February 2017 Hot Flashes

How Family Caregivers Can Manage Their Anger

There are many people who take on the responsibility of being a primary caregiver for a loved one. At times that job can become the biggest stress in their lives, causing them to lash out in anger or be overcome with sadness and hopelessness for their situation. It is normal and understandable to become angry whenever we're neglected, dismissed or attacked. Venting and ranting at the right time and place to others who share our feelings can give us a rare sense of acknowledgement and validation that helps us cope. But too much anger not only hurts others' feelings, it colors our perceptions so that not even the positive, endearing moments of caring for a loved one can touch us.

There are ways for caregivers to thoughtfully harness their anger, rather than lose control of their emotions and have later regrets.

Slow down and breathe. It's a cliché to count to 10 before responding to stressful situations, but giving pause often leads to better decisions. Caregivers are best advised to stop and think through the potential consequences of their actions before lashing out. 

Lead with empathy. Putting ourselves in the shoes of those angering us may seem near-impossible when our dander is up. But it can help us better understand their motives and behaviors and take some of the sting away.

Acknowledge sadness. A truism in psychology is that anger is often a cover for sadness. That is, it is frequently much easier for us to pound our fists in anger than to beat our chests in grief. The problem is that expressing anger can lead to defensiveness or schisms among family members. Commiserating together about the sadness that arises when seeing a loved one's decline is a surer way for family members to pull together, support one another and strengthen their relationships going forward.

Turn anger into productive assertiveness. Not all anger is bad. It can be an important signal to us that the caregiving plan is unjust or that we are being mistreated. But it shouldn't be a cue to attack in kind. Rather, it should spur us to think through how to express our concerns firmly and calmly so that those who are offending us are most likely to take in what we have to say. 

(aarp.com, 2016)

Essential Oils Warning

Natural remedies are increasingly popular for helping with a variety of maladies, from allergies to depression. But according to a Tennessee poison center, kids are more at risk than ever for accidental poisoning from essential oils used in these treatments, either by ingestion or improper dosing.

Health Day reports between 2011 and 2015, toxic exposure to oils derived from plants and used in aromatic and homeopathic products, such as tea tree oil, increased two-fold.

But if these oils are natural, how can they be poisonous? Dr. Justin Loden, a certified specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Tennessee Poison Center, explains "The rule of thumb in toxicology is 'the dose makes the poison,' so all essential oils are potentially harmful." He adds, "In children, poisoning typically occurs when they try to swallow the oil, but choke so that a little of it goes into the lungs, which causes pneumonia; it only takes less than half a teaspoonful to do that." That's not a lot! And parents should note the hazard applies to every kind of essential oil, but especially when it comes to camphor, clove, lavender, eucalyptus, thyme, tea tree, and wintergreen oils. Making sure not to overuse an application is key in preventing a poisoning accident.

An overdose of an essential oil can cause some pretty serious symptoms, and again, remember it doesn't take a lot. Signs of overuse include agitation, hallucinations, seizures, chemical burns, breathing problems, liver failure, and brain swelling.

Contact the Poison Control hotline right away at 1-800-222-1222 if you suspect your child needs help. And never assume that just because something says it's natural, it's totally safe. It's not.

(Health.com, 2016)

One Pot Baked Ziti

Skip the boiling water! Perfect for busy weeknights, this pasta recipe is made entirely in one pot, and ready in about 30 minutes for a quick meal with easy cleanup.


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 T. dried basil 
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2-3 c. water
  • 12 oz. dry ziti (can also use penne or similar shaped pasta)
  • 1/2 c. half-and-half
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella


  1. Preheat oven to low broil (500-550 F).
  2. Cook ground beef in an oven-safe skillet that's at least 12 inches over medium heat. Drain and return to pan. Add the garlic to the pan, and cook for 1 minute. Then, stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried basil, and Italian seasoning.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water and dry pasta. Bring to boil.
  4. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until noodles are tender. If the sauce starts to cook down too much, add additional water as needed.
  5. Stir in the half-and-half and parmesan cheese. Place slices of mozzarella on top of pasta. Bake until the cheese has melted, about 2-3 minutes.

(bhg.com, 2016)


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