Your Heart Needs TLC Year-Round

By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects*

February is a time to celebrate Valentine’s Day, love and American Heart Month. However, focusing on your heart and providing it some TLC is something to do year-round.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, cardiovascular disease (CVD)—including heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure—is the number one killer of women and men in the United States. CVD is a leading cause of disability and heart disease is a major threat to senior health. The American Heart Association reports that approximately 83.6 million adults have at least one type of CVD. For those 60-79 years old, 70.2% of men and 70.9% of women have CVD.

While one in four deaths is due to heart disease, many CVD deaths could have been prevented through healthier habits and managing risk factors like:

  • Diet
  • Physical activity
  • Tobacco use
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes

Steps toward a healthy heart are a journey that requires lifestyle changes, determination and patience. Things that can help include:

  • Staying encouraged – every healthy choice makes a difference.
  • Asking for help—get friends and family involved; heart health is for everyone.
  • Rewarding yourself—decrease stress by discovering fun and new things to do.

Little changes add up; as Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Steps to Heart Disease Prevention

  • Get a regular check up from a health care professional. Know your numbers!
    High blood pressure often has no symptoms; so check it on a regular basis.
  • Know your family history—if heart disease runs in your family, be proactive about heart health.
  • Take your medicine.
  • Eat a healthy diet, including: plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables; nuts like walnuts and almonds; and, limit saturated fats and foods containing cholesterol.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly— Mayo Clinic recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • QUIT smoking.
  • Limit alcohol use.
  • Minimize stress in your life.

Find more Heart Health information at: http://www.everydayhealth.com/conditions/heart-health OR http://www.heart.org

 

*Pam Gennings has a Bachelor’s of Arts and has worked in the field of Geriatric Social Work and Care Coordination for more than 30 years. She started working for Oxford HealthCare in 1993. During the course of her career she has helped thousands of people find resources to remain in their homes as well as provided guidance to families that were facing difficulties with their aging loved ones.

 

 

George’s Beautiful Journey

By Marian Michaliszyn, Oxford Hospice Chaplain

Serene Forest PathWhen George was a child, his mom told him that “religion is good, but take it in small amounts.” So many years later, when he decided on hospice care, he declined chaplain visits for himself. He did request visits for his wife, because he thought it would help her after his death.

What George did not count on was the connection he and I made during the months I visited. Our visits began with general conversation, which then led to issues he’d had on his mind for decades.

George wanted to talk about his life journey starting with his childhood during World War II. He shared about high school and how he and his friends fixed up an old roadster and took turns driving it. He told me about a wonderful girl he met in high school who became his wife.

George spoke of his time in the Korean War and how the GI bill led to his career in communications. He considered himself a “self-made man” whose life choices and decisions brought him from California to Missouri.

Eventually, our conversations turned to religion. He told me about his experience at a tent revival at age 11 and about dismissing God and embracing science. Perhaps remembering his mother’s advice, George often said, “Religion had the last 3,000 years of rule in the lives of humans and now it’s time to let science have the next 100 years to shape society, and then see which is better.”

One day, we had a very powerful visit. When I arrived, George wanted to get away from his house so we could talk privately. We went to his boat dock, and George stated that he had a horrible night. He was confronted by the reality of his death and what happens afterword. There was a feeling of darkness and foreboding, and for the first time in his life he did not feel in control.

As we talked about the reality of death and making peace with God, I actively listened and offered faith resourcing as we discussed the meaning of life and George’s spiritual journey. As we shared with each other, George came to a place of resolving his questions of faith, religion and having peace in his spiritual life.

Not long after that visit, George died. When I went to see his wife and family, they shared how they all noticed George’s peaceful smile on his face. This was a great comfort to his family.

It was a privilege to share this part of George’s journey, and a privilege to continue the journey with bereavement support for his wife and children. With all the experiences, questions and concerns he shared, I was honored that he trusted me to be a non-judgmental listener.

What an amazing life he lived, and what a beautiful journey.

 

Coping with Grief and Loss During the Holiday Season

iStock_000049199546_XXXLarge

By Renee Jenkins, MSW, Oxford Bereavement Coordinator

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, the holiday season can be a very difficult time. During the holidays, people tend to become acutely aware of the absence of someone they love. Painful feelings may be intensified and loneliness may become more profound. Following are a few suggestions to help you move forward and make the most of the holiday season.

  1. Accept Your Feelings and Acknowledge Your LossAttempting to bypass feelings requires a lot of energy, and it is not a good way to heal grief. If this is your first holiday since the loss, it may be especially important to talk with others and be honest about how you are feeling. Don’t be afraid of tears shed amongst family or with a friend; acknowledging what is in your heart provides relief and a sense of closeness. However you feel, accept it.
  2. Be Good to YourselfRemember that your sadness can drain your energy, which puts your health at risk. Shopping at peak times, attending lots of gatherings and otherwise attempting to “make merry” may increase fatigue and loneliness. This year, you might want to scale back—spending a quiet evening at home, listening to music or writing in a journal may be a more nurturing use of your time.
  3. Listen to Your Inner VoiceYour instincts may tell you that it’s a good day to have a friend over for coffee, or that perhaps you should skip the big New Year’s bash. Pay attention to this inner voice—it’s one of the best friends you have! Intuition may lead you to the perfect person or activity for that moment while keeping you from situations that are not helpful. This is a time to respond to your own needs, not to other’s expectations of you.
  4. Blend New Traditions with OldDecide which of your traditions you want to repeat this year. If an absent loved one was responsible for these traditions, decide to whom you might want to delegate these traditions. Rituals from past holidays may magnify the sense of loss of your friend or family member. Sometimes these traditions may feel comforting; if not, establish a new holiday tradition. Do what feels best to you.
  5. Make It Okay to be AloneWhile isolating yourself from others is not recommended, there are many times when solitude can be vital and deeply satisfying. Explore being alone and find out what is most compelling to do during your alone time. Loneliness can be triggered by the idea that “everyone else” is out having a good time, but use this quiet time to remember and think of the special people in your life.
  1. If Children are Part of Your Holidays – Focus on the KidsChildren, especially those younger than 13, grieve in a more intermittent way than adults. This is why they are still so excited to celebrate the holiday season. Children may be more interested in traditions and festivities than the adult members of your family this year. Ask your family members and friends to help provide that “holiday spirit” for the children in your family. Children need not be shielded from your times of sadness; their own grief is more understandable to them if they can see that you share the same feelings.

You are always welcome to join Oxford for our Grief Support Groups available in Southwest Missouri. You can also contact our Bereavement Department at

(417) 883-7500 for more information. If you live outside of Southwest Missouri and would like more information about a Grief Support Group near you, please visit www.griefshare.org

Coping with Holidays and Loss

By Renee’ Jenkins, MSW – Oxford Bereavement Coordinator

HolidayTreats

The holiday season is here, and for many people, this is an exciting season. But, if you have lost a loved one or friend, this season can be painful. The ache intensifies and the loneliness can quickly overwhelm you. Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of the holiday season, along with helping you move forward.

1. Be Good to Yourself

Sadness zaps your energy; so, don’t push yourself. You might be exhausted after a day of shopping or attempting to “make merry”. Try spending a quiet evening at home, doing something you enjoy. This may be a more nurturing use of your time, so you can stay healthy.

2. Blend New Traditions with the Old

Rituals from past holidays may magnify the sense of loss of your friend or family member. But, sometimes these traditions may feel comforting. Decide what traditions you want to repeat, and consider establishing new holiday traditions. You could take a trip to a country inn, go to church or synagogue, volunteer to help at a convalescent home or soup kitchen. It often helps to get together with a friend, who is also experiencing a loss in their life, for extra comfort and support.

3. Acknowledge your Loss

Attempting to bypass feelings requires enormous energy, and it is not a good way to heal grief. If this is the first holiday season since losing your loved one or friend, it’s important to talk with others about how you are feeling. Don’t be afraid to shed a tear to your family and friends. Acknowledging your true feelings can provide much-needed relief. One way to acknowledge your loss is to do something special. Put together a photo album of your loved one, visit the grave, light a candle for him or her, or write a poem.

4. Listen to your Inner Voice

Your instincts may tell you that today would be good day to have a friend over for coffee, or that you should skip the big New Year’s Eve bash. Pay attention to this inner voice—it’s one of the best friends you have! Intuition may lead you to the perfect person or activity for that moment, while keeping you from situations that are not helpful. This is a time to respond to your own needs, not to other’s expectations of you.

5. Make It Okay to be Alone

While isolating yourself from others is not always a good idea, there are times when solitude is vital to the healing process. During your alone times, explore new ideas on what you enjoy doing. Remember, loneliness is triggered by the idea that “everyone else” is having a good time, and you are alone. Don’t forget, you are in good company with family and friends to support you.

6. Get Help in Making the Holidays Festive for the Kids

Children, especially those younger than 13, grieve in a more intermittent way than adults. That’s why they are still excited to celebrate the holiday season. They will likely want to keep the traditions alive and enjoy the festivities. Ask your family members and friends to help provide that “holiday spirit” for the children in your family. It’s also okay to let children see your sadness. It might help them with their own grief when they see you experiencing the same feelings they are experiencing.


You are welcome to join us for our Grief Support Groups available in Southwest Missouri. You can also contact our Bereavement Department at (417) 883-7500 for more information. If you live outside of Southwest Missouri, and would like more information about a Grief Support Group near you, please visit www.griefshare.org.

November is National Hospice Month

By Elizabeth M. Lee, RN

Once again we celebrate a wonderful and caring option of care for patients who are facing end of life illness. Many people think hospice means a place to die. It is not. It is a specialized program and philosophy of health care to provide comfort for individuals approaching the end of life.

Seven out of 10 Americans say they would prefer to die at home, according to a CNN poll, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 25 percent actually do.

Dying is difficult to talk about, even difficult to think about. Death is neither a concept nor a medical rarity, yet dying is not to be viewed as a simple event. If the attempt to reverse the course of a terminal disease is medically futile and only leads to prolonged pain and suffering for the patient and family, then the logical decision is to change the pattern and goal of care to provide more satisfying results.

Embracing the hospice philosophy of palliation (comfort measures) for both the patient and family enables the patient to receive excellent pain management and undesirable symptom control. Patient goals of care are foremost and must be included in daily care.

Providing patient and family comfort through hospice requires, by definition, a holistic approach that encompasses medical, nursing, psychosocial, spiritual, and ultimately bereavement care. The patient and the family are the unit of care. This approach makes hospice unique in the health care field. Hospice care requires more attention to detail to be effective than acute care, in that it deals with the whole person, not just a disease.

An interdisciplinary team is utilized in the care of the patient. This includes:

  • Physician
  • Nurse
  • Social worker
  • Chaplain
  • Aide
  • Grief services

Hospice care emphasizes supporting a patient to live fully during a time of decline. It offers new hope and goals, not for survival, but for physical and emotional comfort and dignity. This care is mainly offered in the patient’s home, or wherever “home” is located.

In the United States we are fortunate. We have the Hospice Medicare Benefit that covers the care, medications, supplies, equipment that is necessary for the patient’s end of life illness. Many private insurance plans also provide a hospice benefit as well as some state Medicaid plans. This is a huge cost savings for the patient and family.

For more information on our Hospice and Palliative Care programs, contact one of our Care Coordinators today who will be glad to assist you.