Caregivers Helpline

Happy 1st Birthday to Care to Caregivers’ Helpline. This helpline was established by Rutgers Comprehensive Services on Aging Institute for Alzheimers Disease and Related Disorders.

Caregivers, can call and vent, and have someone listen to them at anytime. Caregivers can get services that include information, assistance programs, and support groups. The telephone number is 800-424-2494. – As seen in Asbury Park Press


The August 2014 issue of Psychology Today has an article on Honesty by Amy Nordrum.

How important is honesty in a relationship? Do you have to tell everything to be honest? Is your truth the same as your partners?

The University of California and University of Montana looked at two types of honesty;

  • Obligatory-uncensored truth and
  • Discretionary- truth with a slight omission.

They found men use discretionary more and women use obligatory more. What does this mean to you? Does this mean you can’t believe anyone?

Please contact me and let me know your truth.

On Grief.

I recently attended a continuing education class on Grief. The presenter was David Kessler, a renowned expert on this subject. He has worked with other experts, such as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and more recently Louise L. Hay.
His book, Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms”, published in 2010, gives firsthand accounts of patients and/or families death experiences. He explored death bed phenomenon. His book speaks to 3 types of experiences. Each of the types can hold peace for loved ones and the patient.

  • Vision- the patient is collected by those who past before them. This could be parent, sibling or spouse,
  • Trip- The patient gets ready to go somewhere, either alone or with others, some describe a vacation or a train, bus or car trip, and
  • Crowded Rooms- Where many people are waiting like at an overcrowded cocktail party. The patient usually comments on the amount of people waiting.

I have always been interested in this topic, due to my own fear of the unknown. The stories have lessened my anxiety a bit. It is comforting to know that we are not forgotten no matter how much time has passed.

Have you or someone you know had this type of experience? Are you willing to share? Or just want to be validated. Please let me know.

Birth Order

Do you treat your siblings a certain way because of their birth order or because they are either a pain in the neck or the sweetest person on the planet. And are they a pain or sweet because they were born before or after you. (more…)

How do you know when it’s time to see a therapist?

How do you feel? Do you feel sad, angry, anxious or just emotionally confused? Are your life and/or relationships getting out of control? Do you trust your feelings?

Has there been a catastrophic event in your life? Has here been a divorce, death, illness or relationship breakdown?

Therapy should be considered when your feelings interfere with your life, relationships or work. Therapy can be helpful when you have experienced a loss, due to death or relationship. It could also be helpful in raising your self-esteem or ability to problem-solve.

Some signs that you may need to see someone:

1. Using drugs or alcohol to cope with a problem
2. Grieving due to death or lost relationship
3. You have experienced some type of trauma
4. Feel depressed or overwhelmed
5. Need a new way to handle your life
6. If doing it your way hasn’t helped
7. Feeling unhappy or sad

How do you find a therapist?

1. Ask your primary doctor
2. Ask a priest, minister, rabbi or lay leader
3. You can ask your Childs guidance counselor
4. Research your insurance company
5. Social Service Agencies
6. Professional Associations for Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Therapists or Social Workers.

You don’t have to just go through life; you should live your life.


You are on your way to hear the results of the tests you took last week. These results will change your life. What do you do? How do you handle the news of cancer or some other catastrophic disease?

The most simple answer is don’t give up and get all the information you can. You have to become an advocate for yourself.

Here are 4 steps before going to the doctor:

  • Write down all questions;
  • Bring a friend or family member, as a second pair of ears;
  • Make sure you understand diagnosis, treatment and procedures;
  • If you don’t understand, ask and keep asking until you understand.
  • Get a Support System, friends, family and possibly organizations; i.e. American Cancer Society, MDA, or local support groups.

Here are examples of questions:

  • What is the diagnosis?
  • Have we exhausted all possibilities? Could there be another diagnosis?
  • What are the treatment options? Is one better than another?
  • What are the side effects?
  • How long will treatment last?
  • How will we know its working?
  • How will this affect my Quality of Life?
  • Are there holistic or alternative options?

So, ask questions get answers, understand them and don’t be afraid to ask for help. That can include medical or psychological or just a support group.

Remember to continue to Breathe and feel as Positive as possible.


After a traumatic experience it is normal to be frightened, anxious, sad, and confused. Many people are able to process the emotions and experiences and come out the other end of it. However, if you remain in psychological shock, feel like it will never be over, and can’t feel normal, you may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD can develop following a traumatic situation that threatens your safety or which causes feelings of helplessness. Soldiers are usually associated with PTSD, however any overwhelming life experience can trigger PTSD. Traumatic events can be war, natural disasters, car crashes, rape, assault or physical or sexual abuse. It can develop from an experience where you directly are the subject of or just witness a traumatic event.

The symptoms can develop within hours or days or can take weeks, months or longer. They can come on quickly or come and go for a period of time. They can be brought on by a picture, smell, word or noise. There are three main types of symptoms:

  1. Re-experiencing the traumatic event
  2. Avoiding reminders of the trauma;
  3. Increasing anxiety or emotions.

If you think you or a loved one have PTSD it is important to seek help right away. The sooner you get help the easier it is to get over it. It is not a weakness and you must confront and process the experience. Recovery is a gradual, ongoing process.

The National Center for PTSD recommends seeking help as soon as possible. Early treatment can be effective, can help avoid related to health problems, and can result in improving relationships with family and friends.

There are several types of treatment available for PTSD. These include
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Family Therapy, Medication or Eye Movement Desensitization, and Reprocessing (EMDR).

For questions or appointment call Ann Wolf,LPC at 732-245-4208.

Life is A Journey… For Caregivers

This post was taken from a talk Ann Wolf gave for caregivers at the NJLAP on August 11,2012.

Life is a journey. As we make our way through it there are people to help us. Parents, siblings, spouses, friends, children and of course ourselves.  As we travel down our path each of these people give us something.

A person must have: Dedication, Determination and Love. These are the building blocks of our life. They are the lessons we learn from our parents.

What happens when they falter, when they can no longer help themselves?  Hopefully, we are not so jaded or self-absorbed that we reach out just as they did. We become a care giver.

The definition of a Caregiver-from is

A person who cares for someone who is sick or disabled.

I know that the title of this talk is Caregivers and the aged, but the same dilemma you run into with the aged can be seen with those who are young, have a catastrophic illness or a mental illness. There is no timetable for how long it will last or reason. You can be a caregiver for years, months, or weeks.

There are many things to consider when becoming a caregiver, finances, health concerns and physical or mental issues.

Caregivers must be the one to “get over” and overlook emotional hurdles and unresolved issues. Just like those they care for, whether from illness, age or accident, caregivers are just as likely to be depressed, withdrawn or anxious.

An individual providing care should take care of their own physical and mental health. They should set realistic goals. Exercise their body and their mind, get sleep, eat right. Treat yourself and indulge yourself. Stay connected to friends and family.

In order to help themselves in this journey and be effective, caregivers must be;

  • Effective
  • Help to Reduce distress and stress
  • Find hope
  • And are supported

So, what does a caregiver for an elderly relation do?  There are no specifics, every case is different but they can include;

  • Providing a home
  • Legal help and support
  • Help with financial decisions
  • Deal with medical issues and/or mental health issues
  • Help them make decisions

Being a caregiver can be very rewarding and very stressful. Getting burnt out happens frequently and effects the elderly relative and the caregiver.

Signs you are getting burnt out;

  1. Becoming overwhelmed or frustrated
  2. Lack of concentration
  3. Lashing out at the one you are caring for
  4. Lack of compassion
  5. Depression

Here are some tips for coping as a caregiver

  • Find a support system – you must do this to cope with stress, uncertainty and loneliness. Friends, co-workers, support groups, therapist, doctors, religious leaders can provide this type of support. There are organizations to help you cope with many aspects of care giving including American Cancer Society, NJ Dept of the Aged. Every major illness or syndrome has a group such as for Alzheimers, Tourette’s, and many others.
  • Stay informed and don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • Understand the course of your loved ones treatment, medication, including side effects reasons for each drug they are prescribed
  • Try to keep your life as “normal” “usual” as possible. Try to maintain a balance between parent and own life.
  • You must learn to prioritize and if there is a problem, deal with it.
  • Give yourself a break – Don’t feel selfish for taking time for yourself
  • Rejuvenate your spirit
  • Don’t forget religion or your own spiritual road. It has been found that belief, prayer and / or meditation can help you survive anything.
  • Do not lose hope-face the future for both your parent and yourself
  • Make sure you have all necessary information; insurance,bank accounts, wills, attorney names, drug lists

If you can only get these 5 things from this talk let it be;

  1. Be informed
  2. Make connections
  3. Manage pain, physical and mental
  4. Stay healthy
  5. Respect privacy
  6. And BREATHE


Agoraphobia is the most common form of anxiety disorder.  Agoraphobia is defined as “fear of open spaces”,  however, it also can express itself as  a fear of panic attacks. Agoraphobics fear the anticipation of situations that they can’t escape. These situations exacerbate feelings of lack of control and powerlessness.

Situations that can trigger agoraphobia include:

  • crowded places such as grocery stores and shopping malls;
  • confined spaces such as elevators and tunnels;
  • fear of being away from home or a “safe person”;

Agoraphobia can affect all kinds of people.  It does not discriminate between professionals and blue collar workers or males or females.  It is caused by a combination of heredity and environment issues.  Heredity plays a large part; most agoraphobics have a close relative with the condition. Environmental issues include having parents who have been overcritical, overprotective and/or anxious.

Agoraphobia can be successfully treated with a high percentage of positive outcomes. Therapies can include assertiveness training, graded exposure, relaxation and/or medication.

Bad Day? Try These Stress-Reducing Exercises

We all have bad days at work or home; the days that you want to tear out your hair. The washing machine breaks with all your clothes in it. Your boss leaves you to finish a presentation 10 minutes before it is due. What do you do? You could break something, yell at your family or tell off your boss. Before you do that, try these stress reducing exercises.

  1. Take a deep breath. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You might have to do several.
  2. Roll your shoulders forward and back. Ten each way, and
  3. Do arm circles, forward and back.

If these don’t make you feel better… there is always shopping.

If you have any question about the exercises or therapy, please call me at 732-245-4208.