HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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patients. Recovery from a stroke may require working harder to compensate for the loss of normal functioning.


Individuals who experience stroke may also develop emotional and psychological issues. Emotional changes can affect one’s personality. Coping with the transitions stroke brings may include frustration, anxiety, anger, sadness and despair. The person can often experience a loss of energy, interest or enthusiasm, and this may result in a serious depression. Signs of clinical depression may include a significant lack of energy and motivation and problems concentrating or finding quality-of-life experiences. One’s primary care physician, along with specialists in health psychology, can evaluate and treat patients who have experienced stroke that includes symptoms of clinical depression.


For those who have experienced a stroke and for their caregivers, concerned family and friends, there are several useful resources. Among these are:


•  The WebMD Stroke Health Center, available at WebMD (www.webmd.com). It includes a comprehensive overview of stroke and news articles.


•  MedicineNet (www.medicinenet.com) offers general information for patients and caregivers about stroke and associated disorders.


•  The Mayo Clinic’s Stroke Education for the public (www.mayoclinic.org) provides a well-organized and easily understood set of information about stroke, its causes, effects, diagnosis and treatment.


SOURCES AND RESOURCES

•  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/stroke

•  National Aphasia Association (2016). What is Aphasia? www.aphasia.org

•  The Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis: What It Means to You (2012) www.niams.nih.gov

Cerebral vascular accidents – more commonly known as strokes – are a leading cause of serious long-term disability. The National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates approximately 130,000 Americans experience some form of stroke each year — that’s one out of every 20 deaths. About 610,000 of these are first-time or new strokes and nearly one in four or 185,000 strokes) occur in people who have had a previous stroke. Nearly 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic strokes. An ischemic stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked.


Aphasia is often a major result of a stroke. Aphasia is a communication disorder that results from damage to those regions of the brain that control language function. Individuals who experience a stroke, as well as those who have had a traumatic brain injury or some neurological disorder, often develop difficulties in speaking, listening, reading and writing. Individuals with aphasia may also have other problems, including swallowing difficulties, apraxia (an inability to perform complex movements) and dysarthria (difficulty in speech articulation).


One of the complications of stroke is that it affects the strength of the muscles that control the tongue and lips. Dyspraxia is a disruption of the motor patterns sent by the brain to the tongue and lips. It impacts one’s ability to perform the basic movements that allow us to speak. Thus aphasia is a loss of language function that can impact one’s ability to

AQUARIUMS COULD IMPROVE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL WELL-BEING

understand what others are saying, as well as interfere with a person’s ability to express himself or herself.


After a stroke, the person often struggles to find the words he wants to use to form sentences for conversation. Since people communicate in many different ways, people with aphasia may have difficulty reading, writing or using numbers, too. Individuals with aphasia are often frustrated because they cannot speak as well or under- stand and process what others are saying as they did before the stroke. These conditions are treatable and can be markedly improved through speech, language and swallowing rehabilitation.


Evaluation and treatment for aphasia and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) are provided by a licensed speech/language pathologist. Speech/language pathologists are professionals on the healthcare team who treat speech and language disorders and work with individuals of all ages who experience them. They diagnose and evaluate other speech disorders, such as fluency (stuttering), articulation and voice disorders as well as language problems. They also design and carry out comprehensive treatment plans to achieve rehabilitation for stroke

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

more articles by dr thomas W. Miller