December 2013

Emotional Health and Dealing with the Holidays
Holiday Season

By Dr. Mark Siemer, Medical Director

American Family Care Cherry Creek

As we find ourselves entering the holiday season we find many people begin to struggle with depression. Depression is a serious disorder that many try to ignore, most don’t know what to do with it while others do not even know how to spot it. It is seen quite prevalent in the elderly. According to the Geriatric Metal Health Foundation, “An estimated 6 percent of people ages 65 and older in a given year, or approximately 2 million individuals in this age group, have a diagnosable depressive illness.” This is the case with those who are able to have their symptoms diagnosed while others go on with their depression not detected. Signs and symptoms to look for especially in the elderly are as follows: Sadness, Fatigue, Social withdraw and isolation, Weight as well as appetite loss, Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or oversleeping), increased alcohol and drug use, Fixation on death, suicidal thoughts or attempts, Loss of interest in hobbies

In much older adults the symptoms and clues of depression are very noticeable: Unexplained aches and pain, Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, Anxiety and worries, Memory problems, Lack of motivation and energy, Slowed movement and speech, Irritability, Neglecting personal care.

In knowing the symptoms of depression you also need to know what causes it. The causes of depression in the elderly can also be the cause of the disorder in people of all ages. Different things such as health problems, loneliness/isolation, reduced sense of purpose, and recent bereavements can all trigger depression. A person that was once full of life, healthy and active and all of a sudden because ill, disabled, or have a cognitive decline has a high risk of getting depression especially when they start losing privileges such as driving and/or living independently. This also goes with those that loss friend or family members and have their social circle begin to shrink due to deaths or relocation. Medical condition are also another culprit in the causation of depression. Those that are diagnosed with diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disorders, dementia and Alzheimer’s, lupus or multiple sclerosis may eventually enter depression. At times medication itself can be the cause so being aware of side effects is very important.

A tough time for many is the holidays. During this time depression becomes more prevalent in people of all ages. There are ways to make the holidays more tolerable especially for the elderly. Engaging them in activities such as making holiday cookies, shopping, church, seasonal crafts, decorating, caroling, holiday parties, as well as regular exercise will help in getting them through a season that usually reminds of something that may make them upset and depressed. By keeping traditions and getting them to participate in activities that they have always been a part of is a good start in making sure the holidays are an enjoyable time for them. Other factors may help prevent depression during this season: 7-9 hrs. of sleep at night, Healthy diet, learning a new skill, Laughing.

With these tips and knowing what to look for and how to prevent moments that may trigger depression, the holidays should not be as dreadful and in fact be an enjoyable time for all.

American Family Care Cherry Creek is here to help for you during the holiday seasons. We are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year with no appointments necessary. American Family Care Cherry Creek is an Urgent Care Clinic that offers fast and comprehensive medical care with a short waiting times and reasonable rates. Our goal is to bridge the gap between your family physician and the local emergency room. We understand that many acute illnesses and injuries are painful or worrisome, but it is often hard to get a last-minute appointment with your primary care doctor. And if you choose to go to the ER you will have to deal with long wait times and high costs.

Contact American Family Care today for more information about our quick, efficient and comprehensive urgent care services available today in Denver

Local Doctors Warn of Holiday Health Hazards

The holidays won’t be merry and bright for the many local folks who will get hurt this season. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says holiday injuries are increasing with more than 13,000 people treated during the 2010 holiday season, up from 12,000 in 2009 (latest research available). Our local AFC American Family Care urgent care centers expect to be as busy as Santa over the holidays, packed with patients harmed by holiday health hazards. That’s why our local docs have created a Holiday Safety Checklist– advising families to make a list and check it twice!

Holiday Safety Checklist

Avoid Packaging Problems

Sometimes, people become so frustrated with hard plastic wrapping around toys and electronics that they cut themselves on the sharp edged packaging or with scissors, tools and knives when trying to pry the packages open. An average 6,000 people a year go to the emergency room due to packaging-related injuries (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

Immediately discard plastic wrappings or other packaging before they become dangerous playthings.

– Deck the Halls without fall

Santa looks festive on your roof, but don’t hurt yourself getting him up there. The CPSC estimates during November and December more than 13,000 people will need medical help from decorating-related injuries, such as falls, burns and lacerations.

Keep ladders on level ground, clear debris (and keep kids away) from the area, and when hoisting Santa and the reindeer on the roof, extend the ladder three feet beyond the edge of the roof. 

– Don’t stand on the top two rungs of the ladder

– Banish Bad News Batteries

A 2012 study by the Journal Pediatrics reports every three hours, a child under age 18 goes to an emergency room due to button battery ingestion. These small batteries are often used to power toys, watches, remote controls and other electronic devices.

Batteries that become lodged in the throat or intestine can generate and release hydroxide, resulting in dangerous chemical burns.

Install batteries in toys before wrapping them to keep them out of the hands of curious kids.

Encourage Helmet Head

Some of the most hazardous holiday gifts have wheels – including scooters, skateboards, inline skates, bikes and motorcycles. Broken bones, sprains, head and spinal injuries are common around the holidays, especially when excited adults and kids want to try out their new wheels. According to the CPSC, non-motorized scooters was the toy category associated with the most injuries (15 and younger) in 2011.

Gifts with wheels should come with a helmet.

– For scooters, skateboards and inline skates, the CPSC also recommends wrist guards, elbow and knee pads. All safety gear should be sized to fit.

– Make Sure Chestnuts – Not Christmas Trees – Roast on an Open Fire

Each holiday, around 230 home fires start with Christmas trees. These fires cause an average of four deaths, 21 injuries and $17.3 million in direct property damage.

Make sure live trees are fresh (deep green, not brown); trunk should be sticky and wet with resin; and make sure a large number of needles don’t come loose when you tap the tree trunk on the ground. Artificial trees should have a “fire resistant” label.

– Keep all trees away from heat sources like fireplaces and candles.

Use lights tested for safety by nationally recognized testing labs.

Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. It could cause a flash fire.

– Carve the Turkey, Not Your Fingers

Carving accidents are prevalent during the holidays because hosts are often rushing, talking and drinking when cutting up the turkey, ham or roast.

Never cut toward yourself. Your free hand should be placed opposite the side you’re carving.

– Keep knives dry because a wet handle is slippery and could cause your hand to slip on to the blade, resulting in a nasty cut.

– Keep all utensils sharp so you don’t have to force the cutting or carving.

Make sure the carving station is a NO KID zone.


*Sources for information include Consumer Product Safety Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Capital Poison Center and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

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