Know before you decide

Informed Decisions – how do you make your healthcare decisions?

Know before you decide
All natural doesn’t necessarily mean safe and useful. Know before you decide so you can make informed decisions.

Years ago I started having a discussion with patients who were making personal decisions about their health. “If you reach the last days of your life and say, ‘Yes, this is what I expected’, then I have done my job informing you of your options.” “If you reach your final days and say, ‘If I had known this I would have made different decisions’, then I have not done my job.”

As a clinical pharmacist and a professor, educating is one of the primary roles I have.

Personal Health Decisions

I am now frequently talking with clients about the substances they choose to take on their own. There are so many options! These can be anything from vitamins to supplements to over-the-counter medicine to naturopathic substances to homeopathic substances to formerly illicit now legal substances to still illicit substances.

It is now rare to encounter a client who is not taking at least one self-selected substance.

My first question is always why a substance was selected and what was the decision making process used to choose it.  Was it a fully informed decision?

Research Pros and Cons

The most common answer is that the client has read a lot and carefully researched the substance. There is usually also a component of recommendation from a friend or other user of the substance.

Doing your research is a GREAT thing! I encourage you to read from a variety of sources.

There seems to be an undercurrent of distrust in Western medicine. Certainly the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has done several things to earn the distrust from pricing to availability to the actions of individual companies and their products. [The example that jumps to mind right now is Purdue Pharma and their questionable practices with Oxycontin®.]

Too often in every segment of society, one bad apple can taint the whole bushel. To many people, anything touting a ‘natural’ source and not within the control of PhRMA seems to be the safer and healthier choice.

Evidence-Based Medicine

A big purpose of this blog is to define evidence-based medicine (EBM) and explain the differences from many of the other substance-based therapies you can choose. The ‘evidence’ comes from well-designed studies that measure both whether the medication works and the safety. Further, it helps to define how much better is it than other known options, what doses work best in what sorts of people, and which side effects are minor and which are major.

Medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must have well-designed studies that demonstrate both efficacy (does it work) and safety. Then, the FDA assures any company making the medication is making it in a clean facility using precise methods assuring each individual dose is per these high standards.

Two examples of the critical nature of EBM that comes to my mind are with heart medicines and with hormone replacement in women. The Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST) was the first in my career to completely change practice. It had long been assumed that using medication to keep the heart rhythm normal after a cardiac procedure would be a good thing. Then, this well-designed study demonstrated that in many instances, suppressing the abnormal heart rhythms right after a procedure actually increased risk of death. That was completely unexpected! But, other studies have confirmed that these findings. So, many of the medications that used to be part of standard treatment are no longer even made anymore.

The other big example was use of hormone replacement in women near and beyond menopause. The assumption was that keeping hormone levels where they are during the fertile years would maintain health and prevent many health issues that come after menopause. Then, two well-designed studies demonstrated that assumption was completely wrong! The dangers of hormone replacement were much greater than any advantages.   Premarin ® and Prempro ® went from some of the most commonly prescribed medications to very rarely used.

Substances without this level of evidence

The FDA does not oversee the vast majority of the substances you can choose on your own. (The noted difference is the over-the-counter medications that are overseen by the FDA.) So, unless the company does this on its own, no one is overseeing accuracy of the label, the contents, the conditions of the manufacturing facility, or the consistency from dose to dose.

In addition, there is no requirement for well-designed studies to define when, how, and at what dose the substance is most effective or what are the side effects.

Even medication interactions with your other medications is not well known since this type of data is not required.

Healthcare providers and self-treatment

Many of my clients are disappointed that their doctors aren’t more supportive of their self-selected therapies. Some don’t even tell their doctor about these.

I HIGHLY encourage you to share ALL substances you take with each of your doctors and your pharmacist. Healthcare providers have been trained to care for you using evidence-based medicine. There is too little ‘data’ to give providers confidence with other therapies. Your doctor can’t provide you with assurance of either if the substance will work for you or if it will be safe for you.  Communicate all you know to help make informed decisions.

Purpose of this blog – make informed decisions

I encourage you to share your research, the reason you take the substance, and anything you’ve noticed that is different since starting the substance with your healthcare team. Then, work together to decide all of the substances you will take. Each member of your team needs to known the full picture in order to take the best care of you.

This will also allow you to make the most informed decision possible. Combine your research, your personal goals, and your doctor’s and pharmacist’s input in your decision. Then, monitor your response. In your final days, know that you made the best decisions you could make for your own health allow the way.

Contact me

If you would like to discuss these concepts or have personal input from a board certified specialist, give me a call at 410-472-5078 or e-mail me at michelle@retirewellness.com. Check out my website at www.retirewellness.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

I recently read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. It was such a different perspective than I had seen in the past. Mr. Strobel researched and collected the evidence to support multiple events and details found in the Bible. He started as a non-believer and ended fully convinced of the Lordship of Christ.

There are many directives in the Bible to seek God’s guidance when making decisions. There is no ‘informed decision’ that can compare to a God-directed decision.

James 1:5 ESV

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 John 5:14 ESV

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

God has such amazing plans for you! God loves you more than you could ever imagine! Seek His guidance in your life. He has a very specific plan just for you.

Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I’m praying you seek God’s plans in your life and with all of your decisions. Live the life planned just for you!

Blessings,

Michelle

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How will you stay health in your 3rd chapter?

The Third Chapter – how do you plan to write yours?

How will you stay health in your 3rd chapter?
Are you ready to plan your third chapter of life to preserve your health?

The Third Chapter has become the popular term for life past about age 60 thanks to Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot and her book by this name.  Your 3rd Chapter is where you leave your legacy, focus on what is most important, and do some things you couldn’t do during the peak of your career.

Big 3 – Third Chapter Options

  1. You can do nothing and continue to work. As a local lawyer recently stated, ‘They can pry my dead body from behind my keyboard.’
  2. You can just let the final third happen. Some people leave the office, go home, watch a lot of TV, and drift along until their health fails and they pass.
  3. You can plan and make this the best chapter yet.

Reasons to plan

  • Fulfill those dreams – What have you been putting off until you had the time, resources, and freedom to do them? I just talked with a family where the wife has been dreaming of a trip to Cuba.  For much of their lives that was not possible. Now he has retired, Cuba is open to visitors, she found a deal, and they can finally say ‘Yes’ to this opportunity.
    • If he was still working or even just going to work to maintain his comfortable schedule, they might have missed this chance.
    • If no planning had been done, they would still be talking about going to Cuba someday.
  • Intentionally get a handle on your health – Bad habits, work stress, limited time, and distraction can be risky for your long-term health. One of the earliest plans with the biggest return on investment in retirement is your health.  Proactive assessment and action now can prolong the healthy, active part of your third chapter.
    • While working, especially in high demand careers, many men ignore their own health in favor of the health of the company.  Then, they experience a rapid health decline.
    • Doing nothing will continue risky habits. Our current healthcare system is reactive.  Once you get sick, injure yourself, and find yourself declining, then the healthcare system kicks in.  You don’t want to wait for this to happen when you have this chance to proactively avoid or delay all of that.
  • Make this the most rewarding chapter yet! – With planning and intention you can make a mark on the world. Your years of collected skills, interests, and perspectives can make you invaluable in a role to address some issues in society.  Explore your interests.  What breaks your heart?  You now have the bandwidth to do something about it.
    • While continuing to work you will be disappointed that no one is doing anything to fix the societal problems that bother you most.
    • If you do nothing, your disappointment will grow.  As a result, that can lead to harmful negativity or complacency.

Retirement Wellness Strategies

This is what we do and why we do it.  Let’s talk today about taking a proactive approach to planning your third chapter!

You can reach Michelle at michelle@retirewellness.com, calling 410-472-5078, or check out the website at www.retirewellness.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

God has plans for us in each chapter of life.

Job 12:12 ESV

Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.

[Now, I’ll admit, I try to think of someone else much older than me when I read ‘old age’ in many translations of the Bible.  But, I think that is a translator’s term for having years of experience.]

The wisdom of years is highly respected in the Bible and in most cultures and historically in the US. I think this an important piece of our foundation that is now slipping – respect for your elders and care for your aging family members.

Proverbs 23:22 ESV

Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Ephesians 6:1-3 ESV

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

Years of accumulated experience brings perspective, skills, and a deep wisdom that comes from mistakes, successes, complete failures, adversity, and overcoming.  In particular, to see how God pulls you through over and over again leads to a deeper faith that He’ll do it again.

Job 32:7 ESV

I said, ‘Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.’

Psalm 90:12 ESV

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Titus 2:2-3 ESV

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,

Psalm 71:18-19 ESV

So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?

I am so excited to see what can happen when people with years of wisdom and accumulated skill apply those to needs in society.

I’ll end with this quote on our bulletin at church today by Hugh Halter:

‘The convictions we need to rally around should be about life giving, community, transformation, holistic personal growth, sacrifice, beauty, blessing and world renewal.  Who wouldn’t want to be part of a people committed to something that brings personal meaning and makes the world a better place?’

This is how I see meaningful retirement.

Blessings,

Michelle

 

 

 

Filters – living through the stresses in our society

Filters - so you can hear the love
Use filters to manage stress and bad news to preserve your health.

I was sitting at a stoplight one block from UNC-Charlotte preparing to turn on to WT Harris Boulevard when it felt like at explosion of sirens went off.  Suddenly there were rescue vehicles coming from everywhere. There were fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, marked and unmarked vehicles with lights and sirens.  It was completely disorienting.  I then watched motorists make all sorts of bad decisions.  Some tried to speed through intersections in front of emergency vehicles.  Some pulled to the right, some pulled to the left, some just stopped where they were.  It was complete chaos with these first responders trying to weave their way through the confused masses to get to the emergency.

It was a couple of hours before I learned that a gunman had entered campus and started shooting in a classroom on the last day of classes for the semester.

It was a few hours after that when I learned of the heroism of Riley Howell who ran toward the gunman and saved many lives while losing his own.

And it was a few hours after that when another life was lost just off campus in an altercation.  This lost life didn’t receive as much attention, but was still a precious life lost.

Then, as were moving our daughter back from Clemson a couple of days later, she received notice of a senior killed when he hit the back of a stopped dump truck on the highway.

In the midst of all of this loss I have talked with several parents of college students.  Some are grieving and throwing themselves into remembrance events.  Some are shocked and having difficulty resuming daily life.  Some are having nightmares and anxiety.  Some are carrying on as if nothing happened.

Healthy Responses

What are healthy responses to the events around us?  Certainly no day carries a guarantee of safety or ease.  And, rarely does a day carry a certainty of difficulty.  Most days arrive, and we use our toolbox of skills and emotional intelligence to get through them.

So what is in your toolbox of skills?

  • Who are the key people who support you?
  • How do you relieve stress?
  • How much attention do you give to the news?
  • How have you been hurt in the past?
  • How have you dealt with that past hurt?
  • What is your source of hope?

Filters as tools

As a healthcare provider, I have encountered countless people with negative health outcomes related to a lack of tools to handle stress and negative events.

Some of these negative health outcomes have included chronic pain, anxiety, depression, isolation, heart attacks, strokes, phobias, and deep anger.

Consider these filters to enhance a healthier response –

  • Gratitude– What is going right in your life? For what can you be thankful?
  • Who/what is higher than you– deity, person, other that can help guide and protect you?
  • Past events– When have you been stressed or in a bad situation in the past and now you are on the other side? You survived.  If all of those events in the past were survivable, how can that bring you hope in this situation?
  • Perspective– What is the worst possible scenario you can imagine? If you can imagine that, your reality is most likely to be much better than that.
  • Let it go– How have you learned to forgive and move on?This is one of the most freeing acts you can take for your own health.

Retirement stress

Are you nearing or past retirement and feel like you’re surrounded by stress and worry?  We can help!

Contact us today at www.retirewellness.com, call 410-472-5078, or e-mail me at michelle@retirewellness.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

I have this mental image of the devil with a bullhorn blasting messages of doubt, insecurity, worry, what-if’s, self-deprecation, and other ugliness right into my brain.  His messages are so noisy and chaotic!  They can pull me down and sit on me to pin me to the ground if I don’t take action.

Do you ever feel the same way?

Jesus is speaking into my other ear with messages of love, acceptance, strength, mercy, and grace. He does not use a bullhorn.  In fact, if I don’t make an effort, I won’t even hear his sweet call.

This is what I picture is happening to each person I meet.

So, how do we tune out the bullhorn and relax into the loving messages?

Here are a few tips that I know to be true.  (Now don’t ask if I practice them every day. I 100% know that my day is so much better when I do, and I still mess up and skip these life-sustaining practices regularly.)

  1. Thanks to the advice of a Godly friend, I use an app called ‘Remember Me’ to keep favorite verses on my phone. When I have a minute here, 5 minutes there, I work to memorize these key verses.
  2. Spend TRULY quiet time focused on God and hearing His voice each day.
  3. Stay in the Word. Keep dedicated Bible reading time and really pray and think about what you are reading, asking God to explain.  It’s amazing what you will learn!
  4. Think outside of yourself. Be aware of the people around you.  Reach out to friends in need.  Reach out to friends who you don’t know are in need (they all have the bullhorn in their ear).
  5. Let God guide your path. Satan will keep you so busy you can’t catch your breath.  Let God quiet you and focus you on what matters.

Here are some favorite verses about God’s deep, unfathomable love for you to get you started!

Romans 5:8 ESV

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:19 ESV

We love because he first loved us.

John 3:16 ESV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 4:16 ESV

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Use those filters and have a blessed week!

Michelle

 

 

 

 

Your Doctor’s Advise – Misunderstanding can lead to BAD Decisions

Good communication with your doctor
Let us help you avoid misunderstanding with your doctor.

Have you ever experienced misunderstanding with someone?  Did that lead you to make a bad decision?  If you had understood the original message, would you have made a different decision?

I have had two client examples this week.

Misunderstanding what the doctor said

In one instance, the doctor had said something about the pain medicine and the stomach acid medicine should not be taken together.  This person has had a long history of Barrett’s Esophagus – a severe inflammation of the esophagus cause by extreme gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).  To break that down, this person’s stomach acid was going back up the esophagus – the tube from the mouth to the stomach.  Normally there is a sphincter that closes to keep the acid safely in the stomach.  In many of us, that sphincter can become loose or have a condition that keeps it from completely closing.  When that happens, the acid can go back up the esophagus. Indigestion, burping, pain and/or burning in the mid chest area can result.  The acid inflames the esophagus lining.  When that inflammation becomes severe, the inflammation can lead to Barrett’s Esophagus.  So the stomach acid medicine was VERY important!

This person’s other issue was low back pain due to a herniated (bulging) disk and sciatic pain. Sciatic pain results in pain and burning from the lower back and spreading through the buttocks and the leg. It is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, common with lower back issues.

When this person heard the doctor say the stomach acid medicine and the pain medicine shouldn’t be taken together, the person decided to STOP the stomach acid medicine.  The sciatic pain was the ‘bigger issue’, so if both couldn’t be taken, the pain medicine took priority.  The doctor was not told.

The client heard ’these medicines shouldn’t be taken together’.  The more complete answer is, the pain medicine will make the stomach acid and esophagus irritation even worse.  There are safer pain medicine options that won’t make the Barrett’s Esophagus worse.  The person should DEFINITELY be on both a stomach acid medicine and a pain medicine. The pain medicine should just be changed to a safer option.

This was explained, and this person is now on a safer medication regimen for both conditions.

Another Misunderstanding Example

Another recent example was a man with severe vascular issues and lung cancer.

The lung and cancer doctors had together told him and his family there is no more they could do. They recommended hospice care. Hospice care was accepted.

The vascular issues caused very little blood flow to the feet.  As a result, one foot and lower leg had been amputated a few months ago. The second leg and foot are now very infected.  The foot infection is causing severe pain.  Hospice is treating the pain with morphine.  The morphine makes the patient’s stomach upset and dulls his thinking.

His wife understands that the hospice doctor is now his doctor rather than his specialists and primary doctor from before.  The hospice nurses visits regularly, but the doctor has not.  His wife is very upset that the doctor is doing nothing to heal the infection.  She also feels he is very overmedicated since his memory and decision making are slowed due to the morphine.

When we discussed goals – quality vs quantity of life – they each indicated the specialists who recommended hospice had asked that.  They chose quality.  However, they didn’t understand that this would mean a rather rapid decline with the untreated lung cancer and foot infection.  They thought he would be able to back to the things he loves like working on projects around the house and cooking.   They see a decline in quality of life rather than the expected increase.

Now they want to go back to the specialists and change their minds.  It has been six months of no curative treatment.  There is most likely no way to alter the pending outcome.

Essential Clear Communication

Healthcare visits can feel fast and pressured.  Any time there is bad news involved, it is hard to fully hear and process all that is being communicated.  These and other communication issues lead to misunderstanding of healthcare information. This is NOT an uncommon problem.

Another contributing factor is difficulty reaching the doctor after getting home to request clarification.  Most doctors are given schedules that make it difficult to squeeze in phone calls.  So, it is always best to receive, process, and fully understand the information while you have the doctor’s full attention during an appointment.

At Meds MASH and Retirement Wellness Strategies, we are your advocate.  You have guidance to prepare for medical visits by assuring you have your questions ready and the information your doctor needs organized and clear.  We also attend the visit with you by video when you want that.

After the visit, we can provide a wealth of information to further explain any new conditions or medications.  We can even contact your doctor(s) on your behalf to obtain any needed clarification.

Call today at 410-472-5078 and ask for Michelle Fritsch, Pharm.D.  Or e-mail at michelle@medsmash.com.   Check out more at www.medsmash.comor www.retirewellness.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Miscommunication and misunderstanding can lead to so many preventable problems.  I often ask this question of students in the health professions. ‘Tell me about a time miscommunication led to a bad outcome.’  Usually the answers involve people going to different restaurants or friends having an argument.  One time, while teaching active duty military healthcare providers, the example was of an international hunt for a notorious terrorist.  The terrorist had been found and surrounded, but a delay in the order to detain him resulted in his escape.  What an example!

The Bible has much instruction about good communication.

This Psalmist knows exactly how much trouble our words can cause:

Psalm 141:3 ESV

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Our communication is instructed to build people up and turn them to Christ.

Ephesians 4:29 ESV

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Colossians 4:6 ESV

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

I know I have spoken in frustration and said words I regretted.  I know I have neglected to speak up when my support could have been very helpful to someone else.  I know I have said the wrong thing and caused more harm than good, usually out of complete ignorance or insensitivity.

Proverbs 15:2 ESV / 176 helpful votes

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

One of my frequent prayers in the morning is, ‘Lord please fill me up and pour me out today.’  I ask to be poured out with the Lord’s words and attitudes and sensitivities.

Psalm 19:14 ESV

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

I certainly can’t be trusted to do this on my own, but with the Lord’s guidance, excellent communication can make a huge positive difference in the lives we meet!

Blessings,

Michelle

Retirement is a Dish Best Served Well-Prepared

Well prepared retirement
A well-prepared retirement can be healthy and fulfilling

Retirement will be most successful if you take some time and do some planning.  This is true whether you stop working completely or adjust responsibilities to have more flexibility.

Like every phase of life, big decision, or major transition, planning helps navigate the expected and provide the flexibility to negotiate the unexpected.

What is Retirement Planning?

When you search using terms like ‘retirement planning’ the items listed are almost solely about financial planning.  There are numerous large companies, small companies, and individuals offering assistance in making financial decisions that will enable the retirement you desire.

Financial planning includes amount of funds available, timing of fund use, anticipated monthly budgets, and a diversified portfolio.  (And more I’m sure; this is definitely not my area of expertise).

Succession planning is a key part of preparation to leave or reduce time at your workplace.  You want to be sure what you have worked so hard to build or support will be left in capable hands.

Family care is another element of retirement planning.  You are assuring the house, the car(s), the major purchases are updated and ready for the days of a more ‘fixed’ income.  Legally, this is a good time to assure wills, estates, powers of attorney, and other legal documents are updated.

What ELSE is Retirement Planning?

At Retirement Wellness Strategieswe are focused on your health and wellness as you approach retirement.

‘My doctor already does that,’ you might be saying.  Your doctor is certainly doing some of that.  Your doctor also has a very limited time with you and is frequently using that time to address issues of the moment.  Healthcare in general is mostly reactive.  We want to be proactive!

Retirement Wellness Strategies is

  • PROACTIVE
  • RISK REDUCING
  • As interested in your MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, SPIRITUAL, and SOCIAL health as your PHYSICAL health.

Retirement is a major life transition.  Far too many men in leadership positions are stumbling as they leap the chasm from a very full, rewarding, consuming work life to retirement.

These stumbles are leading to rapid health decline, failed marriages, and suicide.  This DOES NOT need to happen.

Let’s plan these critical elements of your retirement today.

Call us at 410-472-5078, e-mail michelle@retirewellness.com, or learn more at www.retirewellness.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Part of retirement planning is spiritual health planning.  How much emphasis have you placed here so far?

How are you managing these complex times in our world?  They shouldn’t come as a surprise, but that doesn’t make them easy.  Have you found that deep down peace and joy of Christ? That is a beautiful thing and worthy of sharing!

1 Peter 3:15  NIV

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

Matthew 24:44  NLT

You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

When I think of preparation, nothing excites me or sobers me like preparation for eternity.  I love trying to imagine Heaven, eternity, God’s omniscience.  Do you ever try to wrap your mind around those concepts?  I can’t wait to experience them in person!

In Matthew 24, Jesus gives insights into the times before His return.  There will be a lot of people trying to deceive us.  There will be wars and famine and earthquakes.  I can think of a lot of examples of each of these things right now.

In 2 Timothy 3 there is a description of the difficult times for Christians in the last days.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.  For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.  They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

In Jude, who was Jesus’ brother, we learn more about the last times.

Jude 17-21 NLT

But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted.  They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires.  These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.

 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,[a]  and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.

I read in a devotion recently that we prepare in three ways:

  1. Prepare yourself
  2. Prepare those close to you
  3. Prepare your church and community

How are you preparing for difficult times ahead?  How can we build a more solid network of believers to support each other through these times? Once disaster strikes is not the time to develop a plan.

Blessings,

Michelle

24 Hours per Day and Relationships

Prioritized relationships
How do you prioritize your relationships?

A friend posted this on Facebook this week.  She got it from Relationship Rules.

People make time for who they want to make time for.  People text and reply to people they want to talk to.  Never believe anyone who says they’ve been too busy.  If they wanted to be around you, they would.

Wow, that snapped me to attention.  How about you?

Same 24 hours

I know you know this. We each have 24 hours in a day. We each need to spend 6-8 of those sleeping to be our best.  We each take time out to eat.  Beyond that, we have so many choices.

Are you choosing to spend some of your 24 hours with other people?

With which people?

Do you focus on the person right in front of you at any given moment?

Do you gravitate to the ‘squeeky wheel’ or most annoying just to make them stop?

How about the relationships you claim are the most important in your life?

Are you guilty as I am? I know I can get so caught up in the immediate needs placed before me, I can get through an entire day shortchanging my family, especially my husband.

What about friends? Which relationships will still be with you into retirement?  How much attention do they receive from you?

Investing in Personal Relationships

There’s an exercise we do in Retirement Wellness Strategies™ to think through which relationships will fade and which will sustain.

Think about with whom you would plan a vacation or weekend getaway.  If you were traveling, with which friends would you stay while in their area, or at least let them know you’re in town to get together?

How much of your attention are you giving your spouse these days?   Is it enough? How much time will you spend together after retirement?  Are you on the same page with these answers?

Planning for a socially healthy retirement takes some focus.  We can help!  Contact us at Retirement Wellness Strategies to learn how we can help you have a healthy – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially – retirement!

www.retirewellness.com

michelle@retirewellness.com

410-472-5078

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Do your stated priorities and the way you spend your time align?

Does the time you spend with people reflect their importance in your life?

Whew, those are tough questions!

Are you waiting for later to spend quality time with the people who matter most?

Just when we think we are good planners and have our lives prioritized and together, James is brutally direct:

James 4:13-15 ESV

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

It is so easy to take those we love for granted and give all of our time to people who will not be with us in our most critical times of life.  It is also easy to be around people who are comfortable and avoid relationships that are more challenging.

And what about our call to love our neighbors?  Who is that? What does it mean?

1 Peter 4:8 ESV

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Psalm 39:4-5 ESV

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”

Look to the one source of ‘right living’.  It is amazing how all of the important things fit into a day when the Lord directs it.

Proverbs 16:9 ESV

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Your future is loving and beautiful when you are living a life dedicated to God.

Matthew 24:36 ESV

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

May we all make wise choices with each of our 24 hours.  I’m praying for you as you prioritize those God calls you to love.  Please pray for me, too.

Blessings,

Michelle

 

Who are You? Who gets to write that description?

Who will you be?
Who and what defines you? Who do you want to be?

Who are you? 

Does that question excite you?

Does it stress you?

Does it depress you?

Does it make you stop and wonder?

When was the last time you paused and really thought about this?  Have you purposefully become who you are today?  Or has this version morphed from a series of events out of your control?

Describing You

I encourage you to grab a piece of paper and pen or a device.  Shut off all distractions.  Take a deep breath and do your best to clear your mind.  Set your timer for 10 minutes.

Over the next 10 minutes of quiet, retrace your steps.  How did you get here? What are your greatest moments?  Who are the people who have led you to this point?  What have been your greatest challenges?  What are your principles?  What is most important to you?  Who matters most to you?  What do you stand for?  What are your dreams?

Outsiders who try to define you

It is hard to find quiet time to reflect in our society.  Messages, demands, and noise are everywhere.  If you haven’t already decided who you are, there is a world waiting to create this definition for you.

Those over you– how do you help the company meet the bottom line?

Social Media– do you measure up?  Is your life as exciting as your ‘friend’s’?

Politics– do you agree with me on very point, or are you one of ‘them’?

Movies and TV– are you as beautiful and perfect as these fictitious characters?

Wealth– are you as rich as your neighbor, and do you have as many cool toys?

Spouse– are you everything your spouse expects of you?

Faith/social community– do you measure up to the expectations of your groups?

Ultimate last word about who you are

Your future is not already scripted based on your past.  You are in a unique position to choose your trajectory.

Are you pleased with your current self?  You can stay on this path that is working well for you.

Are you ready for change? You can change your direction, your purpose, or your values.  You don’t have to be shaped by the things currently defining you.

Do you have a plan to avoid the retirement pitfalls of rapid health decline, divorce, or suicide?

Retirement Wellness Strategies

At Retirement Wellness Strategies we talk with many people who have landed in a place they don’t desire to be.  That is not the end of the story!  We have a number of tools to help you explore what could come next.  The years beyond retirement can be fulfilling, purposeful, and meaningful.

Let’s talk!  You can reach us at 410-472-5078, michelle@retirewellness.comwww.retirewellness.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

How about you?  How have outside influences ended up defining you? What roles do work, family, money, appearance, or belongings play in your self-description?

I know they have way more impact on my self-perception than I would like.

I had the opportunity to spend a week in one of the poorer parishes in Jamaica on a mission trip.  On this second international missions journey for me, God gave me such a life-altering revelation.

We are called to, ‘Live Jesus and squeeze in life’.  This is in opposition to living life and squeezing in Jesus.

You might be saying, ‘No duh’, but can you say you’re able to claim this each day?  Life gets busy and demanding.  Jesus is not demanding.  Living Jesus requires a conscious, dedicated, disciplined decision. And this decision can be required each minute.

As I typed this last paragraph, the song, ‘Just Give Me Jesus’ by Unspoken came on the radio.  I thrive on these God moments.

The Bible points us toward living for Jesus repeatedly.  Here are a few examples:

Romans 12:2 ESV

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Matthew 22:37 ESV

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

Galatians 1:10 ESV

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Matthew 6:33 ESV

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Each day is a fresh new opportunity to decide who and WHOSE we are.  What will you choose?

Blessings,

Michelle

Retirement – The Next Major Life Transition

Transition to retirement
What is your strategy to navigate the transition to retirement?

What are the feelings and thoughts that come to mind when you consider the word ‘RETIREMENT’?

I am finding one of four answers from executive men who are nearing this transition.

  • I have been planning with fitness, travel plans, family plans, hobby plans and can’t wait to retire.
  • I am consumed with reaching my final goals at work and succession planning, so I’ll deal with retirement when I get there.
  • I am not looking forward to retirement, so I plan to die at my desk.
  • I am being coerced to retire before I am ready, and I am very unhappy about it.

No doubt there are other scenarios, but these are those that have been communicated most frequently.

Major Life Transitions

In life, we all traverse many transitions.  Some are small and others are large.  Some are planned, even eagerly anticipated, while others come out of nowhere.

Some of the major transitions in our life are:

  • Leaving home
  • Choosing a career
  • Marriage
  • Children
  • Moving
  • Changing jobs or careers
  • Losing a loved one
  • Retirement
  • Chronic illness

There is a planning process that can be used to prepare for most of these major transitions. Consider the number of life skills training, wedding planning, child preparation, career building, and grief counseling resources that are available.  These transitions can be very difficult, and the help and counsel of wise experts can make the leap much more manageable.

Retirement Wellness Strategies

We exist to help you strategically plan for retirement.  This process will benefit you the most if you start about 2 years prior to retirement. This will minimize the surprises and disappointments that are common with unplanned retirement.

You will have

  • Your personal board certified specialist health advocate to walk through all medical and health encounters
  • A thorough health review to enter retirement with optimal health and stamina
  • Risk identification and minimization based on your personal and family history
  • Planning tools to avoid the unexpected
  • A retirement strategic plan for building a meaningful active next life phase

Contact Dr. Michelle Fritsch today at michelle@retirewellness.comor 410-472-5078.  Learn more at www.retirewellness.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

As we enter this New Year, consider the imposed transition of the calendar.  This is a good time to think about change, new goals, and exciting possibilities.

From way back in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, we have verses of promise for the future.

Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Joshua 1:9 ESV

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

What about the changing of years brings you hope?

What brings you sadness?

How adaptable are you to change?

I have been accused of creating change on purpose, so I’m definitely in the camp that appreciates and promotes change.  I have many friends who find change very difficult and often unnecessary.  Where are you on this spectrum?

I find great hope in the many verses that explain God’s promises of provision, even during change.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 3:5 ESV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Romans 15:13 ESV

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

In this change of the year, I pray you will live in great joy and hope in this new year.

Blessings,

Michelle

 

 

Hanging by a Thread

hanging on treeDo you ever feel like you’re barely hanging on by your fingernails?  All might even look right when people look at you, but you’re really enduring a great struggle?  I think that is true of many people.  In this case, knowing you’re not alone doesn’t help the current situation.

What leads to this situation?

Wow, the number of ways someone can find him/herself in this situation is large and diverse.  Here are a few:

  • Loss of a loved one, friend, dear colleague
  • Loss of a job
  • Major life transition
  • Financial pressures
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Isolation
  • Constant negativity
  • Not finding a source of hope
  • Situation that seems endless

What are the signs?

Sometimes people find themselves at this point and are surprised.  The loss or life change might have come out of nowhere.  Or, the slope to hanging by a thread might have been gradual and barely noticeable.

Some of the signs I hear clients talk about include:

  • Waking up with anxiety during the night
  • Loss of energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Thoughts that are hard to quiet
  • Worry
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Decreased sense of self worth

There are physical effects of being in this dark place.  Blood pressure and blood sugar are harder to control.  When sleep patterns change, risk of depression, pain, and anxiety go up. Productivity declines, so there are lost days of work or decreased work getting done (and that can further increase the stress).  Relationships can suffer.

Taking the next steps forward

The first step in recovery is to recognize the signs.  Realize you are in this place.

The next step is to realize you don’t need to walk this path alone.  If you have trusted family or friends, let them help you.  Call your doctor and explain the situation and how you are feeling.  Reach out!

The step that is most important is to find your source of hope and meaning.

Finding and focusing on hope and things beyond yourself

Life contains many struggles.  That is true for everyone no matter their occupation, the country where they live, their religion, their political beliefs, or their hair color.

People really struggle to handle the ups and downs of life alone.  The tendency is to get more and more focused on yourself and your situation. This is a deep, dark, downward spiral. We have probably all found ourselves on that dark path at least once.  Some people live in this vicious cyclone of self.

If you’re there now, make a real effort to reach out the do something for someone else today.  It can be something as simple as holding a door or giving them a place in front of you in line.  Small and large acts of kindness toward other people is one of the best remedies for our own difficult times.  Try it and see!

The other is finding your source of hope.  Hope is what gets us through the tough times.  It is what changes our perspective beyond ourselves and our current situations.  It is liberating!

Hope through Christ is central in the Christian beliefs.

Hope is a critical element of the Jewish tradition.

Hope is integral in the Muslim faith.

Hope is a common theme in Buddhism.

If you aren’t sure of your source of hope, I encourage you to invest some time to reflect on this area of your life.

Retirement Wellness Strategies

A growing number of retirees are finding themselves disgruntled, disillusioned, and hanging by a thread.  Startlingly, the suicide rate is rapidly escalating.  One of the primary purposes of Retirement Wellness Strategies is to facilitate finding meaning, relevance, and peace in retirement.

You can reach us at www.retirewellness.com, michelle@retirewellness.com, or call at 410-472-5078.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

When have you last been, or why are you now ‘hanging by a thread’?  We’ve all been there.  Throughout the Bible, we are assured we will have trouble.

John 16:33 ESV

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 12:12 ESV

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

1 Peter 5:10 ESV

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

These verses tell us trouble is just going to happen.  You are definitely not the only one enduring trouble.  You are not being specifically punished while the rest of the world goes on their merry way.

[Side note, the world you see people portray on social media is not all reality.  Those are the super great moments of people’s lives.  They have ugly, messy, stinky, troubling moment, too – just like you.]

These verses also tell us God knows we are living through difficult times.  God knows we struggle.  And, God has not left us alone.  He loves us!  He is looking out for us!  He is here to help us!

James 1:12 ESV

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 John 5:14 ESV

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

Jesus was born to offer the ultimate sacrifice to save us.  It is in this HOPE that we can endure difficult times and rest assured of His unconditional love!

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Romans 15:13 ESV

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

I’m praying you take the time in your busy-ness and struggles to reach for God and His promises.  May you find that peace that surpasses understanding!

Blessings,

Michelle

Thanksgiving – Gratitude keeping you Healthy

 

On this Thanksgiving, praying you take the time to reflect on your many blessings.  What a day to remind us of how our areas of gratitude!

Gratitude, grateful, thankful, thanksgiving, appreciation

What do these words mean to you? What role do they play in your everyday life?

Wow, I am amazed how much information is available on this important link between gratitude and health. Just search for these two terms and see what all you will find.

What is gratitude?

This is being aware of all of the good things in your life. And it is being thankful for those things. Have you considered being grateful for:

  • A safe place to sleep
  • Food to eat
  • Clothes to cover yourself
  • Having a friend to call
  • Your job – current or past
  • A beautiful day

This simple awareness of and being thankful for these ‘little’ things can boost your health.

Note, it doesn’t have to be the biggest house or the softest bed or the tastiest food or the latest fashion clothing to be grateful. Gratitude focuses on what you have – all of the good things – rather than what you don’t have.

Expressing gratitude can:

  • Boost your spirits and sense of well-being
  • Boost your immune system making you less likely to get sick
  • Decrease your chances of heart disease
  • Improve your performance (grades, work productivity, concentration)
  • Bust your stress

There are many ways you can make gratitude part of your life. Here are a few recommended in a Harvard Mental Health newsletter:

  • Write a thank-you note
  • Go up and thank someone
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Pray
  • Meditate
  • Keep a list of your thanks = count your blessings

See your day and your health improve by focusing on the positive.

Even therapy for mood disorders and approaches to negative thinking know this truth. I am quoting this from Rick Warren, “When you change the way you think, it changes the way you feel. And when you change the way you feel, it changes the way you act.”

On this Independence Day weekend, as a country, we have much reason for gratitude!

For more information on gratitude and health, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

We have so many reasons to be grateful!

Have you ever been in a ‘funk’ having a bad day and then remembered to be grateful? I have done this so many times. When all looks dark and gloomy, make yourself think about all of the things that are good and right.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I’ll quickly admit I don’t always think to do this. I stay in that dark place far too long. Later, once I’m out I realize I had the ‘magic potion’ to leave that darkness behind. It was given to us by Christ when he died to erase our sins. It was given to us by God who maintained His love and focus on the good in the Jews through centuries of missteps (just as we live a series of missteps).

Lamentations 3:23 ESV

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I don’t even know where to begin selecting Bible verses to draw us closer to the benefits of gratitude. There are so many!!!

Psalm 118:24 ESV

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Colossians 3:17 ESV

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Psalm 136:1 ESV

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Ephesians 1:16 ESV

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,

James 1:17 ESV

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

I feel energized, positive, and excited just reading these verses full of hope and promise! I am thankful for each person who takes the time to read this. May you be blessed by these assurances from God!

I pray you can stay focused on the many good things in your life this week and that can keep you out of the dark, gloomy places.

Blessings,

Michelle