calendar_2014smMonday, Sept. 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. No registration required.

Monday, Sept. 8, 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Mommy & Me at Miller Branch. Mommy and child participate in a fun-filled activity, led by instructors from Sykesville Tae Kwon Do, while developing movement awareness, motor skills, balance, coordination, flexibility, and agility. Wear athletic shoes, and loose fitting pants or shorts. Ages 2-3 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form is required.

Sept. 8 10:30 a.m. Registration|Release  Sept. 8 11:15 a.m. Registration|Release

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 6:30 p.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Miller Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding a baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Well & Wise event – In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.*Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Saturday, Sept. 13, 2:00 p.m. Declutter Your Life at Glenwood Branch. Ellen Newman, owner of ClutterRx, shows how to make your life easier by clearing the clutter. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

Monday, Sept. 15, 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.

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 7:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Elkridge Branch. Learn how to start CPR right away and continue doing chest compressions until help arrives. Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of Hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Training in Hands-Only CPR gives you the ability to help save a life without using mouth-to-mouth ventilation or obtaining a certification card. Ages 11-17. Register online or by calling 410.313.5088.

Starts Tuesday, Sept. 16, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Healthy Weight Connection. Kick-start lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, to help you reach a healthier weight. Receive personalized guidance from a certified dietitian. Classes run in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Tuesday/Thursday through Nov. 6. Cost is $195.


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“Cancer treatment” is to “team” as “cancer recovery” is to “village” – an unexpected, but true analogy. With fall arrive new sports seasons, carpools for school athletics practices, and evenings and weekends of cheering at games. We make commitments to those who need us, and if a friend, family member, neighbor or coworker is sick, it might be time to join that person’s care team. A cancer support team also carpools, cheers, and rises to the challenges of each stage, each season, of the disease. Cancer patients often find themselves being cared for by a team. Various healthcare professionals join forces to provide chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, nutrition, physical rehabilitation, and pharmacotherapy. The medical team is only a part of patient care, however. Many people outside the healthcare staff must join together as the village supporting the patient toward wellness. Just like a team requires many players in different positions playing their best to win the game, so too the patient needs all team members in place – physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians, physical therapists, spiritual advisors, family, and friends. Even coworkers, bosses, and neighbors are needed to bridge the gaps in daily routines disrupted by time consuming, exhausting, and costly therapies.

Who can argue with the assertion that every patient needs an advocate? One of the most valued members of the village is that person sitting at the hospital bedside who can step in when the nurse is helping another patient, the IV pump is beeping or an extra blanket is needed. While hospitalized, a sedated or uncomfortable inpatient may not be able to ask for help. An advocate at the bedside can assure that questions are answered, needs are met, and treatments are administered properly. A bedside advocate can observe more details of the patient’s condition over time and give essential feedback to the healthcare team. Vital signs and lab work tell only part of a patient’s story and an advocate can assure that each team member knows the problems that need to be addressed. Once s/he is out of the hospital, a fatigued or anxious outpatient might forget a medication dose or miss an appointment. A team member helps keep everything on track.

jp care teamRecovery from a complicated disease such as cancer is a challenge from every perspective – scientific, medical, social, psychological, sexual, personal. Each member of the village brings his or her own special skills and gifts to this process. Compassion, empathy, physical strength, motivation, cooking, cleaning, and monitoring of dosages, symptoms, lab results and x-rays will all be required. Recognizing depression, withdrawal and repressed rage falls to the team members who see the patient every day. The medical professionals see the patient only intermittently and can miss important milestones in the patient’s progress during and after treatment.

Each person’s needs during an illness are different. One person might greatly appreciate if you bring over meals, while another might want you to bring your pug to visit. A coworker might appreciate if you bring by some magazines or movies. A neighbor might be grateful if you help vacuum or mow the lawn. The message is the same – battling cancer requires a team and recovery takes a village.

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Caregiving A to Z: An At-Home Guide for Patients and Families helpfully guides the cancer patient’s support team through the many challenges of life during cancer treatment. The writing is clear and straightforward with advice on topics ranging from anxiety to fever to weight changes. Breakthroughs in medical research have resulted in more aggressive, sophisticated and successful oncology therapeutics. The winning playbook for cancer treatment is longer and more complicated, but with the right team in place, victory is achievable.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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breast self-check

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Johns Hopkins OB/GYN Francisco Rojas, M.D., discusses various types of breast lumps and what you can do about them.

Q: How common are lumps in the breast?
Breast lumps are common, particularly in young women in their late teens and early 20s. Women also may feel a breast lump during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Lumps in older women tend to be less common but more dangerous.

Q: What causes breast lumps?
Most breast lumps are benign or “normal;” however, breast lumps also can be caused by cancer. We cannot always explain what causes benign breast lumps.

Q: What are the different types of breast lumps?
Fibroadenomas are benign masses in the breast. They are not cancer and will not become cancer. They occur most often in younger women but also can happen in later years. Cysts are fluid-filled lumps that may cause pain and are usually benign. Other tumors are less common, can be benign or malignant and should be removed. The important thing to remember is that breast cancer also can present as a lump.

Q: What should you do if you detect a lump?
Any change in the breast should be evaluated by your physician or provider. Your provider will need to know when you noticed the lump and if it has changed in any way; also tell your provider about any changes in the skin or nipple discharge and if you notice any other lumps or changes in the breast or armpit. Tests such as an ultrasound, mammogram or MRI may be ordered.

Q: How are breast lumps treated?
Treatment is determined by the type of breast lump. Most often, a biopsy of the lump will be needed to determine the type. Fibroadenomas can be watched over time for changes. Cysts can be drained with a needle to remove fluid. Other tumors and breast cancer must be removed by a surgeon.

Q: Is there anything you can do to prevent breast lumps?
You may not be able to prevent breast lumps, but for your breast and overall health it is important to eat a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables. Do not smoke, and consume alcohol only in moderation. Exercise and maintain a healthy weight. Perform self-breast exams once a month and have breasts examined annually by a medical provider. Report any changes in your breasts to your provider as soon as you notice them.

Q: Who is at the greatest risk for developing breast lumps?
Anyone can develop a lump, but people who have a prior personal history of breast cancer or family history of breast cancer are at a higher risk of developing a malignant tumor.

Dr. Francisco Rojas is a Johns Hopkins OB/GYN.

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sports psychologyBoth my kids played indoor soccer this past year, and what an eye-opener it was for me. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me start by saying that I have one kid who will quite visibly cringe when the ball approaches and another who will very enthusiastically run up and kick the ball in absolutely the wrong direction. Needless to say, they get their great athleticism from me. But I do want them to be active and have the opportunity to learn about team work and good sportsmanship. And these were not teams or leagues being scouted by major-league recruiters or anything. So imagine my surprise when I encountered what I thought was only a thing of the past (and/or bad movie stereotypes)…poor-sport parents.

Let me clarify, no one was booing or name calling (mostly) or throwing things at the opposing team; it would seem that most sports associations have nipped that behavior in the bud, thank goodness. And my kids’ coaches were fair, encouraging, and focused on learning and fun. But parents who were attempting to “enhearten” members of their child’s team, or even their own child, were sometimes a bit aggressive in their “cheering.” There was a lot of “coaching” from the sidelines, a lot of outwardly expressed “frustration” when the “fan’s” team did not do as hoped, and even some not so subtle “rejoicing” when the other team missed. (That may be the greatest number sarcastic quotation marks I’ve ever used in a single sentence.)

Also, to clarify, I am very much opposed to giving out trophies for just showing up. I think competitive environments can be very good for children. All people need to learn to deal with disappointment and frustration in graceful ways (just as they should learn to deal with advantage and success in gracious ways). I am not at all questioning the kids, the parents, or the coaches in their competitive feelings, which I think are quite natural and can even be healthy. What I am questioning is the way that some people (adults in particular) express those feelings. Are we teaching our kids civil ways to communicate and providing the best examples of self control? And what is behind some parents’ lack of control?

stressed parents kidsIn the book Pressure Parents, Stressed-Out Kids, Wendy S. Grolnick, Ph.D. and Kathy Seal discuss the psychological phenomenon known as “ego-involvement.” “Ego-involvement is a tendency to wrap our self esteem or ‘ego’ around successes or failures… [and] we occasionally wrap our egos around our children’s achievements.” This sometimes occurs “when our protective and loving hard-wiring collides with the competition in our children’s lives, prompting us to wrap our own self-esteem around our children’s performance…[giving] us our own stake in how well our child performs.” Gronlick and Seal go on to explain how this ego-involvement adds another layer of pressure on parents, making them subject to more ups and downs in their own self-esteem and weakening parenting skills because the parents are too distracted from their child’s needs.

The idea of ego-involvement is reinforced in Sport Psychology for Youth Coaches by Ronald E. Smith and Frank L. Smoll. The authors talk about the positive or “Mastery” approach to coaching that encourages athletes to continue desirable behaviors by reinforcing or rewarding them. But Smith and Smoll eschew the negative approach that attempts to eliminate mistakes through punishment and criticism. They state that the negative approach is “often present in an ego-based climate.” They also acknowledge that it is not just coaches who can create ego-based environments. Smith and Smoll suggest ways for coaches help curb parents’ ego-involvement and best deliver the message to parents who pressure their child too much that this can “decrease the potential that sports can have for enjoyment and personal growth.” They even quote Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky who said, “Parents should be observers and supporters of their athletically inclined children, never pushers.”

So, I don’t have any great solutions to poor-sport parents. Many sports organizations have come a long way at informing parents what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Sadly, however, this doesn’t always eliminate the behavior (and, rightfully, most coaches are paying more attention to the players rather than policing the parents). And there is no sure-fire method to eliminate any negative comments that may take place off the field. Maybe the best place to start is to look at oneself and ask, “Am I guilty of ego-involvement? Am I putting my kid’s needs first? Am I a ‘pusher’ or a model of civility and good sportsmanship?”

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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calendar_2014smSunday & Monday, Aug. 31 – Sept. 1, 2014. Howard County Library System is closed in observance of Labor Day

Tuesday, Sept. 2, 7:00 p.m. Guided Meditation at Miller Branch.Enjoy a guided mindfulness meditation designed to impart a feeling of peacefulness and connection. Please bring a cushion or meditation pillow. Presented by Star Ferguson, M.Ac., L.Ac. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Wednesday, Sept. 3, 7:00 p.m. Stress Busters for Teens! at Glenwood Branch.Discover coping strategies for stress as you learn about triggers and their physical effects. Practice fun techniques for relieving stress. Ages 11-17.Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

Thursday, Sept. 4, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Understanding Medicare 101. Free. Learn about original Medicare (Parts A and B) and prescription drug coverage (Part D) in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.

Thursday, Sept. 4, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Looking to Lose Weight? Free. Our certified nutritionist and registered dietitian will discuss physiology and health challenges that affect your weight. Plan meals that taste great, provide balance and promote health in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.

Monday, Sept. 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. No registration required.

Monday, Sept. 8, 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Mommy & Me at Miller Branch. Mommy and child participate in a fun-filled activity, led by instructors from Sykesville Tae Kwon Do, while developing movement awareness, motor skills, balance, coordination, flexibility, and agility. Wear athletic shoes, and loose fitting pants or shorts. Ages 2-3 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form is required.
Sept. 8 10:30 a.m. Registration|Release   Sept. 8 11:15 a.m. Registration|Release

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 6:30 p.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Miller Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding a baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Well & Wise event – In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.*Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Saturday, Sept. 13, 2:00 p.m. Declutter Your Life at Glenwood Branch. Ellen Newman, owner of ClutterRx, shows how to make your life easier by clearing the clutter. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

 


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If you want to mix getting fresh air and light exercise with a dash of culture this fall, why not visit a local sculpture or topiary garden? There are quite a few within a driving day trip from the Baltimore/DC corridor. While many flowers are past blooming at this point, there’s still plenty to see.

Ladew Topiary Gardens

No matter when you come to Ladew, there is always something to look at no matter what’s in bloom. Full of color themed gardens and fun topiary works, Monkton’s gardens don’t disappoint. If you want something a little less touched by gardeners, they also have a 1.5 mile nature walk on the grounds as well punctuated by educational points discussing the different types of landscape and foliage.

Annmarie Sculpture Garden

If you happen to find yourself in Solomons, Maryland, this gem is an arts center as well as a sculpture garden. They house works from the Hirshhorn and the National Gallery of Art, as well as their own permanent collection. Throughout the year they also have a rotating temporary collection of works, currently including gnome and fairy houses and artistic birdhouses scattered throughout their ¼ mile path through the woods.

US National Arboretum

Located in the Nation’s Capital, the National Arboretum is 446 acres of gardens and trees. It’s great for bike riding or walking. It’s also free! They also house a nice collection of bonsai, some of which are at least 400 years old!

Chanticleer Garden
Chanticleer calls itself a “pleasure” garden, and it certainly is a feast for the senses. With a heavy emphasis on texture and the sculptural forms of plants, it is a unique visual treat.

Longwood Gardens

Longwood is an impressive collection of indoor and outdoor gardens and one of the nation’s first public parks. It covers over 1000 acres of gardens, woodlands and fountains. If you prefer your summer nature experiences after dark when the temperature has dropped somewhat, Longwood also hosts evening fountain displays, live music and fireworks.

Nick Swaner is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch of Howard County Library System. Working in the library allows him to explore and expand his expertise in all manner of geekery.

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Medicare 101 and 102 Seminars

© Kurhan | Dreamstime.com

© Kurhan | Dreamstime.com

They say getting older isn’t for sissies. But there’s one birthday that makes many people happy: reaching the milestone Medicare-eligible age of 65! No one wants to spend the money they’ve saved for travel, hobbies and other long-anticipated pleasures of their golden years on devastating medical expenses.

Medicare will generally be the main component of your health insurance coverage in retirement, or if you are eligible for Medicare due to a disability, even if you have other insurance to supplement it. Perhaps you are approaching Medicare age and are still covered by your (or your spouse’s) employer group health plan. Regardless of your situation, Medicare is complicated! Being informed about the rules, benefits and choices of Medicare is essential. You want to make the best coverage decisions for your needs and at the right times.

If you will be enrolling within the next three to six months, have recently enrolled or are assisting your aging parents with their health care and insurance, you probably have a lot of questions about what to expect. Come to the Medicare 101 and Medicare 102 presentations at Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center in September to learn about these and other topics:

  • What are Medicare Parts A (Hospital), B (Medical), C (Medicare Advantage/Health Plans) and D (Prescription Drug Plans)?
  • Which parts of Medicare do I need and what are the best times to enroll?
  • How do Medicare prescription drug plans differ and how do I find the right one for me?
  • What is the important information to review when considering a Medicare Advantage/Health Plan, such as network doctors and hospitals, cost sharing and additional benefits?
  • What is a Medigap/Medicare Supplement policy?  Do I need one? How do the different types of plans cover out-of-pocket expenses (gaps) in Original Medicare and how do I find one that I can afford?
  • What are my costs with Medicare and are there resources to help me pay for premiums, deductibles and/or copays?

These free presentations (given monthly in various locations) are offered by the Howard County Office on Aging’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program, better known as SHIP.  If you have specific questions afterwards or if you are already on Medicare and need some detailed assistance, SHIP offers free, confidential and unbiased counseling at several locations around the county.  Call at 410-313-7392 to set up an appointment or for SHIP offices in other counties.


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