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November 27, 2011

Employer Resources for World HIV-AIDS Day: December 1

December 1 is World AIDS Day. According to the November 2011 HIV-AIDS Fact Sheet (PDF), there are 34 million people in the world living with HIV. New HIV infections have declined by more than 20% since their peak in 1997, and declined by 15% between 2001 and 2010. Still, there were about 2.7 million new infections in 2010 or more than 7,000 new HIV infections per day. In North America, there are 1.3 million people with HIV/AIDS, and 58,000 people were newly infected in 2010.

The Kaiser Family Foundation marked the 30th year of the AIDS epidemic with a large-scale national survey of Americans: HIV/AIDS At 30. The survey revealed that there is a declining sense of national urgency and visibility of HIV/AIDS and reported HIV testing rates are flat since 1997, including among some key groups at higher risk.

One of the key initiatives on the AIDS front is the GYT campaign, or "Get Yourself Tested. One in two sexually active young people will get a sexually transmitted disease (STD) by age 25. And of the approximately 19 million new cases of STDs that occur every year in the United States, most will go undiagnosed. The GYT campaign offers many materials that could be incorporated in a wellness campaign, including prevention information, promotions via celebrity videos and a find a local STD testing site search tool.

The CDC also has a comprehensive workplace resource: Business and Labor Responds to AIDS. It includes 5 components:

  • HIV/AIDS Policy Development
  • Training for managers, supervisors and labor leaders
  • HIV/AIDS education for employees/workers
  • HIV/AIDS education for employees'/workers' families
  • HIV-related community service, volunteerism, and philanthropy

November 20, 2011

Grief on steroids: Helping people deal with loss over the holiday season

The holiday season is a time for family and friends to gather together to celebrate and share. That's why this season can be such a difficult and emotionally charged time for anyone who is experiencing grief due to the loss of a loved one. For many, the holidays mean grief on steroids: a further intensification of loss and sadness.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and in anticipation of the holiday season, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization offers Nine Tips to Help Someone Grieving During the Holidays. It's an excellent reminder to reach out to someone we know who may need the support and offers great advice for those of us who want to help but just may not know how.

1. Be supportive of the way the person chooses to handle the holidays. Some may wish to follow traditions; others may choose to avoid customs of the past and do something new. It’s okay to do things differently.

2. Offer to help the person with decorating or holiday baking. Both tasks can be overwhelming for someone who is grieving.

3. Offer to help with holiday shopping. Share catalogs or online shopping sites that may be helpful.

4. Invite the person to join you or your family during the holidays. You might invite them to join you for a religious service or at a holiday meal where they are a guest.

5. Ask the person if he or she is interested in volunteering with you during the holidays. Doing something for someone else, such as helping at a soup kitchen or working with children, may help your loved one feel better about the holidays.

6. Donate a gift or money in memory of the person’s loved one. Remind the person that his or her loved one is not forgotten.

7. Never tell someone that he or she should be “over it.” Instead, give the person hope that, eventually, he or she will enjoy the holidays again.

8. Be willing to listen. Active listening from friends and family is an important step to helping some cope with grief and heal.

9. Remind the person you are thinking of him or her and the loved one who died. Cards, phone calls and visits are great ways to stay in touch.

In general, the best way to help those who are grieving during the holidays is to let them know you care and that their loved one is not forgotten.

Many people are not aware that their community hospice is a valuable resource that can help people who are struggling with grief and loss. More information about grief or hospice is available from NHPCO’s Caring Connections, www.caringinfo.org.

November 14, 2011

How to overcome your glossophobia

"There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars." - Mark Twain
"The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public." — George Jessel
"According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy." - Jerry Seinfeld
"All the great speakers were bad speakers at first." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Glossophobia, aka stage fright, is fear or anxiety associated with public speaking. It can encompass perfomance anxiety, fear of failure and the fear of being judged or rejected. It's a very real and often incapacitating fear. Bestselling author Sam Harris takes on this great fear in his entertaining essay, The Silent Crowd: Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking

Harris says that "no one is likely to drag you in front of a crowd and force you to produce audible sentences" and you can go to great lengths to avoid it - even for a lifetime. But he notes that this fear and avoidance "...will periodically make you miserable, and it will limit your opportunities in life." He suggests that "the only way out is through," and he offers seven tips to help you face you fear and emerge on the other side of the podium.

November 13, 2011

Lessons from the Penn State child sexual assault scandal

The terrible events of the past week at Penn State University have saddened and shocked the nation. Most of us think we would do anything we could do protect children if we witnessed abuse or assault - yet respected adults who held leadership positions are now being charged with turning a blind eye to the sexual assault of children; a respected educational institution is being shaken to its roots for a potential cover up and massive failure to protect young victims. Among those dismissed from their jobs and facing investigations are famed football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier. In addition, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz have also been charged with failing to report the suspected abuse.

As the scandal unfolds, we learn that many opportunities to intervene or investigate were missed. Perhaps one of the most puzzling and disturbing questions surrounds assistant coach Mike McQueary who witnessed the sexual assault of a 10-year old boy in a campus shower almost a decade ago. While he did report this the next day, many are left wondering why he didn't he act immediately to stop such a terrible thing.

In How adults justify not reporting child abuse the Washington Post's Janice D'Arcy looks at reasons why adults fail to report the sexual assault of children. She cites a Boston Medical Center research study that shows even some doctors, when confronted with clear signs of child abuse, did not report the injuries to protective services.

"The researchers concluded that the doctors had adequate training in recognizing abuse, but were not as well informed about why they should report it.

The story goes on: “Doctors may question their own judgment of whether an injury is enough to meet the standard of reasonable suspicion for abuse, the threshold for reporting in Massachusetts, Siegel said. Or they may worry that a parent will become angry or blame them.”

She also notes that in the Penn State scandal as in other scandals of this nature, the impulse appears to be to focus attention on the adults rather than the children.

This issue is thoughtfully explored from the viewpoint of the victim in an article on 1in6, a website devoted to helping men who were childhood victims of sexual assault: Why Do Adults Fail to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse or Exploitation?. This article seeks to help survivors understand the potential reasons why adults failed to help them.

"And yet, the sad truth: Millions of children have unwanted or abusive sexual experiences. Many of them believe, correctly, that someone else knows or should know about their situation, but does little or nothing to protect them. Some tell adults what’s going on, seeking protection and help, only to be met with disbelief, denial, blame, or even punishment. How can that be?"

Mandatory reporting laws
Whether adults are comfortable or uncomfortable about reporting suspected sexual assault of children is secondary to the issue that in most states, it is the law. In some states, this obligation is restricted to helping professions, such as teachers, healthcare workers, educators and law enforcement. In other states, reporting obligations are not restricted by profession. In an article about abuse reporting laws, AP reporter David Crary notes that, "In more than 40 states, the prevailing policy is that such reports must be made to police or child-protection authorities swiftly and directly, with no option for delegating the task to others and then not following through."

Here are some resources to learn about mandatory reporting laws:

State Laws on Child Abuse and Neglect - All States have enacted laws and policies that define State roles and responsibilities in protecting vulnerable children from abuse and neglect. Issues addressed in statute include mandatory reporting, screening reports, proper maintenance and disclosure of records, domestic violence, and other issues.

Mandated reporting of child abuse and neglect - Each State has laws requiring certain people to report concerns of child abuse and neglect. While some States require all people to report their concerns, many States identify specific professionals as mandated reporters; these often include social workers, medical and mental health professionals, teachers, and childcare providers. Specific procedures are usually established for mandated reporters to make referrals to child protective services.

Additional Resources
1in6 - Approximately one in six boys is sexually abused before age 16. This site's mission is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives. It also includes serving family members, friends, and partners by providing information and support resources on the web and in the community.

MaleSurvivor - resources and support for men who were sexually victimized as children, adolescents, or adults.

Sexual Abuse of Males - site by psychologist and therapist Jim hopper, which also includes child sexual abuse statistics, research and resources. See resources for parents & caregivers.

RAINN - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network - The nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. In addition to offering a National Sexual Assault Hotline and various resources, it also includes links to other resources on topics related to child abuse and sexual abuse.

November 3, 2011

November is National Family Caregivers Month

To commemorate National Family Caregivers Month, we are sharing some resources that we've found helpful and encourage you to share these with your employees.

ShirleyBoard is a free resource that gives you the tools to create your ow online community and to link all the people in your network and all those caring for a loved one. You can centrally store all important caregiving information, such as a patient journal, a list of medications, a directory of doctors, and a calendar. It allows you to give access to friends, family and healthcare professionals – and to establish permissions for what information they can and can't see. It allows you to keep an ongoing record, to access resources and tips, and to network with other caregivers.

BenefitsCheckUp - A service from the National Council on Aging. Many older people need help paying for prescription drugs, health care, utilities and other basic needs. Many are eligible for but not receiving benefits from existing federal, state and local programs. There are many public programs available to seniors in need ranging from heating and energy assistance to prescription savings programs to income supplements. BenefitsCheckUp includes more than 2,000 public and private benefits programs from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is centered around the belief that it is better for the well-being of seniors with chronic care needs and their families to be served in the community whenever possible. PACE serves individuals who are age 55 or older, certified by their state to need nursing home care, are able to live safely in the community at the time of enrollment, and live in a PACE service area. Delivering all needed medical and supportive services, the program is able to provide the entire continuum of care and services to seniors with chronic care needs while maintaining their independence in their homes for as long as possible. Care and services include:

  • Adult day care that offers nursing; physical, occupational and recreational therapies; meals; nutritional counseling; social work and personal care
  • Medical care provided by a PACE physician familiar with the history, needs and preferences of each participant
  • Home health care and personal care
  • All necessary prescription drugs
  • Social services
  • Medical specialists such as audiology, dentistry, optometry, podiatry, and speech therapy
  • Respite care
  • Hospital and nursing home care when necessary

Aging Pro - bills itself as the best one-stop destination for a comprehensive set of caregiving tools, resources, community support information and access to professionals in aging on the Web. It is a resource for caregivers, professionals, and people planning their future.

Family Caregiver Alliance - Founded in 1977, FCA was the first community-based nonprofit organization in the country to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care at home. Long recognized as a pioneer in health services, FCA now offers programs at national, state and local levels to support and sustain caregivers, including the Family Care Navigator with state-by-state help and the National Center on Caregiving, the policy and research center of FCA.

EEOC: Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers With Caregiving Responsibilities and Employer Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities

Additional resources:
National Family Caregivers Association
National Association for Homecare and Hospice
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease: Your easy to use guide from the National Institute on Aging
Coping with cancer: For caregivers, family & friends
Miles Away: The Metlife Study of Long-Distance Caregiving (PDF)
Family Caregivers & Depression - Symptoms and Hope

Prior posts:
Resources for elder caregivers
Employer best practices for caregivers in the workplace
The high cost of caregiving
Caregiver employees are at heightened risk: how employers can help

November 2, 2011

Dan Ariely's talk on our buggy moral code

This is a though-provoking presentation by Dan Ariely, author of the bestseller Predictably Irrational. Ariely is a behavioral economist who holds a fascination with "how emotional states, moral codes and peer pressure affect our ability to make rational and often extremely important decisions in our daily lives." In this Ted Talk, he examines the hidden reasons we think it's OK to sometimes cheat or steal, illustrating it with experiments that he conducted.

If you liked this talk, visit Dan Ariely's Blog

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