What’s Up at Upstate: A look at educational, health care, research and community endeavors

The Weiskotten Hall courtyard at Upstate Medical University.

Organ lessons and clinical exposure

A renewed curriculum for the first two years of medical school at Upstate introduces students to the body, organ by organ, and provides them with clinical exposure earlier in their academic careers.

Their study begins with molecules, cells and microbes and then focuses on the musculoskeletal system, skin and blood before moving to the nervous system, the circulatory and respiratory systems and more. In each unit, students learn what an organ and its cells look like, what they do, how they work and how they relate to the other organs and systems of the body. Woven throughout each unit are the basic sciences, including anatomy and cell biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, physiology and neuroscience, microbiology and immunology, pathology and pharmacology.

In addition, faculty members who also care for patients at Upstate University Hospital will teach small groups of students to use problem-based learning to analyze clinical cases.

Many medical schools follow a similar curriculum.

Easing the way home for hospital patients 

Upstate University Hospital offers a 20-bed Transitional Care Unit on a newly renovated floor for patients who no longer require acute care but continue to need specialized medical, nursing or other hospital ancillary services before returning to their homes.

Patients who may receive transitional care include someone with a new diagnosis of diabetes, someone recovering from surgery and needing complex wound care, or someone requiring intravenous antibiotics for a systemic infection. (Click here for a radio interview/podcast about the unit with Sharon Brangman, MD, medical director, and nurse Amy Rottger, unit manager.)  

Project aims to reduce HIV, similar infections

A five-year, $1 million grant from the New York State Department of Health will help prevent the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS. Doctors at Upstate’s Immune Health Services will provide pre-exposure prophylaxis, a daily pill called Truvada, to healthy HIV-negative adults and adolescents who are at risk for HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. HIV screening and health assessments are also available.

This is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s goal to reduce the annual number of new HIV infections in New York state to 750, from an estimated 3,000, by the end of 2020. Studies show that people who take the medication as prescribed reduce their risk of getting HIV by more than 90 percent.

Research focuses on pregnancy, early childhood

The Global Maternal Child and Pediatric Health Program is designed to address the global health issues women face during pregnancy and children face during early childhood. The initiative combines research, clinical trials, education and training here and abroad.

The program is part of Upstate’s Center for Global Health & Translational Science, which already has done significant work in various global health issues, such as mosquito-borne illnesses including dengue and chikungunya. “We will now have a laserlike focus on emerging areas of research during pregnancy and early childhood,” says David Amberg, PhD, Upstate’s vice president for research.

Neighbors spread healthy information about parenting

Guest instructor Gwen Webber-McLeod (left) high-fives Tara Harris, a resident health advocate who initiated the parenting classes in the Healthy Neighbors program. (PHOTO BY SUSAN KEETER)

Resident health advocates help teach a parenting class as part of Healthy Neighbors, a health and wellness collaboration between Upstate and the Syracuse Housing Authority.

Ten residents of Pioneer Homes completed an eight-week training program to become health advocates, learning about cancer prevention, sexual health, physical activity and nutrition. Healthy Neighbors is expanding to the Toomey Abbott Towers, 1207 Almond St., and Almus Olver Towers, 300 Burt St.

This article appears in the fall 2016 issue of Upstate Health magazine.

Posted in aging/geriatrics, autoimmune, community, drugs/medications/pharmacy, education, health care, HealthLink on Air, illness, infectious disease, international health care, maternity/obstetrics, medical education, medical student, Medicare, nursing, prevention/preventive medicine, public health, research, sexuality, Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital/pediatrics, volunteers, women's health/gynecology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Syracuse’s poorest workers: Health problems, low wages

 

 

 

 

 

BY JIM HOWE

An ongoing study of the Syracuse area’s lowest-paid workers finds they often face aching backs, constant stress and a lack of respect as well as a skimpy paycheck.

Dishwasher.

These workers, often in service jobs, deal with sore muscles, ever-changing work schedules and the fear that if they even mention a health problem, they’ll lose their job — a job that may not be secure to begin with.

These concerns are documented in “Healthy Work in Syracuse? Conversations With Low-Wage Workers,” the second phase of the Low-Wage Workers’ Health Project. It’s a study from the Occupational Health Clinical Centers, a state operation based in Syracuse that serves 26 counties and is affiliated with Upstate Medical University.

Defining who is a low-wage worker is difficult, explains project manager Jeanette Zoeckler, but in this study it means workers struggling to survive at a basic level, earning less than $15 an hour, depending on family size and other factors.

Cashier.

About 39 percent of workers in the five-county region around Syracuse made $15 or less an hour in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, including cashiers, food preparers and servers, cleaners, office and stock clerks, health aides and unskilled laborers, such as the workers shown in the first four photos).

“Occupations that are giving people less than a living wage tend to have certain characteristics that impact health, and that can range from poor air quality to poor ergonomics, physical factors on the job that influence health and also mental factors on the job that influence health, and so in the new economy we’re curious about how the low-wage worker’s work impacts their health,” Zoeckler says.

Cleaners.

The project saw national trends mirrored in Central New York, such as the move from manufacturing to low-skilled work – “basically a proliferation of lousy jobs or less meaningful or less satisfying jobs that also have poor conditions associated with them,” she says.
These jobs are described as “precarious” because they can end suddenly and “dead-end” because they tend to offer little long-term chance for a raise, promotion or desirable career.

More than 450 people were interviewed over the first two years of the study, and “I think we’re starting to get a good picture of the kinds of struggles that the workers are facing on the job with regard to their health, and with regard to the entire context of what it means in their lives,“ Zoeckler says.

Health aide.

Among the physical problems, muscle and joint pain were common, with roughly a third of respondents saying they experienced pain daily at work and many facing barriers to getting medical care.

Workers also reported stress from being bullied and disrespected, having poorly defined duties and not being paid what they are owed by employers.

The report’s contributors have met in the past year with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s task force on exploited workers, distributed the report to lawmakers and hope it will help point the way to both short- and long-term solutions to low-wage workers’ problems.

The third phase of the report is to be published soon.

Jeanette Zoeckler, project manager for an ongoing study of low-wage workers’ health conditions, and Michael Lax, MD, medical director of the Occupational Health Clinical Centers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article appears in the fall 2016 issue of Upstate Health magaz. Click here for a radio interview/podcast about the low-wage workers’  health study with Zoeckler and Lax

Posted in community, health care, HealthLink on Air, mental health/emotional health, public health, research, safety | Tagged , , , , ,

Photography, writing provide creative outlet for program coordinator

A newborn fawn photographed by Patty Mondore at her camp in Redwood, in the Thousand Islands region.

A newborn fawn photographed by Patty Mondore at her camp in Redwood, in the Thousand Islands region.

BY JIM HOWE

Whether it’s with a camera, a keyboard or a microphone, Patty Mondore likes to express herself and share her world.

A 25-year employee of Upstate, where she is the pediatric residency program coordinator, Mondore has written numerous newspaper columns and books to express her thoughts, often of a devotional nature, and usually featuring photographs she has taken of her beloved Thousand Islands region, where she and her husband have a camp.

“I’ve always loved nature. I’ve always been outdoors since I was a little kid, when I had a Brownie,” she said, recalling her first Kodak camera.

“When I am outdoors I like to shoot photos. I just want to bring it all back in with me.”

Her photos, and some videos, include views of the St. Lawrence River and its islands and wildlife, including a chipmunk that she and her husband, Bob Mondore, a retired Upstate clinical data staffer, named Hoover. The energetic Hoover – named for the way he practically vacuums up his food — has achieved something of a following on YouTube.

She takes pictures with an inexpensive, point-and-shoot camera that has a good zoom lens for capturing animals. “Someone once told me that being a good photographer is strictly a matter of showing up at the right time and place,” she notes.

Two of her photos – of a butterfly and a rainbow, both taken near her Jamesville home — hang in the Upstate Cancer Center.

Her photos can be seen on her Web site, which also features songs and keyboard music by Mondore.

This article appears in the fall 2016 issue of Upstate Health magazine.

Mondore captured this image of a butterfly and butterfly bush at her home in Jamesville.

Mondore captured this image of a butterfly and butterfly bush at her home in Jamesville.

Posted in community, entertainment, health care, medical education, Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital/pediatrics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Nurse relieves stress, has fun with Zumba

Upstate nurse Barbara Mcginley (front row, center) teaches Zumba at the YMCA in downtown Syracuse. (PHOTOS BY SUSAN KAHN)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BY JIM HOWE

“If you love to dance, you’re going to love a Zumba class,” says Barbara Mcginley. “Do you love to dance? And get a workout at the same time?”

A highly energized dance class, set to anything from Caribbean salsa to hip-hop, is what Mcginley, a psychiatric nurse at Upstate’s community campus, leads each Monday afternoon for an enthusiastic crowd at the downtown Syracuse YMCA. She also teaches a class at Syracuse’s Unity church.

Mcginley, 65, of Syracuse, had studied African dance and cardio salsa and been an aerobics instructor when she heard about Zumba being offered at the Y about five years ago. Curious, she took some classes, said, “Wow, this is what I want to do,” and soon got certification as a Zumba instructor.

She choreographs each song, which probably takes her students a couple of the hourlong classes to learn. The moves are basic, often repeated and can incorporate fitness moves like squats.

“It’s more like fun moving in a way that you probably have not ever moved, and anybody can do it. We’re here to have fun and to have a workout and enjoy the music, and most people who come into the class come back again,” she said.

She gradually introduces new songs into the mix, since “sometimes the gals (the classes tend to be all or mostly women) like the same songs over and over again.”

“I want my class to feel like you’ve been to a Latin country. Like you just took a mini trip to Puerto Rico or to South America,” she said.

“I love my job,” said Mcginley, who has been a nurse at her campus for 43 years, and Zumba “is a great way to be able to be able to cope with life and its stressors.”

What is Zumba?

McKinley (front) says most people who come to her class come back for more.

Zumba is a trademarked dance and exercise program set to Latin and world music, designed to be simple, energetic and fun. It was created in the 1990s when Colombian aerobics instructor Beto Perez forgot the music for the class he was teaching and improvised with his own Latin music. That happy mistake led to a worldwide sensation. Today, Zumba is practically a lifestyle, with variations including Zumba Kids and Zumba Gold (for seniors) as well as themed clothing, DVDs, cruises and more.

This article appears in the fall 2016 issue of Upstate Health magazine. 

Posted in fitness, health care, nursing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A digestive disorder: Gastroparesis a life changer for Liverpool woman

BY JIM HOWE

Most people can eat a snack or a meal without thinking about it beforehand or feeling sick afterward.

Not Rhonda Ferry, for whom eating usually means a liquid dietary supplement or a quarter cup of a low-fiber, low-fat food, like gelatin, taken very slowly. Nausea is likely to follow, and maybe vomiting and blood sugar problems as well.

Rhonda Ferry carrying the backpack that holds a nutrition pump attached to her feeding tube. (PHOTO BY ROBERT MESCAVAGE)

“It’s just the simple things that you take for granted. You just don’t realize until something like this happens how much food is involved with everything you do — church picnics, whatever — I skipped a picnic yesterday because I did not want to be tempted,” the 56-year-old Liverpool resident says.

Ferry suffers from gastroparesis, a disorder in which food does not move through her stomach as it should. In her case, longstanding Type 1 diabetes damaged her vagus nerve, disrupting motility, or the process of moving food through the digestive tract. The condition, which affects about 5 million Americans, mostly women, has other causes, too.

Food tends to sit in Ferry’s stomach like a brick and can collect into a potentially dangerous food ball, or bezoar.

She had suffered from digestive problems before, including acid reflux, so she thought what started in January 2015 might be related. But it gradually got so unpleasant to eat that by October 2015 she had gone from about 130 pounds to about 93 pounds.

She went to see Divey Manocha, MD, a gastroenterologist at Upstate, which has a motility laboratory using manometers – tubes with pressure sensors — to help diagnose gastroparesis as well as irritable bowel or chronic constipation.

Divey Manocha, MD

Patients with gastroparesis can become so averse to eating that they can become dehydrated and malnourished as well as anxious and depressed, Manocha says.

Gastroparesis is treated with a multidisciplinary approach at Upstate, involving a nutritionist and primary care provider as well as the gastroenterologist. Treatment can involve medicines, botulinum injections to alleviate nausea and vomiting, and a feeding tube that bypasses the stomach to go directly into the small intestine.

Ferry had a feeding tube implanted in November 2015. Its attached pump, which can be carried in a small backpack, sends liquid nourishment over a 10-hour period to avoid malnutrition.

After eight months on the tube, she gained only 5 pounds, she was struggling to reach 100. Her nutritionist told her that if she can reach and maintain 115 pounds, she might be able to come off the feeding tube.

In the meantime, she has found support from her family as well as from a larger community on the Internet that discusses gastroparesis and its related issues, such as a petition H.R. 2311 petition for a proposed federal law to expand research of gastrointestinal motility disorders, or how some doctors dismiss the disorder because they are unfamiliar with it.

Ferry, who once loved to eat, has gotten used to a limited social life, to avoid food-laden occasions and people who don’t understand her illness and keep urging her to eat.

“A good day would be no pain in the stomach and that I was able to eat something other than a liquid,” she says, adding that she has found some relief through her treatments.

HLOA-4C-VERT-REVThis article appears in the fall 2016 issue of Upstate Health magazine. Click here for a radio interview/podcast with Ferry and Manocha about gastroparesis.

Posted in diabetes/endocrine/metabolism, diet/nutrition, digestive/gastrointestinal, disability, health care, HealthLink on Air, illness, patient story | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A kidney unites them: Facebook connects Upstate nurse with woman needing a kidney transplant

Transplant recipient Victoria Fitzgerald (left) with her kidney donor, Upstate nurse Jody Adams. (PHOTO BY WILLIAM MUELLER)

BY AMBER SMITH

As Jody Adams scrolled through Facebook in January, one post stuck with her. It was written from the point of view of a baby boy named Carter, seeking someone to donate a kidney to his ailing mother.

A nurse for 12 years and the mother of six children, Adams says the idea of donating one of her healthy kidneys never crossed her mind – until she read that post. She didn’t want to imagine a little boy growing up without a mother, especially if she could help. And it didn’t matter to her that she did not know the family.

Fitzgerald (left) gives Adams a hug. (PHOTO BY KATE RUTHERFORD)

Rereading the post, she got the feeling that her kidney would be a match for the young mother. Adams, who commutes from a small rural town in Steuben County to work as a nurse at Upstate University Hospital, called the transplant program to begin the process of becoming a living donor.

The young mother, Victoria Fitzpatrick was a stranger to Adams. “Yes, she’s a stranger,” Adams would explain to friends who questioned whether she should donate, “but this is somebody’s daughter, somebody’s mother.”

Adams, 40, has a daughter named Victoria. The girl’s fifth birthday is the day Adams received the call from the transplant center saying she was a match for Fitzpatrick, 30, of LaFayette.

“Altruistic donation is one of the most worthy causes an individual can be involved in,” says Rainer Gruessner, MD, chief of transplant services at Upstate. “It really is a gift of life.”

The Facebook post that inspired Adams to donate her kidney to a mother who was a stranger.

Fitzpatrick’s health status has been challenging since she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 10. Two years ago she developed end-stage renal disease and went on dialysis. Then last summer, as she was being evaluated to join the kidney transplant waiting list, she discovered she was pregnant.

Her pregnancy was high risk, requiring dialysis for six hours a day, six days a week. Carter was born Nov. 4, eight weeks premature and weighing just 3 pounds, 14 ounces. Three days after the delivery, Fitzpatrick lost her vision to diabetic retinopathy. Surgery has since restored her sight. And, she’s become engaged to Carter’s father, Daniel Bequer.

Her mother, Janet Burton, crafted the Facebook post seeking a kidney in January, using a picture of Fitzpatrick holding Carter. “Hi! My name is Carter. This is my mommy, Victoria, holding me. She’s pretty and smells nice. She doesn’t feel so good though,” it said. “Dad says she needs a new kid knee because hers are broken, and we need someone to give her a new one.”

Transplant surgeon Vaughn Whittaker, MD, says more than 50 phone calls came into the transplant center in the days after that Facebook post from people interested in donating. Six people were qualified to donate, and two have set dates for their altruistic kidney donations. Which means two Central New Yorkers will come off the transplant waiting list.

Staff at Upstate perform an average two kidney transplants every week, with the majority of kidneys coming from deceased donors. Currently, living donation is the exception. Gruessner intends to build a program where living donation becomes the rule.

When Gruessner completed the transplant from Adams to Fitzpatrick in May, he came to the waiting room to find their families.

“What your daughter, Jody, is doing,” he began, “she really is a hero. If we had more people like her, more people would not be on dialysis.”

In a news conference a few days later, the women spoke to reporters together, taking turns holding Carter. Adams said her recovery had been easier than when she had her appendix removed. She said she felt like an older sister to Fitzpatrick and that she was grateful Carter would have his mom.

“I’ll be thinking about her every Mother’s Day.”

Would you donate?

To be considered as a donor of a healthy kidney, a person must be:

* willing to donate.

* older than 18 years old.

* within normal weight range.

* in excellent health with no current diseases. High blood pressure, diabetes, kidney stones and cancer usually prevent donation.

* able to pass a medical evaluation.

For more information about organ transplants at Upstate,  click here or call 315-464-5413.

magazine-fall16cvrHLOA-4C-VERT-REVThis article appears in the fall 2016 issue of Upstate Health magazine. Click here for a radio interview/podcast version of this story,  here for an interview on the process of donating organs and here for an interview with Whittaker on the need for living kidney donations. More interviews can be found at health linkonair.org and entering “transplant” in the search field.  

Posted in death/dying, diabetes/endocrine/metabolism, health care, HealthLink on Air, illness, kidney/renal/nephrology, nursing, organ donation/transplant, patient story, surgery, volunteers | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Emergency care for kids expands

Upstate’s new pediatric emergency department. (PHOTOS BY ROBERT MESCAVAGE)

 A $3 million expansion doubles the size of Upstate University Hospital’s pediatric emergency department and separates the children from the adults seeking emergency care.

Children and their families still use the main emergency entrance on East Adams Street, then take an elevator to the fourth floor.

Richard Cantor, MD, director the pediatric emergency department.

The new department, which opened in August, can hold up to 24 patients and includes 18 private rooms, plus a pediatric diagnostic radiology unit. It’s designed and furnished with kids in mind, with plenty of gaming systems for all ages.

As a result of the pediatric expansion, the adult emergency department also grows. The 13 beds that were previously reserved for children are now being used for adults.

magazine-fall16cvrHLOA-4C-VERT-REVThis article appears in the fall 2016 issue of Upstate Health magazine. Click here for a radio interview/podcast with Cantor on the new pediatric emergency room.

Posted in adolescents, community, emergency medicine/trauma, health care, HealthLink on Air, illness, Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital/pediatrics | Tagged ,

Meet Carey and Sally: Kids’ book explains, embraces children with autism

Carroll Grant, PhD, with Carey (left) and Sally, the puppet characters who inspired the book “Carey & Sally: Friends With Autism.” (PHOTO BY ROBERT MESCAVAGE)

BY JIM HOWE

“Sally and I are kids just like you,” says Carey. “We have autism and learn a little differently, but we want friends just like you.”

Carey and Sally are the main characters of a new children’s book that aims to create a sense of understanding and acceptance of children with autism.

These children can be talkative and highly functioning, like Carey, or mostly nonverbal, like Sally, and “Carey & Sally: Friends With Autism,” explains autism’s spectrum of behaviors and also how each person with the condition is unique.

Or, as Carroll Grant, PhD, the book’s author says, recalling an old saying, “If you’ve seen one autistic kid, you’ve seen one autistic kid.”

Grant, director of Upstate’s Margaret L. Williams Developmental Evaluation Center, has been working with children with autism for decades. The book, with illustrations by Jerry Russell of Chittenango, grew out of KidSpeak (see “How the book came about,” below) that follows), a program Grant developed.

That program uses large puppet versions of Carey and Sally to demonstrate autistic behaviors while entertaining in schools and other locales with children. The book will stay in the classroom after the program ends and includes suggestions for children to help deal with peers who have autism.

Carey, either as a book character or a puppet, helps other children and teachers “to understand that spectrum (autistic) kids have a social ineptness, and because he’s cute and funny, it helps people be more accepting,” Grant says.

To explain his difficulties reading social cues, Carey says, “My friends tell me I talk too much. I am not good at knowing what other kids think or feel, so sometimes I bother my friends.”

Carey also explains that he likes to have his mom or his teacher write him a list each day. “This helps me know what to expect and what to do. Then I feel calm,” he says

To illustrate a more severe form of autism, Sally is shown with her tablet and “choice board,” which has a happy face/yes and a sad face/no that she points to when answering questions. She sometimes likes to rock back and forth and wave her hands, Carey explains.

Carey also shows how to be a “detective” to figure out what is making Sally upset, such as checking to see whether he is standing too close or whether the room is too noisy or too bright.

The puppets help “normalize” autism for other children, says Charissa Taylor, who works in instructional support and is one of the puppeteers in the traveling program. They are teaching that “a difference can mean different, not handicapped. The bottom line is that everyone seeks friends.”

Taylor notes that one or more audience members usually says they know someone with autism and recognizes the puppets’ behaviors.

How the book came about

With help from the Upstate Foundation, Carroll Grant got funding from Kohl’s department stores to start a puppet workshop about autism and later to create a companion book, “Carey & Sally: Friends With Autism.” Help with the puppetry for what became the KidSpeak program came from Open Hand Theater of Syracuse, where Grant, a board member, had seen skits and shows using puppets to shape attitudes about acceptance and making the world a better place.

 

magazine-fall16cvrThis article appears in the fall 2016 issue of Upstate Health magazine. For more about “Carey & Sally: Friends With Autism,” click here.

Posted in adolescents, autism, education, mental health/emotional health, Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital/pediatrics | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

What ‘I CARE’ is all about

Rasheedah Vereen, a hospital clinical technician at Upstate University Hospital. (PHOTO BY KATHLEEN PAICE FROIO)

You may see doctors, nurses or technicians wearing buttons that say, “I CARE.”

More than a clever acronym, I CARE expresses a sentiment while also describing some of the ways in which caregivers at Upstate University Hospital make the hospital experience as pleasant as possible. The campaign started in the often-busy environment of the emergency department and has expanded throughout the hospital.

The message behind I CARE:

I –- Introduce yourself to patients and their loved ones.

C –- Connect with patients and their family members in a meaningful way, using eye contact and communication.

A –- Acknowledge the concerns of patients and their loved ones.

R – Review the plan of care, so people understand what you are communicating and what tests and treatments are ordered.

E – Educate patients and loved ones about what to expect, discharge instructions and medications.

 

Posted in community, emergency medicine/trauma, health care

Dementia insights: Advice for caring for someone in mental decline

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The Alzheimer’s Association estimates 5.4 million American are living with Alzheimer’s disease, a number that is expected to escalate rapidly as the baby-boom generation reaches retirement age. The number of people caring for someone with dementia is substantial, and growing, as well.

Upstate geriatrician Andrea Berg, MD, has something to say about four issues that are bound to come up in the course of caregiving:

Never correct; just redirect.

Reflexive as it may be to correct something a loved one says that is incorrect, Berg and other geriatricians caution against it.

Andrea Berg, MD

Andrea Berg, MD

“When you correct somebody, it throws them on their heels and makes them lose their confidence a little bit more. Typically people are already self conscious about losing memory and to some degree aware of memory problems in the earlier stages of the disease.”

“In the moderate to advanced stages, people can perseverate on a concept such as ‘I want to go home’ even if they might be in their home. They’re referencing a different time because their time frame is skewed. Instead of correcting them, which is usually a futile effort, focus on the concept of home and engage them on what is appealing about being home. In acknowledging and validating the emotional content of what is being said, you often can drive the conversation into a different direction — as opposed to creating conflict if you try to correct them.”

Eating should be pleasurable.

Beyond providing sustenance, “eating should remain one of those primal pleasurable activities,” Berg says. “I caution people to not get hung up on the details or place undue dietary restrictions on their loved one. In the late stages, if they want to eat ice cream three times a day, go for it. This isn’t the time to be overly concerned about watching your salt or sugar.”

Eating is likely to become more challenging as the disease progresses. Berg is a proponent of hand feeding.

“It doesn’t have to be fast. Go slow,” she advises. “Meal time could be a positive interaction between a loved one and their caregiver, a way to care for somebody and show love, so that it’s not just nutritional nourishment but also a social support.”

They don’t wander — until they do.

It’s not an early hallmark of the disease, but as it progresses, Berg says people with dementia may wander and become lost, without warning.

“It’s something that should be on your radar, especially for people who are functionally independent and can walk around on their own,” she says.

Berg directs caregivers to Safe Return, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service provided by MedicAlert and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Caring for yourself is a must.

Often caregivers will say they don’t have time to take a yoga class or walk around the block, or anything else that would allow them to recharge.

“Rates of depression and anxiety and overall poor health outcomes are rampant in caregivers of loved ones with dementia,” Berg points out. “You have to maintain your own level of health, or else you’re not going to be much help to those for whom you care.”

That includes paying attention to nutrition, getting adequate sleep, going to your own doctor appointments, exercising and taking time for yourself.  It also includes allowing others to help and taking people up on offers to sit, cook, clean or run errands.  Knowing you are not alone can be a huge stress reliever. “It’s not selfish,” she says. “It’s necessary.”

magazine-fall16cvrHLOA-4C-VERT-REVThis article appears in the fall 2016 issue of Upstate Health magazine. Click here for a radio/podcast interview with Berg. For another interview on Alzheimer’s disease, click here.

 

 

Posted in aging/geriatrics, Alzheimer's/dementia, disability, health care, HealthLink on Air, illness, safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,