Posts By: Abigail Storiale

Keep Moving Forward

 

Tips for those living with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers

 

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be frightening, but understanding what you can do to be proactive with your health will make a big difference.

April is National Parkinson’s Awareness Month, a good time to acknowledge that Parkinson’s impacts each person differently and cases of progression vary, but no matter your situation, there are important lifestyle choices that can help you manage symptoms and help you attain maximum quality of life.

“We hear a lot of patients say, ‘I don’t need therapy yet’, or ‘I’m not ready for that class yet’, but the reality is you shouldn’t wait to get worse to focus on getting better. Although there is no cure, improvement is possible and you can delay the progression,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Health Promotions Supervisor Kathleen Eagle. “We can be here from the start to help you keep moving so you can achieve a high degree of wellness throughout the stages of Parkinson’s disease.”

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice has a proven track record of success treating patients with Parkinson’s disease. The non-profit agency’s homecare program offers research-based exercise developed specifically for those with a Parkinson’s diagnosis. It is effective for all stages, from early onset to later stages.

The agency also offers twice weekly exercise classes with a nominal $6 fee to attend and a free weekly dance class tailored to Parkinson’s patients. Fall risk assessments are also available. Balance issues caused by Parkinson’s puts patients at an increased risk for falls, so an assessment can be a critical component of the effort to keep you safe at home. Free support groups for those living with the disease and their caregivers are held monthly and VNACHCH staff members are always available to offer suggestions to those looking to live their best life despite their diagnosis.

To read more about the VNACHCH Parkinson’s programs, click here.

Keep moving

Regular exercise and stretching is important to help those living with Parkinson’s increase flexibility, attain better balance, improve coordination and add muscle strength. Tai Chi, walking, dancing and stretching are all important ways movement can be incorporated into one’s daily routine. Group classes can provide support and guidance along with a team mentality which helps to lessen anxiety and depression.

Eat, sleep and be well

Proper sleep and nutrition are critical to achieving the best level of wellness for anyone. Those with Parkinson’s may struggle to get the most restful sleep, but sticking to a bedtime schedule and an exercise routine can help. Keep daytime naps brief, avoid caffeine, get plenty of natural light during the day and keep screens out of the bedroom and pets off your bed. The most comfortable environment will lead to the most restful sleep.

Make sure you plan meals around incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains into our diet while limiting fats, sugar, sodium and alcohol. Stay hydrated and get plenty of calcium, vitamin K and vitamin D to ward off bone density loss and other Parkinson’s symptoms.

Look for support, care for your caregivers

Attending a support group can help those with a Parkinson’s disease to feel camaraderie rather than loneliness that often comes with any medical diagnosis. It’s also important to have strong caregivers in your corner.

That being said, caregivers can only provide the support you need if they also make sure to care for themselves. Encourage your loved ones to attend a caregiver support group and take occasional time for themselves.

Help to educate them about your disease and be open about your frustrations coping with symptoms, your limitations that mean you will require help and what things you’d like to try doing on your own. Have as many open and honest communications as possible about your wishes while you are in early stages of Parkinson’s, and provide clear direction about how you want to be treated and have your affairs handled after the onset of later stages.

Your support team should also include therapists who can help manage symptoms and even improve your condition.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice clinicians certified in LSVT BIG and LSVT LOUD deliver physical, occupational and speech therapy in intense and complex standardized treatment sessions with repetitions of core movements used in daily living. Clinicians conduct 16 sessions per month with patients as part of this research-based treatment that leads to documented gains in motor functioning, trunk rotation, balance and quality of life, as well as long term improvements in speech and voice quality.

Healthcare Decisions Day 2019

In an effort to educate and empower people to learn about and engage in advance healthcare decision-making, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice has planned a full day of outreach culminating in a panel presentation from three local experts as part of National Healthcare Decisions Day.

Recognized on Tuesday, April 16, National Healthcare Decisions day is a collaborative effort of national, state and community organizations aimed at ensuring information, opportunity and access is available for all to document important healthcare decisions.

The theme for this year’s day is: “It’s always seems too early, until it’s too late.”

As part of this movement, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is providing information and tools for the public to talk about their wishes with family, friends and healthcare providers. The nonprofit agency will also have information available on how to execute written advance directives, such as healthcare power of attorney and living wills in accordance with Connecticut state laws.

On April 16, trained VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice volunteers will be available at local senior centers to provide information and education, and the day will culminate in a panel that evening at Evergreen Woods, located at 88 Notch Hill Rd. in North Branford. An informal social hour with hors d’oeuvres and the opportunity to review informational materials will begin at 5 p.m. with the panel presentation scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

Panelists include Donna Cricenzo, concierge physician and the medical director of the VNACHCH hospice program, who will discuss the chronic illness journey and ultimate palliative and hospice care decisions one might face. Joan Reed Wilson of RWC, LLC Attorneys and Counselors at Law will sit on the panel to share important information regarding elder law and estate planning. Finally, Guy Tommasi, the executive director of VNACHCH affiliate LIFETIME Care at Home will share his perspective on the need for non-medical in-home care and the decisions associated with that phase of the healthcare journey.

Healthcare Decisions Day events:

Meet with a VNACHCH representative April 16:

Miller Senior Center
2901 Dixwell Ave., Hamden
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
No registration required

Joyce Budrow Senior Center
189 Pool Rd., North Haven
11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
No registration required

Guilford Senior Center
32 Church St., Guilford
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
No registration required

Madison Senior Center
29 Bradley Rd., Madison
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
No registration required

Advance Care Planning panel April 16:
Evergreen Woods
88 Notch Hill Road, North Branford
5 p.m. hors d’oeuvres
6 p.m. panel discussion
Registration required at 866.474.5230

Healthcare Decisions Day resources:

Below is a link to a summary of Connecticut State law pertaining to an individual’s right to make health care decisions, directions for completing the consolidated health care instructions and advance directives document and the documents themselves including Appointment of A Health Care Representative, Living Will and Health Care Instructions, Appointment of a Conservator and Organ Donation in one form.

https://www.ct.gov/agingservices/lib/agingservices/pdf/advancedirectivesenglish.pdf

Below are links to useful documents when it comes to starting the advance care planning conversation with family members and healthcare providers.

http://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ConversationProject-ConvoStarterKit-English.pdf

http://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ConversationProject-ProxyKit-English.pdf

http://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ConversationProject-StarterKit-Alzheimers-English.pdf

http://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ConversationProject-TalkToYourDr-English.pdf

For more information and for these documents available in other languages, visit theconversationproject.org.

Take the stress out of preparing to see your healthcare provider

Preparing for a medical visit can be a stressful experience.

Time frames for appointments are limited, and many often leave the doctor’s office and quickly think of questions they forgot to ask or realize they have follow-up concerns regarding the treatment or medications prescribed during their time in the exam room.

March 30 is National Doctor’s Day. Show your provider your appreciation by becoming an active partner in your medical care and learning how to make time with your physician as production possible.

In addition to offering screenings of things such as blood pressure, pulse and weight, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice nurses are available at regular Ask the Nurse clinics throughout the community to help patients set healthy lifestyle goals and prepare for upcoming physician’s visits.

“Preparing for a visit to the doctor can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Health Promotions Supervisor Kathleen Eagle. “Our nurses are available to help you navigate whatever questions and concerns you might be having about your health and make an action plan so you feel confident going into your appointment.”

Basic advice

When getting ready to visit the doctor, it’s important to write down all your symptoms and a sequence of events that occurred leading to your health concerns. Be concise with your information. Also make sure to bring your current insurance card and co-pay to the visit, as well as an up-to-date medication list to share with your provider. If you want to ask something specific, ask in a pleasantly assertive way. Don’t wait until the doctor is leaving the room to discuss the real reason you came.

Many patients don’t think to take notes during a visit, but it can be quite helpful, particularly if new medications or courses of treatment are discussed. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor politely if you feel rushed in conversation. It’s important to recognize the busy schedule physicians must keep while also advocating for the care that you need.

Know what to ask

Much of the responsibility for one’s health lies with the individual. Medical providers can make recommendations, offer treatment options and order tests, but it is critical patients take an active role in their own health. Part of this means being prepared to ask the right questions when you see your doctor.

Ask why the doctor’s recommendations are important, what symptoms you should watch for to report to your provider’s office, and be sure you understand the instructions you’ve been given to follow until you next see your physician.

Know your family history

Family medical histories are important, particularly when it comes to knowing one’s risk for a variety of conditions. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, family history might be one of the strongest influences on a person’s risk for developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions. The more you know about your risk factors, the more help you can be to your physician as they work to recommend the best course of your care.

Information in your family history might suggest to your doctor that you require certain screening tests or more frequents routine screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Family history of things such as Alzheimer’s and dementia also helps you to know what signs and symptoms to be on the look out for so you can discuss your changing health conditions with your doctor as soon as possible.

Bring an appointment companion

While it’s important that everyone see their doctor annually, many individuals – in particular senior citizens – may find their visits to be much more frequent.

This schedule can be helpful, but also makes it easier for information to blur from one visit to the next, or for patients to take for granted they’ll be seeing their doctor again soon and lose focus, leading to a misunderstanding of instructions or missed details.

Spouses, children or even friends can be helpful when brought along on a visit. An extra set of ears, someone to take notes for you and someone to help you remember the details of your medical history can be invaluable. In addition, bringing a companion or caregiver along often means you have an advocate with you to help clarify questions or ask questions you may be unsure of asking yourself.

Janine Fay named Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home chairman of the board

Janine Fay, a Clinton resident and the President and CEO of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice – headquartered in Guilford – recently took up the post of chairman of the board of the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home (CAHCH).

Her two-year term was effective Jan. 1 and she hit the ground running, leading a full-day CAHCH board retreat earlier this month to chart a course to lead the industry through significant challenges and consolidation.

Fay has decades of experience in the home healthcare industry, including 20 years with VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. She has led the organization as CEO since 2011.

Fay has been an active member of the CAHCH board and its committees over the years, most recently serving as Government Relations Committee Chair.

“I’m looking forward to continuing my work with CAHCH, an association whose mission I am passionate about, and taking on this new role leading its board. This is a challenging time for the home health and hospice industry as reimbursement rates continue to decline yet we see significant increases in the needs of patient’s being discharged from medical settings,” Fay said. “CAHCH does excellent work helping to bring home health and hospice providers together for advocacy and education. Its efforts are patient-centered and aimed at ensuring home health and hospice care that is cost effective and of the highest quality is available to all in need.”

As CAHCH board chairman, Fay succeeds Susan Adams, Vice President of Alliance Integration at Masonicare, who is now the immediate past chair and chairman of the CAHCH Government Relations committee.

For a full list of executive committee and board members, visit www.cthealthcareathome.org/page/Board.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a century-old nonprofit agency with expertly trained staff who help individuals recover and regain independence quickly and easily. When a cure is no longer an option, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice provides individuals and families with choices, control and comfort in their final months. As a leader in healthcare at home and the self-care movement, the agency proudly serves 35 towns in southern Connecticut.

For more information, visit www.ConnecticutHomecare.org or call 203-458-4200.

LIFETIME Care at Home earns Best of Home Care Leader in Excellence Award

LIFETIME Care at Home, an affiliate of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, is once again a recipient of the Best of Home Care Leader in Excellence Award.

This award – the most prestigious award in the home care industry – is given annually only to providers who achieved top client and caregiver satisfaction scores in Home Care Pulse rankings and those who earned both the Provider of Choice and Employer of Choice distinctions.

Home Care Pulse is the home care industry’s leading firm in satisfaction research and quality assurance.

A minimum of 10 percent of a provider’s client base must be interviewed monthly and providers must rank in the 50th percentile in two or more caregiver satisfaction categories in the region to earn the Provider and Employer of Choice distinctions.

In addition to those honors, Leader in Excellence award winners must score in the 90th percentile in at least 10 out of 14 combined client and caregiver satisfaction categories. LIFETIME Care at Home scored in the 90th percentile in 13 out of 14 categories.

This data is collected by monthly telephone surveys to rate performance of providers as compared to others in each region and on a national level. Providers must also complete a minimum of two client and two caregiver satisfaction interviews per month during the previous year.

“The title of Leader in Excellence is only give to the select providers who have set a high standard of care and who have achieved top scores,” Home Care Pulse CEO Erik Madsen wrote in a letter notifying LIFETIME Care at Home of its honor. “Your agency has ranked among these few providers, and has proved itself to be among the best in the nation.”

LIFETIME Care at Home is a private in-home, nonmedical care provider for those who need a trusted resource beside them to help get through daily challenges of living more confidently. It is one of only six providers in the state of Connecticut to earn the Best of Home Care Leader in Excellence Award and one of only two such providers outside of Fairfield county.

It is among only 180 providers in the nation to be given the Leader in Excellence Award, and among 794 Providers of Choice and 508 Employers of Choice nationwide.

“We are honored to be recognized for the second consecutive year as a Leader in Excellence Award winner by Home Care Pulse and the Best of Home Care awards,” said LIFETIME Care at Home Executive Director Guy Tommasi. “We appreciate the trust our clients and caregivers place in us each day and we will continue our efforts to provide the most exceptional service clients can hope for when they allow our staff to come into their home.”

LIFETIME Care at Home is an important part of the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice continuum of care, integrated as part of a larger team to help address home care needs quicker and more completely than other alternatives.

LIFETIME Care at Home staff provide insight into care solutions and create more stable living situations for the clients the agency serves.

To learn more, visit lifetimecareathome.com.

Breakfast in Bloom 2019

TO REGISTER CLICK HERE

Annual event will honor community partners, celebrate quality of life programs

Raphael Erwin McManus said, “A life well lived is the most exquisite work of art.”

This year, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is inviting members of the community to help build a masterpiece as it seeks to help patients, caregivers and all individuals in its 35-town service area live their best lives.

The nonprofit agency will hold its annual Breakfast in Bloom fundraiser at Woodwinds in Branford Tuesday, May 7 at 7:30 a.m. The morning will include a buffet breakfast, a raffle and a silent auction. All proceeds from the event will support the nonprofit visiting nurses agency’s vital services, including home healthcare, community wellness programs and its Family Caregiver Support Network.

The breakfast will also provide an overview of the myriad programs run by the agency to help clients be well so they can live well.

“Some individuals we serve are recovering from surgery and working hard to get back to their normal routine, while others are living with a chronic illness and seeking support as they work to achieve their best possible quality of life,” explained VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice CEO Janine Fay. “In addition to our patients, we reach thousands of caregivers and community program participants each year and seek to provide them with the best resources so they can live in good health and make the most of every day.”

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a century-old nonprofit agency that employs expertly trained staff to help individuals recover and regain independence quickly and easily. When a cure is no longer an option, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice provides individuals and families with choices, control and comfort in their final months. As a leader in healthcare at home and the self-care movement, the agency proudly serves 35 towns in southern Connecticut.

As it has annually, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice will present Community Partner Awards to three people for 2019.

“We cannot have VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice without the word ‘community,’ and likewise we cannot have success without that critical component,” Fay said. “It is a special moment each year when we have the opportunity to thank our valued partners for all they do to help us realize our goals of promoting and preserving the health, safety, dignity and independence of individuals and families.”

Tickets for the breakfast are $40 each. Tables of 10 are available for $350. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here or call 203-458-4277.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Platinum sponsors:

 

Diamond sponsors:

    

 

Gold sponsors:

                      

 

Ruby sponsors:

                    

      John Watts Associates  

      

 

Table sponsor:

Keenan Funeral Home to sponsor Comfort in Motion

A warm and welcoming 8-week session of bereavement support will be offered at Evergreen Woods in North Branford

Great comfort can be found in simply taking a walk with a friend.

That is why VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice will once again hold its Comfort in Motion bereavement support group. The upcoming series will take place for nine weeks beginning April 11 and ending June 6. Sessions are held from 9 to 10:30 a.m.

This unique bereavement support group – the only one of its kind in the state – is facilitated by a trained VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Bereavement volunteer and sponsored by Keenan Funeral Home, located in North Branford.

Those grieving the loss of a loved one are invited to gather with others to walk and talk in a supportive setting while getting some exercise.

“This support group is an important part of the bereavement program for the loved ones of hospice patients we’ve served, but participation is not limited to the families of those we’ve worked with in the past,” explained Jo Ann Begley of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. “Any person who has lost a loved one can benefit from the support of others walking a similar journey of grief.”

The group will meet weekly at the main entrance of Evergreen Woods, 88 Notch Hill Rd., North Branford.

The facilitator will offer suggestions to help guide conversation during and after the walk. After the walk, those who choose will gather in the library at Evergreen Woods.

Begley believes in the impact she has seen this group have on those who have lost someone close to them.

“There is this synergy you can just see,” she said of the participants.

This program is free. To register call the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice helpline at 1.866.474.5230.

Thank you to our sponsor:

Spring/Summer 2019 program book released

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers many opportunities to help you improve your health, prevent illnesses and keep you independent. From group classes, personalized blood pressure checks and nurse health coaching, to clinics and cholesterol screening, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice‘s team of professional nurses will help you design a personalized wellness program.

We are pleased to announce the release of our program book for Spring/Summer of 2019. Programs include a full line up of exercise classes and several wellness programs in towns throughout our territory. For the first time, our program book also includes educational articles about health and wellness trends and advice for living well.

Our next edition of the program book will be released in August of this year containing programming information for the fall. To be added to the mailing list, please email Mary Higgins at mhiggins@vna-commh.org or call our toll free helpline at 1.866.474.5230.

Click the following link to view the Program book spring_summer 2019.

M.J. Petretto Foundation makes donation to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice

$6,000 gift to benefit Parkinson’s disease exercise programs and support groups

GUILFORD – VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is the grateful recipient of a donation from the M.J. Petretto Foundation for the eighth consecutive year.
Foundation representatives Linda Remington and M.J. Petretto recently visited the wellness center at the Guilford headquarters of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice – a nonprofit home healthcare agency serving Middlesex and New Haven Counties – to present a $6,000 check.

The Foundation is itself a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established nearly a decade ago as part of Retirement Planning Group’s desire to give back to organizations that support education, health and quality of life in Connecticut communities. Each year the Foundation’s signature event, the M.J. Petretto Foundation Golf Classic proceeds are divided among multiple beneficiaries, including the Gaylord Hospital Spinal Cord Injury Program, the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Parkinson’s programs, and other charities such as the Shoreline Arts Alliance and Make a Wish Connecticut.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice provides twice-weekly Parkinson’s exercise classes at its Guilford wellness center, as well as monthly support groups for Parkinson’s family caregivers and those living with a Parkinson’s diagnosis. The agency has a variety of resource materials available for Parkinson’s patients and their family members and seeks to foster an environment of camaraderie. These community offerings augment the agency’s expertise in providing therapy in the home for Parkinson’s patients.

Linda Remington has a personal connection to the VNACHCH program as her father, Ray Pzygocki, lived with Parkinson’s and benefitted from its offerings.

“We’re proud to support the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Parkinson’s program and comforted to know that programs like this exist to help patients and families until such time a cure for Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases is found,” Linda said.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice CEO Janine Fay thanked Linda and MJ for the Foundation’s ongoing support during the pairs visit to a meeting of the Parkinson’s exercise group.

“This program is an important part of our mission to help individuals in the communities we serve live their best lives. We appreciate the opportunity to help Parkinson’s disease patients maintain their best quality of life possible and to support them and their family caregivers on their journey,” Fay said.

The 2019 M.J. Petretto Foundation Annual Golf Classic will be held Monday, June 10 at the Clinton Country Club. This year’s event marks the 10th anniversary of the golf outing. For more information visit mjpfoundation.org.

To learn more about VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice visit vnacommunityhealthcare.org.

Guy Tommasi given Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home Innovation Award

During its annual conference earlier this month, the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home presented its Innovation Award to Guy Tommasi, the executive director of LIFETIME Care at Home.

A proven leader in the private home care industry, Tommasi created an outcome system that enables LIFETIME and its parent agency, VNA Community Healthcare and Hospice, to demonstrate the value LIFETIME brings to the healthcare system.

The CAHCH Innovation Award is given each year to an association member agency or individual who embraces change and consistently strives to use new methods and technologies to optimize home health, hospice or personal care delivery.

“Guy is recognized and respected as a statewide leader by creating the model of the future for the non-medical home care agencies,” said Deborah Hoyt, president and CEO of the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home.

“His knowledge about leveraging data to improve business operations has elevated LIFETIME Care at Home’s value and opened doors to forward-thinking relationship-building with healthcare providers across the care continuum. Guy’s trailblazing efforts are improving the personal care industry as a whole and have carved out an important place for home-based services in future healthcare delivery models,” Hoyt added.

LIFETIME Care at Home is a private in-home, nonmedical care provider for those who need a trusted resource beside them to help get through daily challenges of living more confidently. LIFETIME Care at Home is an important part of the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice continuum of care, integrated as part of a larger team to help address home care needs quicker and more completely than other alternatives.

LIFETIME Care at Home staff provide insight into care solutions and create more stable living situations for the clients the agency serves.

To learn more, visit lifetimecareathome.com.