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How to be an effective, respected member
of your healthcare team
Everyone in your facility has a job to do, and if one person’s work isn’t getting done, the entire
facility suffers. That’s what makes your staff a team, and why you all rely on each other. Here
are some suggestions for doing your best on your team.
Know your job. A team works best when its members know their jobs and do them well. Learn
as you go, and take extra training. This will make you an increasingly valuable team member.
Keep your goals in mind. Your team has one main goal—excellent care for your residents.
Keep this goal in mind as you do your part, and you’ll have a greater feeling of success at the
end of the day.
Be a person others can count on.
Keep your promises, show up on time, and admit your mistakes. Your team member will
respect and appreciate you.
Emphasize your own special qualities on the team. Are you a good listener? A good cook? A
good artist? A “people person”? Find ways to share your special skills with co-workers.
Relate well to your team members. Talk and listen to your teammates, not just about work, but
about other things. Be friendly and helpful. Learn about each other and how you can best work
The ‘3P’ approach to reducing stress
Meyer Friedman was a pioneer in the research of the connection between disease and
behavior, specifically in the relationship between heart disease and stress. The cardiologist,
who coined the term “Type A” personality and often referred to himself as a “recovering Type
A,” did not believe in the inevitability of stress. He believed that Type A individuals could
drastically reduce their risk for heart attacks if they slowed down and learned how to relax.
Friedman liked to quote Shakespeare’s Hamlet to his patients: “Assume a virtue if you have it
not . . . For use can almost change the stamp of nature.” And the good doctor, it seems, took
the Bard’s words to heart—eventually. How did he do it?
By reading the classics. Specifically, he read Proust’s seven volumes of Remembrance of
Things Past—three times! He believed that Type A’s needed to plump up the creative side of
their brains. He also practiced what he called the 3Ps—spending time with plants, pets, and
people. The result: Friedman lived and worked in his field until the age of 90—proving that
learning to chill out can drastically lengthen your life span.
The crying game: Hold back on blubbering
If you’ve ever felt like crying in the office, it’s probably better not to, says Stephanie Shields,
Penn State professor of psychology and women’s studies. Men and women are both probably
better off tearing up instead of engaging in full-fledged crying. Why? Moist eyes signal that a
person experiencing strong emotion has it under control, Shields explains.
But if you cry and you’re a woman, the consequences can be more severe. You’ll likely be
judged more negatively than a man, and possibly labeled emotionally unstable. Men, says
Shields, are more often given the benefit of the doubt and are more likely to be seen as caring
or sensitive when they cry.
Are you older than your new boss?
Many workers today find themselves answering to managers half their age. Here are three tips
to help you make the most of this workplace partnership:
• Take the initiative. Be the first to establish your relationship. Ask for a meeting and offer your
support and cooperation early. Sitting back and ignoring a younger boss is a sure sign of
• Don’t play a parental role. Avoid the classic “mothering” or “fathering” of a young manager.
This is condescending and will destroy any chance of a productive, professional relationship.
• Avoid age-based judgments. Don’t belittle an idea or plan just because it came from a
younger boss. Stay objective and open to your boss’s leadership.
Is shyness bumping you off your career track?
For those who have aspirations of climbing the corporate ladder or making a name for
themselves, it can be tough going if you’re shy or reserved. Your reluctance to speak out
immediately is often misunderstood and can get you labeled as arrogant or dim-witted. How
can you prove there’s more substance to you than meets the eye? Sign up for an acting class.
Sure, it sounds counterintuitive, but consider Lucille Ball.
At 15, the starstruck Ball enrolled in drama school. But a school representative soon wrote this
note to her mother: “Lucy’s wasting her time and ours. She’s too shy and reticent to put her
best foot forward.”
Ball was set on her career choice, though. By pretending to be someone else entirely, Ball was
able to transform herself from being a “shy” and “reticent” little girl who was “wasting” her and
her teachers’ time to being a Hollywood comic legend.
The same could work for you—sans the Hollywood legend part. Check out the classes offered
in your local schools, or audition at your community theater. You’ll gain confidence in speaking
in front of groups and improve your skills in articulation, memorization, using body language
and “reading” other people—all of which are useful in the workplace.
Sometimes, by learning to be someone else, we also learn how to be our best selves.
Career vs. family: Know when to draw the line
We all know there’s no game plan for life—and sometimes it’s hard to make the right call.
Chris Spielman had an important year ahead of him in the NFL back in 1998. He’d been out
with a neck injury the previous year and now he had to prove all over again that he was up to
winning on the field. Nothing was going to stand in his way.
But then Spielman got the news that his wife of nine years had breast cancer, and he knew
what he had to do. He sat out the entire football season, even though it could mean the end of
his career. And when his wife, Stephanie, told him she was going to have her head shaved
rather than wait for it to fall out, Spielman knew again what he had to do.
On the day Stephanie was scheduled to “sacrifice” her hair, Spielman surprised his family by
shaving his own head—a sympathetic and supportive move to show his wife he would be with
her all the way through the ordeal, and to show their kids that though things would change,
there was nothing to be afraid of.
Spielman had an ambitious game plan for his career, but taught us that when life beckons, you
have to take the call.