Health
Thursday, December 18, 2014
 
Doctor's Perspective
Christmas is about more than presents

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
At this time of year, I like to ask my patients if they are ready for Christmas. The answer I usually get is "Yes!" I then ask them if they have purchased all of their Christmas gifts. The response is usually one of confusion. Children expect gifts at Christmas. However, they do not often think about the idea of giving at Christmas. This is an important lesson for parents to teach. As I have frequently noted, children tend to learn from watching their parents. Buying gifts at Christmas should be a joyful event. The parent who makes it sound like a chore will be creating little Scrooges. Santa brings gifts to children. It should then be logical that he leaves something for the adults in the household as well. Even parents should get a treat when they are nice and not naughty. This will help with the understanding that we need to be on our best behavior all year even if we are grown up. When the family exchanges presents, it is important for the children to be able to share in the joy of seeing someone open a gift from them. Think of how proud they are when they make a Christmas card at school and bring it home to their parents. Fathers can take their children shopping for mom's present. Mothers can take their children shopping for dad's gift. This accomplishes many things. It gives the parents some time to spend doing something fun with their kids. It also allows the children to help pick something out for each of their parents. Most importantly, it helps teach them about the fact that Christmas is as much about giving as it is receiving. Another lesson is related to helping those less fortunate. Some families do not have the resources for a big Christmas for their children. Churches will set up angel trees to help those families. Salvation Army volunteers are plentiful. There is another opportunity to teach children the value of helping others. I have written in the past about random acts of kindness at Christmas. Those opportunities are fun for parents. However, they can also be fun for children. They will watch as you pay the toll for the car behind you. They will watch as you let the person with fewer items go ahead of you in the check-out line. Many Christmas movies help teach children about the spirit of Christmas. However, those are just movies. It is much more important to learn these kinds of lessons first hand from their parents.

Be safe this winter with these tips
By Patricia Villani, MPA, PhD

Winter is here, and when the temperature drops, older adults run a higher risk of health problems and injuries related to the weather, including hypothermia, frostbite and falls in ice and snow. It's important that we take certain precautions at this time of year. Tips for staying safe in the cold weather are offered on various aging websites, magazines, and reported as results of safety studies. These recommendations have saved more than one life in colder weather. Hypothermia - Since older people tend to shiver less or not at all as their body temperature drops, we can't rely on shivering alone as a warning sign of hypothermia. We tend to produce less body heat than younger people, and it's harder for us to tell when the temperature is too low. When our bodies are in the cold for too long, we lose heat quickly. The result can be hypothermia, which is a severe and dangerous drop in body temperature. The warning signs of hypothermia are: cold skin that is pale or ashy; feeling very tired, confused and sleepy; feeling weak; problems walking; slowed breathing or heart rate; and sometimes excessive shivering. We need to call 911 if we think we, or someone else has hypothermia. Frostbite - Extreme cold can cause frostbite-damage to the skin that can go all the way down to the bone. Frostbite usually affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes. In severe cases, frostbite can result in loss of limbs. People with heart disease and other circulation problems are more likely to get frostbite. In freezing temperatures, we need to cover up all parts of our body when we go outside. If our skin turns red or dark or starts hurting, we need to go inside right away. A person with frostbite may also have hypothermia, so check for those symptoms, too. If frostbite occurs, we should place the frostbitten parts of our body in warm (not hot) water, and make a visit to a health care practitioner. Staying Indoors -- Some of us are prone to cabin fever or are "outdoorsy types." We don't like to acknowledge the risk when it's very cold outside. As we age, we need to rethink our approach to the outdoors in the winter, especially if it's very windy. If we have to go outside in freezing temperatures, we shouldn't stay out for very long, and we should go indoors immediately if we start shivering or notice any of the hypothermia danger signs.

Dressing for the Weather -- Other suggestions for surviving well in cold temperatures include staying dry, since wet clothing of any type decreases body temperatures; and wearing two or three thinner layers of loose-fitting clothing rather than a single layer of thick clothing - this manner of dress will keep us warmer. In addition to layering, we should wear a hat, gloves or mittens (mittens are warmer), a coat, boots and a scarf to cover our mouth and nose to protect our lungs from cold air. If we are reluctant to wear all of these things for a car ride, we should put them in the car in case we get stuck or the car has problems, or if we encounter an unexpected outdoor event and want to participate. Injuries While Working Outside - When it's cold, our hearts work extra hard to keep us warm. Shoveling snow may put too much strain on certain body parts. Shoveling also can be dangerous if we have problems with balance or osteoporosis. We should err on the side of caution and ask our healthcare provider if it's safe for us to shovel or do other hard work in the cold. Falls - It is easy to slip and fall in the winter, especially in icy and snowy conditions. We should keep our steps and sidewalks free of ice and snow. Better to pay someone to do this for us than to risk a fall. We should look for sidewalks that are dry and have been cleared and wear boots with non-skid soles. Replace the rubber tips on canes with new ones and perhaps buy ice pick-like attachments that fit on the ends for help while walking. In the Car - Because winter driving can be more hazardous, we should have our cars 'winterized' before the bad weather hits. This means having the antifreeze, tires and windshield wipers checked and changed if necessary. We should also take a cell phone with us when driving in bad weather, and always let family or friends know where we're going and when to expect us to arrive, so they check on us if we're late. It also is a good idea not to drive on icy roads, overpasses or bridges if possible - we should look for another route. Being Prepared - It is recommended that we stock the trucks of our cars with basic emergency supplies, such as: a first aid kit, blankets, extra warm clothes, booster cables, a windshield scraper, a shovel, rock salt, a bag of sand or cat litter (to pour on ice or snow in case our wheels get stuck), a container of water, canned or dried foods, a can opener and a flashlight. Overkill? Maybe. But it's worth it for the one time we may need any one of these things if we get caught in a storm or get stuck somewhere where help is scarce.

Look-In Glass Shoppe 'In Design' jewelry sale The Look-In Glass Shoppe at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital is hosting an "In Design" sale featuring the latest trends in fashion jewelry at great savings. All jewelry items are $6 each, designer inspired handbags and other select merchandise will be available at greatly reduced prices. Shop for jewelry, gifts and more in the Medical Staff Conference Room at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital on Thursday, Dec. 18, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 19, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 2475.

AHA DONATION - As a part of their commitment to the community, employees of Nanticoke Health Services support the American Heart Association (AHA) in its fight against heart disease. On Saturday, Oct. 18, employees, volunteers, family and friends gathered at Del Tech in Georgetown for the 2014 American Heart Association Heart Walk. Nanticoke Health Services Heart Walk team consisted of 27 different departments many of which have been raising funds since last year's event. On Friday, Nov. 14, a check for $31,790.05 was presented on behalf of all Nanticoke Health Services Heartwalk Teams to the American Heart Association.

Dr. Luis M. Barcena joins
Nanticoke Health Services

Nanticoke Health Services welcomes Luis M. Barcena MD. Dr. Barcena is accepting new patients at Seaford Internal Medicine located at 1501 Middleford Road, Seaford. Dr. Barcena graduated with his doctor of medicine degree from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana School of Medicine/Hospital Universitario San Ignacia in Bogot!, Colombia in 2006. He completed his residency in internal medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in 2011. Dr. Barcena completed a fellowship in infectious disease at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Ill., in 2013. He is fluent in both English and Spanish. To make an appointment with Dr. Barcena, call 629-4569.