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Archive for the ‘Healthy Relationships’ Category

Daughter and Mother Living with Dementia

Do you ever forget where you’ve placed your remote, or just can’t recall the name of acquaintance? When this occurs, do you wonder if you are starting to develop dementia? It’s common to become somewhat more forgetful as you age. The question is, how you can tell whether your memory lapses are part of normal aging or are a symptom of something more serious.

If you are in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s, you may have noticed that you might need a bit longer to remember things, get distracted more easily or struggle to multi-task as well as you once did. You may worry that these are an early sign of dementia, it is important not to worry too much. While these changes are frustrating at times, they are a part of normal aging.  

By contrast, people with dementia have a loss of memory and other mental function severe enough that it affects their ability to live independently at home, interact is social activities and at work. While some memory loss, such as recall and recognition, is the result of the aging brain, dementia is some type of injury to the brain that goes beyond normal changes. For a variety of reasons, once-healthy neurons (nerve cells) in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die.

Dementia can cause a significant decline in a person’s mental abilities by affecting their capacity for things like memory, thinking and reasoning.

Although people in the earliest stages of dementia often sense the something is wrong, the illness eventually deprives them of the insight necessary to understand their problems. So it’s usually up to a family member or friend to recognize the symptoms. The Alzheimer’s Association,  Know the 10 Signs brochure highlights a list of 10 signs that should not be ignored.

  1. Memory loss that is severe enough to disrupt daily life-for example, asking for information over and over again.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems, such as trouble following a recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure-for example, trouble driving to a familiar location.
  4. Confusion over time or place.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, including difficulty judging distances and determining color.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing, including difficulty following or joining a conversation.
  7. Putting things in unusual places and being unable to find them again.
  8. Decreased or poor judgement-for example, giving large amounts of money to telemarketers or paying less attention to personal hygiene.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  10. Changes in mood and personality, including becoming suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious.

If after reading this list you are worried about yourself or someone close to you, arrange for a medical evaluation. Making a diagnosis of dementia requires a thorough examination by a physician. Many forms of dementia are not reversible, but early detection provides an opportunity to minimize other medical conditions that may bring on severe dementia symptoms earlier than they might otherwise show.

If you would like to learn more about your memory, please join us at 10a.m. on Wednesdays in May for the Virtual Master of Memory. These four sessions will be offered online. Sessions will include information on memory strategies, nutrition, medications, medical conditions, and exercise for the body and mind.

Sessions are free – but registration is required. You may register here: https://go.osu.edu/masterofmemory

Written by: Kathy Tutt, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension-Clark County, tutt.19@osu.edu

Reviwed by: Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension-Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

Sources:

Alzheimer’s Association, https://www.alz.org/

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Dementia-Information-Page

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Recently I was reading an article and the researchers explained that self-compassion is not, “merely a ‘Pollyanish’ form of thinking.” They were using “Pollyanish” as an informal way to say that self-compassion is not foolish.

Merriam-Webster defines Pollyanna as: a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything. They explain that the term was used in the early 1920s referring to Pollyanna, the young heroine of the 1913 novel Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter. As the slang became more popular, the author later defended her work by stating, “I have never believed that we ought to deny discomfort and pain and evil; I have merely thought that it is far better to ‘greet the unknown with a cheer.'”

While the label Pollyanna or Pollyanish isn’t necessarily used as a compliment, we recognize the benefits of positive thinking. Research shows that positive people have better physical well-being and an increased lifespan. They have lower rates of depression and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Positive people have better coping skills during times of stress.

So why the criticism of Pollyanna? A main problem is when people insist on only allowing positivity. Stephanie Preston, University of Michigan Ann Arbor psychologist explains that toxic positivity is, “when people are forced to seem or be positive in situations where it’s not natural” or people don’t acknowledge or “deal with the fact that there is distress or need”. It’s not an all or nothing.

Being called a “Pollyanna” really isn’t an insult especially if you temper the positive with other realities. A recent paper advocated using, “positive psychology practices to be part of a multi-disciplinary approach.” They went on to explain that not only can we build on positive emotions but we can also build up our self-compassion and the capacity to cope with challenges. If we insist or rely only on positivity, we won’t allow ourselves – or others – time to experience other emotions or chances to learn and grow through struggles.

Written by: Patrice Powers-Barker, CFLE, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Lucas County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County

Sources:

Barlage, L. (2019). The power of positivity. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University. Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/12/30/the-power-of-positivity/

Carter, S. (2021). Overcoming Pandemic Paralysis. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University. Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/01/28/overcoming-pandemic-paralysis/

Graham, R. (2013, Feb 26). How we all became Pollyannas (and why we should be glad about it). The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/02/how-we-all-became-pollyannas-and-why-we-should-be-glad-about-it/273323/

Neff, K, Kirkpatrick, K., and Rude, S. (2006). Self-compassion and adaptive psychological functioning. Journal of Research in Personality 41 (2007) 139–154. Retrieved from https://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/publications/JRP.pdf

Marsh, J. (2012). The power of self-compassion. Greater Good Science Center. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_power_of_self_compassion

Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress. (nd). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950

Stillman, J. (2020). ‘Toxic Positivity’ is a thing. A lot of us are experiencing it now. Psychology, University of Michigan. Retrieved from: https://lsa.umich.edu/psych/news-events/all-news/faculty-news/-toxic-positivity–is-a-thing–a-lot-of-us-are-experiencing-it-n.html  

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Are you still wearing your mask?  Do they really work?  Do you still have to wear one after getting the vaccine? 

a woman wearing a cloth face mask

We all want to get rid of these masks. So, do they really help? Sanja IIic, OSU Associate Professor and food safety state specialist, did some research with Case Western Reserve University to see if mask wearing made a difference.  IIic said the research was done to “demonstrate the droplet transmission and serve as an educational tool on how the viruses are transmitted and how we can prevent them in the community.”  

They tested single-layer and double-layer masks made of different materials. 

  • Most effective masks –  double-layer cotton, which was similar in effectiveness to surgical masks
  • Least effective – single layered polyester masks

These experiments showed that wearing a face mask is an effective way to prevent the transmission of droplets. But, masks need to be worn correctly to be effective.  Masks must:

  • Completely cover the nose and mouth
  • Fit snuggly against the sides of your face without gaps
  • Be two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
  • Ideally have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask

Masks help people not to touch their nose or mouth, limiting the spread of the virus. But it is also important to follow social distancing guidelines of staying six feet apart, so droplet transmission is less likely if someone sneezes or coughs. Be sure to wash your masks after use and wash your hands before and after putting on or removing a mask. 

Do you need to wear a mask if you have had the vaccine?  Yes, experts recommend you wear a mask after you have had the vaccine. 

  • The pandemic is not controlled until around 50%-70% of the population become immune due to the vaccine or having the virus. 
  • The vaccine was tested on preventing COVID-19 but not on whether a person could be a carrier of the virus. 

Thus, to help keep everyone safe, please wear a mask and practice social distancing until many more people have been vaccinated. Please consider getting the vaccine as soon as you are eligible.

Infographic available from cdc.gov/coronavirus.  "It's a two-way street. Masks protect you & me. When we all wear masks, we take care of each other.  Wear masks, avoid crowds, stay 6 feet apart, and wash your hands. Take all four steps for the most protection.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer:  Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Sources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021).  Your Guide to Masks https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html   

Landino, K. (2021). Dispelling the myths:  Face Masks Work to Prevent COVID-19. College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences News, The Ohio State University,  https://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/dispelling-the-myths-face-masks-work-prevent-covid-19

Ohio State Insights. (2021).  Are These Coronavirus Vaccines Safe?  An Expert Weighs in”  https://insights.osu.edu/health/covid-19-vaccine-safety

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piggy bank

We can think of our relationship with our children as a bank account.  Just like a real bank account, we can make deposits and withdraws each day. We make “deposits” when we feed our relationship with love, hugs and kisses.  Spending time with your children, listening to them and showing encouragement all increase your balance. Unfortunately, as adults we also sometimes make “withdraws” out of our relationship account. This happens when we criticize, ignore, yell or break promises. As adults we need to make sure that our relationship accounts always have more deposits than withdraws.  Making more “deposits” serves as a proactive effort to ensure that the good times outweigh the bad.  A relationship with plenty of “deposits” also assists in building resiliency in kids.  Resiliency is the ability to handle stress and serves as an insulation to the inability to bounce back after adversity.

PAX Tools Manager Kathryn Tummino discusses Emotional Deposits in a short video that can be viewed here:  Emotional Deposits Pax Tools

“Researchers remind us that we need five positive interactions to every negative interaction to keep any relationship healthy. And since we spend so much time guiding — a.k.a. correcting, reminding, scolding, criticizing, nagging, and yelling — it’s important to make sure we spend five times as much time in positive connection.”


Dr. Laura Markham Ph.D., offers 10 Habits to Strengthen a Parent-Child Relationship
1. Aim for 12 hugs (or physical connections) every day
2. Play
3. Turn off technology when you interact with your child
4. Connect before transitions
5. Make time for one on one time
6. Welcome emotion
7. Listen, and Empathize
8. Slow down and savor the moment
9. Bedtime snuggle and chat
10. Show up

Sources
Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University, https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/resilience/

Markham, Laura. “10 Habits to Strengthen a Parent-Child Relationship.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 27 June 2017, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/peaceful-parents-happy-kids/201706/10-habits-strengthen-parent-child-relationship.

PAX Tools. PAXIS Institute 2020, http://www.paxis.org/pax-tools.

PAX Tools – Emotional Deposits, 18 May 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=I80VhmAT2fU&t=138s

Written by Heather Reister, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Butler County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

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Lately I have been feeling even more isolated and alone than I did at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have found myself retreating and not reaching out to others in the same ways that I did a year ago. But a couple weeks ago, some friends called and asked me to join them for a small girls’ night out dinner. We safely socially distanced from others, and the four of us enjoyed an evening at a hotel together. THAT event has changed my train of thought. I was feeling bad for myself and feeling very lonely, which is not easy as an extroverted person. But what I realized was that even if I cannot spend time with people physically, I do not have to wait for them to contact me. Connection is a two-way street. I can reach out even while staying “safe”.

Connection looks different in every relationship. Sometimes you have a connection because of chemistry with another. Sometimes it is a “forced” interaction because you are colleagues, in class together, or share a common interest. We communicate through verbal and non-verbal signals that can drive connection or cause disconnection. Social media is also a major form of connection for many of us.

YOU WERE MADE FOR CONNECTION. Even if you are an introverted person, I am sure you still have a small circle of people you trust and who are important to you. Interactions drive our daily lives. Connecting with others helps us remember that we matter. Our brains thrive from connection. 

We were also made to show connection through safe, physical touch. Hugging releases oxytocin* and dopamine* and directly impacts cortisol* levels. It is recommended that we should receive 10 second hugs– 8 a day for maintenance, 12 a day for growth, and upwards of 18 for optimal mental health.

  • Oxytocin promotes feeling of contentment, reduces stress, and promotes bonding.
  • Dopamine is linked to Parkinson’s disease (low levels) and Schizophrenia (high levels). Dopamine is the pleasure hormone. Lack of dopamine can lead to procrastination, self doubt, and lack of enthusiasm.
  • Cortisol is our fight or flight hormone. It’s your body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood and motivation.

In high stress states it feels like our body cannot contain emotion without someone to hold us. Touch is not a single sense. Having your back rubbed stimulates neurons that release oxytocin, dopamine, and cortisol. Vicarious touch can help us to soothe ourselves. A hunger for touch means a need is not met.

We are also our own biggest barrier to connection. We tell ourselves we are okay. We tell ourselves that we can handle it. We tell ourselves we don’t want to bother anyone. I encourage you to please stop doing that to yourself. Think about how you feel when someone reaches out to you and wants to spend time with you. It makes you feel wanted and needed and important. 

Take control of your own well-being. Pick up the phone. Write a letter. Send a text. Make a list of who you miss and start putting “Connect with _____________________” on your to-do list every day. It will make a difference. I know it has for me.

Written by: Jami Dellifield, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Perry County

RESOURCES

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Yahtzee, Yatzy, Play, Cube, Craps, Fun, Leisure, Tricky
Yachtzee-like game

This afternoon my daughter comes into the living room and asks, “Where is the Yahtzee?” I was a little miffed. Why would I be upset that my 17-yo wants to do something that doesn’t involve technology? Let me explain. My parents recently came home from Florida to get their COVID-19 vaccinations and for a couple medical appointments and they are staying with us. My mom likes to play Yahtzee, so the kids usually end up playing it with her. I was miffed because I would LOVE for my kids to play games with me! I have to basically beg or threaten them to get them to play a game. My “kids” are ages 23, 21, and 17.

Since my parents are usually in Florida during the winter, I am happy to have them here. As I listened to my older son, my daughter, and my mom laughing and hooting downstairs, I couldn’t help but smile. You see, it is moments like these that I realize, the little things really are the big things. As much as I wanted to go down and join in the fun, I didn’t want to interrupt this grandparent-grandchildren bonding time. So, I sat upstairs with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart, listening to them play Yahtzee. I am very happy that my kids get to have the fun experiences they do with both sets of their grandparents.

Corona 19, Mask, Spring, In The Spring I'M Back, Family
Family with masks on

According to research by the American Psychological Association, happy memories from our childhood, especially of our parents, have been linked to better health later in life. I would never claim to be the best parent, but I hope that my children have more fond memories than not. That the times when I was or am frustrated with them or someone or something else are not overshadowed by the absolute love I have for them and incredible joy it has been and still is to be their mother.

I remember the day I brought each of my kids home. I could not believe that the hospital was just letting me walk out the door with this new life without some type of license or certification demonstrating some level of parenting proficiency. I mean, I can’t legally drive a car without a license. I had to take a class to learn how to save a life, but I was able to just walk right out the door with this tiny human.

When I hear parents of young children complaining or apologizing for their kid’s interruptions on Zoom meetings, I tell them that there is no need. When they are frustrated with their child, I remind them that it will pass. For those of us with grown children, we know all too well how quickly time passes. While you are wishing for them to sleep through the night, to say their first word, to become potty trained, etc. etc., you may be missing out on lots of little things. Little things that some day you will realize were the big things. As I read over this blog about mindful parenting that I wrote, I cannot believe it has been almost 3 years! Time ticks on.

As Bonnie Ware observed while working for hospice, the things people regret when they are faced with death, have little to do with the things we worry most about most of our life. When questioned about regrets patients had or things they would do differently, these were the five most common themes:

Pictures, Memories, Nostalgia, Saudade, Old Photos
Black & white pictures
  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

So, as we continue to endure this pandemic and all the challenges, try not to forget to embrace the people and the moments that you have, instead of focusing on when we will get back to “the way things were.” Because I guarantee you, there are little things happening right in front of you, that someday you will realize were the big things.

Written by: Misty Harmon, OSU Extension Educator, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Roseanne Scammahorn, OSU Extension Educator, Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

References:

American Psychological Association. (2018, November 5). Happy childhood memories linked to better health later in life. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2018/11/happy-childhood-memories

Harmon, M. (2018, March 30). Mindful parenting: Enjoy every moment. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/harmon-416osu-edu/mindful-parenting-enjoy-every-moment/

Meyer, M., & Kandic, A. (2017, October 30). Grandparenting in the United States. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6177109/

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. (n.d.). How the Covid-19 vaccine works. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/features/coronavirus/patient-care/covid-19-vaccine/how-the-covid-19-vaccine-works

Ware, B. (n.d.). Dying regrets, wise advice and life lessons. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.aarp.org/relationships/grief-loss/info-02-2012/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying.html

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When you hear the word caregiver, what image comes to mind? Maybe what you see is someone in your family, someone you work with, a friend, or even you.  The reality is approximately 25% of adults in the United States report being a caregiver to someone with a long-term illness or disability in the past 30 days. The caregiving role can look different for everyone. Some people feel that being a caregiver makes them feel good about themselves, has taught them new skills, and has strengthened their relationship with their loved one. However, many people find themselves in a caregiving role that has a negative impact on their financial health, physical health, and mental health. In fact, there is such a concern for caregivers that  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refer to caregiving as a public health priority.

.

In addition to the health of the caregiver, these negative impacts can affect the care that is being given as well. Caregivers who experience compassion fatigue can feel hopeless, resentful, less patient, and lose empathy. They develop a negative view of their caregiving role. To be a good caregiver, you first need to care for yourself. One way to take care of yourself is to have a respite plan. The term respite means to have consistent breaks from your caregiving responsibilities. Respite care can be provided by family, friends, or outside agencies, and the services can range widely. In the January episode of the Healthy Aging Network , Dr. Teresa Young shares the following tips to get started with making a respite plan.

  1. Focus on Strengths – What are the things that have helped you make it through to this point. Is it that you are organized? Is it a sense of humor? Are you flexible?
  2. Determine the needs – Once you know your strengths, the next step is to determine what help you really need. Is it transportation? Could you use help with household chores? Do you just need time away?
  3. Be specific – Make sure to be specific when expressing needs.

For some who are already overwhelmed with responsibilities, the idea of seeking respite or creating a plan can feel like one more task that is added to their plate. Caregivers often lack a respite plan because they simply don’t know where to start. The Ohio State University Extension’s Caregiver Support Network is offering two free webinars on February 17th, 2021. The workshops are open to anyone and will focus on creating a respite plan, sharing caregiving experiences, and sharing resources. To register for the workshop, go to go.osu.edu/caregiver2021. To learn more about the Caregiver Support Network, please contact Laura Akgerman at akgerman.4@osu.edu.

Writer: Kathy Tutt, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Clark County, tutt.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Emily Marrison, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Coshocton County, marrison.12@osu.edu

References:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020) Caregiving for Family and Friends -A Public Health Issue https://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/caregiver-brief.html accessed January 2021

Day, J., Anderson, R. Davis, L. (2014) Compassion Fatigue in Adult Daughter Caregivers of a Parent with Dementia, Issues in Mental Health Nursing, Vol 35, Issue 10

Schulz, R., Sherwood, P. (2008) Physical and Mental Health Effects of Family Caregiving. American Journal of Nursing, Sep: Vol 108, Issue 9, pgs. 23-27

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Two years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, my husband and I did many things to prepare for his arrival. We took a childbirth class, set up a crib, decorated a nursery, and installed a car seat. What did we not know to do? Prepare for the changes that would come to our relationship during our transition to parenthood!

Did you know that most married couples experience a significant drop in relationship quality within three years of the birth of their first child? In her book All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers and the Myth of Equal Partnership, psychologist Darcy Lockman cites this research as she explores gender inequalities within unpaid work (e.g. parenting and chores) and how they impact relationships.

While most American men in relationships believe that equal division of unpaid labor is very important to a successful marriage, the actual division of this labor is hardly equal. Although the gender inequality gap narrowed from 1965 to 2003, it has remained stagnant at a 35/65 division of unpaid labor ever since.

A New York Times article on the division of labor within parenting relationships reads:

“Though there are lots of male partners who do their fair share, there’s an area of parental labor that remains frustratingly resistant to change for many couples: It’s called “worry work” or, colloquially, the mental load. Both terms describe a constant, thrumming, low-level anxiety over the health and well-being of your children, and women tend to do more of the worry work than men do. It’s an endless list of organizational tasks that runs through your head like ticker tape: We’re out of milk when do we need to apply for preschool is the baby outgrowing her onesies. According to the 2017 Bright Horizons Modern Family Index, working women are twice as likely to be managing the household and three times as likely to be managing their kids’ schedules as their male partners.”

“Worry work” has also been called “emotional labor”, and it refers to “the invisible and often undervalued work involved in keeping other people comfortable and happy”.  In All the Rage, Lockman states that most couples “intuitively, rather than consciously and explicitly, divide the work of planning and remembering… and intuitively, it mostly falls to women.” Consequently, because one partner is doing more than the other, resentment, bitterness and discord start to take hold.

If you feel affected by an imbalance in worry work in your household, the New York Times offers a helpful guide for dividing emotional labor. The first step suggested is to recognize and talk about the perceived imbalance. You and your partner should each express your desires, preferences and, goals – both as parents and individuals. When having this conversation, respect yourself and your partner by taking these desires seriously and expecting your partner to do the same. If the conversation gets heated, don’t be afraid to seek outside support. A therapist may be able to offer a neutral perspective and help you arrive on common ground.

When you and your partner feel like you have a shared understanding of the worry work problem in your relationship, work together to create a comprehensive list of emotional labor tasks, thinking through both individual and family needs. It may be hard to remember everything that should go on the list, but you can always add to it as needed! Some items to include are grocery shopping and meal preparation, laundry, household chores, managing bedtime and bath time routines, making sure bills are paid on time, and scheduling and taking children to appointments and extracurricular activities. As you create this list, you and your partner will divide tasks and agree upon what your new division of labor will look like.

If you’re like me, you may have experienced worry work personally but did not have a name for the issue prior to reading this article. Now that you can name and recognize a potential source of strife in your life, I encourage you to begin addressing the problem today!

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by: Bridget Britton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Carroll County

Sources:

de la Cretaz, B. (2019). How to Get Your Partner to Take On More Emotional Labor. The New York Times. https://parenting.nytimes.com/relationships/emotional-labor?te=1&nl=nyt-parenting&emc=edit_ptg_20190612?campaign_id=118&instance_id=10123&segment_id=14197&user_id=86dd6cac18c7ca41e6c8d433d5340d6c&regi_id=92717125

Grose, J. (2019). A Modest Proposal for Equalizing the Mental Load. New York Times Parenting. https://parenting.nytimes.com/work-money/mental-load?module=article-group&topic=Work%20And%20Money&rank=3&position=2

Lockman, D. (2019). All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers and the Myth of Equal Partnership. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062861443/all-the-rage/

The Gottman Institute: A Research-Based Approach to Relationships. Parenting. https://www.gottman.com/about/research/parenting/

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I sat for what seemed like a frustrating amount of hours and minutes every day… zooming, teleworking, watching television, healing from back pain (exacerbated by long hours on the computer)… almost immobilized by fear, depression, anxiety, lack of motivation… and I felt guilty… why wasn’t I connecting more with my teen children, who are struggling through this pandemic with their own issues; connecting more with my husband who is a teacher and so exhausted from teaching all day, trying to motivate his students to hold it together, that he is crashed out napping in the other room? Why wasn’t I more effective with supervising my work teams? Is this all that life has right now? Is this what the next several months will be like? Maybe.

Young woman sitting looking out window

Have you been here? When there are things you must do, but you just can’t move? This phenomena has been termed “pandemic paralysis” recently by psychologists and popular press. This paralysis can leave us feeling defeated, deflated and depressed.

And then one evening that just seemed to drag on endlessly, I got up and cleaned the bathroom in my home. That felt motivating in and of itself, as it had been too long-neglected. So I cleaned another bathroom, then the kitchen. I asked my husband for help on a project I couldn’t do by myself. Then my kids came home and my daughter asked for help with studying, and my son needed to talk through an issue that was bothering him. And I had energy and desire to assist. I re-connected with a sense of purpose even in my own home. With the next work day, I was re-committed to the teams and staff I support and supervise. I want to help others be their best self, contributing to the best team. I reached out to a couple friends and acquaintances to check on how they were doing.

How can we switch from that time paralyzed on the couch to feeling productive and worthwhile? Sometimes, we just need to do something. Living with the uncertainty of so many issues in this pandemic can be exhausting and paralyzing. But take heart, there are some things we can do.

Start with what you CAN do. Try to impact some things you can control.

Shift from worry and problem-focused thinking to solution-focused thinking. Focus on aspects of a problem that you can do something about, and you’ll enter a mode of active problem-solving.

Chunk your time – This term is used by mental health professionals to help people understand how to break tasks into smaller, more do-able segments. Creating just the right size chunk of a task helps you feel a sense of accomplishment. This helps us not to feel so overwhelmed, which can snuff out any degree of motivation. This is a good approach to ‘one day at a time’ or ‘one moment at a time.’

Deal with your emotions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. Try to deal with those negative emotions instead of ignoring them. Allow yourself to experience these emotions during times of uncertainty, and they will eventually pass.

If you struggle greatly with the need for control and certainty, perhaps that is something to learn to let go of. Helpguide.org has lots of practical tips and a meditation.

If you literally don’t have the strength to get up, get some help. Call your doctor, talk to a licensed mental health practitioner. Please reach out to someone!

If you can impact your immediate environment enough to make a small, motivating change, you can create that power in your own life. The power of now. The power of the positive. The power of finding purpose. What if the ‘something’ you do is so much greater than cleaning a bathroom? What if what you decide to do is help someone beyond your family, reaching out to those in need. How much more will that help you feel empowered to do something? Do anything!

Other Live Healthy Live Well Blogs to help on this topic:

Sources:

Cloyd, S. “Productivity: The Time Chunking Method.” Rhodes College Academic and Learning Resources. https://sites.rhodes.edu/academic-and-learning-resources/news/productivity-time-chunking-method

Robinson, L and Smith, M. 2020. “Dealing with Uncertainty During the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Helpguide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/dealing-with-uncertainty.htm

“Your Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic.” 2021. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. https://labs.icahn.mssm.edu/brycelab/covid-19-guidance-for-our-spinal-cord-injury-community/your-mental-health-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

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The beginning of a new year is an opportunity to consider those things you have been putting off. I heard last week that two of the greatest gifts you can give the next generation are organized, digitized photos and your advance care directives. If you are like 70 percent of Americans, then you are without an advance care plan. Advance directives provide you with the opportunity to express your end-of-life wishes in writing.

Every adult, no matter how young or how old, should consider advance care planning. This includes what you want to happen if you are not able to make your own medical decisions. There are some key parts to advance care planning including designating a Health Care Power of Attorney and completing advance directives like a Living Will, donor registry, and declaration for funeral arrangements.  

The Conversation Project from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement has a helpful resource available called “How to Choose a Health Care Proxy.” A health care proxy is also known as a health care agent or power of attorney for health care. This person is the one who will speak for you when you are unable to speak for yourself. This resource walks you through several things to consider in choosing a person and how to have the conversation with them.

Another excellent resource is from The Ohio Hospital Association called “Choices: Living Well at the End of Life.” Because this is an Ohio specific publication, it contains forms that can be completed here in Ohio. It also clearly explains the differences between a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will. A Health Care Power of Attorney provides an agent with the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf, access your records, set up appointments, choose which doctors see you, and more. This is different from a Financial Power of Attorney, which allows a person of your choosing to make financial decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make them.  

A Living Will is only used in situations when you are unable to tell your physician what kind of health care services you want to receive. For it to go into effect, you must be terminally ill and unable to tell your physician your wishes or permanently unconscious. A Living Will may include a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Order for a person who does not wish to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). It may also include wishes about comfort care and nutrition and hydration. A Living Will takes precedence over a Health Care Power of Attorney.

It is a good idea to have both documents, as they each address different aspects of your care. Any document you sign must be in accordance with the specific language spelled out in the Ohio Revised Code. You can obtain standard forms online that you can complete and have notarized. You may also consult with an attorney for assistance.

“Have a conversation with your family about your end-of-life wishes while you are healthy. No one wants to have that discussion… but if you do, you’ll be giving your loved ones a tremendous gift, since they won’t have to guess what your wishes would have been, and it takes the onus of responsibility off of them.”

Jodi Picoult

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Kathy Tutt, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Clark County

Sources:

The Conversation Project https://theconversationproject.org/

Ohio Hospital Association: Advance Directives https://ohiohospitals.org/News-Publications/Publications/Advance-Directives

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