Steve Snelgrove, Howard County General Hospital’s new president, gets ready to “bike the lights.”

Steve Snelgrove, Howard County General Hospital’s new president, gets ready to “bike the lights.”

The Howard County General Hospital Symphony of Lights, a spectacular display of 70 larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations, has been a favorite community holiday tradition for 21 years and the largest annual fundraising event to benefit the hospital.

People have been running, walking, driving, pushing tots in strollers, walking pets on leashes and celebrating New Year’s Eve at the Symphony of Lights for many years, and now there is a new, healthier way to enjoy the holiday magic. You can “Bike the Lights” on Tuesday, Dec. 2. It’s a great family outing and a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season for bikers of all ages and abilities. If you’re not keen on biking, you can walk…the course is 1.4 miles and mostly flat! It will help you be festive and fit.

In addition to having fun and helping your community hospital, biking is good for your heart and your health. Here are some great reasons to ride your bike through the holiday lights and to make biking a part of your regular exercise routines.

The American Heart Association (AHA) notes that physical activity—anything that makes you move your body to burn calories—is very important to prevent heart disease and stroke and recommends at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise, five times a week. Biking is an excellent aerobic activity.

According to the AHA, regular exercise:

  • Improves blood circulation throughout your body
  • Keeps weight under control
  • Improves blood cholesterol levels
  • Prevents and manages high blood pressure
  • Prevents bone loss
  • Boosts your energy level
  • Releases tension
  • Improves your ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well
  • Improves self-image
  • Helps manage stress
  • Counters anxiety and depression
  • Increases your enthusiasm and optimism
  • Increases your muscle strength

A daily exercise program can provide a way for you to share an activity with your family and friends, while helping you establish good heart-healthy habits. Daily exercise can help your child deter conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, and poor lifestyle habits that lead to heart attack and stroke later in life. If you are an older adult, daily physical activity can help delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging, and help you maintain your quality of life and independence longer.

Do your hospital and your body a big favor: Come out and Bike the Lights!


read more

calendar_2014sm
Symphony of Lights, a 20-minute drive through of more than 70 larger-than-life holiday light displays, benefiting Howard County General Hospital, is now open nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 4, 2015 (closed for walk-through events on Tuesdays and Dec. 31). The display, presented by Macy’s, is in Columbia’s Symphony Woods. Admission is $20 per car or van up to eight. $5 off coupon. You can also participate in a Group Walk-Through. They’re perfect for scouts, school groups and more (Tuesdays through Dec. 30, pre-registration required, pets prohibited).

Monday, Dec. 1, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Monday, Dec. 1, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Monday, Dec. 8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Mondays. No registration required.

Monday, Dec. 8, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brain (Part 2) at Miller Branch. As this three-part series continues, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program. Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media. Registration Required.

 


read more
1970s family portrait

1970s family portrait

Commit to give up smoking for at least one day: the Great American Smokeout is Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014

This year, for the Great American Smokeout, I share a childhood story that may hit home for smokers who are also parents.

I grew up in Howard County in the early 70s and 80s, with two wonderful parents who did everything for me. I don’t know where I would be without them. More people smoked back then, and both of my parents did, too.

The county public schools in the 70s were showing scary pictures of black lungs to young school children in an effort to convince us that smoking was not a good habit to start. It did make me think twice about smoking, but it also made me worry about my parents’ health. So I came home from school and proposed a deal with them that I would quit sucking my thumb (yes, I still did that through the second or third grade and they’d been trying to get me to quit) if they would quit smoking. Around that same time, my Uncle Joe died of cancer. He was a smoker, too. After his funeral, they both decided it was time to quit smoking.

No surprise, I ended up working in health care as an adult, writing about healthy behaviors, prevention and risk factors. It’s fascinating to me how many illnesses can be prevented with the advice your parents always gave you: eat right, exercise, get good rest—and of course don’t smoke. We all know what we should and shouldn’t do, but actually doing it is sometimes difficult.

Tragically, my father died at age 63, the year after he retired. I still miss him every day. He had a heart defect and I truly believe that he lived as long as he did because he quit smoking in his early 40s, as smoking would have put more stress on his heart. My mother is in her early eighties now, and in overall good health despite a strong family history of heart disease and stroke (plus help from some great doctors and the caring team at our hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program!).

I can’t take credit for having great parents or for making them quit smoking—they did it all on their own. But sometimes we forget that daily behaviors can make a big difference in ensuring a long and healthy life. I think most people would agree that they’d like to be there for their children as they become adults. I may be a grown up, but I still need my mom, and it goes without saying that I’m glad she’s still here.

Incidentally, before my mother retired, she helped run the smoking cessation program at her workplace. Today, there are many good programs and methods out there for quitting if you really want to do it. Maybe your kids can be your motivation, or maybe it will come from somewhere else.

On Thursday, Nov. 20, at least consider quitting for one day and try to keep it going. Visit the Howard County General Hospital lobby during the Great American Smokeout for information and literature to help you quit.

The hospital also offers a Smoke Free Lungs class, and you can find information on free smoke free programs for Howard County residents here.

Susan Case is the director of Marketing and Communications at Howard County General Hospital.

 


read more

calendar_2014sm

Symphony of Lights, a 20-minute drive through more than 70 larger-than-life holiday light displays, benefiting Howard County General Hospital, opens nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 17 through Jan. 4, 2015 (closed on Tuesdays and Dec. 31). The display, presented by Macy’s, is in Columbia’s Symphony Woods. Admission is $20 per car or van up to eight.  $5 off couponDazzle Dash kicks off Symphony of Lights with a run/walk through the lights as well as activities, food, music, entertainment and giveaways this weekend: Nov. 15.

Monday, Nov. 17, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Thursday, Nov. 20, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Great American Smokeout  in the Howard County General Hospital lobby: includes information and literature to help you stop smoking. Free event.

Monday, Dec. 1, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Monday, Dec. 1, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950

Monday, Dec. 8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Mondays. No registration required.

Monday, Dec. 8, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brain (Part 2) at Miller Branch. As this three-part series continues, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program. Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media. Registration Required.


read more
senior in car

© Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime.com

As people age, one of their biggest fears is the loss of independence—the inability to do what they want, where they want, when they want and how they want, on their own and without help from their children, spouse or friends. For many seniors, driving represents freedom, and the threat of taking away that privilege feels like the beginning of the end.

The truth is, as we age we do experience physical and mental changes that can impair our ability to drive. Our hearing and vision may not be as acute and some of our reflexes aren’t quite as fast as they used to be. But most seniors in general good health should be able to drive safely and confidently without putting themselves or others at risk.

Awareness is a big part of being a good driver, and AARP, the national organization that addresses the needs and concerns of the 50+ population, launched the new and improved AARP Smart Driver™ Course in January 2014 to help keep older drivers independent, safe and confident on the road.

The AARP website notes that there have been many changes to roads, cars and technology since they developed their first driver safety course, “55 Alive,” in 1979, and warns that if seniors don’t keep up with the changes they put themselves and others at risk.

Things that can negatively affect driving

  • Medications
    Medications are of concern at any age, but it takes longer for their effects to wear off as we age. They can cause blurred vision, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness or weakness. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if any of your medications, including over-the-counter and herbal supplements, could affect your driving ability.
  • Alcohol
    Remember that alcohol stays longer in an older person’s body. Alcohol is absorbed directly through an empty stomach and can reach and affect the brain within 60 seconds. Mixing alcohol with medications may be even more dangerous and have unexpected effects on your driving.
  • Loss of hearing
    Hearing may diminish with age, causing us to miss cues that alert us to situations around our vehicles, such as honking horns, engine sounds and emergency vehicles. Talk to your physician if you think you may have a problem with your hearing.
  • Problems with vision
    Reduced ability to see moving objects clearly, color blindness, cataracts, reduced ability to process visual information quickly, reduced depth perception and reduced peripheral vision can all affect our ability to drive safely. Separate glasses for day and night driving; anti-reflective coatings on eyeglasses; and reducing driving at night or when visibility is limited can help. You should have regular eye examinations by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Driving Evaluations
How do you know if you are still safe behind the wheel? Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) offers comprehensive clinical driving assessments that include:

  • Vision: acuity, visual motor skills, peripheral vision, sign recognition, color recognition/perception, visual processing speed, phoria and fusion
  • Cognition: memory, attention and problem solving
  • Sensory-motor function: strength, coordination, reaction time

The in-clinic assessment can help identify deficits and sometimes correct them through occupational therapy services. For more information, call 443-718-3000.

Safety Class
Check out the AARP Driving Resource Center for more tips on safe driving for seniors. Sign up for the AARP Driver Safety class offered in the HCGH Wellness Center, or call 410-740-7601.


read more

overwhelmed work love and playMy son called me from college this past Sunday to ask me how he was going to find the time to take his bike to the shop to get fixed. He was already overwhelmed with classes, work, and applying to graduate school. How was he supposed to find the time to do everything that he needed to do? I did not have any easy answer for him, and I most certainly did not have an answer he wanted to hear at the time. About an hour later my son called again, and said he no longer needed to take the bike to the shop because while he was driving around campus, trying to find a free place to park, he drove into a parking garage with the bike on top of the car! He had forgotten that the broken bike, the same one we had talked about less than an hour ago, was still on top of the car! I think we can all relate to this story. I am sure most of us feel like there is never enough time to do everything we need to do. We try to do more than one thing at a time, and we wind up not doing anything well. Our to-do lists are never-ending. How can we live saner lives?

The first thing we all need to do is to take time for life. The world is not going to stop so we can finish our to-do lists. When my four children were younger my mantra was “we can only do our best and our best is not the same as someone else’s best, but as long as it is our best it is good enough.” Yes, sometimes my kids had to hand in papers printed in blue or even pink ink because our black ink cartridge had run out and all the stores were closed, but what was important was that the assignment was done and printed. We did our best with what we had at the time. At home and at work, we need to give ourselves permission not to have to do it all. We can start doing this by setting realistic expectations and be willing to realign those expectations, as needed.

It is not easy to find time in the day for ourselves. Advances in technology have made our lives easier, but those same advances have also made our lives more stressful. We are now “available” 24/7 to answer questions from work, school, family, and friends. Brigid Schulte in her book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time says in chapter 7 there are three questions that drive much of the unending overwhelmedness: How much is enough? When is it good enough? How will I know? These questions are addressed in her book. “Great,” you are thinking, “but when am I going to have time to read a book?” Luckily for you Brigid Schulte will be at HCLS’s Miller Branch on Friday, November 7 at 7pm.

my age of anxietyScott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic, and author of 2014 New York Times bestseller My Age of Anxiety: Fear Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind will also be there. Together they will discuss their most recent works. You can register for Scott Stossel and Brigid Schulte in Conversation online at hclibrary.org, by phone at 410-313-1950, or in person at any branch. Their books are availablefor borrowing at the library. Books will also be available for purchase and signing at the event.

We all need to make time for ourselves and what is important to us, which is why I am going to put attending this event on the top of my to-do list. I made a choice to find the time to read Brigid’s book and now I am making the choice to find the time to read Scott’s book this week. It will take courage to make the tough choices needed so we can be healthier both physically and psychologically. I do not want to wait until it is too late to live a good life. Do you?

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

read more