Northeast Times

Rhawnhurst NORC offers ways to skip the holiday stress

Guest speak­er from the Cath­ol­ic Coun­sel­ing Cen­ter, An­thony Mele, talks about “Beat­ing the winter blahs” dur­ing a Rhawn­hurst NORC meet­ing at Rhawn­hurst Pres­by­teri­an Church. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

An­thony Mele, dir­ect­or of Cath­ol­ic Clin­ic­al Con­sult­ants, was happy to see a big turnout at a re­cent meet­ing of the Rhawn­hurst Nat­ur­ally Oc­cur­ring Re­tire­ment Com­munity.

Sixty or so seni­or cit­izens gathered at Rhawn­hurst Pres­by­teri­an Church to hear Mele, a psy­cho­lo­gist, speak on beat­ing the winter and hol­i­day blahs.

The seni­ors in at­tend­ance already are on their way to a happy hol­i­day and winter, ac­cord­ing to Mele.

“The biggest an­ti­dote to de­pres­sion is so­cial con­nec­tions,” he said.

Mele offered what he called a “free con­sulta­tion” for the NORC mem­bers, who ate lunch as he spoke and asked plenty of ques­tions dur­ing the present­a­tion.

In ad­di­tion, he provided writ­ten tips for sur­viv­ing the blahs. They in­cluded ex­er­cising, eat­ing healthy, tak­ing a class, vo­lun­teer­ing, dec­or­at­ing for spe­cial oc­ca­sions, tak­ing part in activ­it­ies that en­gage the brain and plan­ning a fun activ­ity for the fu­ture.

Mele en­cour­aged the seni­ors to avoid be­ing sedent­ary, even if it means walk­ing in place while watch­ing an ex­er­cise video.

“Ex­er­cise is a really, really good an­ti­dote for de­pres­sion,” he said. “I’m not ask­ing you to run a mara­thon. I’m not sure if Richard Sim­mons or Jane Fonda tapes are still around, but don’t un­der­es­tim­ate ex­er­cise.”

Mele spoke about people ex­per­i­en­cing a hol­i­day for the first time after the loss of a loved one, wheth­er it was a death or even someone with a severe case of Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

Fam­il­ies with young chil­dren should not skip put­ting up a Christ­mas tree, he re­com­men­ded, ex­plain­ing that kids should be able to en­joy the hol­i­day des­pite the loss of a par­ent.

It’s per­fectly nor­mal, he said, to send a card or wrap a gift for that loved one as part of the griev­ing and heal­ing pro­cess.

“Make a sym­bol­ic act. Ac­know­ledge the loss. Cel­eb­rate that per­son. It’s totally fine to do,” he said. “The chal­lenge is to cre­ate new memor­ies.”

Mele also touched on for­get­ful­ness, dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing it from Alzheimer’s or de­men­tia. The brain ages, he ex­plained, so it’s some­what nor­mal for an in­di­vidu­al to put a pot on a stove and for­get it’s there un­til smelling it or hear­ing the fire alarm ring.

“What’s not nor­mal,” he said, “is to for­get you even have a stove.”

A good idea to counter for­get­ful­ness, he said, is to keep notes on in­dex cards or a cell phone as re­mind­ers. For­get­ful people should avoid isol­at­ing them­selves and re­main in so­cial circles.

One wo­man said she has al­ways had trouble re­mem­ber­ing people’s names. Her an­ti­dote? Simply say­ing, “Yo,” any­time she re­cog­nizes a face but for­gets the name.

In oth­er news from the Nov. 29 meet­ing:

• Shop­Rite provided break­fast bags filled with cer­eal, tea and rais­ins for all in at­tend­ance.

• Rhawn­hurst NORC will meet again on Thursday, Dec. 27, at noon, at Con­greg­a­tions of Ner Zedek, at 7520 Bustleton Ave. The guest speak­er will be from Luther­an Set­tle­ment House’s care­giver sup­port pro­gram.

The first meet­ing of 2013 will take place on Thursday, Jan. 24, at noon, at Samuel Ta­bas House, at 2101 Strahle St. There will be mu­sic, dan­cing, a hot lunch and cake. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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