Can Garage-Saling Turn you into a Hoarder?

Shopping at garage sales is a lot of fun; especially when you are able to accumulate things you’ve “always wanted”, especially at a good price. Garage saling can also take on a life of its own. Usually, it is a time for women to get together, have coffee or brunch and do something light-hearted and casual on a Friday or Saturday morning.  Cruising the streets for sale signs, dropping in for a look, putzing around, bartering and then leaving with an armful of good stuff and pocket change only to go at it for another round. 

As these treasures accumulate and as the years go by, it is fairly common to find a buyer in their packed home where there is no more room to spare.  It is a dilemma for sure, but then again garage sale buyers usually beget garage sale sellers!  Buying and selling is the draw, and the social get-togethers remain steadfast; unless of course buying without selling becomes a stickler.   

Unfortunately, there are indeed some who just cannot part from all those treasures they have collected throughout the years; and as the problem merges further, they find themselves in cramped living conditions with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter.  Countertops, book cases, sinks, stoves, desks, stairways, and all other surfaces are piled high and can fall in domino fashion with a simple nudge.  And then, if there still isn’t room, there is always the garage, storage units or even stacks of stuff piled outside. 

Individuals with a Hoarding Disorder have a very difficult time discarding their possessions because of their belief that they need to save.  Even thinking of parting with their items brings them significant stress and anxiety, regardless of the actual value of the items.  Common characteristics for those that hoard have difficulty planning, organizing, and making decisions, procrastinate and avoid ways to deal with arising issues, and struggle with getting rid of things or wasting anything that could be used later.  They also tend to have an emotional connection with the objects collected, reminding them of previous times they felt happier or safer.  There are treatment efforts available to reduce hoarding behavior and one finds they have grown out of their own home.  However, many also can learn to stop and take action to reduce the clutter once they realize the problem.  Keep garage saling fun by managing its potential aftermath!

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

OVER-SENSITIVITY TO REJECTION CAN ACTUALLY CREATE REJECTION BY OTHERS

Are you one of those oversensitive souls that take things too personally and oftentimes feel attacked when the other person didn’t intend to hurt you?  Possibly, they were just giving you feedback or making suggestions to you, and you took it to heart.  Or, maybe they actually were confronting you or even criticizing something that you were doing, and you felt like you melted into a puddle on the floor, feeling worthless.  Maybe you search for facial expressions or gestures that might validate others’ dislike towards you, because you already know inside that they don’t care for you or that you’ve disappointed them.   Maybe, you over-analyze even a huff, or reading into getting no responses from others as reinforcing your belief that you don’t matter to them.  If you struggle with being over-sensitive to rejection, are you also your own worst enemy?   Does your inside voice rattle off a plethora of negative statements about yourself, questioning your own self-worth?  Your strong yearning to be cared about and approved by others may actually be an attempt to overcompensate for the lack of support you give yourself. 

Oftentimes, those that are over-sensitive to rejection have experienced significant rejection in the past, although there are some who have more of a biological propensity to being over-sensitive to rejection.  Possibly, they have received strong parental criticism or verbal and/or physical abuse and neglect as a child.  Others may have been victimized by significant bullying and negative peer relationships, and with continual taunting and ridicule, grew up believing that they were “no good”.  Oftentimes, those that have experienced significant rejection, also anticipate that they will continue to be rejected or criticized.  This isn’t about feeling bad about making mistakes.  It is only about self-rejection.

Unfortunately, those who remain oversensitive to rejection and continue doubting themselves oftentimes become over-dependent on others for validation and support.  As the quality or equality of the relationship swings the pendulum to a lopsided relationship, partners oftentimes feel they are “walking on eggs” and have to be careful how they approach sensitive subjects ,or they may puppet or connive the sensitive person towards being controlled by them with the use of criticism and condemnation if not followed.  Regardless, the relationship is impacted by one struggling with an oversensitivity to rejection. 

For many, it is not easy to learn not to be self-rejecting.  It’s usually a habit developed over a lifetime.  However, it may be worth the battle to go inside and fight those invisible tigers.  With research suggesting that we can change the hard drive in our brains by how we think, it seems like a worthwhile pursuit. 

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Does Worry Keep the Sleep Fairy Away?

Worry is a definite fiend that robs many people from their normal sleeping schedule.  In fact, researchers have found that 25% of adults say their worries keep them tossing and turning at night.  Apparently, there is a direct link between fretting during the day-time and sleep disturbance at night. 

Of course, all of us worry from time to time.  However, worrying becomes the problem in and of itself when we battle at night trying to sleep, or we can’t concentrate the next day.  Not being able to sleep can take its toll on our bodies and our emotion, even if worrying isn’t part of the story.  Here are some suggestions to keep worrying at bay when it is excessive or not helpful:

  1. Keep a pad and pencil near the bed to jot down reminders of what to do if your worrying is focused on remembering to get tasks done.  That way, it’s off your mind and you can “let go” of it ‘til the next day.
  2. Try to separate out the difference between habitual worrying and productive worrying.  Excessive worrying as a past time is usually a hindrance and causes all sorts of side effects, such as sleeping problems, concentration problems, and irritability, Become aware of when you are worrying, and consciously decide if that is what you want to continue to do with your time. 
  3. Choose to “let go” of what you cannot control, and focus instead on those matters you can do something about.
  4. If you choose to worry, focus on what you are worrying about exclusively.  It is apparent that Worry is knocking on your door for a reason or two.  What are those reasons?  What are the issues you need to spend time resolving?  Give your attention to the matter and process out ways to problem-solve so that Worry can go back to where it came and the issue can be handled the best you know at the time.  After reviewing the issue, you may choose that although the issue didn’t get resolved, worrying about it doesn’t bring it to resolution either, and revisiting it later may be the best course of action
  5. Realize that worrying can be unquenchable, with racing thoughts, ruminations, obsessive tendencies and the continual “what if’s” building to a fearful and anxious character that struggles with discovering the opposite, relaxation or finding joy the moment. 
  6. Practicing relaxation efforts can also help break up worrying episodes, such as paying attention to and managing your breath or heart rate, visualizing and detailing good memories, identifying enjoyable interests and practicing distraction from useless worrying, keep your focus on the big picture, and above all, be aware when you are worrying and decipher if that is distracting yourself from useless worrying or helpful in resolving things. 

If you experience anxiety that is not better managed with these suggestions and it impacts your health or your life satisfaction, you should consider seeking professional help.  There is a good chance that psychotherapy and/or medications can help put your worries down, allowing the sleep fairy to return again, splashing fairy dust onto you, and singing bedtime songs as you begin your sleeping journey through the night.

Claudia Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

The Wise Man Seeks Happiness, Regardless of the Condition Life Happens to Offer

First of all, what really is Happiness:  According to Webster, it can mean lots of things:  wealth, self-gratification, exhilaration, bliss, etc.  For our sake, we will define happiness as contentedness, pleasurable satisfaction, and one which is peaceful and rests without desires.  According to Aristotle, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”.          

According to The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, it is not “self-centered” to work at being happy.  When we feel happy, we feel more light-hearted and are more able to eliminate the bad feelings or actions we oftentimes get stuck in, such as over-eating, drinking, gossiping, being irritable, being uninterested in others, being selfish and wanting our way, and doubting that happiness is possible.

If we work very hard to be happy, and mind you, it takes very hard work to be happy in this world, we may feel right and good, and more content in the midst of our battles.

So, how do I get there?  Here are some ideas:

  • Wish to be happy, and challenge those thoughts that guard your efforts; Is the glass full or empty?  If I think I’m happier, I am happier
  • Fight the tigers of negative thought patterns.  Hurdles are easier to swallow than big, monstrous, unpassable mountains
  • Focus on what is good and right.  Be lighthearted, generous, creative, kind, encouraging and helpful
  • Remember in detail the good memories of yesterday
  • Meditate on the good characteristics of others.  We all have an angel and devil on our shoulders. Seek the angel – in you and in others.  The one, who gets the most attention, wins.
  • Realize that we all make mistakes, and being fair usually ends with a  positive outcome
  • Recognize the good experiences you are having right now that you would normally not spot
  • Make other people happy
  • Practice laughing
  • Realize that the years are short
  • Put yourself in control of your attitude 
  • Set your goal on what is meaningful and with purpose

Of course, Happiness does not take the reality out of living.  We still go through many hardships; loved one’s passing, family conflicts, mental illness, poverty, cold wars, endless political battles, illness, and so on.  Life is not easy.  We need to solve our problems and not pretend they don’t exist.  We need to have hope that this too shall pass.

Happiness is an attitude.  It is a resolution. It is a decision.  It is a life-long goal or path we can take so that we are better equipped to deal with the rough spots of the many troubles we face each today.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

St. William’s Living Center Outdoor Visitation Policy:

Visitors should call activity department at 218-338-1010 to schedule an appointment.  Appointments must be scheduled for outdoor visits.  If activity staff are not available, visitors should leave a message and staff will return the phone call.  Families are encouraged to give as much advance notice for staff and residents to prepare for the visit.  Visits will be scheduled in half hour time slots, which will allow for a 20-minute visit.  This will allow staff time to assist residents to get to and from their assigned visit.  Longer visits will be taken into consideration for special circumstances.  Visitation hours are based on staff availability. 

Current COVID-19 positive residents, residents with COVID-19 signs or symptoms, and residents in a 14-day quarantine or observation period are not eligible for outside visits.

One staff person should be assigned to each resident for the duration of the visit.  Staff should maintain visual observation but provide as much distance as necessary to allow for privacy of the visit conversation.

Visitors must be screened by staff prior to the visit.  Staff should use the visitor log to gather contact information and document screening questions.  Temperatures of visitors must be taken.  Any visitor with a temperature of 100 or greater or any of the following symptoms will be asked to leave.  Screening questions include:

  • In the last 14 days, has had contact with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID19, or under investigation for COVID-19, or are ill with respiratory illness.
  • Do you have a new fever (100 F or higher) or the sense of having a fever?
  • Do you have a new cough that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
  • Do you have a new shortness of breath that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
  • Do you have a new sore throat that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
  • Do you have new muscle aches that you cannot attribute to anther health condition or that may have been caused by a specific activity (such as physical exercise)?   

Residents and visitors must wear a mask or other face covering during the visit, as tolerated and must support social distancing of at least 6 feet between the visitor and resident.  If visitors do not have a mask, a cloth mask will be provided by the facility to use during the visit.

Due to the risk of exposure, holding hands, hugging, kissing, or other physical contact is not allowed during family visits.  Visitors under age 12 years must be in the control of adults who bring them and must also comply with social distancing requirements.  Pets must be under the control of the visitor bringing them in.

SWLC will provide alcohol-based hand rub to persons visiting residents and staff will provide verbal reminders of correct use.

Weather: Visits should occur only on days when there are no weather warnings that would put either the visitor or resident at risk.

St. William’s Living Center retains the right to deny outdoor visitation to specific residents only if they believe:

1. Circumstances pose a risk of transmitting COVID-19 to the facility because the resident or visitor does not comply with infection control guidance, or

2. The resident or visitor is at risk of abuse/harm.

Is It True? Common Misinformation About the Coronavirus Outbreak

We are fortunate to live in a time when we don’t have to wait for the morning paper for our news. It’s easy to get the breaking news we need through twenty-four-hour cable news outlets, social media, and the internet.

This fast news cycle has its drawbacks too. Misinformation about the Coronavirus outbreak tends to get spread around just as quickly as facts. Sometimes, even legitimate news sources make mistakes in their reporting and spread misinformation about this deadly disease.

In this article, we’ll address some of the recent pieces of misinformation floating around out there. We’ll also tell you what you can believe during these uncertain times.

Recently Reported Misinformation

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently made claims that asymptomatic spread, or spread of the disease by those who carry the virus yet exhibit no symptoms, is a rare occurrence. A day later, they went back on this claim and said that much is still unknown about asymptomatic spread.

In early June, the Star Tribune reported a story that grossly misrepresented the impact of the disease in the state’s long-term care facilities. The article miscounted death totals and made no mention of the measures taken to care for those with COVID-19.

Some of the facilities mentioned in the article opened up entire wings to the care of COVID-19 patients and have high recovery rates. This information was completely omitted from the original article and only a small correction printed in the next day’s paper.

There have also been many reports about how the virus spreads. In the initial stages of the outbreak, scientists believed the virus was spread by touching surfaces. Now, some news outlets are saying that it can’t be spread this way, rather, it spreads by being close to someone who has the virus.

The truth? It’s more complicated than these limited online stories cover.

What We Know About the Coronavirus Outbreak

The examples we’ve given in this article are just a few recent examples of misreporting on this topic. Let’s concentrate on what we know to be true at this time.

1. We Don’t Understand the Disease Yet

Despite all the information out there on COVID-19, scientists really don’t know much about it. From the beginning, we’ve operated assuming asymptomatic spread and surface spread are dangerous to our residents. Until we have hard, scientific facts about how the disease spreads, we plan to air on the side of caution to protect our vulnerable residents.

2. It Is Deadly to Our Residents

We might not have scientific data about the disease, but we do know one thing for sure – it is deadly to the elderly and to those with compromised immune systems. The statistics verify this as a fact and we need to continue diligent safety measures to protect the residents of St. William’s Living Center.

3. Masks DO Help

Wearing a cloth mask won’t necessarily prevent you from contracting the virus. However, wearing a mask does protect others if you happen to be a carrier of the virus or if you haven’t developed symptoms yet.

In fact, disposable masks are now readily available at many major stores and pharmacies. Disposable masks provide a better fit, which gives you more protection. They are also more comfortable to wear than heavy, cloth masks.

4. Testing Is Very Important

Testing is the best way to prevent outbreaks in long-term care facilities. By testing our residents and staff, we can identify those who carry the virus, even if they do not show symptoms. We can keep infected staff out of the building, and we can isolate infected residents to prevent further spread.

At this time, St. William’s has had no positive cases of COVID-19.

5. Excellent Hygiene Works to Prevent Outbreak

We know for certain that practicing excellent hygiene is the best way to stay safe during this pandemic. Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Avoid touching your face.

Use hand sanitizer throughout the day as an added precaution. Hand sanitizer is now readily available in most major stores. Buy a bottle to keep in your car and use it every time you return from a trip out. 

What We’re Doing to Keep Our Residents Safe

Our top priority is keeping our residents safe from a Coronavirus outbreak. All St. William’s staff wear surgical masks and protective eyewear while on duty. We are also screening all employees before they enter the building to ensure someone with symptoms doesn’t come to work and infect others.

We worked with the National Guard to complete three rounds of testing on all residents and staff members. So far, we have had no positive cases of Coronavirus at St. William’s.

We are well-stocked in personal protective equipment for our staff members and we have plenty of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies on hand. Employees that develop COVID-like symptoms are immediately asked to leave work, consult their physician, and get tested before returning to work.

Residents who report symptoms are isolated in their room and immediately tested. If a resident tests positive, we’ve prepared a separate area of our facility to act as a COVID unit. That resident will be separated from healthy residents and only COVID designated staff will care for them. Healthy residents will never share space or staff with the COVID unit when that time comes.

St. William’s is strictly following all Minnesota Department of Health and Center for Disease Control guidelines. If you have questions or concerns, please call us.

The Error of Making a Mistake

Making mistakes is not an easy thing, especially when it impacts others, or our conscience, or our ego.  Many find it very difficult to even acknowledge being wrong.  Instead, it may seem more pliable to make excuses, blame the circumstances onto things beyond our control, or point the finger at someone else that could be touted as being responsible, and as a replacement take the fall.   Admitting a mistake oftentimes takes courage to be sufficiently humble, especially if it requires a request for forgiveness.  The funny thing is, making mistakes is part of life.  Even for those that say their biggest mistake was admitting to one they really didn’t make. 

So, what is the error of making a mistake?  Is the problem actually making a mistake or not admitting to one?  For those that prefer to live under a false pretense that making a mistake is unacceptable, they may also be displaying an underlying dread that screams out-loud one’s fear of being considered weak and imperfect by others or themselves.  The fear of being judged or unaccepted by self/others compounds the need to deny their wrongs, maintain a sense of hidden pride, and resume a superficial façade that mistakes are signs of weakness.  As an anonymous author writes, “Making mistakes is better than faking perfections “

If mistake making is really part of being human and no one is perfect in their own right, maybe the biggest error of making a mistake is not seeing its value?  The denial of making mistakes truly is a short-gap measure to growth and learning.   What a loss it would be to make a mistake, without resolve; without guilt and remorse, without forgiveness and consolation, without recovery and change, and without the recognition that we all give and receive mistakes just as part of our human condition.  Acknowledging our mistakes keeps us honest, humble, more accepting, and allows us to breathe a contrite spirit amongst us. 

Making mistakes is obviously not the practical or desirable means towards growth.  We truly do not intentionally go about seeking a means to make mistakes.  However, acknowledging them surely gives us the opportunity to move forward if we allow it. 

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Being Elderly Alongside Covid-19

What would it be like to be a prime target of COVID-19?  As already deemed a high risk, you may now be dealing with health problems or at least recognize that your health could be compromised.  With this, you could likely experience heightened anxiety and fearful thoughts of any potential signs of the virus, such as getting a spiked temperature or an unexpected cough.  You also may be much more alert to those that might expose the virus to you, and in turn isolate as a safeguard. The anxiety and fear become monumental in its own right, and the prime target could become overcome with a sense of demise.

And then, what would it be like to be a prime target of COVID-19, and be in a facility residing with other residents who not only have been or could be exposed themselves, but also by the staff taking care of you?  Each and every uncertainty is present while anxiety and fear can be compounded with daily reminders from the 24/7 news breaks, social media, practicing social distance inside the facility through meal isolation, staff masks and goggles, and then being even more isolated from outside visitors in accordance to government safety practices,

It could become too much to bear for some if they allowed themselves to focus only on the risks.  It would be easy to allow such anxiety to overload anyone with these fears.  Emotions can definitely take a toll on anyone if they allowed it.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has spread in various nursing homes and other residential facilities in the country.  However, the precautions taken to ward off any chance of transmission has been monumental.  All the safeguards installed readily display the enormity of this effort.  Hats go off to those that have worked so hard to ensure the best possible outcome for these individuals.

And, hats go off to all those that have been able to muster themselves enough to manage this whole ordeal.  They have had to come to a place within themselves that has moved beyond what they cannot control, and take each moment as it comes – again, one of the hallmarks of being elderly.  Let’s all take pride in our elderly and learn from their wisdom and insight.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

What Does “Getting Old” Mean?

What is the definition of “Getting Old”?  Is “getting old” about a person’s age or maybe it really has nothing to do with the number of years a person lives? 

There are good and bad connotations about “getting old”.  There are true hallmarks of becoming older, such as doing things slower than usual, forgetting more easily, getting wrinkles, and needing more rest than before.  No doubt, age usually begets a breakdown in our physical and mental capabilities; but, does that actually mean we are “getting old?”.  Does “getting old” really have to do with declining health and succumbing to its struggles or is it more about life experiences and the value of what you have to offer? 

Maybe “getting old” has more to do with the characteristics developed after being around for a long time.  After battling through the thicket of life’s circumstances and succumbing to the many bumps along the way, what kind of outlook does an older person develop over the years?  Of course, we are all different and respond uniquely as we journey down the road. 

Those who have aged have a choice of “getting older”.  Maybe “getting old” is when you are absorbed with the loss of what you had before or what you don’t have now?

Or, maybe the choice is to experience the maturity and thoughtfulness of this life.  There is definitely some truth to the saying, “Wisdom Comes with Age”, although this is really determined by the one “getting old”.  Wisdom is about looking through the lens of what really matters; yielding to a backlash of experiences, seeing the forest and not just the trees, summarizing life’s issues, and deriving conclusions by gaining perspective or a well-rounded view of what is important. “Getting old” can be about building tolerance, patience, fortitude, understanding, focusing on what truly matters, having more confidence and feeling a calling or moral responsibility to speak up for the sake of the upcoming generations.  “Getting older” may be a beautiful thing.  What a ripe moment to enjoy life, if you choose to. 

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

May is Mental Health Month

Quotes from Known Authors:

  • “There is a Crack in Everything, That’s How the Light Gets In” – Leon Cohen
  • “In any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” — Abraham Maslow
  • “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” — Fredrick Douglass
  • “Sadly, too often, the stigma around mental health prevents people who need help from seeking it. But that simply doesn’t make any sense. Whether an illness affects your heart, your arm or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there shouldn’t be any distinction. We would never tell someone with a broken leg that they should stop wallowing and get it together. We don’t consider taking medication for an ear infection something to be ashamed of. We shouldn’t treat mental health conditions any differently. Instead, we should make it clear that getting help isn’t a sign of weakness — it’s a sign of strength — and we should ensure that people can get the treatment they need.” (Huffington Post)  … “Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain.  It’s still an illness, and there should be no distinction” Michelle Obama
  • “Since that day (I opened up about my emotions).  It’s just been so much easier to live and so much easier to enjoy live”.  Michael Phelps
  • “What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation” – Glenn Close
  • “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow” – Helen Keller

  • “So many people look at [my depression] as me being ungrateful, but that is not it— I can’t help it. There’s not much that I’m closed off about, and the universe gave me all that so I could help people feel like they don’t have to be something they’re not or feel like they have to fake happy. There’s nothing worse than being fake happy.” – Miley Cyrus

Compiled by:

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW