Thursday, December 06, 2007
For Christmas, have 'Santa' bring some self-esteem

By Anthony Policastro, M.D

Christmas is approaching and most people have the shopping bug. For many their shopping was done on Black Friday. However, there are usually some gifts that still need to be bought. One of the things that I would like to suggest that you look at getting for your children is improved self-esteem. The first thing that you need to find out is how much self-esteem your child has. There are many things that hint at this. The main one is listening to the comments that the child makes about himself/herself. Children with poor self-esteem will not like themselves as much as they should. They may complain about being fat. They may complain about being stupid. They may complain about not liking their name. Another thing to watch for is what they want for Christmas. Children who feel poorly about themselves will want to make others think more of them. They do that by external appearances. They may want designer clothes. They might want to have something else that will make others take notice. These are the kinds of things that parents should be aware of before they shop for presents. The second thing that needs to happen is to look at gifts that will support self-esteem. My usual recommendation is that every child should have something that they can do better than anyone else. That will enhance their self-image. It will also allow others to look up to the individual. There are many possibilities. One of those is to find a sport that the child is good at. I once had a patient with a memory problem. Her classmates were making fun of her. She was very upset. Her parents decided to put her in gymnastics. She had a natural talent for it. Within six months, she was one of the top gymnasts in South Carolina. After each meet, the school would announce where she placed over the loudspeaker on Monday. She became one of the most popular girls in school. Not everyone has athletic talent. Some are musically inclined. Learning to play an instrument can help foster self-esteem. It needs to be the child that wants to play it. The parents can't push it. The child must want to practice. However, this is another possible approach. A third approach is to start the child with a hobby. Collecting things can be fun. Becoming an expert on a specific topic can help support their self-image. As Christmas approaches, it is useful to ask yourself about your child's self-esteem. If the signs suggest that it is poor, you can use Christmas gifts to improve it. Buying designer clothes might help the outward appearance. It might help the self-image from worsening. However, it will not get to the underlying problem. Like most things that parents do, promoting self-esteem is a challenge.

DPH concludes TB testing
No additional workers at Mountaire Farms have tuberculosis (TB) disease after testing by Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) concluded this week. Since Nov. 13, 250 employees at the Selbyville poultry processing plant were evaluated as part of a routine health investigation to rule out spread of TB from a female worker confirmed with the disease on Nov. 15. The employee is receiving treatment at home until medically cleared for work and the employee's family has tested negative for TB. Statewide, only 12 new cases of TB have been reported in 2007. Public health workers identify the presence of TB bacteria before it causes disease by taking the following steps:
  • Skin testing to determine if individuals have any risk for TB. The test identifies if a person's immune system has ever encountered TB bacteria. Millions of people in the U.S. have positive skin test results because their bodies successfully fought off TB and they remain healthy. The vast majority of people with a positive skin test never develop TB disease and are never contagious to others.
  • People with a positive skin test receive a chest x-ray and physical examination for evidence of active TB disease in the lungs.
  • When x-rays and physical exams show no evidence of active TB disease, individuals usually receive medications to further reduce their risk.
  • TB is a bacteria that is inhaled into the lungs. The bacteria are released into the air when a TB-infected person coughs or sneezes. People with TB are most likely to spread it to people that they spend time with every day, such as family members, friends, and co-workers. Signs and symptoms of TB include a strong cough that lasts more than two weeks, coughing up blood or sputum, chest pain, weakness or fatigue, weight loss, appetite loss, chills, fever and night sweats. If you have questions about your risk for TB, see your family health care provider for a routine skin test. Many individuals have had this skin test before (given on the arm) as part of a physical exam to get tested, call 856-5119.

    Depression support group in Laurel
    The Mental health Association in Delaware will be sponsoring a Depression Support Group in Laurel on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. The purpose of the Laurel Depression Support Group is to share experiences related to living and coping with depression. The group is confidential and offered at no charge. The MHA encourages anyone dealing with a depressive disorder to attend. Register in advance by calling 1-800-287-6423.
  • Peer support groups sponsored by Mental Health Association of Delaware are not intended to replace professional mental health treatment. To maintain the privacy of our members, MHA does not publish support group locations; locations are provided with registration.

  • Stroke support group
    Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer free monthly Stroke Support Group meetings designed for individuals who have survived a stroke and their families and caregivers. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. The meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and networking. Refreshments will be provided. Sheila Brant and Joan Burditt, occupational therapists at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, will facilitate the support group meetings. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 5121.

    Alzheimer's holds training
    The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter is sponsoring a training program for family caregivers at LifeCare at Lofland Park in Seaford on Friday, Jan. 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The program includes a medical overview; legal and financial issues; challenging symptoms, daily care issues; and information on getting the help you need. The session is free and lunch will be provided, but pre-registration is required by Jan. 11. For more information or to register, call Jamie Magee, branch office coordinator, at 854-9788.