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Address tomorrow’s needs today

Rabbi Bunny Freedman from the Jewish Hospice & Chaplaincy network helps Hospice of Michigan staff understand the world Jews lived in during the Holocaust.

Rabbi Bunny Freedman from the Jewish Hospice & Chaplaincy network helps Hospice of Michigan staff understand the world Jews lived in during the Holocaust.

Hospice of Michigan Institute  

Fifteen years ago, Hospice of Michigan team members began noticing a “care gap.”

The physicians, nurses and social workers so adept at providing end-of-life care for those with a diagnosis of six months or less to live found an increasing number of patients and families who needed help but didn’t meet this criteria.

Struggling with advanced cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS and other serious illnesses, these patients were falling through the proverbial cracks of the healthcare system.  Families who had stepped in to provide the extra care needed found themselves exhausted and struggling.

So was born the idea for At Home Support™, an advanced illness management program that offers comfort care to seriously ill patients who may still be years away from hospice care. The program provides an interdisciplinary team who handle the medical, social and spiritual needs of patients and their caregivers and round-the-clock access to nurses telephonically.

At Home Support is just one example that makes it easy to understand why research and education is so important to end-of-life care. That’s why, with a generous $3 million gift from Detroit-area philanthropist and civic leader Maggie Allesee, the Maggie Allesee Center for Quality of Life was formed.

Today, the Center has evolved to become the Hospice of Michigan Institute, the only research and innovation center in Michigan focused on end-of-life care. It has become the premier hub for research, education and community outreach initiatives aimed at improving care for people who are seriously ill and providing support for their caregivers.

The Hospice of Michigan Institute is a place where end-of-life experts can exchange ideas on enhancing the care of those with serious illness and where health care providers can learn new ways to improve the care they provide their patients in the last phase of life,” said Dr. Michael Paletta, executive director of the Institute. The education and programs the Institute provides are grounded in its research, which changes every day.

The research shows we can live better with serious illness and through training and education of its staff, medical professionals and the community at large, the Institute is improving quality-of-life at the end-of-life.

The Institute is focused on:

Training the trainers: It’s an approved provider of continuing nursing education, allowing the Institute to train HOM staff as well as educate nurses throughout the country on issues and concepts dealing with quality-of-life and end-of-life care. Additionally, the Institute offers cultural experience programs that provide greater insight into the needs of those facing unique circumstances related to shared experiences that fall beyond typical hospice care and training.

Education and training for persons living with advanced illness: the Institute conducts educational and outreach activities, accessible to the general public, that provide a comfortable environment for individuals to discuss advanced illness management and death at any point in their lives.

Research initiatives: Collaborating with major universities and health care centers, the Institute develops new and innovative ways to improve quality-of-life and end-of-life care. The Institute uses this research and data to show the value of its programs and constantly measures outcomes to prove effectiveness.

In the past few years alone, research and education developed by the Institute has helped HOM introduce several new programs, including:

Veteran support training: In conjunction with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s We Honor Veterans program, the Institute has provided training and education programs to HOM’s clinical teams to recognize and treat the unique issues facing military families. HOM has been recognized as a Level Four partner in the program, signifying the organization has met the highest standards set by the Veterans Administration and NHPCO for this national program.

Holocaust survivor education: In an effort to provide better and more sensitive end-of-life care to the hundreds of Holocaust survivors in Michigan, the Institute is working with the Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network to educate HOM staff on the Holocaust and the unique end-of-life needs of survivors.

Hispanic outreach program: The Institute has secured grant funding to allow HOM to better meet the needs of the Hispanic community in Grand Rapids. Spanish-speaking nurses and staff have begun connecting with community to provide culturally sensitive hospice services and educational materials.

To learn more about the Hospice of Michigan Institute or for more information on educational programs offered to medical professionals and the community, call 888.247.5701 or visit www.hom.org.

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Will quitting smoking help prevent diabetes?

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is encouraging residents to combat the risk of diabetes by maintaining healthy habits and quitting smoking. According to a 2014 report released by the Surgeon General, smoking is shown to be an actual cause of diabetes and a risk factor for poor control of blood glucose or blood sugar. The report, released in January, The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress, explains that smokers are 30-40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who do not smoke.

“Smoking negatively impacts blood flow making it even more difficult to control blood glucose levels,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive for the MDCH. “The more cigarettes smoked, the higher the risk of diabetes. The good news is that by quitting smoking today you can lower your risk of developing diabetes and other chronic diseases over time.”

_HEA-smoking-and-diabetes-webIn 2012, one out of ten Michigan adults were diagnosed with diabetes. An additional 250,000 were thought to already have the disease but were not yet diagnosed. More than a third of Michigan adults were already at high risk with a condition called prediabetes.

Diabetes is a word used for several conditions where blood glucose levels are too high. When a person eats, most of the food is turned into energy in the form of glucose. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, keeps glucose levels in normal ranges by helping glucose move from the blood into the body’s cells where it is used for energy. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes very little or no insulin. In type 2 diabetes, insulin that is still being made is not working as well as it should to keep blood glucose levels down.

Some people are at risk for diabetes, particularly type 2, and don’t know it. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include: a family history of the disease, being overweight, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, age, and a history of gestational (during pregnancy) diabetes for women. The Surgeon General’s report makes it clear that smoking is a cause for type 2 diabetes as well. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and most commonly develops in children or young adults.

Diabetes can cause serious damage to organs and nerves. Heart attacks, strokes, blindness, amputations, and infections are well-known complications. Regardless of the type of diabetes, smoking makes it more difficult to control blood glucose levels. Smoking negatively impacts blood flow resulting in similar complications and compounds the risks caused by diabetes.

Learn how to prevent or manage diabetes. Connect with a local Diabetes Self-Management Education Program or learn more at www.michigan.gov/diabetes. For smoking cessation resources, contact the Michigan Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.michigan.gov/tobacco.

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Mental health first aid trainings

Courses help communities identify, understand, and respond to mental illness

In an effort to help communities identify, understand, and respond to the signs of mental illness, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is encouraging Michigan residents to take a Mental Health First Aid training near them. There are currently more than 30 classes scheduled for the months of June and July across the state.

“We would like to see Mental Health First Aid training become as common and as widely known as traditional first aid courses are,” said James K. Haveman, Director of the MDCH. “Through these courses, we are not only helping reduce stigma by increasing understanding, but we’re helping our residents direct their friends and loved ones to the care they need.”

The MDCH is running online and radio promotions to increase awareness of the trainings to residents throughout Michigan communities. Currently, Mental Health First Aid trainings are being conducted free of charge for those who work or reside within Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent, Macomb, Muskegon, Oakland, and Wayne counties. Residents of other counties may take the training for a fee.

Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour training certification course that teaches participants a five-step action plan to assess a situation, select and implement interventions and secure appropriate care for the individual. The certification program introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact and overviews common treatments. Thorough evaluations in randomized controlled trials and a quantitative study have proved the CPR-like program effective in improving trainees’ knowledge of mental disorders, reducing stigma, and increasing the amount of help provided to others.

Mental Health First Aid originated in 2001 in Australia under the direction of founders Betty Kitchener and Tony Jorm. To date, it has been replicated in twenty other countries worldwide, including Hong Kong, Scotland, England, Canada, Finland, and Singapore.

Kent County will hold trainings on Wednesday, July 16 and Tuesday, July 29, at Network 180, 790 Fuller NE, Grand Rapids. To register go to www.network180.org. For additional info, email training@network180.org.

For more information about Mental Health First Aid trainings visit www.michigan.gov/mentalhealthfirstaid.

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When disaster strikes, will your pets be safe?

Preparedness tips for pet parents

(BPT) – Americans living in areas prone to severe storms, floods, earthquakes or other natural disasters may be well aware of the philosophy, “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” Families with a disaster plan in place will be better equipped to stay safe and recover from an emergency. Too often, however, even the best planners forget to include provisions for the four-legged members of the family.

_HEA-Pet-Tips-during-disaster-web“When disaster strikes, families may not have much time to act,” says Dr. Ellen I. Lowery, associate director of U.S. professional and veterinary affairs at Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “While organizations like Hill’s, through our Disaster Relief Network, strive to help families and pets in the wake of natural disasters, it’s important to have a disaster plan ready, including a well-stocked Pet Emergency Go-Kit with food, water and other essentials for your pet.”

Dr. Lowery offers some guidance for putting your “Pet Emergency Go-Kit” together:

  • Include first aid supplies and a first aid guide book for pets.
  • Keep three-day supplies of both your pet’s favorite food – in a waterproof container – and bottled water.
  • Store an extra safety harness and leash because even the best-behaved pet may be frightened in an emergency, causing him to run and hide.
  • Include waste cleanup supplies. It’s important to properly dispose of pet waste to avoid adding health concerns to an already difficult situation.
  • If your pet is on any medications, keep a few days’ worth in your kit. Also include an up-to-date copy of medical records, as well as contact information for your veterinarian and additional veterinary and pet care organizations in your area.
  • You should have a brief, written explanation of your pet’s feeding routine, personality and any behavioral issues. In a disaster, your pet may receive care from someone who doesn’t know him as well as you do.
  • Don’t forget comfort. Include a few toys and a favorite blanket to keep your pet comfortable.

Keep your Pet Go-Kit somewhere readily accessible in an emergency. Be sure your pet always wears his/her identification—a microchip or collar ID tag with up-to-date information may help reunite you with your pet if you become separated in the confusion of a disaster scene.

If an impending disaster requires you to evacuate, take your pet with you. Be aware of your pet’s favorite hiding places so you’ll know where to look when you’re in a hurry to leave.

Before disaster strikes, identify locations where you could take your pet during an evacuation. Not all disaster shelters for people will be open to pets. Look for pet-friendly hotels or motels, or ask relatives and friends if they could accommodate you and your pets.

Despite your best efforts, it may not be possible to take your pet with you. To alert first responders to the possible presence of a pet in the house, place a pet rescue decal on your front door or window. It should include your veterinarian’s contact information and any special notes about your pet’s personality or medical needs. Carry a picture of your pet in case you become separated.

“Pet displacement during natural disasters is such a serious issue, the federal government has even enacted standards for evacuating and transporting pets during disasters,” Dr. Lowery says. “One widely quoted report cited Hurricane Katrina as an example of what can happen to pets during a natural disaster. The report said more than 200,000 pets were displaced during the storm, and the majority of them were never reunited with their families.”

Last year, Hill’s launched the Disaster Relief Network, a first-of-its-kind national system that allows the company to quickly coordinate pet food deliveries in response to natural disasters. Since its inception, the network has delivered free food to more than 50 shelters and veterinary clinics in response to floods, forest fires, tornados and mudslides. To learn more about the network, visit http://www.hillspet.com/food-shelter-love/emergency-help.html.

 

 

 

 

 

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The burning truth about tanning

HEA-Burning-truth-girl-getting-tan

As more people begin to head outside to enjoy the weather, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is joining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote the Burning Truth campaign urging residents to protect themselves from the dangers of tanning and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Science has shown that no matter the source, sunlight or tanning bed, exposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer.

“There is a misconception that indoor tanning is somehow safe or safer than exposure to sunlight, but the truth is that tanning bed related injuries send thousands of people to the hospital each year,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the MDCH. “Tanning beds pose immediate risk and have long-term effects on your skin and overall health.”

People who tan indoor damage their skin, which can lead to wrinkles, warts, rashes, and dark spots. The most serious concern is the risk of causing the deadliest skin cancer, melanoma. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and rates are climbing. Teen girls and young women need to be especially careful, as it is the second most common cancer in women between 20 and 29 years of age.

Further, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently came out with new requirements for sunlamp products that reinforce the risk, especially to minors. These requirements include reclassifying sunlamp products and UV lamps as moderate-risk, up from low-risk, and additional warning and safety labeling regarding minors under the age of 18 and skin cancer screenings.

The CDC’s Burning Truth initiative encourages residents to keep their skin healthy by protecting themselves from UV rays from the sun and tanning beds and learning about the myths associated with tanning of any kind, including:

• A base tan is not a safe tan. There is a common misconception that a tan acts as the body’s natural protection against sunburn. The truth is that a tan is the body’s response to injury from UV rays, showing that damage has been done. A “base tan” only provides a sun protection factor (SPF) of about 3 or less, which does little to protect your skin.

• Tanned skin is not healthy skin. Some people believe the tanning bed gives them a “healthy glow.” The truth is that whether tanning or burning, you are exposing yourself to harmful UV rays that damage your skin, and every time you tan, you increase your risk of melanoma. The truly healthy glow is your natural skin color.

• Controlled tanning is not safe tanning. People may have heard that indoor tanning is the safer way to tan because you can control your level of exposure to UV rays. When in reality indoor tanning exposes you to intense UV rays, increasing your risk of melanoma.

Avoiding indoor tanning and protecting yourself from the sun when outdoors are the best ways to reduce your chance of getting skin cancer. For more information about the truth of tanning, visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/burningtruth. For more information about the FDA’s recent sunlamp requirement changes, visit http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm399222.htm.

 

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Fight the Bite this summer

Use insect repellant to keep away mosquitoes and ticks this summer.

Use insect repellant to keep away mosquitoes and ticks this summer.

As the weather warms and people begin to spend more time outdoors, it is important to take precautions against mosquito and tick bites. The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) would like to remind people, especially those spending time outdoors and children at camps, to protect themselves from mosquito or tickborne diseases.

Last year, West Nile Virus was responsible for 36 illnesses and 2 fatalities reported in Michigan. Seasonal activity varies from year to year, but mosquitoes in Michigan can carry illnesses such as West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and ticks can carry illnesses such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Mosquito and tick-borne diseases can cause mild symptoms, severe infections requiring hospitalization, and even death.

Adults who are 50 and older have the highest risk of illness caused by West Nile Virus. In addition to presenting a greater risk for older people, EEE is more likely to cause illness in children 15 years of age or younger. People in outdoor occupations such as construction and landscaping are at increased risk of getting bitten, but the mosquito that carries WNV likes to get indoors as well. You can protect against mosquito bites by remembering to:

The West Nile virus maintains itself in nature by cycling between mosquitoes and certain species of birds. A mosquito (the vector) bites an uninfected bird (the host), the virus amplifies within the bird, an uninfected mosquito bites the bird and is in turn infected. Other species such as humans and horses are incidental infections, as they are not the mosquitoes’ preferred blood meal source. The virus does not amplify within these species and they are known as dead-end hosts.

The West Nile virus maintains itself in nature by cycling between mosquitoes and certain species of birds. A mosquito (the vector) bites an uninfected bird (the host), the virus amplifies within the bird, an uninfected mosquito bites the bird and is in turn infected. Other species such as humans and horses are incidental infections, as they are not the mosquitoes’ preferred blood meal source. The virus does not amplify within these species and they are known as dead-end hosts.

Avoid mosquito bites: Use insect repellent when outdoors especially from dusk to dawn. Look for EPA-labeled products containing active ingredients, such as DEET, Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Reapply as needed according to label directions. Use nets or fans around outdoor eating areas to keep mosquitoes away.

Mosquito-proof homes: Fix or install window and door screens and cover or eliminate empty containers with standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.

Help your community: Report dead birds to Michigan’s Emerging Diseases website (www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases) to help track WNV and support community-based mosquito control programs.

Vaccinate horses against West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus.

Michigan is also home to a number of tick species that will bite people. Ticks are typically found in wooded or brushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter. The ticks most commonly encountered by people in Michigan include the American dog tick which can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and the blacklegged tick which can spread a number of illnesses, including Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is considered to be an emerging disease due to the expansion of tick populations in Michigan’s western Upper and Lower Peninsulas and is the most common tick-borne disease reported in the state with 165 human cases reported in 2013,  an increase of almost 60 percent from the previous year. The period from June to September is of concern because of the poppy-seed sized nymphal-stage tick, which is responsible for much of the Lyme disease in the U.S. While rare, human cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever have also been documented in Michigan.

Many tickborne diseases have similar symptoms. See your healthcare provider if you develop signs of illness such as a fever, body aches and/or rash in the days after receiving a tick bite or recreating in tick habitat. Early recognition and treatment can decrease the chance of serious complications. You can prevent tick bites by remembering these easy steps:

Both nymphal and adult deer ticks can be carriers of Lyme disease. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed.

Both nymphal and adult deer ticks can be carriers of Lyme disease. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed.

Avoid tick-infested areas. This is especially important in May, June, and July. If you are in tick infested areas, walk in the center of trails to avoid contact with overgrown grass, brush, and leaf litter at trail edges.

Use insect repellent. Spray repellent containing DEET or Picaridin on clothes and on exposed skin. You can also treat clothes (especially pants, socks, and shoes) with permethrin, which kills ticks on contact or buy clothes that are pre-treated. Permethrin can also be used on tents and some camping gear. Do not use permethrin directly on skin. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying any repellents.

Bathe or shower. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you. Ticks can get a ride indoors on your clothes. After being outdoors, wash and dry clothing at a high temperature to kill any ticks that may remain on clothing.

Perform daily tick checks. Always check for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Ticks must usually be attached for at least a day before they can transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, so early removal can reduce the risk of infection. To remove an attached tick, grasp the tick firmly and as closely to the skin as possible. With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin. Do not be alarmed if the tick’s mouthparts remain in the skin. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic.

For more information about WNV, visit www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus. For more information about diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks, visit www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.

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Find the right tools to invest in a healthy smile

HEA-Healthy-smile-web(BPT) – If you’re concerned about your oral health and looking to protect your physical and financial well-being, one of the easiest ways to do so is to practice preventive care. Attending bi-annual dental checkups and making smart oral health decisions can help you spot a concern well before it becomes an expensive problem.

Despite the obvious benefits of adhering to preventive care, many people forget this simple routine and risk bigger expenses down the road. Here are some easy tips you can follow to invest in a healthy smile and protect your oral health.

* Get serious about flossing. Daily flossing is one of the most important things you can do to improve your oral health. Floss helps to get down into the crevices between the teeth. This is where plaque resides. Daily flossing helps you remove this plaque before it turns into tartar.

* Find the toothbrush that’s right for you. As the main tool for scrubbing and brushing away unwanted plaque, the toothbrush tends to do the heavy lifting. Most dentists today recommend using an electric toothbrush. This allows you to give your teeth a better cleaning in less time, and it ensures you are brushing with the appropriate pressure.

* What’s your toothpaste of choice? With so many kinds of toothpaste, personal preference plays a big factor. Toothpastes vary by flavor, whitening power and other additional features, so it really comes down to your brushing goals. Whichever brand you select, make sure the box has the American Dental Association (ADA) stamp. This way you’ll know your toothpaste has been regulated and tested.

* Don’t forget the mouthwash. People tend to forget about this important last step in a mouth cleansing routine, but a recent Good Housekeeping study found that “More than 9 out of 10 respondents who are not currently mouth rinse users (93 percent) said they would use it if it could help improve their dental visits.” Look for a mouthwash like the new Crest Pro-Health Tartar Protection rinse. This rinse does more than just provide anti-tartar and anti-cavity benefits, it also helps to freshen breath, fights unwanted surface stains and strengthens weakened enamel.

* Your smile is affected by what you eat. There are many products on the market that that can help you whiten your smile, but you can also improve your pearly whites by making the right food choices. Eating strawberries, broccoli, apples and cauliflower, or drinking water and dairy products help to whiten your smile. Meanwhile, you should avoid drinking red wine, tea, coffee and cola, as these drinks can stain your teeth.

Maintaining good oral health doesn’t have to be hard. With the right tools and an established daily routine, you can ensure your minor oral health concerns don’t lead to major dentist bills in the future. To learn more ways you can improve your oral health, visit CrestProHealth.com.

 

 

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Walking: the old way to get fit is new again

HEA-Walking-web(BPT) – With so many fitness trends, you might not think of walking as good exercise. If you’re not thrusting a kettlebell over your head, pushing a tractor trailer tire or shaking your hips to a Top 40 dance beat in a scheduled group class, you’re not cutting it, right? Well, not so fast. Walking is actually a great way to get in shape. In fact, if you walk often enough and fast enough, the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other can satisfy your body’s daily requirement for aerobic activity.

Walking may just seem like an old method of exercise; it certainly is tried and true. But quite the opposite of outdated, it seems to be making a resurgence in the health, fitness and medical worlds as a low-cost solution to the nation’s ongoing health care crisis.

Renowned medical expert Dr. Andrew Weil is an advocate of walking as a crucial method of preventative care. He advocates walking as a low-risk means to optimum health.

“With a consistent, brisk walking routine, you can boost your immune system, help manage weight, improve your mood and help ease depression, as well as improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and prevent osteoporosis,” says Weil. “The additional benefits may be endless.”

The walking movement is growing: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that between 2005 and 2010, the number of adults who walked for 10 minutes or more at least once a week rose from 56 to 62 percent – an increase of almost 20 million people.

Need more convincing reasons to walk onto the bandwagon? Here’s why walking for exercise is so ideal:

* Walking is what your body is designed to do.

*Among all forms of aerobic exercise, walking carries the least risk of injury.

* You can walk almost anywhere, any time.

* Nearly everyone can walk, and it’s something you can do throughout your life.

* It’s free.

* There’s no special skill, training, or equipment needed – all you need is the right footwear.

The buzz about walking has even reached the stars. Fitness trainer to celebrities such as Kate Walsh, Pink and Stacey Kiebler, Juliet Kaska has been known to start many of her high-profile clientele with a consistent walking routine. Kaska recommends walking as a great baseline for any fitness program, but reminds her followers to “invest in a good pair of walking shoes. They will do wonders for your posture and joints. Minimizing the impact of each step. Look for lightweight flexible shoes and be sure to replace them often, especially if you’re walking every day.”

As you develop your walking program, set your own pace. As a general rule, taking 10,000 steps a day is a great goal for improving your overall physical, emotional and mental fitness. But the journey, as they say, begins with a single step. There’s no better time than now to begin.

 

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Camp Good Grief

Hospice of Michigan Offers Day Camp for Children Coping with Loss

One in 20 children under the age of 18 will have experienced the death of a parent and many others will grieve the death of a sibling or another important person in their lives.

Because children can grieve differently than adults, the extent of their grief can often go undetected. To help prevent this, Hospice of Michigan introduced Camp Good Grief in 2012, a day camp designed to help children cope with the loss of a loved one. This year, camp is scheduled for Friday, June 20.

The free one-day camp is held at Camp Newaygo and invites children ages 8-17 to partake in a combination of fun and adventurous camp activities with grief education and emotional support. Hospice of Michigan grief professionals and trained volunteers facilitate the camp, which is open to all children in the community who have experienced the death of a loved one.

“Children are often the forgotten grievers,” said Tangela Zielinski, grief support manager at HOM. When someone dies, people tend to focus on the adult closest to the deceased, but children can suffer from a unique grief that’s important to address.

A child’s grief is far different than an adults; it often comes in spurts and small doses. Camp Good Grief provides a safe, nurturing and fun place where children can process what they’re going through in a healthy way.

By around age 9, children begin to understand that death is a permanent and real biological process. This is also when they develop a strong desire to belong to a group and fit in. It’s when moods and feelings of stress and anxiety appear and when children become more susceptible to peer influence and pressure.

Studies have shown that unresolved loss and grief issues can manifest themselves in poor school performance, acting out, truancy, drug abuse, depression and suicidal tendencies—behaviors that trail into adulthood with disastrous consequences.

HOM recognizes that children can be the age group most affected by death and can have a more difficult time processing and understanding their grief. Camp Good Grief gives these children a safe place to grieve and helps them make sense of the emotions they’re feeling.

“At a time when they’re trying to fit in, the death of a loved one can make kids feel isolated and alone,” Zielinski says.  “Camp Good Grief allows children to connect with others in a similar situation and leaves them feeling they’re not all that different.”

The camp is designed to provide children with a welcoming environment where they can express their grief, be comforted by peers that are going through something similar, enjoy camp activities and find peace in nature, which in itself is healing.

Camp activities include arts and crafts, kayaking, rock wall climbing, a zip line, swimming, gaga ball, a kite memorial and other team building exercises – all activities that can be tied into discussions on grief.  For example, when children climb the rock wall, it can be scary, which provides an opportunity to discuss fear.

“It’s our hope that kids leave the camp feeling that they’re not alone,” Zielinski adds. “We want them to understand that their grief is normal and while it’s okay to be sad, better days are ahead.”

Hospice of Michigan’s 2014 Camp Good Grief will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 20 at Camp Newaygo, 5333 Centerline Road, Newaygo.  Space is limited and those interested are encouraged to register as soon as possible.  For applications and more information, parents or guardians should call Zielinski at 231.527.0913.

Grief is a personal and individual experience that takes place over time.  While it’s okay to give the child time to be sad and work through their grief, if you see a pattern of worrisome behaviors, you may want to contact a grief professional.

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Mental health tips for parents of teens and young adults

HEA-teen-mental-health

(StatePoint) If you are the parent of an older child or teen, you may not think about his or her day-to-day medical needs as often as you did during early childhood. But older kids also are dependent on you, especially when it comes to emotional health and wellness.

“Life transitions, romantic situations, stress and exposure to drugs and alcohol are just a few of the challenges facing teens and young adults,” says James Perrin, MD, FAAP, 2014 President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “As a parent, you can help ease these transitions and encourage positive choices.”

May, which is Mental Health Month, is a good time to take stock of your child’s emotional well-being. The AAP offers these tips for parents to foster good mental health:

• At each new stage in your child`s life, be extra vigilant for signals that he needs extra support. Be ready to provide it.

• Check in often and keep the lines of communication open. If your child is away at college or has moved out, speak regularly by phone. Children should know that they can talk to you about anything. Be committed to broaching tough topics. Talk about your own experiences and fears when you were an adolescent.

• If your teen has a mental health diagnosis, he or she will need extra support. Pediatricians, school counselors and mental health professionals are important resources.

• Watch for mental health red flags, such as excessive sleeping, personality shifts, excessive moodiness, noticeable weight loss or gain, excessive secrecy or signs of self-harm.

• Don’t skip the annual physical. Not only are teens still on a vaccination schedule, but check-ups are a crucial opportunity to talk to your pediatrician about any concerns, as well as diagnose any potential physical and mental health issues. It’s also a great time for teens to seek confidential advice.

• Safeguard your home against prescription drug abuse by keeping your own medications locked. According to the AAP, prescription drug misuse by adolescents is second only to marijuana and alcohol misuse. The most commonly abused prescription drugs include Vicodin and Xanax.

• Provide logistical support for young adults like completing health forms and physicals for college; setting up accommodations at school if they have a mental health diagnosis; finding physicians to care for their adult needs; and signing up for health insurance. Your pediatrician’s office can help.

• Help limit teens’ stress. Don’t encourage them to take on excessive time-consuming extra-curricular activities. Avoid comparing your children. Every child has his own strengths.

• Encourage habits that reduce stress and promote physical and mental health, such as a well-balanced diet, getting at least seven hours of sleep a night, and regular exercise.

• At this age, it’s important for parents to arm their older children with coping skills that will serve them throughout life, rather than handling everything for them.

More health tips for parents of older children, teens and young adults can be found at www.HealthyChildren.org.

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