Ring in Mother's Day with gratitude for care

Anyone know what day of the year sees more phone traffic than any other?

That’s right, Mother’s Day, which this year falls on Sunday, May 10, in the United States. Phone calls typically rise by as much as 37 percent, as dutiful sons and daughters across the country get on the phone to convey something of the gratitude, love, and appreciation they feel for the person who brought them into the world.

There is a reason we celebrate Mother’s Day in May. This special day has its origins in the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.” Celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, this was a time for the faithful to come home and attend a special service at the “mother church” in the town where they were raised.

In our country

The Mother’s Day we observe in the United States grew out of Mothering Sunday. It was the special project of a woman from West Virginia who had lost her own mother a few years before.

In May of 1908, Anna Jarvis organized the first official Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of the month to recognize the many sacrifices mothers make for their children.

For years, she campaigned to make it an official holiday and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, a national holiday to be celebrated on the second Sunday of May.

Placing the apostrophe

A frequently overlooked fact about Mother’s Day is the apostrophe placement. If all mothers are honored on this day, why not write it plural, Mothers’ Day?

Anna Jarvis made a specific point of naming it with the singular Mother’s in order “for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.” That makes sense.

It is not the idea of motherhood that we honor on Mother’s Day, but the actual moms who played such an important role in the upbringing and care of each of us.

Moms and mental health

It is perhaps a fitting coincidence that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which was started in the United States in 1949 by the Mental Health America organization (then known as the National Association for Mental Health). Parenting has become more of a team effort through the years, but mothers are often the primary caregivers, and nothing needs caring like the appearance of a mental health problem in someone you love. At Community Reach Center, we very much appreciate the roles mothers play in good mental health practices, such as self-care and seeking assistance when needed. 

This coming Sunday I will be honoring my own mother, Rose, as well as Christine, the mother of my son and my lovely wife of 25 years. And especially for this year we would like to declare this Sunday “Mothers’ Day” (notice the placement of the apostrophe) in honor of all moms and female caregivers.

Let’s take it upon ourselves to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 and social distancing and find a way to express appreciation on Mother’s Day – even if it’s just on the phone, in a card or a drive-by wave while throwing kisses.

Thank you for your caring, and Happy Mothers’ Day to all of you!

Here for you

This column was contributed by Program Manager James Kuemmerle with assistance by Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. The Senior Reach provides treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders. Please don’t hesitate to seek assistance. Also, remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours.

To learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield. As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

Maintaining recovery through COVID-19

In the treatment community, it’s said that social isolation is addiction’s worst enemy. Those struggling with substance use disorder may be at heightened risk for relapse during Colorado’s stay-at-home order that has closed gyms, recreation centers, libraries and other facilities that many rely upon as healthy social outlets to safeguard their sobriety.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, social media has provided a steady stream of memes about people soothing their fear and anxiety with alcohol, intending to lighten our mood. No one would argue that we could not all use a lift right now.  However, for people in recovery – particularly those early in their recovery journey – the message could be perceived as a hall pass to use during this unprecedented period, like a “loophole” in the 12-steps. 

Balance

Maintaining healthy life balance is a no-brainer. We all know what we’re supposed to be doing right now. A disciplined balance between work and social activities, between online entertainment and physical exercise, between healthy food and treats. We know. The state’s stay-at-home order has knocked the guide rails off our daily routines, altering the rhythm of our weekly schedules and making life balance difficult. Difficult but doable.

It’s time to be intentional about what we eat, when we move our bodies, how frequently we connect with friends and family, when we go to bed and when we wake up. Tapping into available resources designed to support recovery, coupled with intentional self-care strategies, will help people to maintain recovery during this trying time.

Resources

With some willingness to try an untried strategy, there’s a wide range of resources readily available to support anyone seeking sobriety. Online Intergroup offers virtual AA meetings in more than a dozen languages. Take advantage of this extra time to shop around for good podcasts focused on supporting sobriety, like The Bubble Hour and The ODATT Chat Podcast. Search for free guided workouts on YouTube – there’s a zillion of them. 

Here for you

Community Reach Center’s Behavioral Health Urgent Care is open 24/7 for anyone who is concerned about having a relapse and wants to talk to a therapist immediately. No appointment is necessary. Walk-in services continue to be provided at Community Reach Center locations in Thornton and Brighton for new clients. Visit www.CommunityReachCenter.org for more information or call 303-853-3500.

At Community Reach Center, we believe that no one should be defined by a diagnosis, and no one should be judged for their struggle. We’ve got you.

Listening is key to helping others with grief

Life-changing events can happen at any age. This includes things such as the death of a loved one, newly diagnosed health problems and job loss. As people age, these events become more common.
Grief is a normal, healthy response to loss. Over time it can take a toll on emotional and mental health. It can even lead to depression. If you’re a caregiver or if you spend time with an older adult, you can expand your capacity to support them by helping your loved one cope with loss.

Path to improved well being

Understand the grieving process:
• There are common physical and emotional symptoms of grief. The grief and loss process is different for everyone. There is no “right” way to grieve. Each loss is different, too. Allow your loved one the time and space to grieve his or her own way.
• Listening is the most important thing you can do for a loved one. If you don’t know what to say, just listening to them makes a big impact. Your loved one may need to express his or her feelings. The daily act of processing loss can be overwhelming. Small tasks may seem exhausting. That‘s why an offer to help makes such an important difference. Don’t wait for your loved one to ask for help. Offer to do things like make dinner, pick up groceries or a prescription, do laundry or clean.

Things to consider

The symptoms of grief and the symptoms of depression are similar. It’s normal for a person to feel sad after a loss. That is temporary. Your loved one may be depressed if:
• He or she doesn’t feel better as time passes.
• His or her emotions get in the way of daily life.
• He or she no longer takes pleasure in the things they used to love doing.
• He or she mentions or has thoughts of suicide.
What you can do to help a loved one who has depression:
• Don’t be afraid to remember the person who passed in fond conversations. This may help your loved one feel less alone.
• Avoid saying “I know how you feel” or he or she is “in a better place.” This minimizes your loved one’s feelings. Instead, say things like, “I know this must be difficult,” or “You don’t have to be so strong.” This helps draw out your loved one’s feelings.
• Just sit with your loved one. This can be comforting, even if he or she doesn’t want to talk.
If you notice any of these signs, you can contact the Senior Reach program for assistance. Therapists on the team can help treat the depression so your loved one can start to feel better.

Here for you

This column was contributed by Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog and Program Manager James Kuemmerle with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center. It is important for people experiencing mental health conditions and their loved ones to know that mental illness is treatable. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. The Senior Reach provides treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders. Please don’t hesitate to seek assistance.

Around the clock

Also, remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. To learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield. As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

Getting the care you need via telemedicine

Keeping on top of your healthcare needs is now more important than ever, but due to the COVID-19 virus, you may be asked by your healthcare system or local physician’s office to avoid in-person visits.

Avoiding in-person visits helps control the spread of the virus and ensures that the most critically ill receive frontline care. But just because you may not be able to see your healthcare provider in person does not mean that you should not seek out medical care.

Telemedicine is a new reality for all of us. To make it easier to connect with your healthcare team, the federal government has temporarily expanded telemedicine services for Medicare beneficiaries to cover virtual visits. Virtual visits currently include various modes of interaction with your healthcare team including video chats and phone calls.

We’ve put together four key tips to help make your telemedicine visit as beneficial as possible:

Prepare for the Visit

  • Write down a list of your symptoms and concerns. Be specific.
  • Practice what you want to say. That way, you won’t leave anything out.
  • Write down a list of all medications (prescription and non-prescription).
  • Check your technology. (If you do not have a computer, tablet or smart phone, ask a family member or friend for help.

Find a Quiet Space

    • Turn off background noise such as TVs, radios and smart speakers.
    • Ask others in your home to keep the noise level down.
    • Allow yourself 10-15 minutes before the video/phone call to collect your thoughts.
    • For privacy, consider using headphones during the call.

    Tell Your Provider Everything

      • Summarize your condition, list all symptoms, and explain your concerns.
      • Share any changes in your medical history and any major life changes.
      • Provide any vital signs that you can such as blood pressure, pulse and temperature.

      Agree on a Treatment Plan

        • After your doctor tells you something, repeat it back in your own words.
        • Take notes and ask questions such as: What are the risks/benefits of treatment? Are there other ways to treat this? Will insurance pay? Will I need medication?
        • Agree on the treatment plan and any additional tests/medications.
        • Ask your doctor for resources and about follow-up visits.

        As with any physician visit, it’s ideal if you can have a friend or family member by your side. That person can be responsible for taking notes so that you can focus fully on your conversation with your doctor.

        Senior Reach at Community Reach Center is also utilizing this telemedicine model to ensure that the behavioral and emotional health of older adults are met during this time.

        If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please contact the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657 or visit www.communityreachcenter.org.

        Here for you

        This column was contributed by Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog and Program Manager James Kuemmerle with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center. It is important for people experiencing mental health conditions and their loved ones to know that mental illness is treatable.

        If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. The Senior Reach provides treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders. Please don’t hesitate to seek assistance. Also, remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours.

        To learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield. As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

        Stress, crisis and trauma

        All people have a different capability to cope with and regulate events that overwhelm us.  Think of the wide range of expression of emotions you’ve already witnessed during the COVID-19 epidemic. Stress of all kinds can create a self-defined crisis that invokes reactions like anxiety, depression, isolation and exhaustion. However, not all stressful or crisis events are traumas.

        One way in which a trauma differs is the continued impact on a person’s ability to self-regulate and the symptoms that they experience such as flashbacks, hypervigilance and feelings of detachment.

        By clinical terms, a trauma is any event in which a person experienced a threat to their life, serious injury or significant violence. Initial reactions to traumas are much the same as to a stressful or crisis event.

        COVID-19 impact

        The coming of the COVID-19 surely raises the types of stressors that contribute to trauma. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) notes that stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

        • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
        • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
        • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
        • Worsening of chronic health problems
        • Worsening of mental health conditions
        • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs

        Don’t hesitate, take quick action

        If you or someone you know is feeling great stress due to COVID-19, whether you would consider it a “crisis” or something lesser, remember Community Reach Center operates the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center at 2551 W. 84th Ave. in Westminster. It is open 24/7.

        The BHUC team is comprised of trained mental health professionals available 24/7 to help individuals of all ages who are experiencing: thoughts of suicide, depression, overwhelming feelings of stress, anxiety, feelings of harming oneself or someone else, an increase in drug and alcohol use and family crises.

        People may also call 1-844-493-TALK (8255), or text TALK to 38255 to speak with a trained professional at Colorado Crisis Services.

        At home, show you care

        There is an old expression that charity begins at home. One way to interpret the saying is to care for your family first. Take care of those close to you. Help them cope with stress and from there branch out and look for opportunities to make your community stronger.

        That means just tuning into what those around you need, whether it involves cooking for them, taking over some chores, or facilitating conversation with others over the phone or social media. Encourage others to unwind and perhaps not watch news all day long.

        Just do your best. Simple. And keep in mind this comforting note in the Mental Health First Aid USA manual which reads “When talking to a person who has experienced a traumatic event, it is more important to be genuinely caring than to say the right things.” Like so many other activities, Mental Health First Aid courses have been canceled due to social distancing practices, but please watch for these opportunities later in the year to take a free class and learn more about all aspects of mental health.

        Recognize resilience and prevention

        Most people have various levels of resilience on their sides. Young people face many challenges when going through their teens, but they tend to have good resilience to bounce back as they are growing and developing.

        Further, there are ways to increase resilience through positive thinking and positive self-talk. Just as training the physical body to be stronger helps to prepare for life’s eventualities, there are ways to become more mentally fit for all the challenges life brings our way.

        Want to learn more?

        A special webcast presentation titled “Understanding the Impacts of Trauma on Wellness” by Community Reach Center Clinical Senior Manager Jaime Brewer, MA, LPC, will be April 23.

        Brewer has worked in the behavioral health field since 2010. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Colorado College and her master’s degree in International Disaster Psychology from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology. She is also a board member and secretary for the Crisis Residential Association.

        Her presentation will cover the types of trauma – “without going too deep,” she notes – and how trauma affects the brain. She will also give special emphasis on techniques to gain resilience. To register for her 3:30-5 p.m. Thursday, April 23, webcast, please go to the following Eventbrite link and click on register.

        Here for you

        It is vitally important for people experiencing mental health conditions and their loved ones to know mental illness is treatable. Please don’t hesitate to seek assistance. Remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. And to learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please call the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield. As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

        How older adults can cope with COVID-19

        We are certainly in unsettling times. Often, it is difficult to find reliable information. This is a quick informational blog about how to keep yourself safe and how to reach out for assistance. The Senior Reach program continues to operate, accept new referrals, and continues to work with older adults in our community. We are currently utilizing a Telehealth model to continue our work.

        Older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for severe illness. COVID-19 is a new disease, and we are learning more about it every day.

        What you can do

        If you have a serious underlying medical condition:

        • Stay home if possible.
        • Wash your hands often.
        • Avoid close contact (6 feet, which is about two arm lengths) with people who are sick.
        • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
        • Avoid all cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
        • Call your healthcare professional if you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition or if you are sick.
        • For more information on steps you can take to protect yourself, see CDC’s How to Protect Yourself

        Stress and coping

        Older people are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 which may result in increased stress during a crisis.

        Fear and anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.

        Things you can do to support yourself:

        • Go outside for a little while: Enjoy the health benefits of sunlight, especially morning sun, look around and stretch a little. Stay home but get a little sun.
        • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. Instead play different games on the cell phone or table.
        • Enjoy your kitchen: See what you have in your pantry, make a recipe with whatever you find. Discard items that have expired. Research cooking ideas on Pinterest.
        • Body basics: Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
        • Make time to unwind. Try to make a point to do activities you enjoy.
        • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
        • Find a project: Make your own hand sanitizer or make protective masks as a sewing project or make a project with other items around the house. Find something that works within the scope of your home.
        • Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
        • If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, then please call right away.

        Here for you

        This column was contributed by Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog and Program Manager James Kuemmerle with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center. It is important for people experiencing mental health conditions and their loved ones to know that mental illness is treatable, and there is no shame in seeking assistance. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. We provide treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield.

        Reduce procrastination to improve wellness

        Enjoyable activities can be the spice of life, but what must be done when they become excessive and interfere with our productivity? We’ll have to look in the mirror and take the initiative to reduce behaviors leading to procrastination.

        Procrastination is often regarded as a time management problem. However, psychologists like Tim Pychyl at Carleton University attest that procrastination has more to do with emotional regulation than time management. This stance conflicts with popular understandings of procrastination, leading us to re-evaluate our perspective on this behavior.

        Why do we procrastinate?

        Procrastination is often caused by emotional dissatisfaction associated with working on productive tasks, such as school assignments or work-related tasks.

        Emotional dissatisfaction associated with productivity often leads to engaging in distractive activities like watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the internet and social media.

        Procrastinating by engaging in distractive activities provides short-term mental satisfaction but can be detrimental to long-term wellness.

        Impacts on wellness

        Procrastination has been found to contribute to the following mental health problems:

        • Stress
        • Anxiety
        • Depression

        As time is spent procrastinating, stress and anxiety levels increase due to worrying about completing a task at hand, especially as deadlines approach.

        Procrastination may also lead to depression because stress and anxiety are known to exacerbate symptoms of depression.

        The following physical health problems have been associated with chronic procrastination:

        • Hypertension
        • Cardiovascular disease
        • Chronic illness

        Physical health consequences attributed with chronic procrastination are largely due to the physical impacts of anxiety. For instance, anxiety hinders functioning of the cardiovascular system, immune system and central nervous system, leading to physical health consequences.

        Poor health habits are also common in people who experience immense stress and anxiety, therefore contributing to physical health consequences.

        Reducing procrastination

        While there are no cheat codes to conquer procrastination indefinitely. However, some useful tips can be used to significantly reduce this behavior.

        A notable tip for reducing procrastination is to ask yourself the following questions:

        • “What tasks need to be completed to promote my wellness?”
        • “What actions will benefit my future wellness and success?”
        • “How will I feel if I do not complete a task on time?”

        Such questions provide insight on what needs to be prioritized, as well as taking wellness into consideration.

        Another useful tip to reduce procrastination is by giving yourself incentive to complete a task through rewarding yourself with an enjoyable activity after you’ve completed it. You can tell yourself, when I finish my assignment, I will watch that awesome new movie everyone’s been raving about or beat the next level in my favorite video game. Whatever the reward is, ensure it will give you strong incentive to complete your task.

        Also, no exceptions. Enjoyable activities make it harder to be productive because transitioning from a pleasurable activity to a productive task is difficult.

        Taking breaks

        If you feel overwhelmed while completing a task, take a break. Do something that is not distractive, time consuming or mentally taxing, such as:

        • Take a short walk
        • Eat a healthy snack
        • Engage in mindfulness meditation

        Such activities will promote mental clarity and enhance productivity when returning to your task.

        Final thoughts

        Procrastination is a prevalent behavior in society. Statistics estimate around 80 to 95 percent of college students procrastinate academic work. Further, about 20 percent of adults in the U.S. are chronic procrastinators. However, through knowing the impacts of procrastination on wellness and tips to reduce this behavior, you can save yourself the unnecessary stress by completing your tasks ahead of time. What are you waiting for? Now is the time to tackle those productive tasks and overcome procrastination.   

        Establishing good habits as well as finding ways to cope with mental health issues can be challenging. If you or a loved one has a mental health concern, we are happy to consult with you at Community Reach Center. To get more information about our metro Denver mental health centers visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Broomfield and Brighton.

        This blog was contributed by Brice Pernicka, a Westgate Community School student who is also an intern at Community Reach Center. The Grants, Public Relations and Marketing team extends a big thank you and high praise to Brice who exceeded expectations in writing exceptional blogs and handling at wide variety of tasks during his internship. We enjoyed the past six months he has worked with our team and predict great success in his future. 

        The importance of sleep for mental and physical health

        What if I told I you there was a ground-breaking evidence-based treatment available to everyone that helps you manage anxiety, depression, PTSD, reduces risk of heart attacks, decreases your chances of diabetes, protects you against cancer, lowers food cravings, reduces risk of dementia, increases your life span and makes you more attractive?

        It’s called sleep!

        March is Sleep Awareness Month, and I thought I’d help increase your awareness of how sleep affects you. My favorite book for 2019 was “Why we sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams,” authored by Matthew Walker, doctorate professor of neuroscience and psychology (and director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory) at the University of California, Berkeley.

        What happens when we sleep?

        In the book, Walker writes about how research has demonstrated that sleep is not just a passive state. Instead it’s a highly active time, a period during which the brain and some physiological processes may be hard at work.

        The two main types of sleep are rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep.

        • REM is responsible for forming new neural connections, problem-solving, dreaming, blunting emotional responses to painful memories, reading other people’s facial emotions and neonatal synaptogenesis.
        • NREM is responsible for pruning memories, transferring short-term memory to long-term memory, gaining muscle memory, growth hormone secretion and parasympathetic nervous system activation.

        What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?

        Sleep and anxiety neuroscientists have found that sleep deprivation fires up areas of the brain associated with emotional processing. The resulting pattern mimics the abnormal neural activity seen in anxiety disorders. Researchers also believe that chronic worriers – those who are naturally more anxious and therefore more likely to develop a full-blown anxiety disorder – are acutely vulnerable to the impact of insufficient sleep.

        Lack of sleep directly affects the part of the brain that’s used for managing emotions. Emotion regulation is controlled by the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. When we’re not getting enough sleep, we can get angry, frustrated or upset more easily. We can feel less control over our reactions to things and people. With poor sleep we’re more vulnerable to low moods, such as feeling sad and lacking enthusiasm.

        We might find ourselves crankier and more irritable. 

        Good ideas

        Here are some tips for getting the healthy eight hours recommended.

        • Get your room dark and cold. Why dark? When your brain detects light from a blue light spectrum (electronics) it suppresses the release of melatonin. Its melatonin that initiates the first sleep cycle. Why cold? Our body needs to drop two to three degrees to enter deep sleep.
        • Sticking to a sleep schedule can help your body fall asleep more easily. A relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music, should be part of your bedtime ritual. Exercise is great, but not too late in the day.
        • Try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days but no later than two to three hours before your bedtime. Avoid caffeine nicotine and alcohol. Having the right sunlight exposure is key to regulating daily sleep patterns.
        • Try to get outside in natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes each day. If possible, wake up with the sun or use very bright lights in the morning.

        Liz Austin, BA, is a PSR (Psychosocial Rehabilitation) specialist at Community Reach Center and has been with this program for almost four years now. Prior to joining the PSR team Liz was part of the Mesa House team for five years. Liz has recently gotten into rock climbing and enjoys the family bonding time spent belaying each other on challenging climbs.   

        It is vitally important for people experiencing mental health conditions and their loved ones to know mental illness is treatable. Please don’t hesitate to seek assistance. Remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. And to learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please call the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield. As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

        Depression is not a normal part of growing older

        (Way Stations: Staying on Track in Older Adulthood series columnists are Jim Kuemmerle and Nicole Hartog, shown above.)

        Depression is a diagnosable and treatable medical condition, not a normal part of aging. However older adults are at an increased risk for experiencing depression. Depression is not just having “the blues” or the emotions we feel when grieving the loss of a loved one. It is a treatable medical condition, like diabetes or hypertension.

        How is depression different for older adults?

        Older adults are at increased risk. We know that about 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 50 percent have two or more. Depression is more common in people who also have other illnesses (such as heart disease or cancer) or whose functioning becomes limited.

        Older adults are often misdiagnosed and undertreated. Healthcare providers may mistake an older adults’ symptoms of depression as just a natural reaction to illness or the life changes that may occur as we age, and therefore not see the depression as something to be treated. Older adults themselves often share this belief and do not seek help because they don’t understand that they could feel better with appropriate treatment.

        Special concerns for older adults

        Of course, some older adults do develop clinical depression. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, the following characteristics or conditions may put older adults at a higher risk for depression:

        • Being female
        • Having a chronic illness
        • Having a disability
        • Sleeping poorly
        • Feeling lonely or socially isolated
        • Having a personal or family history of depression
        • Using certain medications
        • Having a brain disease

        A number of medical and neurological conditions have high rates of depression associated with them, including stroke, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

        Missed diagnosis

        Depression in older adults is often not diagnosed. That's because of stereotypical beliefs among family members, caregivers and even healthcare providers that older adults are depressed in general. Older adults may hide their depression by complaining about a physical problem. This makes it harder to diagnose.

        Common signs of depression include:

        • Sleep problems, including too little or too much sleep, or getting up earlier than desired
        • Less pleasure and interest in previously enjoyed activities
        • Less energy or focus
        • Increase or decrease in appetite
        • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
        • Thoughts of death or suicide
        • Self-destructive and suicidal behavior

        Statistics

        According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the highest suicide rate (20.2) was among adults between 45 and 54 years of age. The second highest rate (20.1) occurred in those 85 years or older. . Of every 100,000 people age 75 and older, 16.3 died by suicide. This figure is higher than the national average of 11.3 suicides per 100,000 people. Non-Hispanic white men older than 85 have the highest suicide rates, 55 per 100,000 people. Many of these men visited their healthcare provider in the last month

        If you see signs of depression in yourself, a friend, or a family member, don't wait until it becomes severe. Please reach out for assistance. Remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. And to learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. Also visit the website for information about Mental Health First Aid courses for adults.

         

        We would like to thank Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog and Program Manager James Kuemmerle with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center for their insights. It is important for people experiencing mental health conditions and their loved ones to know that mental illness is treatable, and there is no shame in seeking assistance. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. We provide treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield.

        How to get started with self-care

        Coming to terms with self-care and then jumping in is not always a snap. For most people, self-care is a list of all the things they “should be doing,” often followed by a bunch of self-defeating or critical thoughts, such as “Why can’t I be like Suzy or Tom? They take care of themselves.”

        Sadly and far too often, many people engage in a harsh, negative dialogue with themselves, although they know that logically it does not help. This is what most people report in therapy. Further, they put themselves down for not taking care of themselves, and I hear many people say they don't feel they “deserve” self-care, and, in effect, say, “I don't like myself or who I am.”

        The point is to just get started.

        First steps

        To gain value from self-care, the first step is to learn to care for oneself. Putting kind thoughts into your mind paves the way for cultivating self-directed compassion. Advice and resources for self-care can be found aplenty on the internet or at a library. Just browse any topic you are interested in to start your journey in seconds.

        What you want to work toward is the attitude, determination and positive energy required to make changes. If you “hate” yourself and think you don’t deserve good things, self-care will simply be out of reach. Prior to learning self-care, we must have an inner attitude of caring about oneself. Practice how to give yourself, kindness and love. It is not as hard as you think!

        One simple method is to practice thinking of someone you care about and notice what that feels like. We have natural awareness and empathy for those we care for most, so from there the idea is to tap into these feelings in order to transfer some of it to ourselves. This paves the way for self-compassion to develop.

        Keep it steady

        If you cultivate a calm, patient and helpful view of your own process, you are more apt to stick to any self-care plan. When we feel positive, personal power increases. Suddenly we have the means to make a change with grace and ease. The secret of self-care is in not just in the actions, but in the attitude of “caring” we bring to our lives. If you want to develop new behaviors, make sure you support yourself with an encouraging and resilient belief about yourself. This will create a foundation for self-care.

        Set your priorities

        Set aside some time to prioritize your needs and plan the things you want to add to your life. Pick out one self-care activity and take a step forward to emulate one of those people you admire because they know how to do things for themselves.

        For example, if you need to increase the amount of time you exercise, schedule exercise times that will work with your schedule. If you are making changes in your diet, make changes with discipline but proceed gradually to support your success. Ask others to help you by telling them about the change you are making. Take advantage of their insights. Stop wishing and start living now.

        Consider reaching out

        You may find that having the support available in a self-care-oriented therapy session is in order, especially if you have symptoms or are recovering from trauma. Self-care is essential in any efforts to recover from substance abuse issues as well. Reach out for the help and support you need so you can be the best version of yourself in 2020.

         

        Michele Willingham M.A., L.P.C., L.A.C. is a therapist for the Justice Accountability and Recovery Team at Community Reach Center. She specializes in trauma-informed care with an emphasis on the use of mindfulness skills and is an EMDR practitioner. Michele also runs a wellness group that utilizes walking, Tai Chi exercise and yoga to help improve symptoms.

        Submit a question to Ask A Therapist at AskATherapist@CommunityReachCenter.org. This column is for educational purposes only, and opinions are not those of this publication. Answers are not a substitute for regular or urgent medical consultation and treatment. Individuals with medical or personal problems need to seek the advice of their own physician or an appropriate health-care professional. Do not stop any medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.

        To learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in Adams County, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. Remember that our Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. To learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in Adams County, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500.