Topic: News And Events

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.

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.

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.

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.

VNACHCH welcomes new board members

During it’s annual meeting Wednesday, Nov. 7, the Board of Directors of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice said goodbye to two board members and welcomed two new members to its slate.

Susan Bailey and Don Offner were thanked for their years of service on the board as their tenures came to a close, while new members Bob Paolucci and Diane Vorio were welcomed aboard.

Outgoing Board Chair Dr. Gerard Kerins, who will remain a board member, passed the chairperson reigns to David Cowan.

Paolucci brings more than 20 years of wealth management experience to the board. He founded Principle Wealth Partners, prior to which he served as senior vice president at Essex Financial where he was a member of the investment committee and board of directors. He also has large investment firm experience serving in senior roles at Fidelity Investments and Bank of America Investments. He focuses on all areas of financial planning including investment management, taxes, wealth accumulation, cash flow generation, insurance and estate planning to generate comprehensive financial plans for clients.

As a fiduciary, Paolucci, said he has a passion for providing independent, unbiased advice and educating his clients on the importance of behavioral finance.

He resides in Killingworth with his wife and daughter.

A resident of Guilford, Vorio holds an MS in Management from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, The Hartford Graduate Center and an MSN in Nursing Management, Policy & Leadership from the Yale University School of Nursing. She earned her BS in Healthcare Management from St. Joseph’s College (now The University of Saint Joseph) and her diploma as a Registered Nurse from Grace New Haven School of Nursing.

She spent the last decade at Yale New Haven Hospital as vice president of patient services and associate Chief Nursing Officer. She specializes in developing and implementing system and organizational improvements to advance safety, quality and efficiency results, as well as controlling costs and finding success in accreditation and regulatory reviews.

“On behalf of myself and my staff, I’m excited to welcome our two new board members. We know their varied and impressive skills will help us continue to thrive in our mission to be beside patients at every turn,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice President & CEO Janine Fay. “I’d also like to extend our gratitude to our two outgoing board members for their dedicated service to our agency.”

VNACHCH releases annual report

This year, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice sought to paint a true picture of the value of its services with the agency’s annual report.

In partnership with the Florence Griswold Museum of Old Lyme, the home healthcare agency depicted patient and staff testimonials through works of art. Inspired by the quote, “A life well lived is the most exquisite work of art,” VNACHCH asked a few of its clients, caregivers and staff members to select artwork from the museum collection that spoke to them about living well – the very thing VNACHCH endeavors to make possible for all individuals it serves.

Ann Freeman, whose husband, Michael, was a VNACHCH Hospice patient in the last year, chose a painting of the Maine coastline that spoke to her about the years she and her husband spent visiting Maine and other oceanside locations together.

VNACHCH nurse Patty Tsou chose a painting that reminded her of Ireland and evoked the feeling of a “hopeful start to a new day” for her, stirring in her a feeling of connection to her mother, who also was a nurse.

Images of those who provided testimonials posing among the museum’s artwork fill the pages of the annual report, which also tells the story of an agency holding steady in winds of fiscal struggle prompted by state budget cuts and a changing healthcare landscape. The report outlines the agency goals for the future, it’s focus on excellence in patient care, and the many ways donor support is needed and appreciated.

“We are proud of our continued commitment to our mission to help patients live their best lives, and would like to express sincere gratitude to the Florence Griswold Museum and its staff for their willingness to share the beauty of art with us so we can share the beauty of our own stories with the community,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice CEO Janine Fay.

To view the annual report, click here: VNA_AR2018_WEB.

To learn more about ways to give to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, click here. 

VNACHCH strengthens presence in Hamden

HAMDEN – There is a common thread that all caregivers share, and VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is committed to strengthening the fibers of that thread as it invests in the community.

After a decade in North Haven, the nonprofit healthcare agency decided earlier this summer to consolidate its successful efforts to foster health and wellness in its Hamden location. The North Haven Family Caregiver Resource Center was moved to One Hamden Center, located on Whitney Avenue, which offered a strengthening of the agency’s Hamden presence and growth of its already robust resource center for this region of the 35 towns it serves.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice also operates out of its main office on Boston Post Road in Guilford, as well as Family Caregiver Resource Centers in Old Saybrook and West Haven.

The agency serves as the official Visiting Nurse Association for the towns of Hamden and North Haven and works closely with Elderly Services in both towns, though its offerings are far more vast than nursing alone. VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a century-old nonprofit organization with a rich tradition of offering exceptional home healthcare services and extensive community care resources, including a variety of wellness and caregiver programs, a Helpline and an award-winning fall risk reduction program.

The vitality of the area’s services in the Hamden area was further strengthened by the introduction of a new Manager of Therapy Services, Donna Casablanca, and a new Branch Clinical Manager, LouAnna Wilkinson.
Wilkinson has years of experience with VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice under her belt, but with her recent move to Hamden she has found renewed passion for her job.

“It is extremely rewarding to help folks stay in their home while caring for them and teaching them to care for themselves,” Wilkinson said. “We offer so much to the community in services from skilled nursing and therapy to private care through LIFETIME Care at Home, to our caregiver support groups. I feel very lucky to work for an agency that can help people and families in so many different areas.”
Casablanca worked in acute care and outpatient orthopedic settings before settling into home healthcare and is finding she enjoys the community presence VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice works to maintain. She noted the Ask the Nurse Clinics, physical therapy clinics, community exercise classes and range of services the agency provides.

She is proud to have helped the agency implement the New Beginnings program in assisted living facilities to asses a person’s mobility so they can safely transition into new surroundings and navigate their new environment.
Casablanca hopes that as VNACHCH strengthens its presence, the community will respond.

“Hopefully we become familiar, comforting and trusted faces to people when they are in the middle of an unsettling time facing a healthcare challenge,” she said.

When it comes to working with caregivers, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s Family Caregiver Support Network Coordinator Jo Ann Begley is committed to helping individuals in need.

“Our Resource Center is a place where caregivers and individuals can come for information and referrals to whatever resources might support their situation,” Begley explained. “We welcome our patients and their families, former patients, wellness class participants and any resident of Hamden or North Haven seeking guidance. It doesn’t matter if you have an established relationship with our agency or the length of time you’ve worked with us previously. We’re here to help.”

Begley noted that individuals are being discharged from medical settings more quickly and with greater needs than they ever have been before, so family members and patients are often unprepared or underprepared for what is expected of them.

“Our intention is to help give people the tools that they need to be well so we can prevent hospital readmissions and keep people safe at home, where they want to be,” she said.

All visits to the Hamden Resource Center must be scheduled in advance and consults can be done on the phone or in person. Call the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Helpline at 866-474-5230 to make an appointment.

The agency also offers a caregiver support group the last Tuesday of the month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Miller Senior Center. The support group will soon include visits from guest speakers and is led by a facilitator who happens to specialize in geriatric care management, though Begley stressed caregivers of all ages and walks of life are welcome and will find the help they need.

She is grateful to have spent many years working with caregivers and seeing firsthand the impact VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice support groups have on participants.

“There is this synergy you can just see among these people who didn’t know each other at first. It’s beautiful to watch them support each other and give each other suggestions and ideas. This one’s loved one may have chronic heart disease, this one Alzheimer’s and this one COPD, but they are all there to help each other cope with whatever their situation is,” Begley said.

“Anybody who is struggling with the ins and outs of day-to-day life and navigating caregiving for a loved one will benefit from involvement in this group,” Begley added. “Whether you’re a parent, a spouse or a child or sibling, we have the resources you need. There is a common thread that all caregivers share, regardless of what the relationship to the person is or the diagnosis.”

Upcoming Program helps people Dodge Diabetes

GUILFORD – Prevention is a critical piece of the puzzle of health and wellness.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, a local nonprofit devoted to helping its home healthcare patients and all members of the 35 communities it serves to achieve their best quality of life, believes in the importance of prevention and healthcare education.

That is why it will once again host its yearlong program, Dodge Diabetes, beginning Thursday, Sept. 27.

One in three American adults has prediabetes. Those with prediabetes are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, as many with prediabetes do within five years if they do not lose weight or increase their physical activity level. Diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and loss of toes, feet or legs.

People are most likely to have prediabetes and type 2 diabetes if they are 45 years of age or older, are overweight, have a family history of type 2 diabetes, are physically active fewer than three times per week or have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy or gave birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds.

The best, controllable way to prevent diabetes is to lose weight through exercise and smart eating habits. Dodge Diabetes focuses on education in these areas to help individuals cut their risk of developing diabetes in half. Participants will learn how to make healthy food choices, add physical activity into their day, cope with stress, handle obstacles and overcome barriers to stay on track or get back on track when needed, track progress, stay motivated and set goals.

The program is based on the Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s Prevent T2, a successful, evidence-based lifestyle change program. Prevent T2 is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

A total of 26 classes will be held throughout the next year on Thursdays from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Wellness Center of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s Guilford office. For the first four months, the class meets every Thursday, then every other week, and then once a month during the last half of the year.

“We are thrilled to be offering for the second year a life-changing, year-long Diabetes prevention program,” said Kathleen Eagle, RN, Health Promotion Supervisor at VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. “It can be difficult to incorporate changes into your lifestyle, but we are here to provide the tools people need to avoid this potentially devastating chronic illness. This supportive environment will help participants to see they are not alone in their quest to achieve the best possible quality of life. We look forward to providing this forum for participants to learn from one another and from our expert staff.”

The first class of Dodge Diabetes will meet at VNA Community Healthcare, 753 Boston Post Rd., Guilford, Thursday, Sept. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m..; cost is $195 for the full 12 month program. Contact Kathleen for details: 866.474.5230 or keagle@vna-commh.org.