Protecting Our Children From Our Anxiety

The vibration between parents trickles down to children and animals in the home. This is not news to anyone who lives with other people. So how can parents who are over-burdened with anxiety regarding tight finances and distress over the nation’s politics, compounded by health issues, work (or unemployment) and perhaps even issues surrounding disagreement about parenting decisions neutralize negativity enough to create a loving, supportive, nurturing environment at home?

Click the link (far below) to listen to a lively and heartfelt interview with Dr. Daniel Cohen PhD, Psychologist, Executive Director of the NY Testing and Guidance Center Emeritus, Professor of psychology, licensed marriage and family counselor, (and so many additional credentials – more than are practical to list here).

He shares insights and techniques to assist parents and partners – whether stressed or calm, in their effort to cope effectively with ‘spirited’ children who might attempt to ‘divide and conquer’.  In addition to learning how to help YOUR offspring accept responsibility, self-reflect and fulfill personal and professional potential, you will hear Dr. Cohen offer hints and tips to strengthen the bond between partners, citing early indicators that the couple might be “off-track” – and offering interventions to get you back on the same page.

Click here to enjoy this brief video (allow about 20 minutes to watch the entire conversation).  Please feel free to share with anyone who might benefit from it.  Here’s to you mind/body/spirit balance, successful nurturing of the next generation, and to your joy, inner peace and best health.  ~Dr. Iankowitz

Congestive Heart Failure: A Functional Medicine Approach

[Oversight regarding root causes] leaves aging individuals exposed to the ravages of unchecked heart attack risk factors such as excess homocysteine, insufficient vitamin D, and hormone imbalance & deficiency. This deadly oversight is a fundamental reason cardiovascular disease continues to plague so many Americans (Faloon 2009).1

In contrast to the relatively unimpressive conventional treatment options for heart failure patients, a major breakthrough in heart failure research came in 2013 with the presentation of early results of the Q-SYMBIO coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) trial. This groundbreaking ten-year study provides strong support for a recommendation made by Life Extension many years prior in the context of heart failure. This exciting trial showed that CoQ10 supplementation significantly improves survival even for patients with severe Class III or IV heart failure while dramatically reducing incidence of hospitalization. Specifically, heart failure patients who took 100 mg of CoQ10 three times daily were significantly less likely to have a major cardiovascular event and significantly less likely to die from any cause during the study period compared to control subjects (Mortensen 2013).

Dietary and nutritional interventions have been valuable. “Vitamin B4 is water soluble and is needed in order for the organs and the body to function properly. Vitamin B4 should be included in a healthy daily diet by eating the types of foods that contain this complex vitamin. Bananas, oranges and apples contain vitamin B4, and so do vegetables with green leaves, such as spinach and mustard greens. Herbs that contain vitamin B4 include cloves, hawthorn, jojoba, sage, yucca, ginger and golden seal.”

Clearly, although ‘healing’ is the common goal, western (conventional) and functional (integrative) medicine have two separate approaches.  Conventional addresses symptoms as they present, using pharmaceuticals; functional addresses systems as root causes, and leans towards lifestyle, rather than medications as a first line of treatment.   According to functional medicine, “[m]ost pharmaceutical drugs work by blocking, poisoning, or inhibiting the body’s biochemical pathways.   As an alternative, functional medicine employees the use of nutrients that support the body’s biochemistry to help boost deficiencies that are the cause of the medical condition.  Rather than fighting the symptoms, functional medicine focuses on attacking the cause.”

Chiropractic medicine recognizes there is hope for people suffering from congestive heart failure.  According to Dr. Grisanti, “To be quite honest, when I first started in practice I was like most people thinking that there was no way a disease like congestive heart failure and a host of other diseases (you will learn about) could be reversed. The best I hoped for was at best just to slow down the progressive deterioration of heart failure patients.  To my surprise and the surprise of thousands of people, the more nutrient deficiencies that were identified and fixed, the healthier people became. Of course this is just the beginning of improving the health of people with heart failure.”

Along with common sense lifestyle modifications including diet, exercise, modest alcohol intake etc., Dr. Hyman offers: “. . . supplements can dramatically improve cardiovascular health. Take a good multi-vitamin/mineral along with a purified fish oil supplement that contains 1000 to 2000 milligrams a day of EPA/DHA. (You might need higher doses if you have low HDL and high triglycerides.) I also recommend a fiber supplement such as PGX (Konjac fiber or gluccomanan) to lower cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels.” 5

Sources:

1 http://www.lifeextension.com/protocols/heart-circulatory/congestive-heart-failure/Page-01

2  https://www.reference.com/food/foods-contain-vitamin-b4-72df1ea0d1152e92#

3 http://functionalmedicineprofessionals.com/?cat=30

4 http://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/Congestive-Heart-Failure.cfm

5  http://drhyman.com/blog/2016/04/21/the-biggest-drug-to-reverse-or-prevent-heart-disease-isnt-a-medication/

Lifestyle Tools That Become Lifelong, Lifesaving Gifts

The proper lifestyle tools become lifelong, lifesaving gifts. Caring for young children compels us to create a healthful environment. We begin to put greater thought into balancing sleep/wake schedules, exercise, diet, the air our youngsters breathe and the surfaces they touch. So how can we be sure we are making the right choices? One way is to hear the claims and then weigh the evidence.  It helps to choose educated professionals with whom we share common values.  The following article draws evidence-based data from the perspective of prevention, functional medicine & systems-based approaches to healing.

Why is sleep so important for our children?  Until the age of about 5, the human body generally requires between 12-13 hours of sleep a day; astonishing to some – well known by others.  During sleep, the brain and body develop.  Less than 11 hours of sleep a night during this crucial developmental stage may severely impact the child, with negative life long implications. Throughout the life span, sleep requirements may change.  Click here to read more about recommended upper and lower limits of sleep from birth to 25 years of age.

What are the recommendations regarding exercise for our children?  The 21st century brings with it the recognition that a sedentary lifestyle correlates highly with deterioration of the cardiovascular system. Specifically, the more we sit, the greater our chances of developing blood clots, obesity and poor posture – all of which stress the heart. Fortunately, even if we have fallen into couch potato patterns, or have otherwise become addicted to our laptops, once we begin to work more physical activity into our daily routine, we can reverse the premature aging of our cardiovascular system.  What a blessing to be able to help our children avoid the sedentary habits that can drive them to an early grave.

Two essential questions might pop into one’s mind: (1) How much exercise is really necessary for the human body?  and (2) How much physical activity do children really need in order to define theirs as a heart-healthy lifestyle?  For these answers we turn to the experts. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least an hour (60 minutes – which can be divided into two 30-minute intervals) of exercise a day for children over the age of two. Click here  to see what the AHA concludes regarding health implications for our children.

How can I get my child moving?  Once we define the questions and find the answers, we then need to be able to implement. Easier said than done. If you are interested in encouraging the next generation to form healthy lifestyle habits, you are in the company of a growing number of caregivers on the lookout for creative tips on how to physically engage children and young adults who are otherwise flooded with sedentary technological activities. Click here for ten heart healthy ideas.

While cardiovascular exercises are essential for several systems – including circulatory, skeletal and respiratory, stretching exercises are also important. In fact, stretching may be one of the most important interventions for athletes, when the goal is to keep the body limber. Remember: flexibility is what helps protect against soft tissue injuries (i.e. sprains and strains) during sports activities. This is a huge point to keep in mind for adolescents. Click here for some valuable interventions.

Yoga is another important approach.  When done properly, yoga helps more than just ligaments, tendons and joints. Well appreciated by adults who value balance of mind, body and spirit, yoga is able to be enjoyed by children as young as two years of age. If you think your child might be interested, click here for a few child-friendly poses.

Building a strong mind & body involves physical exercise (noted earlier), and well balanced nutrition.  Most people understand the impact of calcium, Vitamin D and other popularly advertised nutrients on the body; however, few people are aware of the role these play in brain development. In fact, most are unfamiliar with the tremendous impact of nutrition, in general, on such diagnoses as ADHD, IBS and other issues that involve a variety of organ systems. Learn more by clicking here.  Young children require on-target intervention in order to maximize their potential as they grow.

When it comes to the air we breathe, we usually consider air ‘quality’ – and there are several interventions (including plants – click here for a few examples of air filtering plants, and here for additional information) that can help. HEPA air filters are generally considered safe and effective, whereas the ‘ionic air purifier’ technology is becoming less respected by environmental groups. Click here to learn about HEPA filters.

Flu, Humidity and Vitamin D. Low humidity sets the stage for the transmission of airborne viruses, including the ‘flu’ virus (especially in winter months). When the dry air season combines with low levels of Vitamin D, the body’s immunity is low enough to permit the flu to multiply and make us sick. This is why in the north eastern United States, when the air is driest (beginning February, when the body’s Vitamin D stores are lowest after 5 months of sunshine deprivation), we understand ‘this is flu season’ . . . and flu shots become recommended by conventional practitioners, beginning in November. For those who are either unable to take the flu shot (i.e. if you ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome  ) or if you simply choose not to have it for any other reason, there are ways to boost your immune system to avoid the flu.  Click here for recommendations.  With or without a respiratory illness, in addition to drinking enough water each day, humidification of household air is important  to keep the eyes, nasal passages, lips, mouth and throat hydrated.

How can I humidify my home?  When the winter weather makes the air outside cold and dry, whether you heat your home with electricity, oil, gas or a wood burning stove, the air inside your home is just as dry – and needs to be humidified. Plants can help. Depending on the type of plants you have, watering more often might help. Gardeners usually advise against ‘misting’ leaves – but that also depends on the plant.  Click here  for additional creative ideas on how to humidify your home. Humidifiers are also a popular intervention during winter months.  To learn more about how to choose a humidifier, click here.

How else can I protect my family during the dry winter, flu-season months?  Giving the immune system the proper tools to protect our children is FAR more effective than trying to kill or destroy any/every ‘germ’ (virus, bacteria, fungus) with which they may come into contact. In fact, research shows that children exposed to allergens (including animal dander, mice & even roaches!) in the first year of life have less respiratory issues than those who are raised in a more ‘sterile’ environment. Choosing non-toxic cleaning products for all surfaces – including wood, is a challenge; however, it is well worth the effort if you are interested in preserving our earth for future generations.  Here are some tips on how to keep your home environment earth friendly:  click here.

Ask your child’s pediatrician or pediatric nurse practitioner about how you can boost your child’s immune system using foods, fluids, and dietary supplements. Although these are ‘over-the-counter’ there are important reasons why it is best to consider your child’s unique body, metabolism, growth pattern and genetic make-up before selecting foods, herbs and supplements. Your wellness provider can help.

Here’s to healthful choices for you and your entire family! ~Dr. Iankowitz

Caring For Aging Parents

When caring for aging parents, we do our best to offer effective, loving, on-target interventions to address their many needs. Sometimes we move them into our home or we relocate into theirs – for as long as we can. When it becomes clear that your parent requires more attention, time, skill and/or expertise than you can offer, a tremendous amount of guilt may distract from making timely choices for the next ‘must-be-taken’ step. Getting out from under that cloud of harsh self-judgment begins with re-framing the worn-out phrase: “You can do anything you set your mind to” so that it accurately reflects the human condition.  In other words, if you have done everything reasonably within your power (short of taking a home health-aide course, joining a gym to build muscles in order to physically rise to the task at hand – you get the idea), it becomes essential to temper the quoted statement above to: “You can do anything you put your mind to – within reason.” This takes into consideration personal resources including but not limited to: money, time, logistics & energy demand.

Once the decision has been made to include others in the journey, in consideration of the health and well being of you as well as your loved one(s), the ‘next step’ might include bringing a professional caregiver onto your wellness team. When searching for reputable in-home attendants, it is optimal to get word-of-mouth recommendations from friends or other family members who have experienced the journey before. If personal recommendations are not available, you can tap into online resources (such as AgingCare.com.)  If the ‘next step’ for your situation includes relocating your parent to a long term care facility, and no personal recommendations are available, then checking out resources for their on-site reputation becomes a viable alternative. You might find this resource helpful:  click here.

What if you have a particular location in mind?  For example, if geographic location to facilitate visits is a priority, choosing a facility that falls within your target radius may be done by searching online by the name of the state you have in mind.  For example, if seeking information about reputable facilities in Pennsylvania, you might check out this link: click here.   It might help to become familiar with terminology so that you can best address your particular needs; for example, your parent might need help with medication, bathing and eating. You may or may not need to consider memory support (dementia) in terms of hands-on ratio of care-givers at a particular facility; click here to learn more about how to meet your needs for your aging parent.

There are many additional considerations including but not limited to financial concerns, informing close friends or family, (as well as deciding whether or not to include the parent about whom you are concerned and/or those family & friends) in the decision-making process. This bring us to what may be, for some, the most significant concern; specifically, that which involves informing the aging parent of the ‘next-step’ process. Bringing a social worker or other well trained mental health professional on board at this tender time might be helpful – especially if your parent slips in and out of awareness. You might require more support than the parent for whom relocation and increased care is being planned. If your parent is relatively well oriented, then involving your parent – if that person is capable of decision-making, may provide a valuable bonding experience for all involved.

Decisions made out of sincere concern and love are very different from the “dumping” label we tend to give ourselves when considering long term care for aging and/or otherwise incapacitated loved ones.  In addition, the various elements of self-inflicted guilt you have mastered might be dissolved if your parent expresses awareness and agreement with the logic of the ‘next-step’ – whether it involves bringing an additional caregiver onto the team, or moving to a reputable facility in order to best meet the needs of all involved.

Whether the discussion happens in advance or at the time of need, it is best to have a few hints and tips in your back pocket. If you are fortunate enough to have parents who are alert, oriented and able to have this important discussion, click here for a few tips. Additional helpful pointers may be found at the following link:  click here.

Life is filled with lessons – some of which are learned more easily than others.  Try to learn from every experience, and find ways to let yourself off the hook when guilt distracts you from joy.  It is a difficult time for all involved.  Engaging a mental health professional yourself might assist in your journey back to centering your balance of mind, body and spirit. Remember, every family member is affected by this milestone.  Try to be kind and gentle with yourself and with each other.  Life is precious and there are always blessings to count.  Here’s to your best health.  ~Dr. Iankowitz

Refilling the EMPTY-NEST with Dignity & Grace

Reframing expectations once the kids return home is key to maintaining sanity.  When your 24 year old is preparing to launch into his or her career, but not yet able to make ends meet on the entry-level salary (even though there is a prestigious Master’s degree on the resume), the desire for independence on the part of the young adult might clash with the desire for ‘freedom from children’ on the part of the parents.  Add to this mix aging grandparents – both hard of hearing, one of whom suffers with vascular dementia, and the other in a massive state of denial about all that is happening.

So what can YOU do if you are a member of the sandwich generation – surrounded in your home by YOUR kids as well as YOUR (or your spouse’s) parent(s)?   Two main goals to establish:  COMMUNICATION & BOUNDARIES.

  1. COMMUNICATION: Open communication about expectations regarding computer use, showering, and meals
    • If sharing computers, get passwords and internet security protection (the LAST thing you need is a computer virus – especially if you share WiFi or actual laptops)
    • Timing of showering needs to be considered – especially if one or more people need to go to work, and also in case washing machine or dishwasher interfere.
    • Are there food sensitivities or preferences? Is there medication that requires refrigeration? Will you each purchase your own food? Does more than one person enjoy cooking? Will the microwave, countertops and/or stove or oven be shared?
      • Consider assigning space in the refrigerator & freezer for special needs.
      • Perhaps you need a schedule of who eats when (the elders may require meals earlier or snacks more often; work schedules often dictate who will eat together and who will eat alone).
      • Is there room at the kitchen table for everyone at once?
  1. BOUNDARIES: Parents who are accustomed to being the ‘back-up’ either emotionally, health wise or financially, may find it difficult to separate with clearly defined boundaries.  Here are a few points to consider:
    1. Privacy: If the master bedroom shares a wall with the bathroom used by the adult child, and you hear the toilet flush in the middle of the night – assume all is well unless your child knocks on your bedroom door. If you were awakened and have difficulty getting back to sleep, wait until morning or later in the day to bring it up.  Nobody needs a confrontation in the wee hours of the morning.
    2. Responsibility: Don’t assume your adult child needs money whenever s/he leaves the house. Stop yourself from asking how much s/he has in the wallet whenever heading out.
    3. Laundry: Assume your adult child does his/her own laundry. By request, of course, a few additional garments may be added on occasion to your load – but don’t make this a habit.
    4. Food shopping: This blends communication with boundaries. Establish rules that suit your family rhythm and stick to them until a new conversation helps reestablish guidelines.

Important note: You and your spouse deserve your own special protected time away from the circus – and this needs to be scheduled in.

  • If finances permit an extravagant getaway – go for it GUILT-FREE, as long as you effectively hand off all responsibilities (including mail, care of the dog/ cat/gold-fish . . . you get the idea) and provide emergency contact information – get up and GO when you need that very essential self-care.
  • If time and money are not readily available, create a safe space in your home – off limits to all, to give yourselves that uninterrupted time/space. If physical space is an issue, try taking a walk, going to a movie or just getting OUT together – once a week. It may also be helpful to make an effort to go to bed an hour early during the week to just catch up, watch the news or a favorite comedy or movie on television . . . or just cuddle & relax in the silence you create for yourselves.

Keep unspoken ‘assumptions’ to a minimum, self-reflect often, and take lots of deep breaths to keep yourself on track.  This is a learning experience for ALL of you, simultaneously.

One of my favorite quotes (paraphrased here) is by Vivian Greene, and it goes something like this:  Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.  So here’s to your successful adventure through life, and to all those deep breaths to which you are about to treat yourself.  ~Dr. Iankowitz

 

If you have hints and tips to share, I invite you to add your wisdom from either personal experience or observation.   ~Dr. Iankowitz

Words That Distract From Wellness: DIET & EXERCISE

You are on the right track if you say,   “NO – NEVER – NOT ME!” in response to the popular misinterpretation of these two words:  DIET  &   EXERCISE

Diet, if misinterpreted as

  • Self-deprivation on any level
  • Separation anxiety as if saying good-bye to something you love and look forward to – as in losing a friend
  • Being forced
    • against your will to give up pleasure
    • to eat or drink something that is upsetting to you

Exercise, if interpreted as

  • Physical torture, pain, or discomfort on any level of mind/body/spirit
  • An unpleasant task

Once you get out from under the distractions and misinterpretations, you are able to get hold of YOUR intention and YOUR idea of a wonderful, healing journey going forward.

It Is Time To Heal

MINDFULNESS exercise: How does one get hold of personal INTENTION & begin to choreograph a healing journey in three (3) simple steps?

  1. Look up the true definition of “diet” and “exercise” in the dictionary
  2. Observe YOUR choices and patterns over a two week period
  3. Document your observations (#2) paired with your mood, energy, general health, sleep pattern

The recognition of the role of mindfulness (following steps #1-3, above) is a life changing experience, as it reintroduces you to the body you are walking around in during your time on earth.

After the first two weeks, as you review the mindfulness documentation, you begin to awaken to the messages your body gives you every day – several times a day. This new friendship begins as any other – with the first step as ‘earning trust’.  Choose a support system (can be a friend, a group you join [i.e. Weight Watchers] or a trusted wellness professional).

Earning the trust of YOUR own body begins with mindfulness, compromise & open communication. Establishing your personal healing path requires loyalty, honesty & a willingness to let go of energy that no longer serves you (i.e. sucks energy, depresses your mood, creates anxiety & physical discomfort), as you adopt new, positive healing energy that fills your life with joy.

If you decide that you need or want some support or professional guidance to facilitate this part of your healing adventure, feel free to call (917) 716-6802  for a free 20-minute consultation. Dr. Iankowitz can outline an appropriate direction for you which may include an appointment with her and/or a list of foods to add or avoid, a few stretches to consider working into your daily routine and/or recommendations for additional licensed, certified health providers skilled in acupuncture, herbs, energy healing, chiropractics etc.  Today is the first day of the rest of your wellness journey.  Embrace it with gratitude and positive energy.