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Judson Haims: Consequences from a fall for 65-older patients can be substantial


Fall risks can be attributed to many issues. Some of the most common causes of falls are vestibular issues, poor eyesight, weak muscles and even medications. With a little education, you can substantially reduce your risk of a fall.

As our country ages, the percentage of older people experiencing falls is increasing. Unfortunately, death rates from fall injuries have, too — substantially. From 2007 to 2016, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provided data that indicated deaths from falls for adults over the age of 65 increased 30%. They estimate that by 2030, there may be seven fall-related deaths every hour.

Throughout our lives, taking an accidental spill has and will continue to occur. When we were babies learning to walk, falls were routine. Often, a fall would rarely cause serious injury. Unfortunately, as we age a fall can have disastrous consequences. Almost 30% of falls in people 65 and older result in moderate to serious injuries that can diminish quality of life and increase the risk of premature death.

One of the biggest factors perpetrating falls involves balance. According to the Vestibular Disorders Association (VEDA), balance is achieved and maintained by a complex set of sensorimotor control systems that include sensory input from vision, touch and the vestibular system.

Our vestibular system is comprised of tiny structures located in the inner ear just under the brain. Two of the parts are called the cochlea (responsible for hearing) and the vestibular apparatus (responsible for maintaining balance, stability and spatial orientation). As we age, changes to the vestibular system and how it sends information to the brain often become impaired.

While scientists don’t have a great understanding on how balance is affected by the aging vestibular system, they do know that an association between this system and vision exists. Researchers believe that vestibular signals processed by brain deteriorate and thus have an effect on eye movement.

Many people choose to see an eye doctor if they experience visual concerns like double vision, or a field of vision that bounces or jiggles when they move their head side to side. Unfortunately, when they see the eye doctor and are sitting with their head on a head rest, sometimes the issues don’t occur as the head is not in motion or rotating. This could be an indication that a vestibular disorder exists.

Muscle weakness is also a primary concern in attempting to mitigate the risk of falls. The World Health Organization reported that individuals with muscle weakness are four times more likely to fall compared to those with normal muscle strength. As people age and natural physiological changes occur — muscles often become less toned and less able to contract. This often contributes to fall risks.

Sarcopenia, the progression of muscle loss, is a natural and common condition. Preserve your muscle mass, an article from the Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Men’s Health Watch, states that, “After age 30, you begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% per decade.”

Even if you are active, some muscle loss occurs. Make it a priority to educate yourself about a phenomenon called anabolic resistance. As we age, our bodies’ ability to break down and synthesize protein decreases. Because protein is considered integral in the building of muscle, it is important to counteract any breakdown by increasing protein consumption. Ask your medical provider if adding high-protein foods like tuna fish, salmon, eggs, cheese, yogurt or almonds would be OK.

Medications too often contribute to fall concerns. Drowsiness, dizziness, sleepiness and low blood pressure are frequently associated with side effects of prescribed medications to help people sleep, or to help with anxiety. These class of drugs are called benzodiazepines and common brand names include, Ativan, Valium, Restoril and Xanax.

Many anticholinergics drugs that treat health conditions like COPD, overactive bladder, asthma and even Parkinson’s have also proven to increase the likelihood of recurrent falls. If your medical provider has prescribed any medications that are linked to fall risks, you may want to sit with them and review options.

Talk to your doctor about concerns you may have for fall risks. A simple review of medications or referral to an occupational/physical therapist can keep you living a high quality of life.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Aspen, Basalt, and Carbondale. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is www.visitingangels.com/comtns or 970-328-5526.

 

Guest commentary: One year into pandemic, remember it’s OK to swing from frustrated to hopeful

It is hard to believe that it’s been a year since COVID-19 entered our lives here in Colorado. The virus first entered the state March 5, and we truly did not understand the impact it would have on all of us. As our state and the rest of the nation went into lockdown to help stop the spread of the virus, we watched its overwhelming toll on our entire world.

Here we are a year later, and we know a great deal more about the virus. Now, vaccines are being distributed, new cases are decreasing, and there is a sign of hope that we will once again be able to embrace, at least a small bit of, our former sense of normalcy — possibly as early as this summer or fall.

With hope on the horizon and progress being made, why is it that we may not be feeling any different, despite the the challenges of the past year diminishing? The collective exhaustion we feel is often referred to as “COVID fatigue” or the “COVID wall.” It feels as if we are running a long-distance race, and the most challenging part of the race is that we have no idea where the finish line might be.

It’s easy to get stuck in the “all or nothing” thinking, that we are either hopeful or exhausted. I think the trick is to realize that we can be both hopeful and exhausted at the same time.

As we move forward from this one-year mark, it’s important to acknowledge how you are doing at any given moment or time. It is OK to not be OK. It is OK to be hopeful. It is OK to go back and forth between the two.

Honor where you are and when you are not OK, focus on giving yourself grace and permission to be sad, frustrated or angry. When you’re not OK, focus on the basics: eating healthy, getting enough sleep, connecting with others, limiting social media and the news, get outside or engage in the activities you love that help you recharge your batteries.

Looking to the future, we must remember that we will never go back to how life was before the pandemic. For example, telecommuting is likely here to stay and a new way of working will continue to shape how we work after the pandemic. The lessons we have learned in the past year will help shape and form the future, just as the Great Depression, Civil and World wars and the Spanish Flu helped shaped generations before us.

What would you like to keep from this strange year? Perhaps it’s your focus on what is important and a more simplified life. Or the deep caring for others, as we took care of each other in times of need.

Communities stepped up and looked out for one another. We all learned we are stronger and more resilient than we ever thought we could be, and we came through all of this together. And for that, I am grateful.

Jackie Skramstad, LCSW, is the clinical operations manager for Mind Springs Health, overseeing programs throughout a 10-county services region. With more than 30 years of experience in community mental health, she is a longtime resident of the Roaring Fork Valley.

Guest commentary: CORE Act important to Western Slope despite new representative’s U.S. House vote

The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act passed through the House of Representatives on Friday thanks to leadership from Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse and co-sponsorship from representatives Diana Degette, Ed Perlmutter and Jason Crow.

Last fall, 111 Colorado elected officials, including the Pitkin County commissioners and other elected officials in our valley, signed on to a letter of support for the CORE Act. The act was originally introduced by Rep. Neguse and Sen. Michael Bennet in 2019. This year, they have continued the effort and are now joined in advancing it by Sen. John Hickenlooper. The CORE Act has passed the House with bipartisan support now three times, yet it has never made it to the Senate floor.

The act includes protection for 400,000 acres of Colorado’s public land. Of that, nearly 80,000 acres are new recreation and conservation management areas that preserve existing outdoor uses. In addition, it includes a first-of-its-kind National Historic Landscape at Camp Hale to honor Colorado’s military legacy and the history of Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division.

Our representative in the 3rd Congressional District, Lauren Boebert, opposed the bill. In her remarks, Rep. Boebert claimed that local elected officials in our congressional district do not support the CORE Act. Of course, that is simply untrue. The CORE Act has wide bipartisan support from many Colorado counties, towns and cities; the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and other editorial boards; the state of Colorado; and two-thirds of all Western Slope residents.

Every county with land in the bill approves of their components of the bill. Rep. Boebert acknowledged that she was new, so perhaps she has not had time to read and comprehend the breadth of local support for the act. This admission should be a wake-up call for Rep. Boebert and for her constituents who depend upon, and should demand, informed and thoughtful leadership.

According to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry generates $28 billion in consumer spending each year and supports 229,000 jobs — these numbers will only increase with the passage of the CORE Act in the Senate. As a Colorado District 3 local elected official and constituent, I look forward to the CORE Act passing due to strong local support and leadership from Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper.

Greg Poschman is a Pitkin County commissioner and can be reached at 970-309-7997. He submitted this piece along with Sonja Macys, Steamboat city councilor.

She Said, He Said: Be honest with spouse and friends, don’t try to make everyone happy


Dear Lori and Jeff,

I’ve been invited to go on a guy’s bike trip this spring, but it’s the same time as my anniversary when my wife had planned a weekend getaway. I was trying to figure out a way to overlap the two events by having my wife meet me right after the bike trip, but I also would have to leave the bike trip a day early, which means they would have to change the route a bit to get me back in time. I know it looks like I’m tweaking things so that I can do it all, but I’m really just trying to make everyone happy. My wife says I’m trying to manipulate the situation and everyone involved so I can get what I want. What’s your take?

Signed,

Am I Being Selfish?

Dear AIBS,

Lori and Jeff: Yes, you are trying to manipulate the situation to avoid disappointing yourself and everyone else. It’s the signature move of someone who tries to get everything they want while avoiding any blowback. It may be helpful to look at where else in your life you massage boundaries, sweep things under the rug or minimize other people’s feelings to make things “work” in your favor.

Lori: Who would really be happy in your best-case scenario? In no way are you creating a win-win, so stop deluding yourself. What’s most concerning about your question is how self-directed your whole process is of trying to find a resolution. Spouses should work as a team but, for some reason, you’ve chosen to go at this conundrum alone. There’s no mention of problem solving with her, which makes me curious about whether a lack of real communication is creating challenges in other aspects of your relationship as well.

Healthy, strong marriages are living, breathing entities that need to be nourished through consistent small efforts. If you were to take stock of your contributions, how would you feel about your efforts as a husband? Have you really shown up? If the answer is yes, then it’s not unwarranted to share with your wife how much this bike trip would mean to you and to give her the opportunity to nurture the marriage by collaborating on a compromise. However, asking your wife to negotiate with you would be selfish if: she has given significantly or consistently more, has put an immense effort into creating a unique experience for your anniversary, or the guy’s trip is somewhat commonplace and easy to replicate. Under any of these circumstances, the adult move is to take responsibility for your decision to have married your thoughtful, generous wife and spend a lovely anniversary weekend with her.

Jeff: Trying to “make everyone happy” is not an act of generosity — it’s a neurotic pattern of trying to get your needs met while escaping any responsibility for the outcomes. The reality is that you can’t have it all, and you’re going to have to choose between the guys and your wife. You must make these kinds of choices based on your values and by setting boundaries with everyone involved, including yourself. If you disappoint your wife because this bike trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, your job will be to help her understand how important it is to you and then to make up for the disappointment in other ways. If you disappoint the guys on the trip and yourself (because in truth, you’re the only one who is really missing out) then you will be doing it because you deeply value your wife and your marriage, and you can feel good about your choice and let go of any resentment that may occur as a result.

Your passive-aggressive approach, focused solely on your own agenda, will only end up leaving all parties feeling manipulated and resentful. Unless you lack a moral compass, this neurotic pattern also will have a negative impact on you, where it may feel like you’re always looking over your shoulder and trying to avoid getting into trouble. All choices involve some kind of disappointment, compromise and loss. To handle these dilemmas responsibly, you need to make clear decisions and learn to self soothe when you feel like you’re missing out.

Lori and Jeff: Your wife and your friends clearly care about you. Whatever choice you ultimately make will be OK if you start by being honest with yourself about what is important. Next, you will have to include your wife in the process and make a decision that has clear boundaries, while being fully transparent with your intentions.

Lori and Jeff are married, licensed psychotherapists and couple-to-couple coaches at Aspen Relationship Institute. Submit your relationship questions to info@AspenRelationshipCoaching.com and your query may be selected for a future column.

Guest commentary: Aspen mayoral candidate pushing for peace

Lee Mulcahy

My name is Lee Mulcahy. As y’all know, I love and am devoted to this community. I’m grateful for so many things.

I’m known as a straight shooter: Everyone knows a conservative libertarian “guns and Bible studying” Republican is never gonna win in liberal “Moscow in the Mountains.” Why should you still vote for me?

Peace.

Our community struggles with being overwhelmed by the resort. The Faustian bargain between big government and the corporation is detrimental to our community.

We all know APCHA is corrupt. As an anti-corruption campaigner, I have formed United APCHA Tenants and “Homeowners” with others. APCHA is a fascist organization: witness their war on a mom and her two kids whose lawyer defied them after claiming APCHA is the poster child for everything wrong with the anonymous snitch system: “APCHA’s policy regarding anonymous reporting has become a weapon for frivolous complaints and retaliation.”

I love Torre and we’ve been friends for 25 years. My family has supported Torre’s prior runs. When Skico suspended me for passing out a union flier on public lands, Torre was the only council member supportive. Like many, I’ve worked many jobs: substitute teaching, property management, bartending, Uber, construction.

Our elites are obsessed with using their power to control speech and the flow of information. The Democrats believe they have a monopoly on science and rational thought. If you disagree with their orthodoxy or their consensus, you’re a deranged conspiracy theorist or worse, a “threat” or a “danger.” This is the very hallmark of fascism.

My friend, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, is right: If you don’t know what the liberal Democrats’ plan is, it is to strip you of the right to defend your life. They are coming for your guns and they’re not hiding it anymore.

When Lauren walked into City Council with her trademark Glock-19 (love that gun!), Councilman Skippy Mesirow said “fear washed all over me.”

Lauren’s response? Our rights do not end where Skippy’s fears begin.

Say “hell no” to overreaching government shutting small businesses.

Say “yes” to government living within the confines of the Constitution.

Say “yes” for a raise in the Aspen minimum wage on large corporations.

Say “yes” to renting Elon Musk’s boring machine to build a subway into town.

Say “yes” to an Olympic freestyle aerial training center at the high school.

Say “no” to government home invasions.

Our local politicians have declared war on liberty and freedom. Worse, free speech, due process, transparency, and the right to challenge government wrongdoing have become casualties.

The divide between the Left and the Right over the proper role of government may lead to the decline of our democracy. In Aspen, capitalism is fundamentally broken. We’ve perverted the ability of a few billionaires to completely bastardize the system and destroy what made this country great.

Our justice system is all but broken. It’s just like the police — when they investigate, nothing happens. The American people are subjects — not partners, with our government. Remember “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”

Society moves forward by acts of peace and compromise. All we’re asking is to rent the house we built. That is not unreasonable. Please send Mayor Torre a message with a vote for Lee Mulcahy. Say “yes” to peace in our community.

Lee Mulcahy can be reached at leemulcahyphd@gmail.com or his Facebook page @LeeforAspenMayor.

Editor’s note: The Aspen Times has offered each candidate a guest column of 600 words or less. There are two candidates running for the Aspen Mayor seat on city council. The municipal election is March 2; ballots have been mailed.

Guest commentary: Aspen council candidate makes push to move forward together


In 2013, I saw a lack of family-oriented entertainment locally, so I built Slopeside lanes in Snowmass Village. Despite a pandemic, just this past year I opened Pussyfoot Steeps, a local community restaurant in the Airport Business Center. Investing within my community is of vital importance to me. I’m Mark Reece, and I am running for Aspen City Council because I have always been inclined to build things people need, and now I am looking forward to building a better future for all of us.

I am a graduate of Penn State with a degree in History and Business Administration. I am a productive and motivated individual and although adept at putting square pegs through round holes I would rather use practicality to problem solve.

Aspen has given so much to me, allowed my family to grow and prosper through our affordable housing program, a program that is flawed yet fixable. We need to acknowledge problems of the past so we can avoid them in our future. Promoting movement through the system so others can benefit will add more rungs on the ladder as people move upward with more equitable outcomes. I cannot wait to contribute to finding these kinds of solutions for Aspen.

In a time when our revenues will be lower than anticipated and our needs as high as ever, we can work together at identifying effective ways to be more efficient. We must weigh the risk/reward for our city safely as we face a massive decline in city revenue. This will impact the programs we all value and the people who they serve. As a successful small business owner, I come to the table with a fresh vision and valuable management skills learned from taking projects from conception to completion. I will work with many different perspectives and backgrounds to get the job done for Aspen.

As a member of several local service-based organizations, one of which I have a seat on the Veterans Committee, I recognize that during this challenging time, it has become even more apparent that we need to tackle the mental health issues in our community. I have been in Aspen for 12 years and seen far too much preventable loss of life. Now more than ever, especially with COVID in place, we need to invest back into our community. We’ve got a perfect storm brewing here and I want to make sure that when we come out on the other side of this pandemic, we are overly prepared rather than grossly underprepared as we find calmer waters.

Aspen is a community with an enormous amount of talent, wonderful people who are incredibly resilient. This is a safe community, we look after each other, it is a dreaming town. We all want the same thing; a roof over our heads, good care for our children and a safe place to bring up our families. We have the same goals; to see our community bounce back stronger, be more vibrant and fix some real big challenges that have evaded us for years. We can help each other find common-sense solutions. We can take a breath and really establish who we want to be in Aspen moving forward.

My daughter Perry has opened my eyes to the future. I have been considering what will her life in Aspen will be like for decades to come? Who do we want to be? I know we can grow together, thrive with our business, and protect the Aspen we have all come to love.

I am looking forward to building and partnering with you.

Mark Reece can be reached at mark@markreeceforaspen.com or his candidate page markreeceforaspen.com.

Editor’s note: The Aspen Times has offered each candidate a guest column of 600 words or less. There are eight candidates running for two open seats on the Aspen City Council. The municipal election is March 2; ballots have been mailed.

 

Guest commentary: Aspen council candidate wants to restore balance of community and resort


During the 40 years I’ve lived here, I have seen Aspen change from a town to a city and witnessed the balance between community and resort shift to favor resort and residential investment uses.

We are a unique resort for several reasons: our distance from Denver, the wise foresight of those who came before and enacted thoughtful zoning laws, but mostly, we have a community, and a great part of our workforce, living right in town.

I feel my broad range of work experience gives me greater understanding of working in the valley. My first job here, in the summer of 1980, was clearing ski trails at Aspen Highlands. I’ve built skis for Phoenix skis, worked 10 years in the restaurant industry, driven snowcats for the Aspen Mountain powder tours, worked in the Aspen Skiing Co.’s on-mountain recycling program, as well as worked in construction and property management.

I am passionate about skiing. It’s a very large part of what kept me here. It’s also led me to ski in many other places: all across the American West as well as many places in both Canada and Europe. What we have in Aspen is unique, and it needs to be protected.

I’d like to see Aspen follow the Aspen Area Community Plan more closely. The AACP plans since 1993 are a community call to manage growth, protect open space, require private sector growth to mitigate for some of it’s impacts and keep locally serving businesses in place. By preserving Aspen‘s small-town character and scale, we will both prosper and remain a livable community.

Employee housing is not only necessary, it’s something we can act on quickly; we have the RETT funds available (after last summer’s record breaking real estate frenzy) to actually get something done. Beyond the completion of housing at the lumberyard, we should be looking at locations on the city side of the roundabout for solutions.

I’ve proposed examining the North Mill Commercial Center near Clark’s as a permanent home for locally serving businesses and pedestrian oriented employee housing. We also could look at converting the city-owned recycling center to affordable housing as curbside pick up of recyclables becomes universal.

I’d like to point out something I already was aware of but was reaffirmed as I knocked on doors during this campaign, and it’s this: the vast majority of the “older folks” living in employee housing are still part of our workforce and, obviously, active members of our community. They deserve our respect.

Our entire economy is tied to the environment. It’s why we live here, it’s why other people visit and buy second homes here. Aspen must continue to lead in the climate change arena. Unlimited growth and exporting our workforce downvalley are just two things we need to come to grips with.

In spite of our recent snows, more than 50% of the American west is in drought conditions and 100% of Colorado. Clearly, more must be done. With the largest wildfires in Colorado history occurring last summer, choking our skies with smoke, I think we can all agree, our firefighting budgets will need some attention.

The VRBO problem should be looked into. Essentially, 1,000 hotel rooms that don’t pay their fair share of taxes (25% of what our local small lodges pay!), don’t provide parking, don’t provide housing for their employees, etc. It is not a level playing field and it hurts local businesses.

I ask for your vote to restore the balance of community and resort, to keep Aspen a year-round, vibrant community of local residents, not just another haven for luxury residential investments and vacation homes.

Thank you.

John Doyle can be reached at johndoylesculpture@gmail.com or go to johndoyleaspencouncil.com.

Editor’s note: The Aspen Times has offered each candidate a guest column of 600 words or less. There are eight candidates running for two open seats on the Aspen City Council. The municipal election is March 2; ballots have been mailed.

Judson Haims: Aging and vision changes to be aware of, not fear them


At some point as we age, eyeglasses or contacts lay waiting. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), “problems seeing clearly at close distances, especially when reading and working on the computer, is among the most common problems adults develop between ages 41 to 60.”

Changes in our eyes as we age is quite normal. Often, the reasons for the change include presbyopia, reduced retinal illuminance, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Presbyopia is probably the most common and normal changes to aging eyes. This occurs because proteins within the lens of the eye cause it to thicken and become less flexible. As this happens, the lens’s ability to refract light rays is impeded which affects they eye’s ability to focus. Reading and progressive glasses are pretty simple solutions, however sometimes, corrective surgeries like LASIK and corneal inlays may provide some remedy.

Reduced retinal illuminance simply means that the muscles that control our pupil size lose strength. As this occurs, the pupil becomes smaller and its ability to control how much light comes in makes reading harder and objects appear dimmer. While driving at night may become a greater concern, for reading, brighten up the lighting where you read most frequently.

Most often, cataracts develop slowly. As we age, the protein fibers of our eyes’ lens break down and clump together causing a clouding on the lens to occur. However, cataracts also can occur more quickly because of heredity, diabetes, smoking or eye injury. Protecting your eyes from the ultraviolet rays of sunlight is one of the best ways to protect your eye. If diminished vision hinders your quality of life, cataract surgery may be a viable option. It’s a relatively simple procedure with high efficacy.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. While glaucoma is considered to be one of the leading causes of blindness as we age, it can be prevented with early treatment. Most often, the buildup of fluid in the front of the eye causes an increase in pressure inside the eye which damages the optic nerve that carries visual information to the brain. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, there are treatments that improve the flow of fluid from the eye and reduce fluid production. Early detection is important in prevention, and glaucoma eyedrops used regularly can be very effective when concerns are found early on.

According to The American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF), “Macular Degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. The retina’s central portion, known as the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces or colors and see objects in fine detail.”

Macular Degeneration is often detected in an eye exam — before the symptoms become noticeable. While there is no cure, there are some treatments that when detected early, can make a difference. As well, incorporating dark green leafy vegetables and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids have shown to reduce risks.

Diabetic retinopathy is a disorder from diabetes complications. When blood sugar is too high, blood vessels within the retina can break and leak blood or fluid into the eye and damage the retina. Symptoms include eye floaters, double or blurry vision and fluctuating vison. Managing and preventing diabetes is paramount to reducing vision impairment. Fortunately, with regular eye checkups, diabetic retinopathy may be detected before vision problems occur.

Outside of seeing an eye doctor regularly to discuss personal and family concerns of eye problems, perhaps the best defenses for developing eye problems and vision loss may be maintaining a healthy diet and weight, protecting your eyes with sunglasses and physical activity.

Talk to your eye doctor and ask about how vitamin A and carotenoids may help. Good sources of vitamin A are orange and yellow vegetables and fruits, eggs and oily fish such as king mackeral, salmon and bluefin tuna. Carotenoids can be found in dark green leafy vegetables.

Saturated fats, sugar and foods high in sodium increase your risk of eye disease.

Get your eye exam regularly and be proactive. If you have diabetes or a family history of eye disease, it’s important to educate yourself with what you can do to mitigate further onset.

In addition to the AOA and AMDF you can find great information and support at the American Foundation for the Blind and the National Eye Institute.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. He can be reached at www.visitingangels.com/comtns or 970-328-5526.

She Said, He Said: If your partner’s career dreams change, find a way to support them


Dear Lori and Jeff,

My boyfriend is incredibly smart and studied hospitality in college. When we met four years ago, his dream was to be the GM of a luxury hotel. But in the time we’ve been together, he hasn’t taken any steps toward advancing his career and is still bartending at the same restaurant. He’s been hinting at wanting to get engaged, but I’m struggling to get past his lack of career motivation. I know he’s good at his job and makes good money, and I understand that going back to school can seem overwhelming, but he sold himself as wanting to become a powerful agent in his industry. Now, he just complains everyday about the long hours on his feet and the rude customers he had to serve. I’m not sure I want to commit my life to this, but I do love every other aspect of him. What should I do?

Signed,

Wanting Him to Aspire

Dear WHTA,

Lori and Jeff: When we become focused on a change we want our partner to make, it’s often because we’re neglecting to look at something that is very important within us. It can be easier to find solutions to our discomfort by asking our partner to change than to have to look in the mirror. That being said, your partner did portray himself as having bigger goals and ambitions, so you do have a leg to stand on in asking him to explore whether that’s still important to him and, if not, what specifically has changed.

Lori: What you should do is highly dependent on figuring out what really matters to you about his job and why. Start by identifying exactly what your trigger points are related to his career. You can do so by imagining that your partner was to forever stay a bartender, and exploring the narratives that arise in your mind. What are the stories of fear, resentment and vulnerability? What do you believe you will lose if he stays where he is? Perhaps you’ve worked hard toward achieving a level of financial freedom or security and see his job as holding you back. Or maybe you perceive his work as keeping you from attaining a level of social status that you value. Maybe you’re just tired of hearing him complain about his job and don’t want to permanently tie yourself to someone who is miserable.

Recognize that your level of investment in his career is about you. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that you’re pushing him for his own good. Doing so will only put pressure on him and still not bring to focus what it is that you’re really needing. Own your fears and vulnerabilities about his work future and be willing to share those things with him. In doing so, you may realize that there are other ways to meet your needs outside of him becoming a GM.

Jeff: I’d recommend that you look at your gender stereotypes and the assumed roles that you may have created in your partnership. If you bought what he was selling about his career ambitions because you had expectations of being taken care of and provided for, you need to own that and stop putting pressure on him to become a more successful breadwinner. Often men are stuck in the trap of believing that they need to “be something” in order to have identity and self-worth rather than being allowed to feel like what we do with our lives is authentic to who we are. In a published letter to his friend entitled “A Man Has To Be Something,” Hunter S. Thompson wrote, “So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.” And that a man has, “a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.” Perhaps your partner no longer wants to be a GM just for the sake of being something and achieving a goal. Maybe his values have changed in a way that has led him to a different perspective of what he wants to do with his life and that he wants to feel like it has meaning and purpose. I think he would really appreciate support in that kind of journey, too — not just in going back to school to have a better career. Of course, if he’s just blowing off steam when he gets home, tell him you’ve had enough and that he needs to leave his job at work.

Lori and Jeff: Stop fixating on his career as the solution unless you’re certain that truly is what he wants for himself. If it is still his goal, then ask what support looks like to him. However, if his values or dreams have changed, then as a couple your job is to explore together how both of your needs might be met.

Lori and Jeff are married, licensed psychotherapists and couple-to-couple coaches at Aspen Relationship Institute. Submit your relationship questions to info@AspenRelationshipCoaching.com and your query may be selected for a future column.

Judson Haims: Friends, family, and professionals can help with grieving


This past year has been heart-wrenching. Communities everywhere have experienced unprecedented loss of lives from ravaging fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and COVID-19. Locally, making matters worse was the dreadful loss of lives last week to three Eagle skiers.

After a loss of a loved one, it is understandable that most people may suffer damaging effects on their physical and/or mental health. An untimely and unexpected passing of a loved one can burden surviving family and friends with increased risk of death from stress and anxiety, which can lead to heart concerns, and in some cases, contribute to thoughts of suicide.

Friends and family can help those who are bereaved by reaching out and connecting, expressing your love, listening and sharing in the pain and dark moments. Know when to be there and when to give someone the space they need to process.

There is no time limit, nor a best way for someone to grieve. Grieving is a personal process. While there are commonalities among people who have experienced loss, the grief one experiences from the loss of a loved one is unique to each person. Everyone has different abilities in managing stress, coping abilities, control over their emotional state and skills to cope with trauma.

When someone struggles for an extended period of time and can’t seem to find their way out of the shock, disbelief, denial and despair from the loss of a loved one, it may be a sign that some professional help may be appropriate. While it is quite normal and expected to experience these symptoms, when the sense of loss becomes an insurmountable impasse, it may be time to look into grief counseling or grief therapy.

Grief counseling is one of many tools that can help people process the difficult emotions associated grieving. While there are many theories and models for grieving, there some commonalities among them all. The five most common theories/stages of grieving are: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Denial

Denial is the first stage of the theories. As people struggle and attempt to comprehend the reality of the situation, denial acts as a defense process that assists in understanding what has happened.

As people process the shock and confusion of a loss, they often find that they are easily distracted, procrastinate, forget and often attempt to keep themselves busy. Denial is frequently a temporary stage that helps people cope and give the brain time to understand. As denial fades, healing begins.

Anger

The second stage of common grief theory is anger. Understandably, anger may be manifested out of rage, frustration and a sense of feeling out of control. At this stage, people will often ask “why me” and say “this is not fair.” Sometimes, people may blame others, question their beliefs and even direct the anger and blame toward the person who has passed.

It is at this stage that people may need to be surrounded by those they love and the closest of friends. While it is a cathartic period that begins a healing process, anger can cause people to feel isolated and disconnected from others and reality. It also is a time that people may choose to drown their sorrows in alcohol or drugs.

Bargaining

In the bargaining stage of grief, people often find themselves experiencing fear, anxiety, guilt and shame. It is here that people often plead and make requests of their higher power or religion. Feelings of helplessness and pain often leave people thinking that they could have influenced a different outcome.

Asking oneself “what could I have done” to change the situation and “if only” statements like, “if only I had done …” are false hopes that the situation could have ended differently or that one could have controlled the outcome. This is a very normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability.

Depression

Depression is the stage and time where people realize the profound sadness and totality of the loss. This is a complicated stage as feelings of despair, disappointment and hopelessness often lend to reduced motivation, loss of appetite and lack of social interaction.

As the weight of the loss takes grip, depression surfaces and people tend to turn inward. While very natural, it can be very isolating and leaves friends and loved ones on the sidelines. This is exactly when a hug and console may be most needed.

Acceptance

Most theories of grief place acceptance and the final stage of grieving. It is at this stage that people may begin to think about the future and new goals. This is a stage of validation and self-acceptance. While it does not mean that grieving is over, the process of grieving is likely more manageable.

The loss of a loved one is traumatic. Feeling out of control or lost is very natural. If family and friend are not what you personally need to get through, our valley has many resources. Aspen Hope Center has many resources and can align individual needs to the right provider 970-925-5858. Mind Springs Health and West Springs Hospital also are options 970-920-5555.

Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness. Quite the contrary — it’s a sign of strength. For those who have been taken from us and for those they have left behind, know that they have touched the lives of many and live in our hearts.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526.