” The human mind plans the way but the Lord directs the steps”   Proberbs 16:9

MARCH is a great time to GET MOVING!!   As we are in the middle of our Lenten period, what a good time to work harder toward a wellness goal.   The scripture prompts us to look ahead, move toward a goal, and reap the benefits or prize.   How can we best do that?   BY WALKING, WALKING, WALKING!!!

Many Faith Communities incorporate walking programs as a Lenten project. “Walk to Jerusalem”, “Wellness Walking”; “Walk for Mind ,Body, & Spirit”, are known programs. How about this year we keep “WALKING IN FAITH 2015″

  • Take time daily for a scripture reading, select something that you can carry with you in mind as you walk. As you reflect on each scripture, make it a part of your spiritual wellness and renewal.
  • Pop on your pedometer (if you have one) or just check the time. Each day record the number of steps you take or time you spend walking. It can be in one time segment, or broken up in several short walks during the day. Keeping a record well help you move forward.
  • Start where you are in fitness and ability. If you are used to walking daily for a mile, walk two: if you walk very little, just make laps around the living room or out to the mail box–keeping track of daily increases and set a goal to be met weekly and by Easter.
  • The optimum goal recommended by American Heart Assn., American Diabetes Assn; and fitness experts is 10,000 steps/day (or about 5 miles). A mile is an average of 2200 steps.
  • Make your goal realistic for you. ANY WALKING ACTIVITY is a benefit toward wellness. 500 steps, 2000 steps, or the 10,000 steps well make a difference in your stamina, balance, energy levels, metabolism, mental acuity, and overall feeling of well being.
  • Be mindful of safety, wear supportive shoes, keep hydrating as you walk, start slowly and ease into a more strenuous walk, be mindful of your health issues and limitations. Listen to your body.
  • Reading a Scripture before you walk; Reflecting upon it and taking it to heart; Moving your body; and accomplishing a goal well lead you to increased Mind, Body, and Spirit Wellness as you approach Easter Week .
  • Make Lent about DOING SOMETHING MORE, rather than the usual GIVING UP SOMETHING. Make the commitment to a discipline of well being.

PLAN–THEN LET THE LORD DIRCT YOUR STEPS

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN

Pat Dimillo RN

She will give birth to a son. And he will be called Immanuel.”(Matt. 1:23)
“The name Immanuel means God with us” (Isaiah 7:14)

 December is all about “God With Us”!! As we busily prepare for our celebration of Christmas–observing the Advent customs of our faith, and thinking about giving—-we must keep in mind each day that the ‘reason for the season is that God came to be with us!! What would God have us do to truly CELEBRATE His being with us?

Let’s think about the possibilities of celebrating the Father–Son–and Holy Spirit being our focus each day:

  • Celebrate with Really enjoy those lights on the front of your home—stroll under the stars and be thankful for the light and how it illumines every part of our life. Sit quietly beside your lighted Christmas Candles —taking a deep breath and letting out the stress , worry, and guilt that often accompany the flurry of giving.
  • Celebrate the Peace . Make the manger scene on your mantle the focus rather than the plates of cookies and busy parties. Let the peaceful scene of mother/baby/humble setting/ and caring visitors draw us into that miracle—doing all we can to create small (or large) miracles of our own within our home, church, & community.
  • Celebrate the As we listen to the music and enjoy the comforts and blessings of our traditions, let us each be hopeful about our relationships, our health, the news we listen to, the challenges we face, and the strife in our world. By carrying a hopeful, positive attitude in our heart and mind, we are creating great energy toward change and peace in our world.
  • Celebrate the Make every gift be one that brings you and the receiver joy. Fill your heart with joyful music and sights and sound.   Bake every cookie and treat with the joy that the scents and flavors bring . Greet those you meet with joyful words (not negative or “I’m so rushed” conversation).   Let the spirit of the Christ Child walk with you every step of this Holiday Season.

As an e-mail from a friend this evening states:

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly,
and leave the rest to God.

 Have a Blessed Holiday Season
 Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,
Parish Nurse Consultant (Retired)

WELLNESS NOTES

JULY is a good month to think about MEN’S HEALTH issues.  When David was building the Temple, and we need to consider our body surely God’s Temple, he told his son, “ Be strong and brave. Get to work. Don’t be afraid. Don’t lose hope. The Lord God is my God. His is with you. He won’t fail you.” I Chronicles 28-20 Are not these directives exactly what Men, and the Men in our life, need to heed?

Dr. Ken Goldberg in a WebMD article asks men—”Do you put as much care into your personal health as you do into the maintenance of your car?”. Instead of recommending specific tests and prevention, he suggests men ‘ drop the bulletproof attitude, and get involved in health screenings, and realize that diseases can happen to anybody’.   Men need to know where to go for help, and work to promote community and national issues that contribute to their health. Be alert to media information, good websites, occupational health services, and LISTEN to others, and benefit from their experiences.   Mind-Body-and Spirit Wellness involves not only “Knowing Your Numbers” (Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, PSA, Weight, Oxygen Saturation, Blood Glucose), having annual Physical Exams and screenings, and being mindful of nutrition, exercise, stress and anger management —but in realizing risk factors (family history & activity related risks), and willingly educating yourself and your sons about wellness issues.   Breast Cancer, Osteoporosis, Eating Disorders, & Sexual dysfunction are not ‘just women’s disorders’. Encouraging sons and grandsons to check regularly for Testicular Cancer, is so important.   Not being embarrassed to talk about depression, sexual health, relationships, and spirituality can be a life-saving and positive role model for your family and friends.   A wellness goal is to have a heightened awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.

Men’s Health is a Family issue—it impacts the whole.

LISTEN,GET INVOLVED, ACT, and EDUCATE yourself on Men’s Health issues.

Try web sites such as the following:

AARP.org (Men’s Health)

WebMD.com (Men’s Health–most asked questions)

WOMANSDAY.com (a woman’s guide to ‘his’ health)

www.menshealthoffice.info

nim.hih.gov/Medline plus/men health

www.mayoclinic.com

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,,PN

WELLNESS NOTES

“”You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.” (Psalm 31:8)”

June is National Safely Month. We can use this month to raise awareness about important safety issues like the following:

 

  • Safety with Prescription Drugs: Check the storage, expiration dates, instructions, and safety of all of your prescribed and over the counter medications. Review how and when you should take each medication; update your medication list and have a copy in your wallet, with your Dr., and in your refrigerator (in a medicine bottle) on the door so Emergency Personnel can access a copy. Be sure children and teens do not have access to your medications.
  • Slips, trips, & falls: Do a home, yard, and activity assessment. Check for loose rugs, poorly visible steps;(put bright tape on edge of steps); slick tile or bath surfaces; electrical cords or pet leashes that might trip; adequate lighting around home, garage, walkways; Agility getting down on the floor and back up again & in & out of cars, tubs, and furniture; Check balance and flexibility (stand on one foot and count to 10, practice bend, squat, and turn in circles). Assure annual dilated eye exam.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Increase awareness of where you walk, how clear your home & car access is, removal of fire danger in house and yard, and alertness when in crowds or travel. Assure your wallet and valuables are not accessible to thieves. Be sure neighbor or close family member knows where you are, has an extra key, and is aware of travel and absence schedules.
  • Drive with awareness: Do not talk on phone, text, or reach around when driving. Pull off the road to do any of the above. Assure tire pressure, gasoline, oil pressure, and windows are maintained. Know when it’s time to LET SOMEONE ELSE DRIVE!! Talk with family members about changes in health or transportation needs. Always be aware of what and who may be around your car before moving.
  • Stay safe in summer heat: Always carry water (AND DRINK IT!!!), carry cell phone when going for hikes or walks & assure someone knows where you are. Exercise in cool of morning or evening. Use that bottle of sun screen on your counter DAILY. Wear sun glasses and hat when out in the heat. HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE in our Arizona climate.

Safety issues can be our number 1 enemy, no matter what our age, stage of life, or level of awareness.   Taking a few moments to assess the above mentioned issues, place safety articles within easy access, remind ourselves and others around us of safety issues, and being AWARE may make the difference in a safe, well summer and a disaster.

BE WELL AND HAVE A HAPPY SUMMER!!

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

WELLNESS NOTES

“ When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”—John 8:12

Fourth and last of our series of articles  about “LIFE HAPPENS:  Plan Ahead”, will focus on

“When it’s time to make a CHANGE, how to do it!”

Life does not come with a book of instructions!  Change is inevitable, but can be much more emotionally smooth, if we plan ahead and look for guidelines to empower us.  Since our local faith communities are primarily senior, or with senior parents, we will look at SENIOR CHANGES.  These changes may come in the form of family changes (loss or estrangement of a child or close relative, need to care for grandchildren, distance separating families), divorce, death, illness, injury, financial disappointments or choices creating crisis, change in ability to care of self or home, change in vision or hearing, spiritual disappointment or theology change, or emotional and mental health changes that create loss of focus or plans.   Any of the above create a need to realign our thoughts, dreams, goals, and plans.  HOW WILL WE DO THAT???

Two resources recently crossing my desk are the following:  Foxy Old Woman’s Guide to Living with Friends”(could include men, too!) by Cynthia Cary; and “the Boomer Burden, dealing with parents (or own) Lifetime accumulation of Stuff”  by Julie Hall.   Either may be found in the library or Amazon. 

Both address thoughts on the following:

  • When change happens:  Where will I live? Have you thought that one out?   Some options are living alone & loving it, living with extended family with shared expenses, retirement living settings (remember they are no longer called “A Home”), or group home settings.  Do you want to live with children or have them live with you? What about smaller homes or RV’s.  How about sharing a home with several friends with similar needs.   Look at your finances, health status, emotional needs, and happiness. YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO AN OPINION AND SAY IN THE PLAN!!  Planning & thinking ahead prevents chaos.
  • How do I know the time is right for change?  Awareness of the aging process begins the thinking process.  Is there a decline in mobility, vision problems, loss of interest in favorite pastimes, irritability, hearing loss, confusion, repetition, short term memory loss, fatigue, unopened mail, unusual spending, fear of financial change, discomfort or fear where you are living, depression or anxiety, or falls?   The next step is to look at living situations, consider options (have lunch at living settings & assess), seek help evaluating finances, speak with Doctors about health changes, open the conversation with family or friends, and  keep a journal or notebook of questions, changes, concerns, and ideas for your future. 
  • Important factors to consider may be the following:  Who are my allies & resources? What are my contemporaries doing?  How can I begin making plans so MY wishes are met?   Am I  aware of scams and those looking to deplete my funds.?  Do I  have an updated Will and Life Plan Documents?  Begin sorting, marking, & giving away items of importance.  Be good to yourself and consider, talk about, and write your wishes.  Begin planning BEFORE the above changes become difficulties.  Look at the resources in your community (you may need to change communities to receive the benefits you need).  Consider your vision of the next 5,10,20 years and begin planning for each stage.  Look at family history and longevity as you make financial and life plan goals. 
  • As “Foxy” states:  WAKE UP, ENVISION THE FUTURE, SELF ASSESS, CREATE A SUPPORT SYSTEM, ENERGIZE YOUR VISION, MAKE CONSCIOUS PLANS, LIVE YOUR DREAMS, and have SWEET ENDINGS. 

Prayer, Planning, Patience, Positive Attitude, and Protecting your dream and assets will make change manageable.

 

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Parish Nurse Consultant

WELLNESS NOTE

“My Spirit abides among you; do not fear“Haggai 2:5

 Third in our series of addressing “Life Happens:  Plan Ahead”, is “How not to be blindsided by LOSS!”

Loss occurs in our lives in many forms.  Loss of self esteem, Loss of dreams, Loss of a plan, Loss of a job or beloved pet. Loss of a love or life partner (through separation, divorce, or death).

You can probably add to this list from your experiences.  Seldom does one progress through this earthly life without some sort of loss, and as we have stated, “Life Happens”, so to look toward prevention and wellness, we must learn to PLAN AHEAD!!

Excellent resources that can be roadmaps for dealing with loss are the following:

*“Life after Loss”, A personal Guide Dealing with Death, Divorce, Job Change & Relocation.  By Bob Deits.  This is an excellent classic in crisis intervention with wise guidance.

* “How to Survive the Loss of a Love” a resource when emotional injury takes place and a guide to healing is needed.  By Bloomfield, Colgrove, & McWilliams.

* DivorceCare: and Grief Share:   A series of support groups and seminars with a non-denominational focus on recovery. Check online for group nearest you.

Each of these resources follows a common thread.  A prevention mode, considering the following:

·         Be AWARE:  Look for beginning stages of depression, disease, difficulty in a relationship or job.  Dig deeper into ‘cause & effect’ and begin making changes BEFORE a crisis occurs. 

·         Surround yourself with a support system.  Communicate concerns (early) with family and friends, utilize resources of Pastoral Guidance, Self-Help reading and support groups, online information and resources.  Be a cheerful receiver of a helping hand or shoulder.

·         Strengthen your spiritual resources.  Pray, Scour the Scriptures, Utilize books, articles, and online information sources for creating a strong, inspired, ‘ready’, emotional health.

·         Know that every emotional loss has a huge impact on your life. “Loss is not the enemy. Living in constant fear of it is.  It takes most people at least 2 years to begin returning to a normal life after a major loss. “(Deits).  Loss is natural and you WILL recover.

·         Play the “What If” game.  If my pet dies, what steps will I follow?,  If I lose this job, what will I do next?, If my spouse dies, what steps shall I follow next?, If I am alone, what, where, & how will I enrich my life next?, If I suffer loss, who will I ask to help me?     Take time to answer these questions NOW.  Prevention paves the way from pain.

·          Attend to your personal WELLNESS.  Do not lapse from eating well, exercise, vitamins, friendships, utilizing respite opportunities, looking for moments of JOY, and care for YOU.

·         Break the conspiracy of silence around loss. Affirm that “I can get through any loss successfully.” Know that grief takes work and tools for that job are available.  Seek them.

Alice Stephenson BSN, RN, PN 

WELLNESS NOTES

“My spirit abides among you, do not fear” Haggai 2:5

The second in our series of “LIFE HAPPENS” articles will discuss the following:

PREPARING FOR ER VISITS AND HOSPITALIZATIONS

Emergency  Room visits are not something one plans for,  but as life happens, that time might come. To be certain you are not caught unprepared in an accident or sudden illness we can do some thinking ahead.   

·         Place a card or sticker on each home phone & cell phone with your home address & phone # in an emergency if 911 is called you (or anyone) will be able to tell them where to come.

·         Assure your identification, Insurance cards, phone numbers of important family members or friends, Small pad of paper & pen, & current medication list are all in your wallet or purse where whomever goes with you to the ER can find them and take them with you. 

·         Include a card in your above cards with the name and address of nearest medical facility.  If a neighbor or family member must drive you, they will know where to go.

·         Advocate for yourself by asking questions, make certain Medical Personnel understand your symptoms and questions, and if possible have someone prepared to write down what is told you for future reference.

·         Check NOW to see if your insurance covers ambulance, ER, Urgent Care, or non-admission visits.

Hospitalization may be expected or emergency.  Thinking ahead makes that stay so much more comfortable.   Consider having the following packed, convenient, and up to date to take to the hospital:

·         Insurance and ID, Authorizations, Directions to the hospital with address & phone # for family.

·         Personal toiletries, Chap Stick & lotion that you know works for you, toothbrush, tooth paste, comb & brush.

·         Bathrobe, slippers, socks, comfortable discharge clothes—all labeled with permanent marker.

·         Names & Addresses and Important numbers , paper & pen you might need while in the hospital

·         Current Medication list (do not take your medications except inhalers)

·         Glasses with case, dentures, hearing aids with extra batteries, (ask nurse for container for these & label it. )                      

·         Cell phone & Charger

·         Advanced Directives and Living Will copy.

·         List of available housing for loved ones (such as Taylor House in Flagstaff or hotels by Mayo)

·         Let Admissions know which family or friends may be told your personal healthcare information.

·         Plan for transportation upon discharge and ask Dr. for post hospital prescriptions so they may be filled BEFORE discharge. (be sure pain meds are there when you arrive home)

DO NOT TAKE:   Jewelry, credit cards, cash, electric appliances (shaver, hair dryer or curling iron), or personal electronic devices (except possibly Kindle or Tablet). 

EDUCATE yourself on the procedure or test your will be receiving before admission if possible.  Utilize the Hospital Library, Parish Nurse or Physician, Websites like www.mayoclinic.org  or WebMD for accurate information.

ADVOCATE for yourself or make certain you have someone with you who will.  Get questions answered, don’t be afraid to ask Nurses or Doctors to clarify information. It is wise to have someone stay with you the first hospital night.   Ask to see Social Service or Dietitian if you have discharge questions or need resources.  If possible let your Faith Community know of your needs for prayer, Pastoral Visits, confidentiality, or equipment.  

LIFE HAPPENS—-BE PREPARED—MINIMIZE FEAR AND CONFUSION

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

WELLNESS NOTES

This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”   Psalm 118:24

The New Year begins with the suggestion that we make an effort to be better prepared for what we face when “LIFE HAPPENS”.  The Wellness Ministry would like to take the next few months to prompt each of us to think about preparing for the happenings of life.  By being better prepared, we may avoid guilt, stress, regret, and subsequent illness as we journey on.   We will look at the following issues:

Jan:  How to think ahead for the unexpected     Feb:  How to prepare for ER or Hospitalizations    March:  How not to be blindsided by LOSS     April:  When is it time to make a change & How to do it.

PLANNING FOR THE UNEXPECTED:   A recent article in the “Huffington Post” , originally from “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A life transformed by the Dearly Departing”,  is written by an experienced Palliative Care Nurse who states that no matter what stage of life we are in there is no need for regret.  By addressing the following five common regrets,  we may find ourselves not up against the unexpected and facing what is handed to us with a more positive outlook and less stress and DISTRESS.

1.  I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.    Regret provides only suffering and sadness, taking up positive energy and precious time.  Adjusting our choices and being at peace with the past and remembering that each new moment is a new choice, gives us more positive direction.  Health brings a freedom few realize.  Working toward a healthy lifestyle helps us choose to realize more of our dreams and lean on God’s guidance to be true to ourselves.

2,  I wish I had not worked so hard.   This was heard most often from men,  but more and more is the norm for most adults.  Work to increase income that only creates a more complex lifestyle equals regret.  Choosing to balance work with family, friends, and healthy endeavors pays dividends.  Simplifying lifestyle and making conscious choices to create spaces for our priorities brings us to a more expected happy outcome.  “Life is short,  eat dessert first”!!

3, I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.    “Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others”.   Suppressed feelings can lead to stress, bitterness, resentment, and illness. Choosing to express ourselves, with kindness and clarity, as well as listening to others is truly courageous.

4.  I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends:  We move, we change jobs, we get busy, we let life get in the way of the golden friendships that frame our lives.  Make a priority of making a phone call, writing a note, texting a message, jot an e-mail.  Put time on your calendar for these communications and when you have a ‘nudge’, act on it.  Write a Valentine letter & a July 4th Letter as well as the annual Christmas note.   “Make new friends & keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold”.

5.  I wish that I had let myself be happier. Happiness is a choice.  Sticking in old habits, patterns, and comfort zones, effects our emotions and even physical lives.  Laugh more, have stillness in your life, and, don’t let fear of change lessen all that life can be.  Break loose and BE HAPPY.

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,Parish Nurse

Dr.  ‘Rick’ Brothers,  Parish Physician

“They wanted to hear Jesus Speak”  Luke 21:38

Advent is the time of anticipation of Jesus coming.  We  anticipate hearing Him speak during this Holiday time.  Often we fear we cannot even hear our loved ones, let alone Jesus, speaking to us, with all of the noise, hurry, bustle, stress, sadness, grief, and disappointment obstructing our hearing.  Possibly our Holiday Wellness can be improved by just simply looking at the word ADVENT:

A—Anticipate positive things during this month, allow the words of Jesus to come through.

D– – Increase your devotional time,  that your stress levels will decrease and depression vanish.

V–Visualize joy, visualize wellness, visualize absence of pain, visualize presence of peace.

E— Energize your life by decreasing your sugar intake, exercising daily, and getting adequate rest.

N– Note the positive things happening around you, write notes of gratitude and connection.

T—Take Time for yourself!   Allow a few moments in each Advent day for reflection, prayer  planning, and peacefulness.

Allow the Advent Season to speak to and strengthen your spirit.

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Parish Nurse Consultant

WELLNESS NOTES

“Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.” I Peter 5:7

JULY  WELLNESS  reminds us to focus on first, our vision, and second summer protection.  Two recent articles prompt us to new awareness.

Protecting our vision during the sunny, bright summer months is of paramount importance.  All ages need to remember to protect from UV light by using sun glasses at all times when outdoors.  Even cloudy or overcast days may allow damaging UV rays to stress our eyes.   Hats, visors, sun shades and porches can be our best friends.  Statistics  state that up to 80+% of Arizona adults will develop cataracts.  Protecting eyes as early as possible make decrease those statistics.   Wise use of eye drops that dry and constrict eye fluid is important.  Annual dilated eye exams and update of vision prescriptions are recommended.      Obtain prescription sunglasses if you are a daily glasses wearer, or try the “Cocoon” type sunglasses that fit over prescription glasses.      New research aimed at those at high risk or who have early or diagnosed Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)  addresses adjustment of the 2001 recommended use of “AREDS” formula vitamin supplements.  The Journal of American Medical Association states a new study shows that  eating a diet high in omegs-3 fatty acids plus nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, found in leafy green veggies, eggs, & corn, as well as the “AREDS”  supplement combining high dose Vitamin C and E, beta carotene, zinc, and copper reduces the risk of worsening AMD by 25% in some people.   Those at risk of lung cancer or who smoke should  skip the beta carotene component.      Ask your Opthamologist about this supplement for you.

Another recent  article  from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  identifies a potentially fatal antibiotic resistant bacterium which has surfaced in many hospitals and care facilities.   CRE or Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae has become seriously infective and dangerous.  This bacteria found is found in the GI tract.   Those at risk are patients with devices like ventilators, catheters, and IV’S and those who have taken long courses of antibiotics.    Individuals are encouraged to do the following to protect from this difficult infection:

  • Inform your healthcare provider if you have been hospitalized in another facility or country
  • Take antibiotics sparingly and only when prescribed  for a specific condition
  • Ask all healthcare providers  (YOU CAN DO THIS AS YOUR OWN ADVOCATE) to wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol based hand rub before and after touching your body.
  • Clean your own hands often, especially before preparing or eating food; before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; before & after changing wound dressings or bandages, or handling medical devices;  and after using the bathroom.

Be your own advocate and protect yourself and those around you.

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Parish Nurse Consultant