I have been reading a book called "Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)" and decided to share some insights I have learned from the book as believe it is an important message to spread. The book is authored by Gavin De Becker, who himself experienced abuse from his own mother when he was a child and now works to help others identify predators and abusive people to prevent harm.
People who do abuse, usually come from abusive families or have been abused in some way themselves. However as you know, some use their experience to help others prevent abuse such as the author Gavin.
Gavin discusses the "survival signals" that will help identify predators. These include:
I will use the pronouns his/her because even though it is mostly males who abuse, it is also important to be aware that females can also abuse others, such as it was Gavin's drug addicted mother who used to bash all her children for hours at a time.
Forced teaming is when the predator will use the word "we", "both of us", or "we're a team" in his/her conversations. If this happens when you just met someone then be aware that it is a sign of grooming.
Charm and niceness is used as a strategy to again groom the parent/caregiver and or child to his/her web of deceit. Gavin says that if the person comes across as too nice, then it is probably too good to be true. The person will be nice to initiate a social interaction, but once he/she develops trust, then it will transform into abusive behavior where boundaries will be violated.
Too many details will be provided by the predator to again continue the social interaction and also gain further information of the person they want to abuse. Gavin mentions that when people are deceitful, they will give too many details to assume honesty, however an honest person won't need to include so much detail because of their sincerity. Too many details may include what his/her own child has as a pet, what type of pet, his/her child's name, where he or she goes to school, etc. The predator may not even have a child, but will mention this to build rapport and trust.
Typecasting is what predators do to make the parent/caregiver and/or child feel insecure and let the child into his/her own care. For example, he/she may say that the parent/caregiver is overprotective, so the parent/caregiver will want to prove he/she is not and let the child spend time with the predator.
Loan-sharking is when the predator offers to help the parent/caregiver, but expects more in return. For example, the predator will come visit the parents, befriend them, offer to do the gardening, shopping or spend time with them and in return may ask to spend alone time with the child.
The unsolicited promise is when the predator provides an empty promise to gain trust. Gavin says to trust your intuition of what the person says, and if it doesn't feel right, then it probably is not right.
Discounting the word "no" is when the predator will not hear the word no. The predator will keep following and asking in a variety of ways, even though you said no.
An example Gavin provides is when a parent was shopping with her young son in a busy market. The predator noticed that the boy could not be bothered shopping with his mum (predator noticed vulnerability here) so approached them to offer to spend time with the boy while the mother shopped (unsolicited promise and loan sharking). Surprised at the offer of leaving her son with a stranger, the predator kept asking, the mother kept saying no, but in the meantime the predator kept mentioning his own son, his sons favourite pet (too many details and discounting the word no), said she was probably overprotective (typecasting), often used the word "we" (forced-teaming), was too nice, and promised to bring him back (unsolicited promise), while the mother shopped in peace (loan sharking). While the mother thought this man was crazy with his suggestion, her attention went to shoes she liked. At the same time the predator took her son away because the boy started to gain trust in this man who had a son his own age. The mother noticed her son missing, but her son and the predator was too far for her to catch them. They disappeared out of her sight. She never saw her son again.
Gavin continually stresses to listen to your intuition to identify a predator. If somebody does not feel right, then leave without a thought. Intuition and identifying the signals to survive is what can save you and your child/children.
Gavin also says to keep your child safe, tell them to go to a nearest woman if they feel there is danger rather than tell them to go to a nearest police station (as the closest one may be too far) or to a nearest male (as most predators are mainly men). Also females are known to be nurturing and therefore mostly likely to spend time helping. Also, teach your child how to approach safe strangers so they can learn what is safe and not safe and how to get help. If they learn stranger danger, then seeking help may be too difficult if every body is considered dangerous. For example a mother would ask her son to approach a stranger and ask for the time. One day he did need help, and was able to identify a safe person and ask for help.
On a last note, even though children who have experienced violence or have been abused will most likely become violent or abusive such as controlling, the experience can actually help them use their adversity into becoming successful. It is important that when you see a child who is rough on the outside, that they actually need love to be filled on the inside. In summary, look beyond what you see, empathise with them, help them identify where their behaviour is coming from (their past experiences) and that they can become more than what they have learned as a child. As Gavin says "You and I can give that same gift (help them learn that their violent and/or abusive past can teach them how to be better and may even give them knowledge to teach others how not to behave) to abused children, children who are not, contrary to popular belief, destined to become violent adults. If we show them that they are the residents of their homes and not the architects, then where they are needn't limit where they go". Teaching them that it was not their fault the violence occurred, will help them learn they did not cause the unhealthy behaviour, but can learn from the experience to become a better person.
Learning about healthy relationship with self and others is conditioned from past experiences, meaning that parents and other caregivers can unconsciously demonstrate to people they care for about being anxious, disorganised (wanting to be close, but move away due to fear) or avoid relationships. In turn, the person (such as you) may then meet a partner or friends that support and maintain the unhealthy style (e.g., if you are submissive your partner will be controlling). Therefore the style can last for generations. It is important to be the change so you can then demonstrate to people you care about (and work with) about how to treat yourself and others well.
Multitasking is about switching focus between one task to another. It then requires the person who is multitasking to regain focus, which could take between ten or fifteen minutes. As can been seen, while multitasking causes the person to refocus, it also causes a loss in performance. For example, Buser and Peter (2012) examined the performance level of males and females ability to multitask. Another study examined judges who worked on many cases at once. Those who worked on many cases at a time, performed worse as they took more time to complete their work compared to judges who scheduled their cases and worked sequentially. One possible cause to decreased performance due to multitasking is the “task carryover account” meaning that there is a carryover effect when you switch tasks. The carryover effect is a cost from the person needing to inhibit the previous information in order to complete the new task. However, if the person had instead scheduled his or her task to be completed sequentially then the carryover effect would be eliminated causing an increase in productivity.
To put this in another way, when a person starts one task and then switches over to the next, while the first task is not fully completed then the activation of attention necessary to complete the second task takes longer as the first task is not fully uninhibited from the person’s attention span, producing a carryover effect. Moreover, the mind of the person is still learning from the previous task and needs to prepare for the next task causing a cost (time) from switching from one task to the other. In the Buser and Peter (2012) study, researchers found that the more people switched from one task to the other, the more performance suffered.
It is important to mention that the studies discussed in this article investigated mental tasks, not physical tasks such as housecleaning. Therefore a drop in performance may also have been caused by less mental processing as the ability to multitask requires bottom up processing (taking in information from the senses which has not yet come into full awareness) and scheduling requires top down processing (driven by cognition), which is stepwise and requires thoughtful analysis to complete the processing.
The Buser and Peter (2012) study, which examined gender differences in multitasking, found that both genders (males and females) do not perform better when multitasking. It was previously suggested that males, hunters, perform sequentially and therefore cannot multitask effectively while females who are known to be gathers can do many tasks at the same time well. However, when this suggestion is investigated it was found that females prefer not to multitask and their performance suffers just as much as males.
In summary, scheduling is better than multitasking. This means it is best to complete one activity at a time, rather than many at once for your performance to be at its best.
Studies are conflicting to indicate that diet, exercise and cognitive activity prevent dementia, which are usually due to methodological issues and cohort studied. However there are studies that do show good results, inconsistent as they are. The Mediterranean diet is one that has consistently showed positive results in preventing cognitive decline but not towards the relationship with dementia.
The Mediterranean diet consists of less meat, more of fish, legumes, moderate levels of red wine, extra virgin olive oil, fruits and vegetables. The Mediterranean diet is also about connecting with people while preparing the meal and eating, therefore increasing social activity. This is because Mediterranean's prepare their meal together with family and/or friends (unfortunately Mediterranean's are steering towards the Western diet) Increased social activity is also another preventing factor in dementia. People who follow the Mediterranean diet also eat their main meal at lunch-time and have fruit for dessert.
Social activity can help improve cognitive functioning, especially during intellectual conversations. Talking to people about what you have read and learned will also help improve memory by working it. Researchers investigated older people volunteering to help students learn. The activity improved their physical strength, social support networks and cognitive activity.
It is important to be careful what you read, especially when it comes to research findings, as the result may be influenced by other factors such as type of people participating, type of methods used and number of participants involved. If researchers repeated the same study, it may prove otherwise.
Healthy cognitive ageing includes:
All of the above will help prevent dementia, delay dementia and even prevent mild cognitive impairment from progressing to dementia.
Diabetes is a risk factor for dementia as the brain is starved of glucose, so if you have diabetes it is important to be extra vigilant in eating a healthy diet and keeping fit. Your diet may include medium-chain triglycerides by taking MCT oil, coconut oil or both which will provide the brain with the same energy as glucose would.
Another factor to consider is maintaining a healthy heart with a normal blood pressure reading by managing stress, including regular, moderate physical activity, limiting alcohol, and eating healthy. Low or high blood pressure is related to cognitive decline.
As well known, the hallmark of Neurocognitive Disorder due to Alzheimer's Disease is caused by neurofibrillary tangles that wrap themselves around the neuron causing the neuron to die and the brain to shrink. Moreover, the amyloid (a variety of different proteins) plaques that form between the neurons are mostly found in the gray matter of the neocortex, the hippocampus and the basal ganglia, thalamus, cerebellum and some in the hemispheric white matter. Self aggregating peptides that form in the plaques are b-peptide or amyloid peptide. This peptide is joined to a much larger protein called Amyloid b-protein precursor (APP). Interestingly the extracellular plaques containing amyloid can be found in older people who don't have an impairment causing disagreement to the consensus that APP is in fact a cause of Alzheimer's disease.
Another arguement as to the cause of Alzheimer's disease is the heart, brain and mind connection. Researchers have said that to prevent a stroke will help prevent dementia (not only Alzheimer's). Dr de la Torre, MD PhD, study led him to believe that Alzheimer's disease is a vascular disorder of the brain of older people caused by chronic cerebral hypoperfusion leading to neurodegenerative damage, cognitive decline, Alzheimer's and then death.
Cerebral hypoperfusion means that there is insufficient blood flow to the cerebral cortex of the brain, which is the hallmark of the incidence of stroke. Incidentally, Alzheimer's disease risk factors (e.g., smoking, obesity, physical inactivity) also tend to reduce blood flow to the brain. As reduced blood flow to the brain will lead to cognitive decline and then Alzheimers, the APP deposition is then not the cause of Alzheimer's but the pathological product.
The findings that low blood flow is the cause of Alzheimer's means that more accurate tools such as brain neuroimaging (e.g., positron emission tomography) that measure blood flow to the brain can help identify at risk patients of Alzheimer's disease. The patient can also measure their heart with a noninvasive ultrasound to identify blood flow through the heart chambers and valves together with psychometric testing (e.g., Memory Alteration Test and Mini-Mental State Examination) to measure cognitive functioning.
Stroke prevention clinics in America are already helping patients identify if they are at risk of a stroke and also work with them to prevent the onset of a stroke. Research identifying the cause and risk factors of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia will also help discover who is at risk and how to prevent its onset.
With this in mind, it is important to take care of your heart, to take care of your brain and mind in order to prevent the onset of stroke and dementia.
When Mary Newport's husband Steve was struck with Alzheimer's at the age of 53, she worked tirelessly to find a research study that he could participate in an take advantage of the treatment effects the study would provide.
While searching for a suitable study she also found out that AC-1202 (medium-chain triglycerides [MCT]) was found to improve the symptoms caused by Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is also known as type 3 diabetes because the brain of people with Alzheimer's does not use glucose and the cells therefore die. Therefore the ketones from MCT can replace glucose and feed the cells so they can continue to work, meaning each neuron will continue to communicate with each other.
Coconut oil also provides ketones, which is the reason why Mary has been feeding her husband Steve with 20 grams of coconut oil in his morning oates every day. She then increased the coconut oil and MCT oil dosage to three times a day. Symptoms of diarrhoea and possibly vomiting means the person can't tolerate the dosage and it needs to be decreased.
Before taking the oils Steve was rejected from a study because his mini mental state examination (MMSE) score was only 11, which was too low to participate in the study. He also could not draw a clock. She was rejected from another study, until she found out about ketones. Before Steve attended the MMSE test for a second screening, Mary fed him 2 tablespoons full of coconut oil with his oats for breakfast. One the one hour drive to the test, they were practicing for the MMSE test (e.g., what is the day, what is the month, what is the season, etc). As usual he struggled to remember, when when they arrived and he completed the test his score was 18. He's score for the first screening was 14. He was then accepted in the study.
There is an argument that 20 grams of MCT or two tablespoons of coconut oil is not enough to make a difference, and others say that it is enough. Moreover, people with the gene Apo E4 (which Steve had) were unlikely to see any benefit from MCT. However, Steve showed improvements quickly.
Improvements included remembering how to complete daily tasks with little or no help, improved mood, improved memory, able to complete the clock test (however not a perfect drawing but better than his previous attempt) commonly used for people who have dementia and able to communicate well. By the time Steve started taking the oils he was in moderate the severe stage of Alzheimer's which includes symptoms of severe memory loss (can't recognise family members), difficulty with daily tasks (needs a lot of help), signs of physical capabilities (incontinence, trouble with gait and eating with support). Therefore, his improvements were substantial, however he declined again if he did not take his daily dose of MCT.
Mary has been working tirelessly to communicate the benefits of ketones for people with Alzheimer's as her husband's improvements were remarkable. However, in 2012 he suffered from an illness such as gout, and was prescribed with prednisone to reduce the pain and swelling. The prednisone caused Steve to constantly pace and obsess about things. A year later he showed symptoms of Parkinson's symptoms (tremors) and was prescribed valium to improve his sleep and to relax him. After three weeks of taking valium he began pacing, and obsessing again together with sweating. Mary later found that valium commonly causes akathisia (a movement disorder) which includes symptoms of sweating, pacing and chattering in older people, especially those with dementia. Steve started having infections amongst other complications, continued to decline and passed away in 2016.
During Steve's journey with Alzheimer's, the daily dose of MCT improved his quality of life and may have also prolonged his life. To this day, Mary continues to promote the benefits of MCT and advocate for more research so the benefits of MCT for people with Alzheimer's can be further understood. Taking MCT may also prevent Alzheimer's as it can improve the energy between neurons and brain health, however to my knowledge there is no study to verify this claim.
Source: Newport, M. T, M.D. (2013). Alzheimer's Disease: What is There was a Cure? (2nd End.). Basic Health: CA.
Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder (NCD) due to Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease that includes a decline in memory and learning, changes in behaviour and personality, physical symptoms, confusion, impaired capacity to eat, chew and swallow and incontinence. The symptoms will interfere with daily living.
The Diagnostic Statistical Manual, fifth edition (DSM-5) now includes probable and possible Alzheimer's disease for both major and mild NCD. Probable type for mild NCD means that there is evidence of a genetic mutation from either genetic testing or family history. Possible type for mild NCD means that there is no genetic mutation but there needs to be evidence of a decline in memory and learning, the decline is progressive and there needs to be an absence of other neurodegenerative or cerebrovascular disease or other contributing factor to cognitive decline. Probably type for major NCD includes clear evidence in a decline in memory or learning, the decline is progressive and no evidence of mixed etiology or if there is a genetic mutation otherwise possible type of major NCD should be diagnosied.
Understanding these symptoms will help the person caring for them realise why the person with alzheimer's disease will, usually, present with short term memory loss at first. This can be frustrating for the carer if they don't realise that the lapse in remembering instructions or learning new things is actually from their illness not from being difficult.
Alzheimer's is not a normal part of ageing, but age related. It is preventative meaning that you can prevent the onset of Alzheimer's by a eating healthy diet, and exercising your body and mind.
Alzheimer's disease is known to be caused by low blood flow to the brain resulting in senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles ultimately causing the neurons to die and miscommunicate. The miscommunication will cause challenging and confusing behaviour, which may include aggression, a lack of impulse control, hallucinations, and psychosis, however understanding the person's life story will help the carer get to know why the person with dementia is acting in such a way.
When caring for a person with Alzheimer's it is important to consider the psychological and behavioural aspects to improve their quality of life. They still have an identity that needs to be considered and respected. They are more than their illness but a person with a history that needs to be shared and appreciated.
Understanding Alzheimer's will help you understand how to care for the person with the illness better. However understanding the person's identity and life story is just as important.
Source: American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Neurocognitive disorders. In Diagnostic and Statisical Manual of Mental Disoders DSM-5 (pp. 591-643). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
Dementia is a set of symptoms and is therefore known as a syndrome. The symptoms will include memory loss. Other symptoms may include changes in behaviour and personality, physical symptoms, confusion, and impaired movement. Some types of dementia can be progressive but some can be reversed such as dementia from alcohol abuse. The timing of effective treatment will reverse some types of dementia. The main symptom of dementia is memory impairment which will intefere with work and social functioning.
Dementia can be present in other types of diseases. The most common is Alzheimer's disease and the second most common is vascular dementia. Other common forms of diseases that include symptoms of dementia are Lewy bodies, Parkinson's disease and fronto-temporal dementia.
Dementia can be confused as a progressive disease however symptoms may be due to alcohol abuse, which can be reversed and due to other other forms of medical conditions such as depression, trauma, tumor in the brain, lack of vitamins and infections.
Most types of dementia can be prevented by a healthy diet, and exercising your body and mind.
Deci and Ryan develop the self-determination theory, which is a theory of motivation. The theory has been used to address goals, the workplace and education. It has also be used to understand individual differences, personality development, performance and behaviour. In order for a person to be self-determined, meaning they are intrinsically motivated to behave at their best, they will have to be supported to feel competent, have autonomy and experience relatedness. These three needs will have to be met for an employee or person to be self-determined at work and personal life.
When it comes to the workplace, it is important that an organisation’s strategy supports and promotes self-determination for employees to be engaged in their workplace and be intrinsically motivated to complete goals and have healthy work behaviours. Intrinsically motivated employees will work effectively and efficiently because it supports their values, gives them meaning, makes them feel good and supports their overall vision. When an employee is in an environment that encourages and supports self-determination they will have the autonomy to make their own choices that supports their goals, relate well with others and feel understood, and believe they are competent to complete the task. Therefore leaders in an organisation will have to ensure that employees are given enough training and support to ensure that they can indeed do the work well, interpersonal relationships are healthy and supportive, and employees are trusted enough to make the right choices, rather than be told what to do. When the employee understands the organisation’s vision and goals, and it matches his/her goals, then the obvious choice would be to work effectively and efficiently to achieve the goals. However, enough trust and communication will have to be given to ensure that the vision and goals are communicated and that they can be achieved. For example, when employees understand the organisational strategy they will have increased motivation to support the strategy. When they don’t understand the strategy, their intrinsic motivation will be undermined and it will create uncertainty. To put this in another way, how will you make the choice to reach a goal if you don’t know what it is.
Moreover, research has found that when the job characteristics are understood and compliments the employees level of competence the employee will more likely to be self-determined. When leadership supports autonomy, the employee’s behaviour will be self-determined. Self-determined behaviour increases job satisfaction, altruism, organisational commitment, and low turnover intention.
In summary, and the take home message, is to create healthy workplaces that support autonomy, relatedness and competence for employees to achieve the organisational goals. If your employees are not working as effectively, consider self-determination theory to improve strategy, structure and outcomes.
jb Consulting and Psychology
Counselling, consulting and eduction to improve child and adolescent mental health, parenting skills and dementia consulting.