Emerge

This spring, my favorite word is EMERGE. It means to become known or visible–from Latin “to come to light.”

In winter the ground is hardened and brown. Trees lose their leaves and stand bare. We long for color in our landscapes. And when the calendar declares it is spring, we do not always have any proof.

Except, beneath the frozen earth, things are stirring. Roots reach and stretch out stiffness, rhizomes multiply, buds swell until, in startling moments,  green emerges. We blink—is the tinge an illusion?

Then comes the tender green of spring. Leaves uncurl. Blossoms burst. Pollen flies. The earth is not dead, but alive. Not entombed, but arisen.

Notice, that emerge comes from what was planted. Most of what emerges is not new. It comes from depth and that which lives through winters. The world is not dead in winter. Spring brings to light what already formed.

We live in a society that equates emergence with youth…emerging talent, emerging scholar, emerging poet. But life emerges from maturity. Do you see? Life emerges from you!

3 Things Wrong With Family Values–No, 4 Things

 

  1. The Definition. There is no real definition of Family Values. Articles, blog posts, and entire books have been devoted to the topic. There may be some core, central values, but they are amended by each individual, rendering a definition useless and discussion heated. The old, “Well, everyone knows what it means,” does not apply. Before entering into a sermon or dialog with others it is wise to find common principles and understanding.
  2. The Politics. When a particular political party lays claim to family values, they are eroding the entire basis for respect. If something is a Value, Moral, or Truth, it is universal in nature applying to the whole of a society, all political parties, all religions, all genders. To claim to be the exclusive followers of Family Values just plain stinks of self-righteousness. “Standing on the street corners to be seen by others,” or wearing a lapel pin do not equal Family Values.
  3. The exclusion. Family Values, as practiced by many, is an attempt to exclude others–those who are in some way different. It is much easier to spend time with those who have similar views–indeed, similar appearances. We can make our inside jokes, poke fun at others, and not allow them into our circle. It is easier to close ourselves in after 6:00 for “family time.” And what happens to the world outside that closed door? It is in darkness, and that darkness may come knocking. Aren’t we called to be light not hidden under a basket–or behind a door?
  4. The Community. Those who practice the exclusivity mentioned above actually undermine nuclear families because engagement in the community is both the groundwork for families and its support. Without community, the family is fragile and easily broken. Except for the knuckleheads who claim to have “built the cabin they were born in,” we recognize the need for community support. The librarian who remembers your favorite mystery series, the pastor who knows your heart and gifts, small study groups, football fans, a neighborhood, our schools are all part of the community.

Why is this important to us now? We have raised our families.

Well, first of all, because women often bear the brunt of expectations and criticism for family values. If we speak out, we are not being “submissive,” If we have a career, we are accused of neglecting family. If we a stay at home, we are seen as being unsupportive. It’s not too late to demonstrate what a true family is–the Family of God. It is not too late to open that door to others who may be different. And seriously, we outlive men most of the time–have you ever seen rows of widowed men in the churches? No, it is row upon row of women. Women who are often lonely, afraid.  Women who somehow lost a spouse–whose children live across a continent–women who are not married. Women who are invited to Thanksgiving but not Christmas “because that is for family.” We are called to be salt–let’s get out of the shaker.

New Wrinkle in Older Faces

Street drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol…If I asked you to describe a substance abuser, what do you visualize? Do you see a wrinkled, elderly man, or a gray-haired grandmother? Usually not, but it is time to take a closer look at the changing patterns of substance abuse.

Today’s blog post is difficult for several reasons. It tackles a topic that is easier to ignore. It is not pretty or funny or encouraging. It contains  some statistical data that is not recreational reading.

The post is from guest blogger *Linda*  who came up with the idea of an article introducing the topic of substance abuse in aging populations. She did all the hard work, the research, and most of the writing.

There are over seventy million baby boomers, and many are taking substance abuse into their senior years. Dramatic lifestyle changes, along with growing health problems, have led many people 50+ to turn to alcohol, prescription painkillers, and even heroin and cocaine to medicate their physical and mental pain.  Older adults are now hospitalized as often for alcohol-related problems as they are for heart attacks!

Some startling statistics from The Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The numbers are surprising and challenge the picture of older adult substance abusers as 1960s hippies who can’t give up their pot. Among the findings:

  • An estimated 17 percent of people aged 60+ struggle with substance misuse and addiction.
  • Among treatment facilities that receive some public funding, the proportion of treatment admissions for people aged 50 and older nearly doubled between 1992 and 2008
  • The proportion of older adult admissions reporting heroin as the primary substance of abuse more than doubled, from 7.2% in 1992 to 16% in 2008, and the proportion reporting cocaine as the primary substance of abuse quadrupled from 2.8% to 11.4%.

These shifts in demographics should alert health-care professionals to ask tough questions during routine exams. Drug use affects physical and mental health, and impacts the already-strained healthcare, mental health, and social services systems. Among these effects are mood, memory, pain, and sleep disorders , as well as cardiovascular and respiratory problems.

As people age, they can become more invisible, and it may be more difficult to see evidence of substance abuse in older adults’ day-to-day functioning especially if they become less engaged in society.

Why? One reason may be cultural–boomers grew up in an era when drugs may have had a certain allure. Another reason is economic with heightened anxiety about job security and retirement savings. A third reason is emotional–aging boomers may turn to illicit drugs to cope with grief and loss issues such as the death of a spouse or the end of a career.

Vital information is needed to understand the dynamics of addiction in older adults. Whether in self-care or as a caregiver, it is essential to:

  • Clearly distinguish between the signs of aging and the signs of addiction (many of which overlap)
  • Identify the indications of drug misuse and its progression to addiction
  • Understand the unique treatment needs of older adults
References

Arndt, S., Clayton, R., & Schultz, S. K. (2011). Trends in substance abuse treatment 1998-2008: Increasing older adult first-time admissions for illicit drugs. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 19(8), 704-711

Blow, F. C., Oslin, D. W., & Barry, K. L. (2002). Use and abuse of alcohol, illicit drugs and psychoactive medication among older people. Generations, 25(1), 50-54.

Crome, I., Sidhu, H., & Crome, P. (2009). No longer only a young man’s disease: illicit drugs and older people. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, 13, 141-143.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2010). The TEDS report: changing substance abuse patterns among older admissions: 1992 and 2008. Retrieved from http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/229/229OlderAdms2k10Web.pdf.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2011). The NSUDUH report: illicit drug use among older adults. Retrieved from http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k11/013/WEB_SR_013_HTML.pdf.