Sunday, July 8, 2018

#Alzheimer’s - Aging and Brain Strength

By Constance Washington, RN, VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans

HEALTH- June is National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, a good time to reflect on mental sharpness—no matter what your age.

Isolated incidents where someone cannot recall a person’s name, phone number, or where they placed the keys, and other minor bouts of forgetfulness, are common. Noting that these memory lapses are likely due to the chemical and structural age-related changes in thinking skills can help bring peace of mind. But it’s a good idea to check in with your physician if you or a loved one seems more forgetful than usual and displays dramatic changes in appetite or sleep patterns, excessive worry or agoraphobia, panic attacks or increasingly erratic behaviors such as aggression, paranoia, wandering or rummaging around the house, getting lost in familiar places, or if there is a noted decline in organization and planning skills.

Any of these behaviors could signal early signs of age-related dementia and should be discussed with a health professional. My colleagues and I at VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans coordinate care for homebound seniors so they can live safely and independently in their own homes for as long as possible. To help those we care for stay mentally sharp and feeling their best, we encourage them to follow these easy-to-do steps to maintaining good mental health.

Embrace recognition instead of trusting recall. Humans are better at recognition than recall, making it easier to remember something they read, such as a note or list, than something they’re simply told.

Recognize the value of repetition. People are more inclined to remember what they hear if they repeat it out loud, such as names and addresses.

Eat a healthy diet.

A study of 27,000 people in 40 countries published in 2015 in the journal Neurology found that people who consumed healthy diets with lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and little alcohol and red meat were less likely to experience declines in their memory and thinking skills.

Break things down.

Breaking things down into small chunks can help improve memory. Instead of trying to remember a whole speech, focus on a single sentence at a time.

Work your brain.

Reading, writing, completing puzzles and even playing along with TV game shows are fun ways to keep the mind sharp and active, offering opportunities to practice memorization.

Exercise/staying physically active. 

Exercise is overall good for the body. Maintaining an active lifestyle helps to improve memory and thinking skills.

Routine prevention/screening medical follow-ups. 

Illness can affect your brains ability to function optimally so it’s very important to go for your routine medical check-ups.

Social and recreational activity. 

Involvement in recreational activities such as playing cards, or working on puzzles helps to stimulate brain function and provides sociable times with family or friends.

Periodic memory lapses are often nothing to worry about. 

However, ongoing problems should be discussed with your primary care provider or a neurologist.

(Constance Washington of VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans is a Registered Nurse and Care Coordinator. The Visiting Nurse Service of New York is the largest not-for-profit home- and community-based health care agency in the United States, providing quality private care services.To learn more, visitwww.vnsnychoice.orgor call 1-855-AT CHOICE (1-855-282-4642).

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Health Options for Pride Week

Visiting Nurse Revisits the LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights

By Arthur Fitting, RN, LGBT Program Director, Visiting Nurse Service of New York

HEALTH- There’s an old adage: “With age comes wisdom.” Applying that adage to our current healthcare environment is the next great challenge for all of us in the LGBT community—especially those of us in the Stonewall generation who fought to gain acceptance and rights that were once unimaginable.

We’ve come such a long way since the days when being gay, lesbian or bisexual was considered criminal, sacrilegious or mentally ill behavior. Now we need to ensure that the healthcare industry completes that journey with us—and there’s no better time to focus on this challenge than right now, in the midst of NYC Pride Week 2018.

Based on data from SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older people, there are approximately three million LGBT adults over the age of 50 in the U.S., and that number is expected to grow to around seven million by the year 2030. 

As with all age groups, we, as members of the older LGBT population, face our own specific health concerns.

According to SAGE:

LGBT elders are twice as likely to be single and living alone;

We are far more likely than our heterosexual peers to have faced discrimination, social stigma and the effects of prejudice;

34 percent of older LGBT individuals fear they’ll have to re-closet themselves when seeking senior housing;

Nearly 60 percent report feeling a lack of companionship; and LGBT elders are also hesitant to trust health care providers after decades of bullying, discrimination and verbal or physical abuse. 

As a registered nurse working on the front lines for nearly 30 years, I’ve tried to face these disparities head on. And while we’ve come a long way with rights like marriage and adoption, we need to keep going, especially where health care is concerned. 

Today, many older LGBT people still find it difficult to find a physician or other healthcare professional they feel comfortable talking to. As a result, they often avoid seeking care until faced with an emergency situation. 

My goal as LGBT Program Director for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) is to work with my colleagues to help bridge this gap. A good starting point is New York City’s LGBTQ  Health Care Bill of Rights. First announced one year ago by Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, MD, MPH, New York City’s Commissioner of Health, this is a critical piece of healthcare information that empowers those of us in the LGBT community to take responsibility for our own health. It lays out 10 important legal rights that every older LGBTQ person can assert, in any health care situation. 
The LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights

In any health care setting or health care interaction, you have the right to:

  1. Be treated with dignity, respect and professionalism by all providers and all staff.
  2. Receive compassionate, judgement-free and comprehensive care that is mindful of your sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
  3. Respectful discussions with providers about your health and health care needs, including your sexual history and current sex life.
  4. Have your gender identity and gender expression recognized, affirmed, documented and accommodated.
  5. Clear explanations of requests for your health information.
  6. Clear explanations of all medical procedures and risks, and the right to choose or refuse any treatment.
  7. Access health insurance coverage and benefits without discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
  8. Choose who will make medical decisions for you if you are unable. If you are a minor, you have the right to have your voice heard and best interests included in these decisions.
  9. Decide who may and may not visit you if you are admitted to a health care facility.
  10. Privacy and confidentiality.

As a nurse, I’ve met so many LGBT people—of all ages—who still live in fear, and to whom these basic rights have been withheld, miscommunicated or culturally garbled, much like that old game of “telephone.” But it doesn’t have to be that way—which is why my colleagues and I are working so hard to educate our fellow New Yorkers about these rights, as well as the steps people can take to ensure they are upheld.

In particular, everyone should know that New York City provides several options for anyone who feels that their rights have been denied. If you believe you have been mistreated or denied care because of your sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, you can call The New York City Commission on Human Rights at 718-722-3131, or call 311, or file a complaint online to report discrimination (

Maintaining our health and navigating the healthcare system can be a difficult balancing act—especially as we age. Please keep this information close at hand, and remember, we should never get sick due to silence or fear!

Have a Healthy, Happy and Safe Pride Week!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Mini Museum Makes Big Impression at Lincoln Hospital

HEALTH- NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln announced the temporary installation of what is being called the world’s “Smallest Mollusk Museum,” located in the hospital’s front lobby for patients, visitors, and staff to enjoy. MICRO partnered with Science Sandbox to bring this captivating tiny science museum to the South Bronx hospital. 

About the size of a refrigerator, the science museum takes visitors on an adventure through the last 650 million years of life on earth and is packed with 15 exhibits on natural history, including two miniature movie theaters, a holographic aquarium, and the world’s first 3D-printed octopus brain. Accompanied by a free online book and audio tour, the Smallest Mollusk Museum is full of stories that explore the biology of our slimy sidekicks the mollusks, sparking delight in kids of all ages.

The Smallest Mollusk Museum was built by MICRO, a nonprofit whose fleet of tiny museums engage communities in conversations about the natural world, and is supported by Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation dedicated to the sciences.

“Curiosity, questioning, experimenting. All these things are fundamental to innovating and moving the boundaries of science,” said Milton Nuñez, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln. “Our patients, families, and visitors absolutely love the exhibit.”

“The NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln community is an important part of the South Bronx, and we’re delighted to become a part of it,” said MICRO’s co-founder Charles Philipp. “The Smallest Mollusk Museums are places where families get to step out of their normal days for a moment to connect, play, and explore. It’s a small thing that can make a big difference in the way people feel.”

Developed in collaboration with over 30 scientists from institutions including Stanford University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, MIT, and the University of Oxford, the Smallest Mollusk Museum will serve as an enjoyable gathering place for families and staff in the NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln community over the summer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Youngsters Strike a Pose for Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness Through NYC Fashion Show

HEALTH- Although Autism Awareness Month is observed in April, Bronx Moms, Advocates and Business Owners have banned together to ensure the message around tolerance and acceptance for children affected by autism continues.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children born in the US today will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Champs For Autism, founded by Dr. Stephannie L Addo-Zuniga and inspired by her son Jacob, was created as a platform for her son and other children to have a safe place to make new friends, engage in recreational activities and most importantly feel empowered.

On May 6th, over 100 NYC residents gathered at the Bay Plaza Mall, who graciously sponsored their space for the 4th Annual Champs for Autism Fashion Show. The event was organized by Dr. Stephannie L. Addo-Zuniga founder of Champs For Autism, and Managed by Ari Events LLC. The event included performances by performances included gospel singers Jehvon and Johanna George, and R&B Artist Songful Soul. The models who participated ripped the runway in clothes sponsored by the GAP KIDS ranging from formal-wear, career-wear, and spring-wear.

The children all slayed the runway provided by NY Led Furniture and were trained by Pazazz Modeling owned by Roshell Reneau, while Bronx Native, Ejay The Dj provided music for the entire event.

“I am completely overwhelmed with joy when I reflect on how much the show has grown since it’s inception four years ago. Overall this event provided hope and allowed parents of children with Autism to know that they are not alone, and there is a community of people going through the same challenges, but with each other support we can overcome.

“I am so thankful to all of the sponsors, and volunteers who worked not only to make this event a success but most importantly support autism awareness. We look forward to expanding our programming and long term building our own school which will provide academic and recreational support for children with autism,” said Dr. Stephannie L Addo-Zuniga, Champs For Autism.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Ebola Spreads to Major Congo City, Raising Risk of Larger Contagion

  1. Ebola Spreads to Major Congo City, Raising Risk of Larger Contagion  New York Times
  2. Spread Of Ebola In Congo A 'Game Changer'  NPR
  3. 'Major, Major Game-Changer': Ebola Spreads to Big Congo City  U.S. News & World Report
  4. The First Urban Case of Ebola in the Congo Is a 'Game Changer'  The AtlanticFull coverage

Hard-to-kill germs may be lurking in your hotel pool, CDC says

  1. Hard-to-kill germs may be lurking in your hotel pool, CDC says
  2. Nasty germs may be lurking in your hotel swimming pool  CBS News
  3. Parasites and bacteria may be lurking in hotel pools, hot tubs, CDC warns  CNNFull coverage

It may finally be safe to eat romaine lettuce again after a deadly E. coli outbreak sickened people in 32 states

  1. It may finally be safe to eat romaine lettuce again after a deadly E. coli outbreak sickened people in 32 states  Markets Insider
  2. It's probably safe to eat romaine lettuce again, CDC says
  3. Immediate threat of tainted romaine lettuce wilts as E.coli outbreak cause still unknown  ABC News
  4. Outbreaks > FDA Investigating Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Likely Linked to Romaine Lettuce from ...  FDA
  5. Does Washing Lettuce Get Rid of Bacteria?  LiveScience.comFull coverage