Health Beat – May 2014

Heart

Dr. Lesley Fernow writes a column called “Senior Matters” for the Piscataquis Observer in Dover Foxcroft. Valley Grange is privileged to have permission to use her past columns for our  “Health Beat” Feature and for the information to be reposted to the Maine State Grange website. Address your questions or comments  to lmf@fernowmedicalhousecalls.com, 207-992-6822. Please note that information is general in nature and specific questions should be addressed to your health care professional.

Gardening for Seniors

How can you enjoy working out, eating local produce, and enhancing your total well being affordably all summer?  Garden!  Gardening builds and strengthens muscles, providing full body exercise for people of all ages.  An hour of steadily digging, weeding, and mulching is the equivalent of taking 10,000 steps!  Enjoying ripe tomatoes and other fresh produce will double your rewards.  Canning or freezing some of your crop will further extend the benefits of your labor well into the winter.

Inviting a friend or young child to work with you may enrich your experience and socially engage your mind in ways that are known to protect against cognitive decline.  While you’re in your garden, take care to plant some pumpkins.  You’ll have homegrown jack-o-lanterns in the fall, and you can harvest the seeds.  Pumpkin seeds are a “super food” containing high levels of fiber and protein.  They may also contribute to prostate health, bone strength, and help to prevent arthritis.  Blueberries are full of antioxidants that boost your immune system.  Other foods you may want to grow in your garden that have crucial nutrients to prevent disease include garlic, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and onions.

For tips on planting a successful garden, call the Piscataquis Cooperative Extension office at 564-3301, or check out their website at  http://umaine.edu/gardening/

You may also qualify for Senior FarmShare, a program that provides fresh seasonal foods for eligible seniors.  You can learn more about this program by calling Eastern Area Agency on Aging at 1.877.353.3771, or by visiting www.getrealmaine.com

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Health Beat – April 2014

Heart

Dr. Lesley Fernow writes a column called “Senior Matters” for the Piscataquis Observer in Dover Foxcroft. Valley Grange is privileged to have permission to use her past columns for our  “Health Beat” Feature and for the information to be reposted to the Maine State Grange website. Address your questions or comments  to lmf@fernowmedicalhousecalls.com, 207-992-6822. Please note that information is general in nature and specific questions should be addressed to your health care professional.

Home Safety for Seniors

Aging in place requires a safe, comfortable environment that is adaptable to changing needs as people age.  Since aging is often accompanied by physical changes such as decline in vision, balance, hearing, reflexes, and strength, accommodations must be made to the home to allow a person to function safely.  Below are the top suggestions of experts that will help prevent injury.  The first several address the most frequent cause of injury:  falls.  In other articles we will explore more specific recommendations for fall risk prevention.

  •  Place frequently used items within reach. Never stand on chairs or stools to reach upper shelves.
  • Remove potential tripping hazards: electric cords, low-lying furniture (coffee     tables), area rugs, loose carpet.
  • Even out differences in floor heights from room to room by installing beveled thresholds
  • Footwear worn at home should have non-skid soles and be in good condition.
  • Check stairways for safety: treads that are secure, carpeting that is not loose or worn, even heights of risers, take care of any protruding nails, get rid of clutter stored on steps, install secure handrails on both sides of stairs, etc.
  • Install night lights in halls, bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Don’t use chairs with rollers on the legs.
  • Replace handles on doors, cabinets, and furniture that makes grasping them easier.  Bar-shaped door handles are often easier with arthritis.
  • Use non-skid mats in showers and tubs.  Install sturdy rails in showers and a bench if balance is a problem.
  • Inspect walkways and driveways and repair any problem areas.
  • Light entryways, pathways and yards.
  • Install or inspect smoke alarms to assure proper functioning.
  • Check that small appliances are working properly and are in good condition, e.g., toasters, space heaters, blenders, coffee makers, microwaves, etc.  Use of such appliances can be dangerous if near flammable materials.  This is particularly risky in the elderly.
  • Post all emergency numbers in large print near the phone or on the refrigerator, i.e. emergency contacts, doctors, poison control. Program the phone with all emergency numbers and important contacts.
  • Store all medicines safely.   A further Senior Matters article will cover medication safety.
  • Install ramps outside and inside the home where necessary for wheelchairs.

 

Health Beat – March 2014

Heart

Dr. Lesley Fernow writes a column called “Senior Matters” for the Piscataquis Observer in Dover Foxcroft. Valley Grange is privileged to have permission to use her past columns for our  “Health Beat” Feature and for the information to be reposted to the Maine State Grange website. Address your questions or comments  to lmf@fernowmedicalhousecalls.com, 207-992-6822. Please note that information is general in nature and specific questions should be addressed to your health care professional.


How can you enjoy working out, eating local produce, and enhancing your total wellbeing affordably all summer?  Garden!  Gardening builds and strengthens muscles, providing full body exercise for people of all ages.  An hour of steadily digging, weeding, and mulching is the equivalent of taking 10,000 steps!  Enjoying ripe tomatoes and other fresh produce will double your rewards.  Canning or freezing some of your crop will further extend the benefits of your labor well into the winter.

Inviting a friend or young child to work with you may enrich your experience and socially engage your mind in ways that are known to protect against cognitive decline.  While you’re in your garden, take care to plant some pumpkins.  You’ll have homegrown jack-o-lanterns in the fall, and you can harvest the seeds.  Pumpkin seeds are a “super food” containing high levels of fiber and protein.  They may also contribute to prostate health, bone strength, and help to prevent arthritis.  Blueberries are full of antioxidants that boost your immune system.  Other foods you may want to grow in your garden that have crucial nutrients to prevent disease include garlic, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and onions.

For tips on planting a successful garden, call the Piscataquis Cooperative Extension office at 564-3301, or check out their website at  http://umaine.edu/gardening/

You may also qualify for Senior FarmShare, a program that provides fresh seasonal foods for eligible seniors.  You can learn more about this program by calling Eastern Area Agency on Aging at 1.877.353.3771, or by visiting www.getrealmaine.com

Health Beat – February 2014

Heart

Dr. Lesley Fernow writes a column called “Senior Matters” for the Piscataquis Observer in Dover Foxcroft. Valley Grange is privileged to have permission to use her past columns for our  “Health Beat” Feature and for the information to be reposted to the Maine State Grange website. Address your questions or comments  to lmf@fernowmedicalhousecalls.com, 207-992-6822. Please note that information is general in nature and specific questions should be addressed to your health care professional.

I often hear people joking about middle age “senior moments,” as though this is something to be expected as we age.  Behind these jokes is a natural worry:  am I developing dementia?  While it is true that our memory declines as we age, experts in aging have discovered that there are straightforward ways to delay this process and improve quality of life.

Since aging of the brain is closely related to cardiovascular health, the most important strategies involve maintaining heart health.  This means controlling blood pressure, exercising regularly, and controlling weight and cholesterol.  Preventive practices focused on these areas not only prevent heart attacks and stroke, but also are likely to reduce risk of developing cognitive (thinking and memory) decline substantially.

Other important brain health tools include eating a “heart healthy” diet, often also called a “Mediterranean diet”.  This means eating mostly plant-based food: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and legumes and seasoned with spices and herbs instead of salt.  Fats should be limited to olive or canola oil.  Fish and seafood should be eaten at least twice a week, and poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt should be eaten in moderate portions occasionally.  Meat and sweets should be eaten not more than a few times a month.  An optional glass of red wine once a day (not more) may also protect.   Following such a diet has been shown to reduce Alzheimer’s disease by 40% as well as heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.

Other important factors in maintaining brain health include getting adequate sleep, reducing stress, and “exercising the brain” by increasing social interactions, especially conversation.

We will be exploring some of these factors in more detail in future columns.  Next column we will address the health benefits of growing and eating fresh vegetables and local resources.

December 2013 Health Beat

Karen’s Kolumn is usually written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share! Due to extra demands at work, Karen is on a bit of a “Sabbatical” and this month’s column is written by Walter Boomsma.

When Karen and I discussed Health Beat for the holidays I mentioned that I might do something on the topic of “depression” — a topic we both agreed is timely for the holiday season. In some ways it seems incongruous–this is a meaningful, warm and charitable time of year. One would think festive moods would be the order of the day. And yet, for many different reasons many people get a version of the “holiday blues” or find themselves feeling depressed.  

So for this month’s Health Beat I’m going to ask you to visit my website and read the post, “Helping With Boots.” It’s a job I often have at  school when I substitute in the lower grades. I don’t want to give away the ending, but suffice it to say that I think we can learn a lot about the holiday blues, depression, SAD (seasonal affective disorder), PMS–all of those moments in life when we think we are “less” but we are really just being human–by thinking about the reality that there are times when we all could use a hand–holiday season or not.

Whether you need some help or are asked to give it, you might think about the reality that boots do not always go on easy, zippers some times break, and mittens can be tricky. When it happens we can feel frustrated, but the struggle doesn’t define us any more than a festive season means we have to be happy. “We’re people, and we have problems. We’re not perfect, and that’s okay.”

Of course I hope your holidays are happy… but perhaps a better wish is that your holidays be meaningful because that covers the range of emotion available to us as imperfect human beings living in an imperfect world. And if you are having trouble with your boots, find someone who’ll say “that’s okay” and then help you get them on.

 

October 2013 Health Beat

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share! This month’s column is written by Walter Boomsma as Karen is very busy with her work!

October is Farm to School Month!

FTS LogoFarm to school is broadly defined as any program that connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers. Farm to school programs exist in all 50 states, but since farm to school is a grassroots movement, programs are as diverse as the communities that build them. In fact, the collaboration “GrowME” might qualify as we attempt to create agricultural literacy with classroom activities.

I’m willing to bet it’s not a coincidence that this is the month when many families make trips to pumpkin patches and apple orchards. Fall is a great time to think about the role farming plays in our health and in our communities. In the broadest sense, the harvest season starts with county fairs and may not end until spring when we open the last jar of veggies canned from our garden.

Chances are there are some activities taking place in your child’s school that fall under the “farm to school” heading. But it’s also a good time of year to consider the concept of “farm to family.” An outing to select pumpkins for the traditional jack-o-lanterns can be a healthy family event because it includes fresh air, sunshine, and an opportunity for the family to simply “be together.” These opportunities become increasingly important as the societal trends pull us in different directions or have us sitting silently together while we stare at our cell phones and tablets.

Visit a farm market–not only for the fresh produce but also for a chance to talk with the people who have grown what you’re purchasing. Most of these folks are happy to share information–some are very entertaining–and you’ll often get recipes and suggestions for preparation.

Most dictionaries define harvesting as the gathering of crops and, with a little creative thinking, we can find much to harvest. When we rake the leaves in our yards, we might be harvesting–as long as we are putting those leaves to some good use–perhaps as compost. (Personally I think a big pile for jumping in would qualify.) Rainwater collection systems allow us to “harvest” rainwater–not something we’d traditionally think of as a crop, certainly.

What can you harvest this fall to improve yours and your family’s health? Henry David Thoreau found much to harvest. ““The true harvest of my life is intangible – a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched.

Some resources:

University of Maine Cooperative Extension

National Farm to School Month Information

National Farm to School Network

Eat Maine Foods Coalition

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

 

 

 

 

September 2013 Health Beat

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share! Because this topic is especially timely and important, we are repeating a previous column… All adults (including school volunteers and Bookworms) have an opportunity and responsibility to be sensitive regarding this issue!

September has arrived and Maine children are returning to school. It is an exciting time! Some children will be riding on a school bus for the very first time. There are new teachers and new friends to meet. There are old friends to see again after summer vacation.

However, many children are not looking forward to going back to school. According to the 2009 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, over forty-seven percent of middle school children report being bullied on school property and over twenty-three percent of high school students report being bullied on school property. Children are also bullied away from school property and on computers and other electronic devices. Twelve percent of high school students report receiving comments that are offensive regarding race or ethnicity and over nineteen percent report receiving offensive sexual comments related to sexual orientation, masculinity, and femininity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, bullying is a form of youth violence. Bullying includes attack and/or intimidation with the intention to cause fear or to cause harm that is physical, verbal, or psychological. There is a real or perceived imbalance of power between the bully and the victim. The bullying involves repeated attacks or intimidation between the same children over a period of time. The most common form of bullying is verbal bullying.

Bullying does affect health. Bullying can result in physical injury, social and emotional distress, and even death. Children who are bullied are at increased risk for mental health problems and substance use. They have higher school absenteeism rates. Children who are bullied do not feel safe in their schools. Victims are more likely to experience headaches, sleep problems and stomach ailments. They also have higher rates of suicidal thoughts.

Children who are bullied often do not tell a teacher or another adult because they fear retaliation by the children who are doing the bullying. Children who are bullied are victims of abuse and often do not have the confidence or the skills needed to stop the bullying behaviors on their own.

Bullying is not about “kids being kids.” Bullying only occurs when there is a power imbalance where one child has a hard time defending herself/himself and is not simply a disagreement. A child who is bullied should be told that bullying is wrong, no one deserves to be bullied, and everything that can be done will be done to stop the bullying.

Research suggests that the best ways to deal with bullying are through school wide programs that discourage bullying, developing consistent rules against bullying, identifying and utilizing a consistent disciplinary program related to bullying behavior, developing and implementing classroom activities related to bullying and bullying prevention, individual and group work with children who are bullied and for children involved in bullying others, staff training to learn to recognize and respond to bullying, improving the supervision of students, and involving parents in bullying prevention and intervention activities.

For more information, visit www.maine.gov/education/bullyingprevention ,www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention, and http://www.education.com.

The goal is to STOP bullying before it starts!

August 2013 Healthbeat

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share! This month’s column is a “Guest Column” provided by “Mr. Boomsma.”

Back to School Tips

back_to_school_supplies_800_clr_9051When it comes to getting ready for back to school, the one area we get a lot of help with is shopping! Not only are the displays overwhelming, there are often school supply lists available that will help you decide what items your child needs to have in his or backpack. But there’s a lot more to getting ready for school than pencils and rulers. You can help your child prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally as well.

Time was when a trip to the doctor was part of the annual ritual and, while no longer an absolute necessity, a review of any health concerns just makes sense. Annual checkups for children are recommended—making it part of the back to school plan will serve as a reminder. You’ll also want to inform the school of any required medications and allergies.

Re-establish routines and schedules—the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are almost over. Don’t wait until the day before school starts to establish bedtimes and other routines—the recommendation is that families should start forming these new habits at least a week before school starts. If reading hasn’t been a regular activity, you might consider established a pre-bedtime routing of reading. Routines can include establishing places to keep backpacks and lunch bags.

Talk with your child—formally and informally. During the summer one of my standard questions for the kids I meet is “Are you ready to go back to school?” Since this usually evokes only a yes or no answer, if time permits I’ll ask “why?” Obviously the conversation varies depending on age. I recently met a young lady who is excited because this will be her first year in high school. But she also admitted she’s scared. When I asked about her fears, she explained she’s had issues with one older boy while riding the bus and now they are going to be in the same school. We discussed a couple of her options and, while I’m not naïve enough to think the problem is solved, I think we both feel a little better.

These conversations become even more important when school starts. The bullying issue is an important one but the answer is not simply “tell the teacher.” It’s also important not to over-react. We need to allow children to share their concerns and try to teach them coping skills. Younger children especially need support during the transition back to school. Be quick to ask them about their day, take an interest in their work, and understand their nervous. Remember your first day on that new job?!

Partner with the school and teacher. The first weeks of school are busy and unsettled for teachers and staff too. A little patience will go a long way, but teachers do want parents involved. If concerns develop, do not hesitate to contact the teacher and let him or her know of your interest and concern. Take full advantage of things like open houses when parents are encouraged to visit school with their children.

The internet offers a wealth of resource information—a search for “back to school tips” may actually be a great project to start with your child. If there’s a trick, that’s it—to make getting ready for school a family effort with everyone contributing to making this the best year yet!

July 2013 Healthbeat

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share! 

bicycle_racer_5606Now that school is out for the summer motorists will see many more bicycles on the roads. About 85 million adults and children ride their bicycles for recreation and fitness every year. Unfortunately, adults and children can be injured or killed in bicycling accidents. More than 600 children die in bicycle accidents every year. It is important to follow bicycle safety rules.

Maine bicycling laws can be found at www.maine.gov/mdot/bikeped/safety/laws. Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle operators. They may use public roads, designated bike paths, and bike lanes. Bicycles are not required to be on shoulders or in bike lanes/paths in Maine. Sidewalk riding is not prohibited by state law but may be prohibited by local ordinances. Bicyclists must stop at red lights and stop signs. They must yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks. Bicyclists must ride with traffic and obey lane markings. Almost one-fourth of all bicycle-car crashes result from bicyclists riding against traffic.

Cyclists under the age of 16 must wear bike helmets. All bicyclists should wear properly fitted bike helmets every time they ride. A helmet is the most effective way to prevent a potential head injury. Football helmets can’t be substituted for bike helmets. The majority of bike crashes happen near home, in driveways, or in designated bike paths. So wear a bike helmet all the time, not just when  bicycling on streets. Help your child to develop “the helmet habit”! Replace bike helmets every five years. Always replace a bike helmet if it has had an impact.

Hand signals should be taught to children before they are allowed to ride in the street. Always signal your intent to turn and to stop.

It is never safe for a child to ride a bicycle at night. Adult bicyclists must have and use headlights, rear reflectors and pedal reflectors at night. Wear bright reflective clothing.

All bikes must have brakes that work.

For more information visit www.healthychildren.org., the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, or the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety.

June 2013 Health Beat

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share! 

hikers_400_clr_9598School is almost out for the summer. Many parents are planning various summer activities for their children. One of these activities might be a summer camp. Parents should research prospective camps for their children and then talk with and meet with camp officials and staff. Make sure adequate supervision will be provided. Find out how you will be notified if your child is ill. Find out how the camp will care for your child if he or she is ill.

To help prevent injuries pack protective gear like helmets and life jackets if the camp does not provide these items. Pack insect repellent containing DEET and sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher to protect against mosquitoes, ticks and the sun. A check list of things to pack is helpful and should include things like sleeping bags and bedding, extra blankets, hats and sunglasses, healthy snacks and water, hand sanitizer, and any needed medical information.

Teach kids to avoid wild animals that can carry diseases that are harmful to people. Teach kids to avoid hair to hair contact, to avoid sharing combs and brushes, and to avoid sharing hats to prevent head lice.

Campers may get sick during their time away because of the close living conditions at camps. Make sure your kids vaccinations are up to date. Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to keep your child and other campers healthy at camp. Teach kids to wash their hands frequently with soap and water and to use a hand sanitizer. Tell children to notify camp staff if they become sick or if they notice that another camper is not feeling well. Keep your child home if he/she is sick.

Homesickness is very common. Try to involve your child in choosing a camp and in preparations for camp. Be positive about the camp experience but also be honest about homesickness. If your child has not had many sleep-overs, do practice sleep-overs with friends and family before your child goes to camp.

For more information visit www.healthychildren.org, www.cdc.gov/family/camping, or www.vaccines.gov.