Aging Well: Cognitive Performance Evaluations and Treatment – The comfort of knowing your loved one is safe at home.
In the past year, Evelyn noticed a steady change in her husband's behavior. Once sharp and full of wit, Gerry had become increasingly more confused and forgetful. Initially, Evelyn attributed his forgetfulness to be a normal part of aging, but when Gerry couldn't remember the way back home from the market, she suspected that these changes were symptoms of a more complex condition. Fearful of his safety, Evelyn scheduled an appointment to assess Gerry's cognitive functioning level.
When we notice uncharacteristic behavioral changes — forgetfulness, confusion, repeated mistakes — in a spouse, parent or aging loved one, we tend to think of these "moments" merely par for the course in the aging process. However, such behavioral changes are not typical. Rather they are likely symptoms of a developing, or existing, medical condition, and an indication that you should follow-up with your health care provider.
For Alice, she noticed that her husband, Clayton, had been consistently forgetting things and lost interest in his favorite pastimes. "He used to read a book a day. Now, he doesn't read at all." Since then, Clayton has been diagnosed with dementia. "I knew something was wrong but didn't know what exactly. I couldn't remember what day of the week it was."
Fortunately, through Frisbie Memorial's Geriatric Psychiatry program, and from the skilled occupational therapists that perform cognitive performance evaluations and treatment, Clayton has started to feel more like himself. He uses his tablet computer regularly to engage in various cognitive applications designed to improve memory and focus. He's also working on his motor coordination skills so that he can one day, in his own words, "go fly fishing again."
The Cognitive Performance Evaluation and Treatment program is a service that assesses a person's level of functioning so that family members, caregivers and physicians can provide the appropriate level of care to someone experiencing impaired cognitive functioning. This may include a recommendation for home supervision or home assistance.
Frisbie Memorial's Occupational Therapists will perform a comprehensive evaluation to assess:
• Mental flexibility
• Executive functioning
According to Clayton, the program has been "very helpful," and he sees an improvement in his ability to remember and focus. When asked about Clayton's ongoing progress, Alice says, "He tells me how much he's accomplished after each therapy session."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 00:57
Online training series for providers who want to help veterans and families
WHITE RIVER JUCTION, Vt. — A free online training series debuts March 20 for community and Veterans Affairs health care professionals, to assist them in providing mental health care to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families.
The 2014 “From the War Zone to the Home Front: Supporting the Mental Health of Veterans and Families” is designed to help doctors, nurses, psychologists, clinical social workers and other health care professionals identify key diagnostic features of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), recognize re-integration challenges, and familiarize them with the approaches available to address mental health issues.
Collaboratively produced by the National Center for PTSD, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program, this is the third year of the series. In previous years the lectures attracted more than 8,700 clinicians nationwide. Following the training, 88 percent of participants said they know more and feel better prepared to address the mental health needs of returning Veterans and their families.
“One in three Veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan experiences PTSD, depression, or a TBI,” said Jessica Hamblen, PhD, Acting Deputy Executive Director at the National Center for PTSD. “This training series demonstrates our commitment to preparing providers to meet the needs of Veterans and families who seek assistance.”
This year’s series again offers free CME/CE/CEUs for nine live online sessions — presented every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. — and 23 on-demand lectures. Faculty includes experts from Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the VA’s National Center for PTSD.
“We are delighted to collaborate with the center to produce this series and to bring so many of the nation’s experts to community mental health providers across the country,” said Brigadier General (ret) Jack Hammond, executive director of the Home Base Program.
Content covers many aspects of working with veterans and their family members, including:
• Physical health after deployment (diabetes, cardiac, pain).
• Reproductive mental health for female Veterans.
• Complementary therapies for PTSD.
• Veterans on campus.
• Building resilience in military-connected children.
Three sessions will use an interactive case conference format where a clinical case is presented and evidence-based treatment plans are created by two experts to foster discussion.
Founded in 2009, the Home Base Program serves Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and their families through clinical care, community education and research. Visit www.homebaseprogram.org to learn more. The National Center for PTSD conducts research and provides education on trauma and PTSD made available at www.ptsd.va.gov .
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 06:04
Countless studies have found that social isolation is bad for your health, while having friends and social engagement is good.
One of the more surprising findings in "The Longevity Project" (a book about an eight-decade study of 1,500 subjects all born around 1910) is that religious women lived longer — primarily, as it turned out, because of the social connectedness of their faith-based lifestyle. That is, they worshipped with others, joined committees, and engaged in social outreach, from clothing drives to soup kitchens.
"There was a clear, similar trend among people who had civic engagements, were active in their communities, volunteered, and otherwise stayed connected, whether with families, friends, or coworkers," says Leslie R. Martin, a professor of psychology at La Sierra University in Riverside, California, who's the coauthor of "The Longevity Project."
The very essence of being human means we exist within a social structure where we interact with others. We spend time together, talking, laughing and sometimes crying. But there are times in life where interaction becomes minimal. Everyone experiences loneliness at one time or another, and these feelings usually do not last long. However, loneliness sometimes takes on a different role in the lives of seniors. Lack of companionship can become a way of life that has a negative impact on the overall health of the elderly, whether the loneliness is caused by the loss of a loved one, distance from family and friends, or an inactive social circle. Studies show that loneliness in the elderly raises the potential for certain health risks, including depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
As seniors grow older, it is important to understand the hazards of becoming socially isolated and inactive. Lack of companionship, not having anyone to lean on for emotional support, can cause seniors to internalize negative feelings instead of dealing with issues head on. Internalizing these feelings compounds the sense of loneliness and isolation, which in turn increases the risk of the senior developing health problems.
As people age, their connectedness with others changes. Children grow up, and become interested in their own families, jobs, and social situations. When people retire, they often loose contact with their friends in the work force. When some people retire, they move to their retirement home, leaving behind social networks including family, friends, coworkers, and club members. Also a people age, they sometimes slow down, or their peers do, offering fewer social opportunities. These losses, in a place like the Mount Washington Valley, are often felt more often then the average American town.
Carroll County is the fastest growing county for the over 60 population, in the state of New Hampshire; and New Hampshire has the second fastest growing rate of people over 60 in the country. This is in part because so many people move here to be near the hiking and skiing that they have always enjoyed. Retirees purchase homes away from it all, and for the next 20 years live happily. Then they ski and hike less, they don't see their peers as often as they once did ... and their families live "back home" in another state ... and really the young people only visit when they want a vacation, so don't see mom and dad that much anyhow. And that house that is away from it all? People find it more challenging to drive after dark ... and later at all ... and that lovely ski lodge becomes a place separate and alone, causing more isolation.
There a several ways one can combat loneliness as one ages. Sometimes it means trying something new, or different. The media suggests making new friends (casual and close), volunteering, taking up a new hobby, adopting a pet, and becoming more involved with technology.
Fortunately many of these opportunities to combat loneliness are available here in the Mount Washington Valley. In addition to the many volunteer opportunities, churches, and social organizations, the Valley has the Gibson Center. The Gibson Center offers delicious meals at lunch time, five days a week in North Conway, and on Tuesdays in Silver Lake. This is a great place to meet new people. Often people find common interests, and call each other to get together on weekends, and evenings. The Gibson Center offers opportunities outside the dining room as well, with daily exercise programs, game days, slide shows, and lectures, people find many reasons to attend events at the Gibson Center, and in the process they find friends.
Volunteering not only allows a person to share his or her gifts, it also introduces the volunteer to a whole new network of people. The Mount Washington Valley is a place of many volunteer opportunities. One can choose to share his or her knowledge through classes at OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), the libraries, AARP Smart Driving classes, and AARP tax assistance. Places like the Dinner Bell, and churches offer a number of long and short term volunteer opportunities. Retired Senior Volunteer Program is an organization that matches willing senior volunteers with hundreds of opportunities throughout the Valley.
The Gibson Center also has a multitude of volunteer opportunities, from one-time lectures to weekly and stand by thrift shop, Meals on Wheels and dining room volunteers. One of the Meals on Wheels volunteers recently shared this story. She stopped to chat with the meal recipient, who stood in the door way leaning on her walker. The recipient reached out and touched the volunteers arm and said, "The meals are delicious, and they give me something to eat besides cereal ... but the best part of the day is seeing the smiling face of the delivery person. You know, you are the only person I see all day!" So as you see volunteering not only benefits the volunteer, but makes the lives of others less lonely too.
If you are someone who has always wanted to learn about wild flowers, or how to paint the beautiful peaks that surround our valley, or the art of Tai Chi or (and the list is endless), then joining a Tin Mountain wild flower walk, or taking a painting class with OLLI or the Mount Washington Valley Arts Association, can introduce you to peers and teachers that share your passion.
Pet ownership is touted as a great way to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and decrease loneliness. For many, ownership is no longer an option, either because of living situations, or declining physical or financial ability to care for a pet. One can visit the local dog park and meet like-minded people, or volunteer to be "dog walker" or "cat petter" at the local animal shelter. The Gibson Center is also lucky to have a trained therapy dog, Zack, who visits weekly.
One of the newer ways to reduce isolation, is technology. More people have computers. People can maintain contact with family and friends far away through emails, Skype, and social media like twitter and facebook. There are many grandparents who have joined facebook just so they can see what their grandkids are doing these days. Computers and tablets are convenient to use at home (in your PJ's even), and are an ideal way for homebound people to still communicate with the outside world.
Do yourself a favor today, be a friend, call a friend, or try something new meeting new people ... and who know you may find a new friend! You will thank yourself tomorrow, next year, and all the years to come.
Jill V. Reynolds is the program coordinator at the Gibson Center in North Conway.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 05:46
Bridgton Hospital to Offer 'Pump It Up' Heart Failure Education Series
BRIDGTON — Bridgton Hospital will offer a series of free public educational programs on heart failure called, "Pump It Up,'' April 24, May 1 and May 8 from 3-5 p.m. at the Bridgton Hospital Physician Group Conference Room located in the former hospital building on Hospital Drive.
The classes will be taught by registered nurses June Inman and Nancy Murphy who will discuss heart failure, a condition in which the heart can no longer pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
Symptoms of heart failure often begin slowly. At first, they might only occur when you are very active. Over time, you may notice breathing problems and other symptoms even when you are resting. Heart failure symptoms can also begin suddenly such as after a heart attack or other heart problem. Common symptoms include cough, fatigue, weakness, faintness, loss of appetite, the need to urinate at night, pulse that feels fast or irregular, shortness of breath when you are active or after you lie down, swollen feet and ankles, waking up from sleep after a couple of hours due to shortness of breath, and weight gain.
Call (207) 647-6050 for more information on this series. Preregistration is not required, but is helpful.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 06:09
American Legion Post 46 presents event proceeds to Visiting Nurses CONWAY -- There was plenty of fish and fries served up to the diners at the American Legion's Second Annual Fish Fry to benefit Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice. This year's dinner rai
American Legion Post 46 presents event proceeds to Visiting Nurses
CONWAY -- There was plenty of fish and fries served up to the diners at the American Legion's Second Annual Fish Fry to benefit Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice. This year's dinner raised more than $1200 for the non-profit agency. The function was organized and coordinated by Mary Bolduc from the Ladies Auxiliary, and featured food, raffle prizes, music and dancing. The Echo Tones band donated their services that evening, and sponsored decorative banners that were hung throughout the hall.
"We are so grateful to Mary and the Legion for all of their hard work," agency director Sandy Ruka said. "The benefit was their idea and it has really become a community effort. We appreciated the extra support from the Echo Tones and everyone else who was involved. We're very excited that this has become an annual event."
For more information about home care, hospice and long term care services offered by the agency in Carroll County and western Maine, call 356-7006 or 1-800-499-4171 or visit their website, www.vnhch.org.
PHOTO: Members of the American Legion Ralph W. Shirley NH Post #46 presented a check for the proceeds of the Fish Fry they recently held to benefit Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice of Carroll County. Pictured (left to right) are Karen Royer, VNHCH Staff; Sandy Ruka, VNHCH Executive Director; Mary Bolduc, Auxiliary President; Henry Michalski, Legion Commander; John Cook, Sons of Legion Commander; and Colin Beaulieu, Past Legion Commander.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 05:57
- Sandra Ruka and Sharon Malenfant: Home Care Matters: Have you had "The Conversation?"
- Brian Irwin: Basal Cell Skin Cancer
- Janice Spinney: The Appropiateness of PRN Immediate Release Narcotics for Chronic Pain
- Emergency responders from Memorial Hospital attend homeland security training
- Health Supplement: Memorial Hospital supports health and wellness initiative for local students
- Health Supplement: Huggins Hospital Hosts Third Annual Quality Fair