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IconChanging the Self in Self Esteem By Brain Orchard www.vision.org Self-esteem has many definitions ranging from simply "feeling good about yourself" to more detailed descriptions. These include "actualizing one's own attributes, having one's accomplishments validated by others, and being able to compare one to others favorably." Many social ills have been attributed to low self-esteem, and early childhood development specialists recognize children's need for a favorable sense of self-worth to establish a good social foundation and to connect with the world around them. This deep-seated emotional need is not limited to children, and it is not inherently bad. An influential number of educators, however, have come to accept that if students can simply be made to feel good about themselves, then success in school and beyond will automatically follow. Educators often pursue this objective through programs of self-affirmation, prompting lively debate within the educational community. Many fear that feelings have been given greater weight than competence and character. Experts in the field maintain that excessive promotion of self-esteem can create selfish, unfulfilled people with a distorted self-image. Indeed, the breadth of greedy, egocentric, careless behavior observable in our communities appears to confirm that the current emphasis on feeling good is ill-advised. While thinking for oneself can represent a healthy form of individualism, enshrining the self has served overall to degrade societal sanctions. An inward focus promotes self-tolerance, entitlement, victimhood and narcissism. Each of these lenses obstructs our vision of right self-esteem and its foundation. Just As I Am Tolerance is a critical social lubricant in our diverse society. However, in their haste to promote a virtue, many have misapplied the concept and fallen into the trap of accepting themselves unconditionally: "I must be accepted for who and what I am, regardless of whom and what I am." When we choose to bolster our self-worth in this way, the positive characteristics of tolerance (patience, kindness and respect) are transformed into permissive attitudes that leave negative character traits unchallenged. Accepting ourselves unconditionally is a dangerous aspect of false self-esteem which misconstrues tolerance by rejecting any objective measures for meaningful self-evaluation. Self-esteem and absolute standards are not comfortable bedfellows. Entitlement Mentality In tolerating our personal flaws, we can feel justified in asserting ourselves, defending our perceived rights, and claiming our self-determined fair share. This attitude can deteriorate into an assumption of entitlement: the feeling that we deserve something regardless of whether we have done anything to earn it. The seeds are often sown early in childhood. According to psychologist Lynne Namka, "While it is normal for a child to ask for what he wants, some children are overly demanding and needy. They have not learned to balance taking from others with giving; they view other people as existing merely to give to them." If unchecked, these attitudes intensify and may be manifested in behaviors such as road rage, students demanding better grades than they earn, or corporate executives awarding themselves exorbitant salaries. Attitudes of entitlement have the unfortunate consequence of divorcing both character and behavior from self-esteem. A Society of Victims Self-tolerance and a sense of entitlement produce another malady that is increasingly present in our culture: victimhood-placing the blame for personal inadequacies elsewhere. The growing tendency among many psychologists and medical practitioners is to classify everyday behavioral problems as diseases. In this way bad behavior can be neatly isolated, clinically named, and subsequently treated. Thus an individual is unfettered by accountability for his or her actions. This trend mirrors a broad shift in cultural values from self-control to self-indulgence. I Love Me Individualism holds an elevated position in Western culture and can spawn narcissism-the obsessive love of self. The most worrying aspect of narcissism is the profound disconnection from reality. It promotes extreme responses to needs and desires that are perfectly normal. When the self becomes the center of the individual's universe, disconnection from other people also occurs. The feelings and needs of others take a distant second place, and personal identity is sought within narrow groups that validate self-centered views. The world is viewed from an emotional rather than a rational perspective; personal feelings override distinctions between right and wrong. A Different Kind of Love As society has become increasingly absorbed with the pursuit of individualism, it has lost sight of an important dimension of self-esteem: a standard by which to evaluate the self and its relationships with others. While many people have come to view self-love as the basis of self-worth, at its foundation it is always self-centered. It exists on the edge of dysfunction, because it is motivated primarily by emotions and desires. It loves only because of the pleasure and satisfaction it hopes to gain. In contrast, true and sustainable self-esteem comes from a different source. It is based on outgoing love: a true concern for the well-being of others that subordinates the inwardly directed desires of the self. This love is the core of healthy self-esteem. Brian Orchard is a pastor with 34 years of family counseling experience. He is a father and grandfather and has worked with youth programs in the U.S., Australia and the Philippines. You can read more articles on family and relationships at http://vision.org/visionmedia/overview.aspx?id=96 Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

IconInvasive In-Laws By Armin Brott mrdad.com Dear Mr. Dad: My wife and I recently had a baby. I'm thrilled with everything, but I can't help but feel like I'm taking a backseat to her parents. It's almost as if their opinions matter more than mine. Is there anything I can do or say? A: Much as you may not want to hear this, in the minds of your wife's parents, their opinion DOES matter more than yours. Their daughter just gave birth to their grandchild, and they consider themselves to be the best authority on all things related not only to their new grandchild, but to their daughter as well. That's a tough dynamic to change, but you can do it. The big kicker is that your wife has to be on board with you in order to make that change. First of all, you and she will need to have some serious discussions about what, exactly, your role is going to be and what "involved father" means to each of you. It is not uncommon for the man and woman to have very different expectations. Be very specific with each other about who'll be doing what. Who gets up for those three AM feedings? Who's responsible for the diapers-both changing and buying? When will you introduce solid foods and what will that food be? Will you use a playpen or not? Should your baby sleep in the same bed as you and your wife? Are you going to teach your baby sign language? A lot of couples avoid dealing with these issues because they're afraid they'll lead to conflict. But dealing with them now will make life easier for both of you in the long run. Once you hammer out your roles, your wife will have to be the one to break the news to her parents. They won't hear it from you. She'll need to tell them, respectfully, that you and she have decided to raise your child in such and such a way. While you both appreciate their opinions and are very grateful that they're around to help out, you and she will be parenting the way the two of you have agreed. Yes, her parents did a wonderful job of raising their daughter, but times have changed. She should be sure to tell them what wonderful grandparents they already are, and how, as grandparents, they get to have all the fun of parenting with a lot less of the dirty work. With any luck, that talk will have the desired effect. If not, your wife may have to take it up a notch or two by telling her parents that if they can't go along with the parenting program as you've outlined it and respect the two of you as parents, they simply won't be able to spend as much time with their grandchild as they'd like to. Hopefully, it won't come to that. Armin Brott's bestselling books , including The Expectant Father and the recent release Fathering Your School Age Child , have helped millions of men around the world become the fathers they want to be-and their children need them to be. Armin has been a guest on hundreds of radio and television shows , writes a nationally syndicated column, "Ask Mr. Dad," and hosts a weekly radio show. He and his family live in Oakland, California. For more information visit mrdad.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

IconGetting Kids Back to Nature by Rae Pica When I was a kid we had twice-daily recess on school days, and once the last bell of the day rang, there was never any thought of being indoors. On weekends and summer days, we ran out of the house first thing in the morning, hollered for the next-door neighbor to come out to play, made quick trips in for lunch and supper, and then reemerged until darkness and our moms forced us inside. Today's children spend little or no time outside. With studies showing that children spend from thirty-six to forty-four hours a week with electronics, there's little time left for being outdoors. Also, more and more kids' lives are too overscheduled for free outdoor play. When they're not attending an organized class or program, they're busy with homework, being drilled with flashcards, or "learning" on the computer. And because school is now more about seatwork and meeting requirements for standardized tests, they're lucky if they get fifteen minutes of recess a day. But when children spend most of their time indoors, they're missing out on everything the outdoors has to offer them. To begin with, the outdoors is the best place for young children to practice and master emerging physical skills and to experience the pure joy of movement. It's also the place where they're likely to burn the most calories, which is absolutely necessary in the fight against obesity. Additionally, the outside light stimulates the pineal gland, which is the part of the brain that helps regulate the biological clock, is vital to the immune system, and simply makes us feel happier. Outside light triggers the synthesis of vitamin D. And a number of studies have demonstrated that it increases academic learning and productivity! Young children learn much through their senses, and the outdoors is a virtual wonderland for the senses. There are different and incredible things for the children to see (insects, clouds, and shadows), to hear (traffic sounds, birdsongs, leaves rustling in the wind), to smell (flowers and the rain-soaked ground), to touch (a fuzzy caterpillar or the bark of a tree), and even to taste (newly fallen snow, a raindrop, or a freshly picked blueberry). Children who spend much of their time acquiring experiences through television, computers, and even books are using only two senses (hearing and sight), and this can seriously affect their perceptual abilities. Also, much of this learning, which falls under the content area of science, can't be acquired indoors. Nor can children who spend most of their time indoors be expected to learn to care for the environment. Outside, children are more likely to invent games. As they do, they're able to express themselves and learn about the world in their own way. They feel in control, which promotes autonomy, decision making, and organizational skills. Inventing rules for games promotes an understanding of why rules are necessary. And although children are just playing to have fun, they learn: communication skills and vocabulary, as they invent, modify, and enforce rules; number relationships, as they keep score and count; and social skills, as they learn to play together. Then, too, there's the aesthetic value of the outdoors. Because the natural world is filled with amazing sights, sounds, and textures, it's the perfect resource for the development of aesthetics in young children. Since aesthetic awareness means a heightened sensitivity to the beauty around us, it's something that can serve children well at those times when, as adolescents and adults, the world seems less than beautiful. Children learn their values from the important adults in their lives. When you don't encourage them to go outdoors, they learn that the outside doesn't matter. I realize it may not be possible to go back to the "good old days" when children roamed free. So if concern for your child's safety is keeping her indoors, remember that any time you set aside to play with her can be spent outside. Sometimes it's just a matter of playing outdoors the games you would have played indoors, like Follow the Leader. Also, in the same way you arrange play dates for your little one, you can trade off with other parents who are willing to supervise the children's outdoor play. Or in the same way you hire a babysitter for evenings out, you can hire a daytime "play attendant" when there isn't an adult available. By giving your child every chance to be a part of the outdoors and nature, you'll be contributing to his health and well-being and enriching his experience as a human! After all, we evolved in the outdoors. As much as we may have changed since our days as cave dwellers, our brains are still hardwired for an existence in nature. We therefore have an innate link with it that, when broken, leaves a part of us bereft. Rae Pica is a children's physical activity specialist and the author of A Running Start: How Play, Physical Activity, and Free Time Create a Successful Child (Marlowe Co., 2006). She has shared her expertise with such clients as the Sesame Street Research Department, the Centers for Disease Control, Gymboree Play Music, and the President's Council on Physical Fitness Sports. You can visit Rae at www.movingandlearning.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

IconConnecting with Your Kids: Strategies for Tough Conversations By Dr. Laura Markham www.yourparentingsolutions.com Fewer than half of all sixth graders describe their family communication as positive and only 22% of high school seniors do. What would your kids say? Most kids, once they hit the tween years, regretfully report that there are things about which they can't talk with their parents, either because their parents won't listen, won't understand, or will over-react. Which is our loss, because our ability to parent depends on knowing what's happening in our child's life, and being able to influence him or her. And that derives directly from a depth of communication. The challenge for parents? Learn to listen. Be available without being pushy. And find ways to talk about the hard stuff, so that she feels comfortable sharing with you. If you can control your emotions and keep the situation safe, your child may be able to start sharing her deepest worries. That's when break-throughs happen. How? 1. Don't take it personally. Your teenager slams the door to her bedroom. Your ten year old huffs "Mom, you never understand!" Your four year old screams "I hate you, Daddy!" What's the most important thing to remember? DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY! This isn't primarily about you. It's about them: their tangled up feelings, their difficulty controlling themselves, their immature ability to understand and express their emotions. When your daughter says "You NEVER understand!" try to hear that as information about her -- at this moment she feels like she's never understood -- rather than about you. Taking it personally wounds you, which means you do what we all do when we're hurt: either close off, or lash out, or both, which just worsens a tough situation for all concerned. 2. Manage your own feelings and behavior. The only one you can control in this situation is yourself. That means you: Take a deep breath. Let the hurt go. Remind yourself that your child does in fact love you but can't get in touch with it at the moment. Consciously lower your voice. Try hard to remember what it feels like to be a kid who is upset and over-reacting. Notice if your "story" is making you upset ("But she lied to me!") and if necessary expand the story to change your emotional response: ("My daughter was so afraid of my reaction that she lied to me. I guess I need to look at how I respond when she tells me bad news.") Master your own fear about how she's acting. Just because she's emotionally overwrought at the age of twelve doesn't mean she'll always act this way. 3. Reconnect with your love and empathy for your child. You can still set limits, but you do it from as calm a place as you can muster. Your child will be deeply grateful, even if she can't acknowledge it at the moment. I'm not for a minute suggesting that you let your child treat you disrespectfully. I'm suggesting you act out of love, rather than anger, as you set limits. And if you're too angry to get in touch with your love at the moment, then wait until you are. 4. Always start the conversation by acknowledging your child's position, as near as you can make it out. That takes him off the defensive so he can hear you. Let him take off from your comments to correct and elaborate; then reflect his corrections so he knows you recognize his side of things. 5. Extend respect. Remember that more than one perspective can be true at once. Assume your child has a reason for her views or behavior. It may not be what you would consider a good reason, but she has a reason. If you want to understand her, you'll need to extend her the basic respect of trying to see things from her point of view. Say whatever you need to say and then close your mouth and listen. 6. Keep the conversation safe for everyone. People can't hear when they're upset. If they don't feel safe, they generally withdraw or attack. If your child begins getting angry, scared or hurt, back up and reconnect. Remind him - and yourself - how much you love him, and that you're committed to finding a solution that works for everyone. 7. Try hard to avoid making your child wrong. This isn't about winning, but about teaching. Use "I" statements to describe your feelings ("It scares me when you're late and don't call.") Describe the situation. ("This report card is much worse than your previous report cards.") Give information. ("Our neighbor Mrs. Weiner says that you were smoking in the back yard.") 8. Summon your sense of humor. A light touch almost magically diffuses tension. 9. Remember that expressing anger just makes you more angry because it reinforces your sense that you're right and the other person is wrong. Instead, notice your anger and use it as a signal of what needs to change. For instance, rather than throwing a tantrum because the kids aren't helping around the house, use your anger as a motivator to implement a new system of chores - one they help design -- that will help prevent the problematic situation in the future. Dr. Laura Markham is the founder of the parenting web site www.yourparentingsolutions.com , featuring a popular advice column and parent-tested solutions you can use every day to connect with your kids and create a richer family life. Her work appears regularly on a dozen parenting sites and in print. Dr. Markham specializes in helping families nurture the parent-child relationships that protect today's kids. She lives in New York with her husband, eleven year old daughter, and fifteen year old son. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

IconAvoiding the Summer Brain Drain By Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman The summer is here! That long awaited school break has arrived. Your children are now enjoying their much deserved time away from the daily grind of spelling tests, math worksheets, book reports, geography lessons, science projects and homework. It is time for them to play in the sun, swim in the pool, go camp, walk the beach, shoot hoops, ride bikes, sleep in, relax, and lose three months of reading and math gains that they worked so hard to attain this past school year. Yes, many children fall almost three months behind in math and reading skills over the summer. This phenomenon is so well known that educators even have a special name for it. They call it the "the summer slide". Because of the summer slide teachers often invest the first two months of every school year focusing on lesson plans that help students regain skills they lost over the summer. But this doesn't have to be the case. The summer slide does not need to occur in your family. Creating a summer that is totally void of learning is not what children need. You can provide high-quality learning opportunities for your children during the summer months that are different from those activities children are exposed to during the school year. This gives them a break from traditional school work and yet prevents important skills from slowing draining away. Below are a few tips you can use to create a different look and feel to the learning opportunities you offer your children this summer. Math skills deteriorate rapidly in the summer. Use your environment to help them use math skills. When you put chemicals in the pool take the time to figure out the area, diameter, or volume of your pool. At approximately 9 pounds per gallon of water, how much does all that water weigh? Taking a road trip? Calculate the mileage by using a map and adding up the distance as indicated on the map. What does miles-per-hour mean and how do you compute it? How many miles-per-gallon are you getting? What is the difference in gas prices in different locations? Sit together with your eleven year old and balance the check book and compare it to the family budget. Help your teenager create a budget plan or pick a stock to invest in and track its progress through the summer. Have your children handle money. Take pop bottles back and have them estimate how much money they will receive. Allow them to make change at your garage sale. Have them count the money you have in the family charity jar. Keep it fun. Play games that require the use of skills learned in school. Remember the card game called "war". It's now called "Top it". Turn over a card and see if you have a card that is higher. For first and second graders turn over two cards, add them together and see which sum is higher. For fourth, fifth and sixth graders turn over two (or three) cards and multiply them and see which product is higher. Play Monopoly, Scrabble, Yahtzee, Rummikub, Boggle, Sequence, or Word Up. A brief stop at the department store game section and your list of options easily multiplies. Keep lots of reading material around your home. Read to and with your children. Create a family book club. Pick a book with your child and both read it. Just the two of you sit down together over a pop or ice cream cone once a week and discuss the plot development or characters. Model learning. Turn off the TV and get away from the video games. Let your kids catch you reading this summer. Learn a new computer program Start that book you've been wanting to write. Expand your horizons this summer with a wood carving class, parenting workshop, pottery or painting class. Get help. Every community has learning activities for kids. Libraries have reading programs. Recreation centers and churches have day camps. Schools have inventor's camps. Art Institutes have drawing, painting, pottery and drama classes for children. Sign your kids up. Create a summer that balances rest, relaxation, and fun with learning. Use the many opportunities that summer offers to help your children grow their brain. If you do you will help your children begin the new school year right where they left off when school ended this year and the only summer slide they experience will be the one at the recreation center or water park. Thomas Haller and chick Moorman are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free monthly e-zine for parents. To sign up for it or obtain more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their website today: www.personalpowerpress.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

IconFood-Both Important and Unimportant By Linda Spangle, RN, MA www.FoodisEasy.com The day is filled with questions! Shall we have lunch at that snazzy new restaurant? What's your secret for that delectable salmon on the grill? Who made that wonderful carrot cake? Do you think I can I get the recipe? Just picture it-succulent crab cakes, fresh asparagus with hollandaise and a piece of chocolate swirl cheesecake. Food is so wonderful! In our society, it's the king of entertaining, celebrating and connecting. It gives you a way to display your fabulous kitchen or to show off your culinary skills. But what about your diet? Somehow, you need a way to enjoy and appreciate food without sabotaging your weight or your health. And you can, by simply putting food in its proper place. Let food be unimportant When you get into your car, you don't expect every trip to be inspiring or memorable. Sometimes you just need to go to the store or visit your mother. In the same way, eating doesn't always have to be fun or exciting. Lots of times, food will be quite mundane, but since it's providing fuel, you eat it anyway. Instead of fretting about boring food, just label it as "unimportant." Now picture a vacation where you catch a phenomenal sunset or discover a new road with beautiful mountain scenery. On this kind of trip, your drive takes on more status and importance. In the same way, a surprise birthday party or an exotic new restaurant can suddenly change your view of food. When this happens, you simply choose to let food be "important." Just like the drive where you slow down and appreciate the scenery, you can do the same thing with food. Go ahead and give it your full attention and allow yourself to enjoy it. Appreciate the taste, delight in the eating experience and ask for the recipe. Get picky about when it's important You can't make food special all the time, so before you label it as important, think carefully about your goals. Are you enjoying the exquisite creations of a new chef? Or are you hoping to connect and communicate better with someone? In that case, focus on having a meaningful conversation and on showing love and appreciation. In your day-to-day life, food doesn't always have to be the center of attention. So just like getting into your car, decide when you want to make food important and when to let it be routine. Linda Spangle, RN, MA, is a weight-loss coach specializing in emotional eating, and the author of 100 Days of Weight Loss , a book of daily lessons that helps people stay committed to their diet and exercise plans. Her website is www.FoodisEasy.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

Icon5 Ways to Kick Start the Dieter in You By Kenneth Schwarz, Ph.D. and Julie North Schwarz www.mariaslastdiet.com Do you need to lose weight, but you aren't really doing anything about it? Boy, you tell yourself, I really need to go on a diet. Maybe you say that all the time, but you keep putting it off. This is easy to understand, especially if you've been on diets before and you found them difficult or unpleasant and just plain too hard. Maybe at this point you doubt yourself and your ability. Maybe you are too afraid of failing again. So even though you want to lose weight, maybe in self-defense you've put the dieter in you to sleep. No more procrastinating. Here are 5 effective ways to get yourself to go ahead and do it, and not one of them is too hard for you. Tap into your displeasure Admit how your weight is affecting your life. Admit how it makes you feel. Acknowledge your feelings about yourself when you look in the mirror. Let yourself become more conscious of how displeased you are with your present weight in however many different ways. This admission will help tip the scales from passively living with it to going forward and changing it. Visualize the fantasy-you Define what you want to look like. In your mind's eye create a lifelike, specific, excellent, body-shape you. When you visualize your goal in this way, you are priming your brain to work in the direction of that goal. Imagine this fantasy-you several times a day. One of the things you need in order to become it, is to be able to visualize it. Once you are able to see it, it reinforces your desire to get there. Set sub-goals A great big distant goal can seem unattainable. If you tell yourself you must lose thirty pounds, it may seem like an impossible task. Who wants to start something that seems impossible? The answer is to break up the path to your goal into smaller, more easily reachable sub-goals. Each sub-goal will be an important step along your path to the ultimate goal. For example, smaller diet steps might be losing the first five pounds, anticipating a high risk situation; cheating and going right back on. Since these are smaller steps, you'll be able to see them as being very possible and within your capability. This will give you the confidence and hope you need to jump right in. Take the mind journey Make a mental movie of yourself as if you are actually proceeding on this small-step path to your goal. As you imagine yourself doing it, you will begin to have new and creative ideas about how you might actually take these steps. You will begin to think of what can be most helpful to you as you go. Imagining yourself accumulating small successes is a great way to feel prepared. Feeling as though you are prepared is essential. It gives you the courage to start a serious weight-loss effort. Go public Go public with your decision to diet and it will help you keep your commitment in place. Don't keep it a secret, don't be hush-hush about it. If you keep the idea to yourself, it is much easier to go back on your word. If you decide to start your diet on Monday and you don't do it, no one knows but you. If you tell someone, you have more than yourself to answer to. Telling someone about your plans, or even several people for that matter, makes it a much more solid decision. You are less likely to procrastinate if you make a public declaration to go ahead and do it. This will also help the people around you to be on your side, which will give you a nice push in the direction of getting started. Don't assume that a good dieter is just born that way, because then it can seem like you won't be able to lose weight no matter what you do. This mindset will sabotage your chances of going ahead. There is a let's-get-going dieter in you, waiting to stand up and be counted. She just needs a little kick start - a little more hope at the beginning, a little more encouragement, a little more planning and preparation, a little more faith in herself and in her ability to do it. Dr. Kenneth Schwarz, a psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in Connecticut, and his wife Julie are the founders of www.mariaslastdiet.com , a website offering strategies and support for diet success. Dr. Schwarz provides tools to help women succeed regardless of which diet they choose. Sign up for their free newsletter and receive ongoing support for total diet success. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

IconElder Abuse: a Deepening Current Social Issue Preventing Elder Abuse Is a Question of Education, Ethics and Morality By Rebecca Sweat www.vision.org According to a survey in the mid nineties, roughly 19 million adults (just over 10 percent) report at least some functional difficulty. Almost 6 million adults (3 percent) report either being completely unable to walk three blocks, climb 10 stairs, or stand 20 minutes. How do we care for these people? In an earlier, perhaps more gracious time, it was not a problem. The young, the old, the strong and the weak were absorbed into the fabric of the extended family. In our fast culture is there a place for those who can no longer cope? No one knows exactly how many elderly people are mistreated, but the National Research Council's Panel to Review Prevalence and Risk of Elder Abuse and Neglect estimated in a 2003 report that between one and two million Americans, aged 65 or older, have been injured, exploited, neglected or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depend for care or protection. In September 2005, a frail 87 year old woman living in an expensive care facility was unhappy. It was suspected that she was being physically abused. The supplemental caregivers placed a hidden camera in her room and the results were horrifying. Their camera showed that day after day Norma was being thrown into her bed, threatened with fists, hit with a slipper and screamed at. The camera showed nurses helping themselves to Norma's money and food. Armed with the tapes, they went to the police and the nurses and the home were charged with assault and theft. To persons of good will it is hard to understand what kind of person would abuse the elderly. Bullies actively seek out vulnerability and gains gratification provoking arguments and increasing hostility. Some even take pleasure in inflicting physical harm. There are signs you can watch for: Physical Abuse: This includes beating, hurting or harming the patient. It often includes unnecessary restraint. You should look for: Caregiver's refusal to allow you to see your parent alone. Look for bruises, broken bones, or broken eyeglasses. Look for cuts, open wounds, and wounds in various stages of healing Look for inexplicable sprains, dislocations, and internal injuries Mental Abuse: This includes threats, verbal abuse, name calling, humiliation or efforts to punish or make the patient feel helpless. You should look for: Sudden changes in behavior Agitation or anger Withdrawal Depression Confusion Elder Neglect: Elder neglect is any failure to fulfill care-giving duties or obligations. You should look for: Dehydration or malnutrition Untreated bedsores Unsanitary living conditions Harmful living conditions People are living longer and longer lives; many requiring ongoing, long-term care. Current events show that more elder abuse cases are being reported than in years past, and many experts believe that the actual number of cases will increase in the years ahead as older Americans constitute a larger proportion of the U.S. population than ever before. This is one of the pressing social issues of our time. Many baby boomers, currently the age group ranging from 40 to 60 years old, can expect to live well into their 80s and 90s. Elder care often falls to the grown children of seniors, who now are baby boomers and busy with their own children and careers. Can anything be done? Gaining a comprehensive overview of this current social problem is helpful. Senior citizens, too, should educate themselves. They need to know what resources are available in their community, which they can use to protect themselves. Children need to be educated and taught that old age is not a bad time. See Prescription for Elder Abuse on the Vision.org website. If the younger generation truly understands and respects the older generation, they will be included rather than excluded. The golden years are a fascinating time and older people have much wisdom to impart to the next generation. This gets down to what is actually the more fundamental issue: ultimately the solution doesn't lie in acknowledging the issues and teaching people how the elderly should be cared for, helpful as those may be. Education can't fix the problem if people don't reassess their values. In order to eliminate this growing social issue we need to become one another's keeper. Vision offers in-depth coverage of current social issues, insights into the philosophical, moral and ethical values in society today - health care, science and environmental news and articles. For more information visit www.vision.org . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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