The Elderly Kind of Blues

Seniors & Mental Health

Mental health is widely considered a new age concept, which is obscure to many members of the aging populations. Older generations ignored mental health issues and were more likely to address physical ailments. In regards to uncomfortable feelings, words such as “melancholy” were likely used to instead of “depression.” Older generations are more likely to express physical versus mental complaints. The avoidance of addressing mental health issues is linked to the extreme stigmatization of mental illness in previous decades. Unfortunately, the ongoing neglect of mental health problems becomes a habit transmitted to younger generations. Children of the aging populations often become caretakers and key advocates for their elder’s well-being, but find themselves covering all the basis of their parent’s health and well-being except mental health. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than two million Americans above the age 65 suffer from some form of depression. The elderly population is one of the most vulnerable populations to developing depression due to the experience of significant losses related to death, physical ability, and independence. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in the United States, less than 5% of older adults living in the community show signs of depression, the percentage rises to over 13% among those who require home health care. Considering the extreme risk and vulnerability of the elderly population choosing home care that addresses the well-being of the whole person is essential. Holistic home-care is a new era approach to senior care that tailors care to enhance one’s social, emotional and physical well-being. Finding senior care that treats the whole person can be like searching for a needle in a haystack in major metropolitan areas such as Washington, DC.  This article will discuss the manifestation of depression among the elderly and the benefits of holistic care.Senior-Care-in-Washington-DC

Aging & Depression

It is common for people to experience depression at various points in their life in response to negative life events such as ended relationships, financial hardship, and interpersonal conflict. However, clinical depression manifest in mood and physical symptoms. Research shows that older adults are more likely to label their “down feelings” as pessimism or helplessness versus depression. Additionally, older versus young adults are less likely to endorse statements related to “feeling down” or “blue.” Older adults commonly display withdraw, less communication, increased sleeping, expressionlessness, and bodily neglect. In older adults, physical symptoms often accompany depression including, coronary heart disease, dementia, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and cancer. Life events related to loss of loved ones and independence can exacerbate these symptoms. Unlike younger adults, older adults often lose their ability to engage in coping behaviors such as exercise, outings with friends, and travel to alleviate mental and physical symptoms. These circumstances leave older adults not only at greater risk of developing severe depression but little means to mitigate the suffering.

Senior Care & Depression

Nursing home residents and older adults with chronic illness are at greater risk of developing depression. This risk is due in large part to the lack of quality care available in nursing facilities with an unbalanced caregiver to resident ratios. This imbalance diminishes the amount of emotional, social, and physical support available to clients. Many nursing home facilities plan rigorously to design communities that cultivate social and physical well-being, only to find that a large percentage of residents don’t adequately utilize all that the facility has to offer. This underutilization is mainly due to physical and mental declines that limit their access and interest. Senior care facilities in major metropolitan cities such as Washington, DC find themselves overwhelmed and falling short of providing quality care as their mission statements often promise, due to understaffing and short-sighted approaches.

Holistic Care

Holistic care is a growing approach adopted by senior care providers in efforts to improve the quality of life of the aging population. Through this approach, caregivers are trained to assess and address the social, emotional, physical, and in some cases spiritual needs of the client.  Many nursing home facilities have begun to adopt the holistic approach to senior care. However, like any other service industry, quantity often reduces quality. Philia is a home-care agency that adopts the holistic approach to senior care offered only on a 1:1 basis to ensure quality. In addition to assisting with ADL’s, caregivers are trained to incorporate nutritional meal preparation, tailored exercise regimen, activity engagement, and emotional support. Each client’s care plan is designed to enhance their quality of life and well-being in oppose to maintain their present state of health. Holistically trained caregivers are trained to recognize the signs of depression specific to older adults and implement interventions that treat the physical, social, and emotional manifestations. The mind and body are interconnected, each impacting the other dynamically throughout one’s life. Quality senior care addresses both physical and psychological aspects of a person, recognizing that this is the key to total well-being.


Cavanaugh, J., & Blanchard-Fields, F. (2014). Adult development and aging. Nelson Education.

Friedhoff, A. J., Ballenger, J., Bellack, A. S., Carpenter, W. T., Chui, H. C., Dobrof, R., & Merikangas, K. R. (1992). Diagnosis and treatment of depression in late life. JAMA268(8), 1018-1024.

Zarit, S. H., & Zarit, J. M. (2012). Mental disorders in older adults: Fundamentals of assessment and treatment. Guilford Press.

Caring for Children With ADHD

ADHD better known amongst mental health professionals as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, has in recent decades become a label loosely attached to children that appear more fidgety and restless than the rest of the crew. The hallmark symptoms of ADHD are marked by hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattentiveness. Children diagnosed with ADHD commonly have predominate symptoms in one area, for example, inattentiveness. In some cases, children may have combined types inclusive of both symptoms of impulsivity and inattentiveness. Caring for children with ADHD requires a specialized and intentional care that treats the child in manner that addresses all of their unique needs. Ritalin and Adderall are some of the most common psychotropic medications used to treat the symptoms of ADHD. However, many psychotropic medications come with side effects and can have a long-term impact on the structure of the brain. Unfortunately, many parents and child care workers are not educated on the holistic ways to care for their children. This article will discuss some ways to care for children with ADHD in a manner that will help them thrive.


Diet is plays a major role in the manifestation of symptoms. Sugar and food coloring can be kryptonite ingredients that fuel symptoms of ADHD. Research has shown that children with ADHD are deficient of iron, magnesium, and zinc. Each of these vitamins and minerals have a significant impact on the balancing the brain chemistry. For example, low iron levels are correlated with cognitive declines and severe forms of ADHD. Moreover, zinc and magnesium deficiencies play a major role in inattentiveness and poor focus. Research has shown that a well-balanced diet, namely rich in omega-3 has been shown to alleviate symptoms by 50 percent. As if it’s not difficult enough for parent to encourage health diets,  stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall, commonly cause a reduced appetite leading to nutritional deficiencies. Parents and child care professionals should be intentional in creating a meal plan and vitamin regimen that help fortify he deficiencies commonly present in children diagnosed with ADHD.Home-Care-in-Washington-D.C.

Established Routine

Children with ADHD commonly struggle with forgetfulness and disorganization. Additionally, when they become interested in an activity they tend to hyper-focus, which makes transitions to new task a battle. In order to help alleviate these issues children must have a strictly followed schedule to provide structure to their disorganized world. Child Care professionals and parents should be trained to prepare children for transitions and offer frequent breaks to allow prevent agitation and “acting out” behaviors. It is essential that both parents and childcare workers maintain the same schedule and approach to maintain consistency. Lack of consistency often hinders the child’s ability to adjust and adopt the schedule. It is essential that child care professionals and parents incorporate activity and novel experiences into the child’s schedule.

Emotional Support

Many children diagnosed with ADHD, quickly pick-up on the social rejection from both peers and adults. Children with ADHD are often blamed and condemned for their uncontrollable impulses and high energy. Moreover, depending on their symptom severity, children diagnosed with ADHD commonly struggle academically which can lead to embarrassment and low self-esteem. It is essential that child care professionals maintain a supportive environment by highlighting the child’s unique strengths and providing verbal praises for their effort and even small achievements. Child care professionals should be trained to avoid negative reactions to disruptive and seemingly defiant behaviors. Parents and child care professionals should encourage guided playdates to prevent feelings of rejection from peers. ADHD can be a challenging enough for both the child and childcare workers. It is essential that parents choose professionals that know the unique needs of the child and ways to care for them holistically.


Arnold, L. E. (2001). Alternative Treatments for Adults with Attention‐Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences931(1), 310-341.

Pelsser, L. M., Frankena, K., Buitelaar, J. K., & Rommelse, N. N. (2010). Effects of food on physical and sleep complaints in children with ADHD: a randomised controlled pilot study. European journal of pediatrics169(9), 1129-1138.


Overlooking Drawback to Overbooking Kids: Top 3 Reasons Overbooked Summers Can Be a Bummer for Children

Overbooked Kids and Nannies in Washington DC

For approximately 7-months out of the year, children are bombarded with pressures to not only perform well academically, but in many cases be ahead of developmental requirements. Children that maintain highly active schedules are faced with double the pressure to achieve success both in the classroom and in other extracurricular activities (i.e. sports).  In a study conducted in 2006, students experienced academic stress arising from both their own expectations to excel as well as expectations arising from their parents and teachers. Although, children typically receive holiday breaks throughout the school year, these breaks usually consist of other scheduled prep work for exams and sports competitions. The constant pressure received by children from various avenues in their lives can lead to diminishing outcomes versus progress. The Washington, DC area is known to have one of the highest populations of doctoral degree holding citizens. In short, many children in the Washington, DC are more likely to have high achieving parents that have higher expectations for them. Additionally, these same high achievers are more likely to hire caregivers that have received higher educations and enroll their children in schools with educators that possess degrees from competitive universities. Needless to say, from their school teachers to their sport coaches, children have no escape from the pressure. Summer time has traditionally been known to be a time for children to hit the local pools, eat pop-sickles in the sun and simply “be a kid”. Overbooking children during the summer can steal away this precious time for children. It is essential that parents resist their own personal fears of failing as a parent and examine the serious consequences to adding on pressure during the summer time.

Mental Health

As children are developing physically and cognitively, they are also developing emotionally. As parents experience life changes throughout the year, such as divorce, death and financial loss, children are processing these same changes in addition to managing responsibilities in other areas of their lives. Although parents try their best to protect their children from these stressors, children still experience the changes either directly or indirectly. However, children’s emotional resources are not as developed as adults and the compilation of stress can rise beyond their ability to cope. When children are so overbooked that they have very little time to process changes in their lives, emotional meltdowns and mood instability arises. In some cases, children can slip into bouts of depression, anxiety and even panic attacks. In many cases these symptoms may be over looked and nonchalantly attributed to development. For example, parents will often say “he’s just being a teenager”. Additionally, overtime if children do not take time to process emotional stress, it may manifest itself in physiological symptoms such as colds, migraines and fatigue due to a weakened immune system. Parents that hold taxing careers may not see their children often enough due to schedule conflicts and completely miss any changes. Families that have nannies/childcare assistance have an additional safety net that can monitor these changes. It is essential that families hire childcare works/nannies that are trained holistically. Holistically trained nannies recognize the need of the whole child and will monitor both physical and emotional changes that may be detrimental to the child’s well-being. This type of care teaches children at a young age the importance of self-care and taking personal time to maintain their overall well-being.

Less Family Bonding

Throughout the school year families are often busy with work and school schedules which leads to less time spent with the family. In many cases, families are often too busy to have dinner together. Research shows that families that eat dinner together regularly are closer and children have less behavioral challenges. No matter what developmental stage a child is in, it is essential that children spend quality time with their family consistently. This kind of consistency within the family is essential as children move through stages that cause them to question their identity in addition to receiving threats to their self-esteem. Unfortunately, the modern “achieving” world does not slow down to allow families to have dinner together on a consistent basis. However, this is an area in which nannies/childcare workers play an essential role in filling those gaps. As the saying amongst the wise states “it takes a village to raise a child”. It is essential that parents hire nannies that are not simply looking for a good job, but actually want to bond and grow with the family. A well-invested nanny will ensure a child is always receiving consistent support and bonding time at home. A good nanny will recognize the need to minimize a busy schedule that conflicts with quality time.

Cognitive Development

In a high-achieving world, parents are constantly in fear of not preparing their children to thrive in the future. In result, parents are constantly searching for athletic and academic enrichment programs to prepare their child to be the best and brightest. At the start of summer, parents become alarmed that their children will lose their sharpness and skills acquired throughout the school year. However, like muscles and anything else in nature, rest in essential. In studies conducted on the brain and studying, prolonged studying and school work without sufficient breaks leads to brain fatigue leading to memory loss and slower processing. Children that maintain highly packed schedules year round are likely to become fatigued and demotivated. This is a common occurrence reported by parents that are perplexed by the declines in their child’s performance from the previous year. A holistically trained nanny will recognize the need to adjust the child’s schedule to include a healthy amount rest/fun in addition to some educational activities.






Fathers Day

Importance of Father Involvement in Children     

An extensive amount of research has emphasized the pivotal role that mothers play in the lives of childhood development. Many studies highlight the valuable influence that mothers have on the cognitive, emotional and social development of the child. However, until recent years, there has been little research that highlights the benefits of father involvement on the well-being of the child. There has been an increasing body of research that emphasizes the differential outcomes between children that actively engage with fathers versus those that do not. According to a study published in Acta Pediatrica, active involvement of fathers has decreased oppositional behavioral, reduced psychological problems and enhances cognitive development. Additionally, active engagement of fathers can improve the overall efficacy of the family system. Consistent engagement of fathers reduces the responsibility and workload of mothers and decreases the likelihood of mothers burning out. When mothers burn out there is an increased risk of dysfunctional interactions with the family. These effects include tension, outburst of anger and unintended neglect. Unfortunately, mothers on average spend more time engaging with children than the fathers. Additionally, if parents are at work, often nannies end up spending a significant amount of time with children. Nannies serve as a buffer in the family unit and provide support during times parents are not present. Unfortunately, male nannies are less likely to be hired and are commonly discriminated against in the “nanny sector”. This is largely due to the underestimated value of the role that males and father figures play in the lives of children. Father’s and male figures play a crucial role in facilitating emotional and psychological well-being in children. In this article we will highlight some of the most valuable contributions fathers and male figures can make in children.

Gate Keeper

Historically, fathers have maintained the impression of the dominant figure in the home. Additionally, they have been viewed as the firm figure that maintains the rules. Although, women actively take on a dominant parental role in the family dynamic, studies have shown the mere presence of fathers in the home can reduce the frequency of defiant behavior. At various stages in development, it is typical for children to test the limits and boundaries of their parents. At each stage defiance can come in different forms ranging from refusal to do school work to staying out after curfew. Although “children will be children”, it is essential that children are provided with flexible boundaries and firm expectations to safely navigate these phases of their lives. Father’s can help play an important role in safeguarding children through those phases of “testing the limits”.

Coach Motivator

Growing up in a competitive culture can be difficult for children. Many children lack motivation and confidence in their abilities at each stage of their development. Girls typically struggle with self-esteem issues more than boys. Several studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents. Fathers typically take on a coaching and solution-focused approach to helping their children build confidence and attain their personal goals. During early childhood through late adolescence, children are faced with more competitive situations through sports, arts, and education. These experiences may have a negative impact on a child’s self-esteem. Fathers play an important role in encouraging and motivating children to try their best and continue to strive for their goals.

Mental Health

Research has shown that father involvement is linked to better psychological adjustment. There is evidence that active and regular engagement of fathers reduced psychological problems in young women. Girls typically experience challenges with mental health at an earlier age. These mental health issues include; depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Although the experiences of mental health challenges are inevitable for some children, father involvement can provide children with reassurance and comfort throughout the process.  Additionally, challenges with mental health can be debilitating and hinder functioning in school and extracurricular activities. Active involvement of fathers can help children maintain optimal functioning through challenges with mental health.


Sarkadi, A., Kristiansson, R., Oberklaid, F., & Bremberg, S. (2008). Fathers’ involvement and children’s developmental outcomes: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. Acta paediatrica, 97(2), 153-158.

Why Gender Roles Don’t Matter

The Gender Role Rabbit Hole

From the moment a child is born, the course of their identity is steered by their closest loved ones that will guide them throughout their lives. The moment a pink versus blue infant cap is chosen, identity has been framed. However, the question becomes who these children might be without our interfering social demands? Most children don’t recognize their sexual differences until around age 2-years old. Thereafter, they begin to understand norms associated with their gender as masculine or feminine. Kids begin to work hard to maintain behavior that fits into the gender specific frames assigned to them. Nevertheless, parents and caregivers soon learn that these frames don’t always conveniently fit their children. Sooner than later their authentic personality springs forth in rebellion, and parents watch in amazement as their genial girl begins kicking off those pink ribbon shoes they never wanted and throwing a pair of cleats over their shoulder ready to get dirty at the local sandlot.

Gender Identity & Play

Despite our efforts to control human nature, children revert to what feels true to themselves and seek out ways to feel most like themselves. Play is the primary way children learn about the world and themselves. According to child analyst Piaget, through play, children strengthen their relationship to and mastery of their environment. Personality typically drives children to interact with the environment in unique ways. The process of learning through play further develops a child’s identity. Children will choose their playmates based on their own true interest and sense of commonality with peers. These peer relationships become mutually beneficial and independent of sex differences. The interference of gender roles and expectations stunts the natural honing process of play. Ultimately a child’s unique way of learning becomes inhibited. Thus, children work twice as hard to behave in a manner that is counter to their particular traits and characteristics. Essentially, gender roles may train children to be unlike themselves. Gender expectations can send messages of rejection to children that don’t quite meet societal norms. Parents and Childcare professionals should allow children to freely explore their own unique interest without introducing gender biased rules. Allowing children to be free and explore what feels true to their unique personality, puts children on a successful trajectory. Moreover, enabling children to be and play according to what feels natural to them, sends a message of unconditional love, which is crucial to healthy self-esteem.

Parents Role In Loosening the Gender Reigns

Childcare workers and parents play a major role in ensuring healthy identity and cognitive development in their children. At birth, it is essential for parents to provide children with an environment that encourages free exploration. For parents to provide an environment free of gender role constraints, they must first identify their own gender biases. The influence of gender expectations is so ingrained in human thought and behavior that this way of thinking may be automatic. Once parents have identified these automatic biases, they will be better equipped to provide a gender-free environment. Additionally, parents must positively correct other adult figures actively involved with their children to refrain from gender specific coaxing. For example, nannies and other childcare workers should be fully informed about how they can best provide “gender-free” care. Finally, parents must accept that identity is not necessarily static and that shifts in gender preferences occur. Thus, at any given stage parents and caregivers must be loving and supportive.


Pinewood Grand Prix Derby in Adams Morgan, DC

For kids of ALL AGES.

Competitive Car Racing Comes to Adams Morgan…finally!

The Adams Morgan Pinewood Grand Prix. Kalorama Park. Saturday, April 29th.

With speeds up to 8 mph, the first annual Adams Morgan Pinewood Grand Prix offers race fans plenty to get excited about when it rolls into town this month. Custom-built cars, crafted from little more than a block of wood and a dream, will forego traditional combustion engines in favor of gravity…an affordable form of clean power that reportedly creates zero emissions and is available everywhere.

Open to all ages, (though adults who win should probably give their trophies to a nearby child if it looks like they’re taking the loss hard), Adams Morgan Pinewood Grand Prix is also open to all genders — without the demeaning “powder puff” designation that female racers have been subjected to on other circuits. “Adams Morgan embraces equality. We see no reason why girls and boys — and men and women — can’t compete side by side,” said Kristen Barden, veteran race organizer and Executive Director of the Adams Morgan Partnership BID. “I’m not violating any ethics rules by competing in my own event, am I?” she wondered while carefully weighing one of her many prototypes.

For those who dodged being drafted into the scouts at a young age by fleeing to Canada or enrolling in a PhD program, the Pinewood Derby involves an elevated track several lanes wide, where cars, often built by competitor’s parents, are timed over the course of several heats to determine which is the fastest. The general idea is to create a bonding experience between parent and child, instill a sense of pride in craftsmanship, celebrate ingenuity and encourage a bloodthirsty lust for winning at any cost.

The Adams Morgan Grand Prix will have several non-traditional race categories, including one specifically for businesses in the community to compete against each other in the spirit of good sportsmanship.

Car kits are available at Adams Morgan Ace Hardware, Urban Dwell and The Brass Knob. Competitors are asked to arrive at Kalorama Park (1840 Columbia Road, NW) at 10 am.

Races begin at noon. This is not a NASCAR sanctioned event: no alcohol please and dogs must be on leashes. Registration information and complete rules are available at:

Participation is free, but a $5 suggested donation will go directly to Mary’s Center:

Taming Temper Tantrums in Washington DC

Taming Temper Tantrums in Washington DC

Children sure can create big scenes! No matter how sweet your child is or how good a parent you are, meltdowns are a fact of toddler life. Try to remember that your child’s tantrums aren’t a reflection of your parenting skills: They simply mean you’ve got a frustrated child on your hands.

“She was completely out of control.” “His screaming was giving me a pounding headache.”

The statements above are just a few ways to describe temper tantrums, a concern for many care givers of young children. Many caregivers and parents report temper tantrums as a behavior that they have difficulty coping with in a patient and positive way. Although associated with toddlers, temper tantrums are a frequent occurrence in young children, only beginning to diminish around ages five or six. And although it is a common behavior, many care givers lack strategies for preventing and taming temper tantrums.

As with talking gestures and crying, temper tantrums are a mode of communication for the young child. Their lack of language skills mad lead to a more direct way of expression; such as throwing puzzle pieces across the room. It then becomes the care giver’s task to decipher the message and address the issue. What follows is a list of possible causes of temper tantrums and the messages they convey.

Even young toddlers and infants are prone to experience intense frustration. The child who is struggling to obtain a toy that is out of reach only needs to fail a few times before feelings of anger and frustration become overwhelming. The care giver who recognizes that providing for success in young children’s activities and environment, by supplying age appropriate toys and materials, can prevent much frustration and is well on the way to taming temper tantrums.

Caregivers will often see what can be referred to as mid-afternoon slump. During the late afternoon, young children can become over tired; resulting in crankiness, irritability and a decrease in their skills to handle strong emotions and conflict. Of course, it is wise to note, children can also become over tired from a lack of balance in the daily schedule, or a schedule that does not consider the needs of the child. Children may react in a similar manner when they are over stimulated. Field trips and holidays, where the excitement level is high, there is a change in routine, and many things are vying for a child’s attention can be particular problems. Adhering to the routine, preparing young children in advance, keeping thinks simple, providing a balance between active and inactive activities, and ensuring a time for rest; these are just some ways a care giver can prevent child from becoming over tired and over stimulated.

Independence and autonomy have long been recognized as crucial issues for young children. They can now see how their actions impact and influence events and people around them. Such is the need for independence and control, that a child who is denied may be compelled to assert their independence in dramatic or inappropriate ways. Many of us have witnessed a young child losing control because they don’t want help. Toddlers have even been known to reject snack or trips to the zoo, just to assert the power to say no! It is helpful to avoid conflict by providing opportunities for a child to feel independent. Caregivers need to allow children to make some choices, encourage independent action, and allow them to try new skills.

Temper tantrums have been associated with the child who is acting out to get attention. This seems to occur in the older child who has learned from past experiences that temper tantrums can achieve the desired result. Most likely, the older child who has a temper tantrum for attention has not been encouraged to seek attention in more appropriate ways. A caregiver must be sensitive to their response to this behavior, and consider, are they actually reinforcing an unwanted behavior. Remember, for some children, negative attention is better than no attention at all. Temper tantrums for attention can often be avoided by the care giver’s effort to give attention to a child’s positive behavior.

Appropriate caregiver interaction and response is the key to coping with temper tantrums once they occur. Frequently, a child who is in the throes of a temper tantrum is feeling out of control, both emotionally and physically. This can be frightening and overwhelming to the child, only intensifying the episode. Caregivers often add fuel to the fire by telling, or reacting in a manner that may mirror the child’s actions. It is beneficial to remain calm and speak slowly and softly. Acknowledge the child’s feelings and reassure them you are there to help them regain control. A care give may say something like, “I can see you are very angry right now. I wonder if it is because you want to go outside? I can’t help you when you’re screaming and kicking. Let’s sit down and get calm, then maybe you can tell me with words what is wrong.”

by: Kristina McCartney, Philia Child Care Specialist