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Summer 2018


3 Signs of technology addiction 5 When opioid addiction hits home 6 Dementia: more than forgetfulness 8 Harvesting good health 14 Keeping your brain healthy 18 Summerfield’s fitness garage 20 When Alzheimer’s strikes 24 Fitness comeback

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Signs of technology addiction And what you can do about it… by MARC PRUITT

It happens to many of us. You might be driving down the road, lost in your own thoughts. You could be sitting at a restaurant enjoying a meal with your family – or relaxing at home while tuned in to your favorite TV show. You might even be enjoying the serenity of the sand on your feet and waves crashing to the shore in the near distance. And then… you get the notification on your phone. Perhaps it’s a chiming noise, or part of a song that makes you smile, or a slight vibration. And of course, you’re tempted to check it – immediately. After all, it could be an emergency. Or it might be a text from a friend. Maybe someone has responded to a post on social media, or you finally got that email you had been waiting on for days. Do you stop what you’re doing to check your phone, or do you wait until a more private time and respond if necessary? And how do you react when you realize you have accidentally left your phone at home or in your car and will

be without it for a significant amount of time? The world is at our fingertips via our smartphones. Tablets and laptops that were once a necessity for many businesses are now necessities for most households as well. We can watch as much TV as we want through streaming services – all with the touch of a finger, it seems. Even video games are now available on all of our devices so that we no longer need to be connected to our TV sets. If we’re not careful, adults and children alike can fall into the addictive clutches of technology. “Thirty-five years ago, our technology addiction was mainly the concern for kids watching too much television, or using some kind of gaming system,” said Dr. David Gutterman, a clinical psychologist who specializes in behavioral medicine for LeBauer Health Care in Greensboro. “In essence, kids and adults have everything with them today, 24/7, by virtue of their phones. It’s a lot more challenging now than it ever has been.” According to a recent study conducted by Pew Research Center,

95 percent of teenagers in the United States ages 13-17 have access to a smartphone. Forty-five percent of those polled say they are online “almost constantly” when they have them in their possession – which is almost always. YouTube is the most widely used social media channel among the teens polled by Pew, with 85 percent saying they use it on a regular basis. About 35 percent of teens polled say they most often use Snapchat, a multimedia messaging app, followed by YouTube at 32 percent. “There are so many addictive qualities to phones and for kids it’s even more tempting because of all of the various social media channels they have access to,” Gutterman said. “Kids are always staring at their phones, and when they ding to show how many likes they have for that Facebook or Instagram post, it lights up those pleasure centers in the brain that release dopamine. So, it really has the same quality as any other addiction. You become reinforced every time you do it and it keeps people coming back. “The art of face-to-face social inter-

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Summer 2018


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When opioid addiction hits home Family shares sadness, lessons from Scott Aaron’s death by suicide

even removal of a tooth, Lavoie said. The medicine triggers receptors in the brain that produce relief euphoria. Over time, users build up a tolerance to the prescriptions, so they crave more of them. When they can no longer get them legally from doctors, they sometimes turn to illegal sources of drugs, including heroin and Fentanyl, to feed what has by then become an addiction.

by CHRIS BURRITT Meranda Walker thought her brother had finally hit “rock bottom” after years of drug addiction. She hoped that at last he had become so desperate, trapped in the cycle of abusing opioid painkillers to numb withdrawals, that he’d seek help in a recovery program. Instead, after Scott Aaron’s arrest on drug-related and other charges in December 2015, the 43-year-old hanged himself in the Forsyth County Jail in Winston-Salem. An autopsy ruled his death as suicide. His family buried him under a black gravestone in the cemetery of his church, Oak Level Baptist, in Stokesdale. “Scott did not die because of a drug overdose,” Meranda said. “But drugs were the reason Scott died.” Two-and-a-half years later, Meranda and her parents, Don and Celia Aaron, sat down to talk about their family’s tragedy. They shared their story in hopes that it may help others thrown into chaos and forced to bury loved ones amid soaring overdoses from Fentanyl, heroin and other opioids. In 2016 and 2017, 132 people in Guilford County died from poisoning related to Fentanyl and so-called “designer drugs” produced to mimic the pharmacological effects of Fentanyl, according to a report released by the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in May. During that same time period another 86 deaths in the county resulted from heroin poisoning. The northwest Guilford area is not immune to the pain of drug addiction. In 2017 the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office responded to 51 overdose

Photo courtesy of the Aaron family

Scott Aaron (right), with his father. Scott died by suicide in December 2015.

calls in District 1, which encompasses Summerfield, Oak Ridge, Stokesdale and Colfax; that’s up from 30 calls a year earlier.

Addiction can start when a doctor prescribes an opioid painkiller such as Vicodin or OxyContin following surgery or

In recovery, medications such as buprenorphine are prescribed to help people maintain sobriety after abusing opioids. The prescriptions help normalize brain chemistry, ease cravings and stabilize body functions, Lavoie said. If patients relapse during recovery and take opioids, the combination of drugs can prove fatal. “With treatment, we provide them

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Through mid-May of this year, the sheriff’s office had responded to 22 overdose calls in District 1. Six of the incidents may have been linked to opioids, based upon information gathered by officers responding to the calls, said Gina Battles, crime analyst for the sheriff’s office. That information wasn’t gathered in prior years. What the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls “this fastmoving epidemic” has been building over the past decade. Statewide, the medical examiner’s office estimated the number of poisoning deaths related to Fentanyl and designer drugs soared almost 850 percent to 1,118 last year, an increase of 1,000 deaths from 2010. “I see it touch everyone,” said Valerie Lavoie, a nurse practitioner at Presbyterian Counseling Center on New Garden Road in Greensboro. Among her clients are opioid abusers seeking recovery through a combination of medication, counseling and therapy.

Summer 2018


Dementia: more than forgetfulness Look for mood changes among warning signs by CHRIS BURRITT When family members notice an older loved one is increasingly forgetful or confused, they’re likely to ask whether Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia may be the cause. The following are other warning signs to consider. If you notice any of these changes, schedule an appointment with a doctor, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a difference in patient care.

Mood swings “We tell families to look for changes in mood and behavior,” said Dr. Katherine Tabori, a family medicine physician with LeBauer HealthCare. “If their loved one is generally easygo-

ing and happy and suddenly starts to act suspicious of people or a little bit withdrawn, or becomes more irritable or more aggressive, that may be cause for concern,” she noted. Another sign is withdrawal from favorite hobbies or activities, or loss of interest in games and sports teams.

Lost “We all get lost going to new or unfamiliar places,” Tabori said. “It’s concerning, however, when family members have trouble following their usual route to church or a friend’s house. Let’s say they go to the grocery store they’ve been driving to for the last 10 or 15 years, and they mention that they couldn’t figure out how to get home from there. All of a sudden they’re confused.”

Vision problems Difficulty reading road signs, judg-

ing distance and determining color or contrast are obviously risks when driving, and are also possible signs of Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Thief, thief! Losing things occurs more frequently as dementia advances. It may progress to the point where the person is unable to find what he lost and accuses others of stealing it.

Who is that? Age-related memory changes are expected, but you should become concerned if family members start having trouble putting faces with names. For example, if suddenly they’re not able to name the neighbor they’ve lived next to for 20 years or a very close friend, or even a close family member, that’s obviously a red flag.

Losing track It’s also concerning when people lose track of dates or have trouble following a familiar recipe or tracking monthly bills, the association says. In conversations, warning signs include choosing the wrong words or repeating the same ideas, or losing track of what others are talking about. If you or someone you know has any of these warning signs, it’s advisable to schedule an appointment with a doctor as early as possible. “Trying to care for a person who doesn’t understand or doesn’t recognize you, or is acting out, or at times is demonstrating violence, or wandering or even escaping from the home, that is so much to deal with,” Tabori said.

See related article on p. 20

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Summer 2018

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Harvesting good health Gardening nourishes body, soul and community by CHRIS BURRITT

Photo by Chris Burritt/NWO

Jimmy Beeson prepares his three-acre garden in Summerfield for the upcoming growing season.

For two decades, Jimmy Beeson’s plot of reddish-brown soil on Scalesville Road in Summerfield grew enough tomatoes, squash and corn to stock his family’s vegetable stand. Not only did his red Farmall tractor cut rows for

his crops, but it also turned up rocks, as though his three-acre garden was sprouting stones along with produce. Though he’s scaled back and no longer sells vegetables along the roadside, Beeson is still farming and, like a

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Summer 2018

weightlifter doing reps, he’s still picking up rocks and stacking them in a pile. “If you’ve got a farm, you can always find something to do,” said Beeson, who turns 80 in October. Exercise is an obvious benefit of

gardening. And in terms of health, it’s only one of them. Digging in the dirt can relieve stress and anxiety as gardeners focus on nurturing plants and watching for signs of new growth. Scientific research has found that healthy bacteria

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living naturally in soil can trigger the release of serotonin, a chemical believed to regulate anxiety and happiness. Drive down any road or turn into any subdivision and you’ll likely see vegetable gardens and flower beds, fragrant and brimming with greens, reds, yellows and blues. What starts as a solitary act as simple as turning over a spade full of earth enriches life for many people, regardless of whether

they garden. Roses and zinnias create beauty and tranquility, and vegetables put nourishing food on the table. All told, growing things brings families together, turns strangers into friends and creates a sense of gratification from realizing that what started as tiny seeds produces such bounty. “Gardening is as much about mental health as it is physical health,” said Mary Flinn of Summerfield.

With no experience in gardening, Flinn and her husband, Mike, moved to the Wilson Farms neighborhood 17 years ago. A contractor excavating for a patio asked where he should put the dirt. The Flinns pointed to the backyard. And they’ve been digging and planting vegetables, flowers and shrubs there ever since. This summer the Flinns are growing tomatoes,

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Photo by Chris Burritt/NWO

Summerfield residents Mike and Mary Flinn in their backyard garden

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Asparagus spears from Mike and Mary Flinn’s garden

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HARVESTING GOOD HEALTH continued from page 9

peppers, cucumbers and more than a half dozen herbs in raised beds in their backyard. Lady ferns and bleeding heart flourish in the shade while “pollinator” plants such as lavender, coneflowers and zinnias attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. “Gardening is so relaxing and you get so much satisfaction from it,” Flinn said. In late April, as the couple inspected their backyard boxes which were sprouting wisps of green, she snapped off the first vegetables of the season – asparagus Photo by Chris Burritt/NWO

Jimmy Beeson holds the silver queen cornseed he planted in his garden.


Summer 2018

spears, poking from the dark soil. “This is something we do together,” Flinn said. After retiring five years ago, Flinn began volunteering through the Extension Master Gardener program offered by N.C. Cooperative Extension Service’s Guilford County Center. So far this year, 166 volunteers trained in horticulture have spent more than 5,200 hours sharing their knowledge about planting, pest management and landscaping. “If you want to make friends, get involved with a gardening group,” Flinn said. That’s the case for members of the Oak Ridge Garden Club, who got involved with the 66-year-old organization after moving here from as far away as South Korea and as nearby as Kernersville. Others came from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Virginia and California, according to members attending a club meeting in April.

Photo by Chris Burritt/NWO

Volunteers at Summerfield Farms discover the wonders of nature through a hands-on-program the farm offers.

The club makes friends of people whose paths otherwise may not have ever crossed. Members swap plants, an

Photo by Chris Burritt/NWO

At 80, Summerfield resident Jimmy Beeson stays busy caring for his threeacre garden.

people together and feed the hungry,” Stoudemire said. Planting sunflowers and zinnias, harvesting carrots and squash and picking blueberries are among volunteer activities in Summerfield Farms’ certified organic garden this summer. Staff members teach volunteers (starting as young as 5 years old) about sustainable gardening and living skills while cultivating friendships.

exchange that’s especially beneficial to newcomers who may not know what varieties grow well in the area. “Experts say the best exercise for individuals is an activity that they enjoy, because they will stick with it,” said Claudia Whitaker, a garden club member since 1976. She says her husband, Frank, has planted hundreds of trees on their two properties in Oak Ridge while she helps the garden club with its plantings at the Oak Ridge Military Academy and the town’s park. “The beauty feeds the soul,” she said. “All of the exercise feeds your body.” Another club member, Nancy Stoudemire, oversees the community garden at Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church. Some of the dozen garden boxes are built higher than others to accommodate people who can’t bend down easily. Some of the produce is donated to Share the Harvest of Guilford County. “The garden is a way to bring

“We all have this common need to eat good food,” said Jennie Hodge, farmers market manager and volunteer coordinator at Summerfield Farms. “Through our hands-on programs, volunteers discover the wonders of nature, explore ecological interconnections, practice appropriate land stewardship and master sustainable agriculture techniques.” Just down the road, Michael Page, a volunteer fireman in Summerfield, gardens three plots around town and sells vegetables from a stand. In years past, he’s planted corn, green beans and other vegetables in the garden behind his home. This summer he’s giving half the space to flowers for his 8-year-old daughter, Camdyn, to sell at the farmers market at Summerfield Peace United Methodist Church. Page helps his grandfather, Bob Southard, with his garden, and he said he wants to bring his daughter into the family’s tradition. “I’m more about the process than the harvest,” he said. “What you get from your garden is a bonus.”

Summer 2018


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Keeping your brain healthy Exercise, diet and paying attention are all key to ‘living a vibrant third act’ and staying mentally engaged, doctor says by ANNETTE JOYCE How many times have you walked into a room for a specific item and, with frustration, realized you have no idea what you went there for? Or maybe you’ve just been introduced to a person and within seconds you’ve forgotten their name. Worse yet, how about when someone you’ve known for a while walks up to you and you just can’t remember his or her name?

While some people worry these occurrences could signal something seriously wrong, others think this type of forgetfulness is just part of the aging process. After all, the older you get, the more you forget – right? In her role as The Age Coach, Dr. Cheryl Greenberg spends a good portion of her time debunking this and other myths about memory loss. According to Greenberg, ideas about memory loss and aging have changed a great deal in the last three decades. “Back then, we had a pretty dismal view of aging,” she said. “The view is much more positive today. You can live a vibrant third act and stay intelligently engaged as long as disease doesn’t intervene.”

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“Whatever the reason for change, I help my clients identify their goals or concerns and understand how to move forward and make positive, proactive decisions,” Greenberg said.

Dr. Cheryl Greenberg, The Age Coach, holds workshops and classes geared toward helping people maintain and improve their brain power.

Memory loss is a major concern not only for her senior clients, but for younger adults as well, Greenberg said. As a result, she devotes a good amount of time and energy to producing workshops and classes focused on memory issues and techniques to improve memory. Staying physically active is Greenberg’s top suggestion for keeping your

memory sharp. “Research shows that the most important thing a person can do is to exercise and oxygenate your brain,” she said. One study at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver concluded that regular aerobic exercise – the kind

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In her practice, Greenberg has a bird’s eye view of how these “third acts” are successfully playing out for today’s senior population. Working as a coach, or “guide,” Greenberg assists seniors and their families as they work through changes in their personal and work lives.

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that gets your heart and sweat glands pumping – appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. In an article in the April 5, 2018, Harvard Health Letter, editor Heidi Godman wrote about the positive effects of exercise on memory. “Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means,” Godman wrote. “The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors – chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. “Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.” When it comes to exercise, Greenberg, who looks much younger than her 73 years, practices what she preaches. She regularly participates in SilverSneakers, a physical fitness program designed for older adults that focuses primarily on functional fitness, and credits the program with improving both her physical and mental wellness. Eating healthy goes hand-in-hand with exercise to help maintain healthy brain function. “The Mediterranean diet is an example of a diet that hits all the right notes,” Greenberg said. “It’s high in Omega 3 and low in saturated fats. It consists of lean meats, olive oil and lots of vegetables – all the foods that have a positive impact on brain function.” While exercise and eating right are important to maintaining and improving memory, Greenberg also gives advice on other practical ways to boost your brain power. “People can keep their brains sharp

by mentally challenging themselves,” she said. This may look different for different people, but a common factor is pushing yourself and engaging your brain to remember things.

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“Anytime when you’re having to recall, process information, make plans, follow directions – all of these things challenge your brain,” Greenberg said. “For some people, that might mean taking a ballroom dancing class or trying yoga. For others, it could be taking a different route home or simply trying to remember your grocery list instead of relying on a piece of paper.” Although many people do crossword puzzles to keep their brain sharp, Greenberg doesn’t believe this particular activity is challenging enough to significantly help with memory improvement. Even so, she said she does crossword puzzles just because she enjoys them. Being left-handed, she adds an element of difficulty by writing in the answers with her right hand. While all of these activities are beneficial, perhaps the quickest way to see improvement in your memory is to simply pay attention. In today’s fast-paced, multi-sensory world, we’re all distracted and trying to do too many things at one time. Slowing down, looking and listening can have a tremendous impact on our memories. For example, this is what Greenberg suggests doing when you meet someone new and you want to remember that person’s name: “Stop long enough – just a few seconds – to really notice that person’s face and listen to their name,” she said. “Just pay attention.” For most people, improving your memory is simply a matter of lifestyle modification and taking the time to exercise both your body and your brain. It’s something we can all do – if we just put our minds to it.

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Photos by Chris Burritt/NWO

Personal trainer Kelly Cox (left) focuses on core and cardio with clients Jane Kelman (center) and Jeannie Hoag.

Though she and her clients have slowed down, personal trainer Kelly Cox stresses commitment and community in workouts by CHRIS BURRITT Kelly Cox, a personal trainer for 17 years, said she isn’t as fast as she was five years ago, slowing down a minute a mile when running 10K and half-marathon races. “It drives me crazy,” she said. “So I’ll put a shorter race on my schedule to show myself that I can still run faster. But I just can’t do it for as long.”

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Cox, 56, follows the same course when training her older clients who range in age from their 50s to 82. She’s worked with most of them for more than a decade, making the two-car garage of her Summerfield

Summer 2018

home where she trains as much a fitness laboratory as a gym. Behind the roll-up garage door in her Bunch Road subdivision are exercise machines, free weights and a stationary punching bag. “It’s not OK that I’m slowing down,” said Clark Doggett, 75, a retired Summerfield pharmacist who qualified for the Boston Marathon at 69 and completed the race in 2014. “I’ve talked to other people my age and they say the same thing: You always want to run a race faster the next year. Now we hope we can run it as fast as we did last year.” Doggett’s workouts with Cox focus on weight training and strengthening his core. He enjoys running with three of his children – Beth, John and Matthew. While he’s no longer running in marathons and logging 50 miles a week to train for the 26.2-mile distance, he does run several times a week, sometimes as far as nine miles at a time. He’s also adjusted his expectations.

In a recent 5K race, Doggett finished third in the category for runners 60 years and older. “When I step up to that start line, I expect to win my age group,” he said. “I don’t always do that, but that is what I expect to do. I’m one of those people who when the race is over, I want to know I did well.” On a recent Wednesday morning, Cox put three of her other longtime clients through 60-second exercises stressing flexibility, strength and endurance. Peer pressure and support keeps them coming back. “Your energy level is lower as you get older,” Cox said. “It’s easier to talk yourself out of going to the gym. That’s the advantage of group classes. You know other people are going to be there and are going to ask where you were if you don’t come. You’re also enjoying other people’s company.” Sore knees and shoulders are the most common complaints among her clients because those are the joints

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(From left) Jane Kelman, Margot Donnell and Kelly Cox enjoy camaraderie while exercising in Cox’s garage, which serves as a fitness room.

that support the heaviest weight during exercise. Cox also sees how physical limitations –arms wobbly lifting dumbbells, for instance – can undercut confidence. “That’s hard mentally,” she said. “People are always saying, ‘I used to be able to bench press 120 pounds.’ Now they’re doing 100. We’ll occasionally go back to that heavier weight for one or two repetitions. It makes them feel good that they’re not losing everything.” Cox recommends lifting weights at least two times a week, helping build muscles that support the joints. Weightlifting also increases bone density. As muscles get stronger, they pull harder on the bones, which respond by getting stronger. “I train people who run trails and they sometimes fall,” she said. “If they weren’t doing weight bearing exercises as they get older, they could break a shoulder. If they twist an ankle on a trail, they’re less likely to break it.” Back in April, Jane Kelman, 66, rolled an ankle while running in Greensboro. She trains with Cox three times a week and is gradually resuming running. “I’m irritated about it,” said Kelman, exercising with a medicine ball in Cox’s garage to strengthen her core.

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She made an even bigger adjustment four years ago when she switched to running after riding and showing horses for four decades. “Running has not been a total substitute,” she said. “When you’re into horses, you’re into horses. But it has been a really good substitute. I’m glad to be able to run, period.” Margot Donnell has exercised since her 20s, starting with dance and yoga. Now 61, she works out most days of the week at the Spears Family YMCA in Greensboro and enjoys the camaraderie of Cox’s group classes.

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“Used to, I would try to get ahead by lifting more weight,” said Donnell, doing arm curls. “Then in my 50s, I wanted to maintain the weight. Now I feel like I’m trying to catch up.” Nearby, Jeannie Hoag, 56, kicks a blue punching bag. “When I first started more than 20 years ago, our classes were cardio kickboxing,” she said. “We still do a lot of cardio, but we can’t do it as intensely. It’s not because we can’t hold out, but because we may hurt something.” Years ago, fitness was more about vanity. “When you’re older, you still do it to look good, but more to stay healthy,” Hoag said.

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Summer 2018


When Alzheimer’s strikes A caregiver’s journey that began almost 40 years ago offers lessons for today

normal behavior.

Black now lives in Summerfield with her husband, Robert Racine. She is 62, the same age her mother was when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

by CHRIS BURRITT It was 1980 when Pam Black noticed her mother, who was living in southern California, was having memory issues and trouble writing checks. A visit to the doctor brought a diagnosis that was both troubling and puzzling. “Alzheimer’s – what is that?” Black recalled asking the physician. Over the next 15 years, Black, who at the time was a recently widowed 23-year-old raising two young sons, oversaw the care of her mother while initially having little understanding of her disease. When Black’s mother first showed signs of Alzheimer’s, the general public was just learning about the debilitating illness. Though research was accelerating, approval of the first Alzheimer’s drug was still seven years away. With Alzheimer’s now the fifth-leading cause of death among U.S. seniors, the toll the disease takes not only on patients but on their caregivers is well known. There is still no cure for the disease, which attacks the brain, causing severe memory loss and impeding

“I saw my mother fade away little by little before my eyes,” Black said as she recently sat at her kitchen table gazing at a worn portrait of a beautiful, smiling young woman with soft brown curls. “She was always light-hearted, and never bitter because of her illness.” As the disease worsened, the two women reversed roles and the daughter took on the responsibility of ensuring her progressively childlike mother got the care she needed. It was an exhausting time for Black, who worked full time while raising her two young sons, and she was emotionally devastated by her mother’s deterioration. “Hands on, I was there alone,” she said. Looking back, she said if she hadn’t been in her 20s she probably couldn’t have cared for her mother for as many years as she did. “There were just many very long days,” she said. In the early 1980s, Black was part of an unofficial army of willing yet inexperienced caregivers across the country who marched one step at a time. With very little yet known about

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Summer 2018

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Pam Black holds a photo of her mother, Clarice Melendy, who died of Alzheimer’s in 1995.

Alzheimer’s, they were untrained to provide the care that was required and unprepared for the disease’s bewildering turns. “Anyone who has been in that caregiver role is absolutely, unquestionably up for sainthood,” said Dr. Katherine Tabori, a family medicine doctor with LeBauer HealthCare at Summerfield Village on U.S. 220. “The caregiver and the family need their sanity,” she said. “I tell them, ‘This disease may be what ultimately takes your loved one away, but it can’t take you away as well.’ The idea of anyone shouldering this responsibility

on their own is mind-boggling.” Black said one of the ways she coped with the situation was to learn to laugh. For example, once, as she was driving, she said she helped her mother remove a piece of gum from her mouth and accidentally pulled out her dentures. Her sons were bug-eyed seeing their mom pull out Grandma’s teeth. “You had to find humor in it or you’d cry,” Black said. Black belonged to what’s now known as the “sandwich generation” of caregivers, looking after not only an aging parent but also children under 18. Her sons Robbe and Jeff weren’t yet 10

when their grandmother was diagnosed. Black’s mother, Clarice Melendy, died in 1995 at age 77. Her decade-and-ahalf struggle coincided with milestones in increasing awareness of Alzheimer’s and advances in research and treatment. An estimated 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. That number is projected to climb to nearly 14 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The Chicagobased association was founded in 1980; three years later, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Month (ironically, the president was himself diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1994, five years after he left office). Starting in the mid-1980s, researchers discovered proteins they believed were linked to nerve cell damage in the brain. In 1987 the first drug specifically focusing on symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease was tested in clinical trials, according to the association’s website. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first Alzheimer’s drug in 1993. Today, one in three seniors dies from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. After her diagnosis, Clarice continued living with her husband in their home in Westminster, California, until his death a year later. “At first I thought she’d be OK,” Black said. “But every time I left I felt as though I was leaving a little girl. She was confused. I could see it in her eyes.” After her mother took too much medication one day, Black moved her into her home in nearby Huntington Beach. For moral support, she relied on telephone conversations with her older sister, Nancy, who lived in Michigan and oversaw their mother’s financial affairs from there. “She was my only means of support,” Black said of her sister.

Courtesy photo

Dr. Katherine Tabori practices family medicine at LeBauer Summerfield Village on U.S. 220.

As Clarice’s condition worsened, Black placed her in private homes that specialized in Alzheimer’s care. Confused and scared by the unfamiliar surroundings, Clarice once broke her wrist striking a door after she had been locked in her room. Black said she was fortunate that her mother spent her final years in the private home of a dedicated caregiver. In the early stages of dementia, Black’s mother was forced to take early retirement from her job as an accounting clerk. She lost her driver’s license after running into a utility pole. While she was upset that she could no longer drive, Black said her mother acknowledged that “something was wrong” with her. A willingness to admit a problem is uncommon among people in early stages of Alzheimer’s, according to Dr. Tabori. Typically, it is a family member who notices that a loved one is forgetful or repeating the same story. “Often, when confronted, they (the

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Summer 2018


Fitness comeback Photo by Chris Burritt/NWO

Personal trainer Jamaal Johnson recommends ‘slow and steady’ approach to starting a new exercise routine.

Jamaal Johnson, personal trainer at Snap Fitness, discusses how to resume exercise after inactivity, injury or pregnancy by CHRIS BURRITT “When it comes to making a comeback, everybody is fearful in

some form, shape or fashion,” said Jamaal Johnson, a personal trainer at Snap Fitness in 68 Place, on N.C. 68 in Oak Ridge. “The question is, can I do it? Do I have what it takes? Will I be disciplined enough? A lot of people say they don’t know how to become fit, but that’s not true. Most people aren’t willing to do what it takes.” Motivation: To get started, trainers assess your habits inside and outside of the gym – diet and exercise – and

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what’s driving you. Big-sky motivations such as “I want to become healthy” are usually less successful than saying you want to train for a 10K race or you’re tired of back pain and want to do something about it. “Usually life has presented us with a challenge that’s right in front of us,” said Johnson, a trainer for nine years. In 2010, he was graduated from Winston-Salem State University with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. “If you’re experiencing some type of discomfort or your doctor says you need to make changes, you’ll probably be motivated by that,” he said. “The younger generation tends to be vain and just wants to look good. If you’re middle-aged and older, you probably want to feel good and have energy. You want to be able to play with your kids and grandkids. You want to enjoy life, and that’s a more tangible goal than saying you just want to look good.” Frequency first: Three variables – intensity, duration and frequency – determine your exercise routine, Johnson said. Intensity measures how hard you work out. If you’re recovering from an injury, you’ll probably start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workout. Next is duration. If you’re not already conditioned, your workout is probably going to be shorter rather than longer. Lastly there’s frequency, probably the easiest hurdle to overcome.

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“We say that you don’t have to make your workout really intense or exercise for a long time,” Johnson said. “We just want you to become frequent with your fitness. You’re building up your endurance, strength and motivation because you will see some positive changes. Once we get you frequent, we can start increasing your intensity and your duration.” Injuries: The rules of intensity, duration and frequency apply for recovery from injuries and surgical replacement of knees and hips. Recovery is slower

than if you have no injuries and are just out of shape when you return to the gym. “In the beginning, the goal is like physical therapy with stretching and walking on the treadmill,” Johnson said. “We want you to build your confidence that your body is capable of more than you think it is.” Stretching is critical, yet it’s probably the most neglected aspect of fitness. Stretching encourages muscle recovery, which reduces the likelihood of another injury. “Ideally you want to stretch as often as you exercise,” Johnson said. “We encourage people to warm up before they exercise,” he said. “More importantly, stretching needs to happen afterwards.” It soothes inflammation of muscles, reduces blood pressure and boosts circulation of blood throughout the body. Pregnancy: If you’ve been working out prior to pregnancy, doctors suggest you continue to exercise. Among the benefits, exercise may shorten labor and your body may recover faster from delivery of your baby, Johnson said. As a precaution, you need to avoid exercises that may cause loss of balance or overly stretch or put torque on the midsection and back. Resuming exercise after delivering a baby “is probably one of the most difficult comebacks,” he said. “You’ve been through so many changes mentally, physically and emotionally that you’ve got to build your courage back up.” Johnson said he reminds new mothers that “you’ve already done the most difficult part. If you can carry and deliver your baby, you should be able to do what it takes to get back to where you want to be.” Success: “It’s an empowering moment to see what you’ve accomplished,” Johnson said. “It’s encouraging to know you’re able to do more than you thought possible. You’re a new person.”


continued from page 5 with tools to cope with triggers such as trauma, depression or abuse,” Lavoie said. “But some people will get high just to escape reality. It is complicated.” In Stokesdale, rising incidents of overdoses and illegal drug trafficking tied to opioids have spurred town leaders and pastors to seek solutions. “If we get a call from a parent who says her daughter is heavily on drugs and asks for help, we need to know what to tell them,” said Rev. Jerry Walker, pastor at Oak Level Baptist Church, where Scott Aaron is buried. Walker has participated in recent brainstorming sessions at Stokesdale Town Hall, along with Mayor John Flynt, Mayor Pro-Tem Thearon Hooks and Vicki White-Lawrence, a past council member who now serves as president of the League of Women Voters of the Piedmont Triad.

Flynt is encouraging residents to call Town Hall with suggestions, as part of deciding how to proceed over the next several months. Beginning Sunday, July 15, the group plans to host forums to give the public an opportunity to learn about the opioid crisis from health, law enforcement and other officials. “We are seeing what we can do as a community,” the mayor said. “If we can educate the kids in any way, we want to do that.” Walker hopes pastors in the community will be willing to get involved, possibly providing counseling services to families and setting up safe houses in their churches for people in trouble. “We have kids in crisis out here at 1:00 in the morning, and they will not go home to their parents,” Hooks said. “They’ve been kicked out over and over, and next thing you know they wind up back in a drug house.” Opioid overdoses are so potentially deadly that law enforcement respond-

Photo courtesy of the Aaron family

(From left) Don and Celia Aaron (holding photo of their son, Scott, taken when he was serving in the U.S. Army), and Scott’s sister, Meranda Walker.

ing to 911 calls “aren’t looking at the incidents as so much of a criminal offense,” White-Lawrence noted. “They are trying to get treatment for people

instead of trying to punish them.” For Celia Aaron, the memory of her son’s death just days after Christmas in 2015 has at times grown even more

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Summer 2018

painful. She said it was hard for her to put up a Christmas tree last December.

delivered Meals on Wheels and coached youth basketball at Gospel Light.

“Everybody loved him,” she said while sitting next to her husband and her daughter in the home economics classroom at Gospel Light Christian School in Walkertown, where she has taught for 19 years. Scott attended school there.

When he began asking his sister for money to cover bills, however, she recognized the warning signs and suspected he was spending his money on drugs. She also saw a glaze in his eyes.

Scott’s family knew he had been abusing drugs for years. It started almost 15 years earlier, when he injured his knee while serving in the U.S. Army. After knee surgery, he became hooked on prescription painkillers and was never able to beat his addiction. He once took 40 Oxycodone pills a day to prevent withdrawals, his sister said. “He was definitely a functional abuser,” Meranda said. A graduate of High Point University with a degree in psychology, Scott worked for the U.S. Veterans Administration in WinstonSalem, helping veterans with disability and other claims. In his spare time he

Celia noticed her son had become depressed and was easily angered. “You felt like you had to walk on egg shells around him,” Meranda confirmed. “There was a gamut of emotions,” Don said. “There were times I was so angry. I would say, ‘Why do you have to do this?’ Other times I’d say, ‘You’re just hurting.’ “Scott would not admit he had a problem,” Don said. “I didn’t know what to do.” In December 2015, Scott left a suicide note on Facebook and then disappeared for 10 days. He eventually called his father, who picked him up

near Wilmington and took him home to Walnut Cove. Police arrested him the next day on outstanding warrants and took him to jail in Winston-Salem. And then the following day, detention officers found him dead. “In my heart, I think he thought he was going to have to face those withdrawals cold turkey on his own,” Meranda said. “And he’d rather die than go through that.” Rather than shielding her three sons – Drew, 15, Drake, 12, and David, 9 – from their uncle’s problems, Meranda viewed it as a learning opportunity for them. “I want it fresh on their minds,” she

said. “I want them to know the consequences you pay for a wrong decision. For some people, it just takes one time and they’re hooked. Drugs totally change the person.” Along with remembrances of their son, Don and Celia wish they could have done more. “I would make sure he knew I loved him,” Celia said. “If I could say something to another son who was on the threshold of drug abuse, I would probably say something like this: `Drugs will take you farther than you want to go and keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you can pay,’” Don said.

The community is invited to an educational forum on opioid addiction on Sunday, July 15, 6 p.m. at Oak Level Baptist Church, 1569 Oak Level Church Road in Stokesdale. Jim Albright, director of Guilford County Emergency Services, will be the featured speaker. For more info, call the church at (336) 643-9288 or Stokesdale Town Hall at (336) 643-4011.




8309 Linville Road • Oak Ridge Photo by Chris Burritt/NWO

Scott Aaron is buried in Oak Level Baptist Church Cemetery.

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continued from page 3 action is lost because there is so little of it anymore,” Gutterman continued. “And by and large, parents don’t do a very good job of monitoring technology use.”

Setting some boundaries Julia Denton has three school-age children, a son who is in high school and two daughters who are in elementary school. She has established strict rules for her children to follow; ironically, she got the framework for those rules from the social media site Pinterest. “My blanket rule for them is that ‘when it’s time to get off, it’s time to get off.’ And there is no negotiating that,” Denton said. “And when they want to get on one of our devices, they have certain things they have to do before they can do so. We have a laptop, two tablets and a gaming system, and they know they can only

use them on Tuesdays, Thursdays and on the weekends, when we are a little more flexible. But even then, they have to get dressed, they have to eat breakfast, they have to brush their teeth and brush their hair and make their beds look a little less disheveled. “They also have a daily schedule that they must follow,” Denton added. “For instance, my son has to research colleges and has to read at least 30 minutes. They have 40 minutes of what I call ‘creative time’ when they can play outside, play in their rooms, or play board games or draw or color – time that doesn’t involve tech time.” There are also chores to be done and occasional interruptions when Denton has to run an errand or finds something around the house that needs immediate attention. “My son gets two hours of tech time on the designated days and my daughters get 90 minutes,” Denton said. “And we do not allow technology

Adobe Stock photo

According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, 45 percent of teens polled say they are online “almost constantly.”

upstairs in their rooms.” Denton said her son has a cell phone – a flip phone, not a smartphone – and that he doesn’t participate in social media, although he tried Instagram for a short time before deciding it wasn’t for him. “We got it (the phone) for him a month or so after he started high school so that he could call us if he needed a ride home if afterschool schedules changed,” Denton said. “He looked at me like I was crazy. I told him that was all he needed and that he would thank me one day, because if left to his own devices, he would be all over the internet. It’s my job to protect him.” Denton has a smartphone and said she is somewhat active on Facebook and Instagram, mainly to stay in touch with friends and some social groups within her church. “As a stay-at-home mom, having that little bit of social interaction with my friends helps me stay engaged with them,” Denton said. “But if I had a smartphone when I was 17, there is no telling how much trouble I would have gotten into. That’s why our job as parents is to do the best we can to limit the time our children have and make sure we know what they are doing.” Gutterman believes smartphones,


Summer 2018

tablets and the 24/7 access to social media sites have contributed to a loss of quality family time. “One of the most sacred times for any family is having the family meal together,” he said. “When you go to a restaurant now, at any given time you will see four or five people sitting at the table looking at their phones or tablets. That is indicative of the problems facing so many families, with kids and adults not putting their phones down. The car used to also be a place where you could catch up with your kids and ask them how their day was and how their friends were. It was protected quiet time. Now, kids are in the backseat on their phones. “And vacations – I hear this a lot now… parents explain to me that kids were on their phone the whole time and missed out on aspects of the vacation. They aren’t communicating with each other. That’s a big problem.” Michelle Goodson has a daughter in high school who has a smartphone. She shares custody with her exhusband, and the technology rules in both households are different, which leads to more challenges. “There’s not a lot of consistency and it can be difficult to manage,” Goodson said. “She has had a tablet

since she was 8 and got a smartphone a couple of years ago. She wasn’t allowed to use social media until she was 13, but that hasn’t turned out like I thought it would.” Goodson said her daughter has Instagram and Snapchat accounts, but she insists on knowing what the passwords are at all times. “I want to be sure I can monitor it at all times because we are giving our kids the world at their fingertips and there aren’t enough safeguards,” Goodson said. “I don’t have any other hard, fast rules, because I feel like at this age, rules lead to rebellion. I stay focused on forging a relationship so that we can keep trust between us, which I feel will help in guiding her choices. She has struggled with peer pressure and sometimes sees things her friends are doing on social media and starts to feel left out. That’s when I have to go in there and tell her it may be time to step away for a little while. She’s been caught up in some stuff that she just didn’t need to be in. There’s so much stuff out there for these kids to get into that we didn’t have to deal with growing up.” Goodson credits a DVD produced by actor Kirk Cameron called “Con-

nect” that explores the challenges of social media, technology and kids with helping open her eyes about managing technology. “In the movie, he (Cameron) says ‘we are the pilgrims and the pioneers and we see the good in what technology can do,’” Goodson said. “We just have to make sure we train them the right way on how to use it.”

Spotting the signs of tech addiction As with any addiction, the first step in addressing it is to recognize there is a problem. “That’s one of the challenges,” Gutterman said. “There are all kinds of estimates for usage. Two billion people are using social media. Fifteenthrough 19-year-olds spend an average of three hours a day online and adults spend two hours a day. Sometimes that may include two- or threeminute increments at a time, but it’s so frequent that it adds up. I’ve talked to college students who don’t leave their rooms for days at a time, unless they are going to class or to eat, because they are playing video games or on social media all the time.”

In 2018, for the first time the World Health Organization classified “gaming disorder” in its International Classification of Diseases, describing the condition as “persistent behavior so severe it takes precedence over other life interests.” Gutterman said warning signs that your or someone you know may be addicted to technology include high anxiety during electronic-free times, regularly missing or being late with assignments, getting into more trouble or sneaking around just to get a look at your phone. Research tells us that tech addiction can lead to depression, increased anxiety and social phobia, rise of poor self-care and obesity, to name a few. “All the characteristics of addiction are there,” Gutterman said. “When you stop doing it, there are withdrawal symptoms, increased anxiety. What happens when your phone is lost or broken? What if your computer goes

down? There is a heightened anxiety that goes with that, as well as an obsession and compulsion to know what’s happening online.” Treatment for tech addiction and gaming disorders is both more common and more available now than in previous decades, Gutterman noted. “In the more extreme behaviors, there are centers that have opened up to treat the addiction,” he said. “It’s still relatively new. Once parents see the signs, they should consult with a therapist to see what kind of treatment is available.” And of course, children often model their parents’ behavior – so next time that phone dings when you’re with your kids, resist the temptation to immediately turn your attention away from them to check it. You might also consider having periods of time when everyone in your family puts cell phones and tablets to the side and just spends time together.

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WHEN ALZHEIMER’S STRIKES continued from page 21

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person with Alzheimer’s) become defensive,” Tabori said, explaining that for a while the Alzheimer’s patient is able to act as though nothing is wrong and “keep up appearances” of normalcy. “If we are very lucky and the patient is still very self-aware, he/she may come to my office and say they are worried about their memory, particularly if they’ve dealt with this disease in a loved one or if there is a family history of it,” she said.

They’re going to be much

more vigilant because they’re afraid they may be walking

the path that their loved one walked,” Tabori continued. “On the other hand, people who don’t have experience with dementia or are in that defensive denial stage are likely to tell family members that they’re overreacting.

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very, very tricky.


Summer 2018

Tabori encourages family members to accompany their loved one to the doctor so they can discuss the medical condition as a group. “I have no problem being the bad guy and saying, ‘There seems to be a change since the last time you were here. Do you find yourself forgetting things, or do you find yourself getting lost?’” Tabori said an objective measure of dementia known as the mini-mental state examination, which consists of a series of questions, helps clinicians determine cognitive impairment. As an example, a patient may be asked to repeat a list of words or perform arithmetic. People with higher educational levels typically perform better on the test, so while it’s not 100 percent reliable, it is an objective measure, Tabori said. “A lot of times when patients are confronted with objective data, it is harder for them to argue that they are OK,” she noted. “If we can catch dementia early and get everyone, family members and patient, on the same page, then we can start medication to delay the effects,” she said. “We can put them with neurologists to help them maintain what they have as long as possible through cognitive exercises and engaging the brain.” Black said she encouraged her mother to fight to keep her memories. “She fought hard, but little by little she lost herself,” she said. Holding her mother’s photo, Black said, “It was a privilege and a blessing to take care of my mom. I never felt like she was a burden. She was my best friend.” Tabori advises caregivers to take advantage of resources – home health services with expertise in managing medications, adult enrichment programs and support groups – that are available to caregivers and their patients. And, as patients worsen, she suggested setting up palliative and hospice care. Black’s advice for family members is to “love them... Put yourself in their spot. What would you want?”

CHIROPRACTIC CARE Summerfield Family Chiropractic......................................19

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Summer 2018


The Best Kept Secret in the Area “Yes, this is the place to be!” “We fell in love with Countryside and decided to move into one of the cottages nearly two years ago. We’ve never doubted our decision. We really, really like the ambiance. It’s so serene and peaceful. Countryside is definitely a village – one in which you feel the love and friendliness of residents and staff. This is a family and we love being part of it.” – Catchie Huntley

Steve and Catchie Huntley, Residents of Countryside Village

Independent Living | Rehabilitation Services | Assisted Living | Skilled Nursing

336-643-6301 7700 U.S. Highway 158 | Stokesdale, NC 27357

To Your Health | Summer 2018  

Home-grown articles about facing health-related challenges, fitness trends, the benefits of healthy lifestyles and more in northwest Guilfor...

To Your Health | Summer 2018  

Home-grown articles about facing health-related challenges, fitness trends, the benefits of healthy lifestyles and more in northwest Guilfor...