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Last time out here, I gave long-term care professionals official permission to swear, making the case, with strong scientific support, that an occasional obscenity is actually healthy.

I assume for most of you, that was good flippin’ news.

Now, unfortunately, I need to deliver some information that won’t be nearly so pleasant for some of us. Researchers have spoken, and a new study with mice suggests that drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol might increase one’s Alzheimer’s risk.

Remember, I’m just reporting the facts. You can swear at me — and should, since it’s good for you — but please don’t shoot the messenger.

Quick aside: Let’s talk about those mice for a second. I hope they recognize how very lucky they are. With all the horrible and indefensible things scientists have done and continue to do to other members of their species, to instead be offered unlimited free cocktails should be viewed with elation and relief by any captive rodent.

But back to the topic at hand, which I summarize as: What? No alcohol at all?

I recognize that there do exist on Earth many individuals who have chosen to fully abstain from liquor in all its forms, and others who have battled successfully to escape its fickle grip. But for the rest of us, who have been known to dabble occasionally in an adult beverage or several, where do we go from here?

Life for a long-term care professional is fraught with unwelcome challenges, and alcohol is just one of the coping tools that’s hitherto been available. Swearing is great, but it’s no Scotch on the rocks. So what could possibly replace it?

It might be tempting to seek distraction by turning to a life of petty crime in an effort to forget current troubles by creating new, worse ones. But let me be clear about this: Don’t. It’s not worth it. And sadly, in the fog of trying to emotionally deal with this crushing news, I can think of only two possible alternatives for consideration: 

Needlepoint. The satisfaction of painstakingly etching a motivational phrase such as “Remember the inebriated mice!” on a pillow with your own fingers should at least temporarily distract from any long-term care-related frustrations.

Target practice. Think beyond guns. It could be archery, darts, eggs or water balloons. But you should definitely add a target range of some sort to your facility, perhaps as a pop-up in the parking lot, or even down a vacant hallway at times of low census. This will not only be cathartic, but could be good preparation for the next time a deer crashes through your front window.

Obviously, these are fantastic ideas, and I’m sure yours will be even better. Please share them with me as soon as possible, since together is the only way we’ll get through this. Let’s pool our creativity and make an urgent strategic plan for coping safely and alcohol-free with financial and regulatory pressures, low staffing or every-day bureaucratic stupidity.

But before we commence this vital brainstorming session, please raise your glasses with me in a final toast. Here’s to whatever unpleasant challenges await — and to all those inebriated mice.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program, as well as an Award of Excellence honoree in the APEX Awards. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.