have my cup of tea, or two, or not. I can go without it if I need to. I don’t consider myself dependent or addicted to caffeine. I see it as a comfort and habit that helps curb my appetite. It also helps me “wake up.” I have also read there are health benefits of drinking tea (and coffee) in reasonable amounts. Especially green tea. I will continue to work on my insomnia issues.

Challenge yourself to a caffeine-free day and see what you learn about yourself and your relationship to caffeine.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

 

Heavy, Painful, Achy Arms Can Signify a Heart Attack – Crystal’s Story

woman in black sleeveless dress

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

This is a guest post, written by Crystal Lindal (47), Ontario, Canada. I first saw her Facebook post on October 22, 2019, and she agreed to allow me to share her story. 

 

It’s been exactly one month today.

Not a lot of people know I had a heart attack on September 22, 2019, in the early morning. And I wasn’t going to say anything on Facebook, but … BUT … if it helps just one person, then I’m okay with posting this.

Women have different heart attacks than men! Most women experience symptoms, they pass after a bit, and they go on with their day. They think, “It’s probably just my stomach … my arthritis … I haven’t eaten much today … I’m just too busy” … you get the idea!

I had slept over at my mom’s who lives next door. I woke up about 6:30 a.m., made coffee, and was sitting quietly on the computer – just scrolling Facebook and checking emails when the symptoms started at 7:15 a.m.

My heart attack symptoms:
> Both arms got extremely heavy and achy (the ache was very painful)
> Then I got nauseous
> Then my lower jaw hurt – felt like I had been sucker-punched!

I got up, walked around. I tried to shake my arms, thinking maybe I slept wrong or pinched my elbows somehow. I started pacing and went into the kitchen. While laying my arms and head across the kitchen island and concentrating on my breathing (because I thought it was some sort of anxiety attack) I looked over at the kitchen sink and there in all its glory was a bottle of low-dose Aspirin! I still have no idea what made me walk over and take one – but I’m pretty sure it saved my life!

My mom called the ambulance around 7:40 a.m. and it arrived shortly after. If she hadn’t done that, I most likely would have just got on with my day as I felt completely fine by then. I felt silly going to the hospital in an ambulance – I actually felt embarrassed!!

“Don’t doubt yourself! Don’t negate the signs and symptoms of a heart attack!”

Crystal Lindal, Heart Attack Survivor

I did get flown to Thunder Bay – and the doctor said I’m one of the lucky ones as my blockage is only at 50%. They only usually stent at 75%+ so no stent for me. But I now know I can do things in my life to reverse the blockage or at least stall it!

So, there ya go! My hope is that this may help someone out there to listen to their bodies. When something’s not right, it’s not right.

And I do suggest a bottle of low-dose Aspirin in every household!

– Crystal Lindal

 

For further information:

If you would like to reach Crystal, please use the Contact Form and your message will be forwarded to her.

Edited by Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW