Thursday, April 09, 2009
By Dr. Anthony Policastro

I would like to offer a new take on the old saying that children should be seen and not heard. It is very important for young children to have many different experiences. I have written before about how that helps the brain develop. Those experiences might include going to restaurants with the family. It offers a chance to spend time with the family. It offers a chance to recognize that behavior is different than at dinner time at home. Those experiences might include taking them to church. The bible talks about how we should become as innocent as children. They might not always behave. However, the experience is good for them. Those experiences might include taking them shopping with you. They can learn about having to pay for things. They can learn that you cannot afford everything in the store. There are many other experiences that come to mind. These all offer an opportunity for children to learn how to behave in public. However, there are situations in which it would be better to leave young children home. One example of this is the movie theater. Most movies are rated at least PG. That means they are no place for very young children. The language may not be appropriate. The violence may not be appropriate. One might argue that the child is too young too understand what is going on. If that is the case, then they are also too young to be there. Children that are not entertained by a movie will become bored. That boredom leads them to think it's time to play. That results in disruption to the other movie goers. At today's prices it is not fair to cause those other individuals to have their enjoyment spoiled. One easy rule to remember is that children under age two do not belong at the theater. This is in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children under two should not have any screen time. There are other situations in which very young children might become bored. These include concerts. They include stage plays. The attention span of children under age five is measured in minutes not in hours. It is important for the parents to think ahead of time as to whether their child might interfere with the enjoyment of others. I frequently have parents bring younger siblings to their child's office visit. Sometimes those younger children occupy a good deal of the parent's attention. Since I see so many children with ADHD, a little disruption is routine to me. However, I sometimes wonder whether the parents really hear the explanations I give. I wonder whether they are hearing the correct directions for the medication that I am prescribing. I would hate to have the child come back because of a drug overdose caused by the distraction of a sibling who attended the visit. It is difficult to find a baby sitter. It is expensive to hire one. However, there are other difficulties and costs associated with bringing a child to a public place. Parents need to weigh all of those things before they make the decision to bring the child in the first place. They need to look at the needs of the child. They need to look at their own needs. They need to look at the needs of the other people in attendance. Only then can they make the decision to do what is correct in that particular situation.

Advance Directive Open House Delaware Hospice will host an Advance Directive Open House on Thursday, April 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford. Representatives will provide information and help visitors obtain or complete an Advance Directive form. Beth Zane, MSW, senior social worker for Delaware Hospice, will give a presentation at noon, explaining the importance of completing your advanced healthcare directives. An Advance Directive enables individuals to make legally valid decisions regarding future medical treatment, in the event that they are unable to speak for themselves, and ensures that those wishes are carried out in the manner they have chosen. This document records your medical care preferences for your physician, loved ones, and clergy, and relieves the decision-making burden from your family members. For more information, call Luanne Holland at 302-519-1075 or email

Volunteers needed for MS events The Delaware Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society needs volunteers to help with two spring fundraising events:
  • Friday, April 24, Bridgeville – Walk MS: Twilight at Heritage Shores
  • Friday, May 29, Long Neck – Walk MS: Twilight at Baywood Greens
Volunteers are needed on the day of the event from 4 to 8 p.m. and may choose from a range of activities, including registering event participants, supporting participants at rest stops, distributing t-shirts, loading and unloading supplies, setting up refreshments, and cheerleading at the finish line. For more information, contact Jenna Wagner at 302-655-5610 or email

Hospice volunteer training Compassionate Care Hospice is offering training for anyone interested in becoming a hospice volunteer on Monday, April 27; Wednesday, April 29; Monday, May 4; and Wednesday, May 6 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. The training will be held at the Cancer Care Center, second floor Conference Room of Nanticoke Hospital in Seaford. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, submit to routine background checks and participate in 16 hours of specialized training. Compassionate Care Hospice supports patients and families throughout Sussex County so volunteers can work in their own community. Volunteers are able to work according to their schedule and preference. In addition to supporting patients and families in the patients' home, volunteers can also make phone calls from their own home and/or provide office clerical support. Volunteers are encouraged to participate in monthly support meetings and exchange phone numbers to build a support network. For more information, contact Felicity Lavelle at 302-934-5900 or

Look Good, Feel Better program Women undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer can receive free professional help to cosmetically disguise the appearance-related side effects of their treatments. LOOK GOOD...FEEL BETTER, a program developed by the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the National Cosmetology Association, trains volunteer cosmetologists to help women with cancer, conceal loss of hair, skin problems, and other side effects that can result from cancer therapy. The program is geared towards helping people look their best, even as they are undergoing cancer treatment. Although almost all of the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment are temporary, they can be very distressing. The program will be hosted by the Cancer Care Center at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital on Monday, April 13 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Cancer Care Center's 2nd floor conference room. The program is free to all patients in active cancer treatment. Registration is required and space is limited. To register, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Cancer Care Center at 629-6611, ext. 2588.

CHEER plans healthy living expo On Tuesday, April 21 the CHEER Community Center in Georgetown will host a free Healthy Living Expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Healthy Living Expo, which is open to the public, has room for more vendors to set up a table at the expo. The fee is $75 or $50 if you offer a health screening. For registration or more information, call 302-854-9500.

Diabetes education classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford will hold a four-session diabetes educational program beginning Wednesday, April 8 and continuing April 15, 22 and 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the hospital. Registration is required and the cost of the four-session program may be reimbursable by insurance. This four-session program includes weekly education sessions and individualized meal planning for diabetes self-management. Family members/significant others are welcome to attend. For more information and to register, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education Department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Caregiver training available The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter sponsors The Family Caregiver Education Series four times a year in each of Delaware's three counties. Delaware Hospice Center at 100 Patriots Way in Milford will host the training on Friday, April 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The program includes a medical overview, legal and financial issues, challenging symptoms, daily care issues and information on getting the help you need. Training for family caregivers is free and lunch will be provided by Delaware Hospice. Pre-registration is required by Friday, April 17. For more information or to register, call Jamie Magee at 302-854-9788.

Race for Autism is April 26 The Lower Delaware Autism Foundation's 7th Annual Race for Autism is Sunday, April 26 at Cape Henlopen High School. The race features a half marathon, two person relay, 5K run, 5K family fun walk and a kiddie fun run. The half marathon will begin at 8:10 a.m. and if you register on or before April 25 the cost is $40. All other start times and registration fees vary. Pre-registration is requested. Pre-race packet pick up will take place on Saturday, April 25 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Greene Turtle in Lewes. The Greene Turtle will donate a portion of the proceeds of sales from 5 to 9 p.m. Fundraising is highly encouraged but not mandatory to run/walk. Those who raise more than $100 will receive a Race for Autism Bag; over $500, a $50 Walmart gift card; and those who raise more than $1,000 will receive a $100 American Express gift card. A grand prize will be given to the person who raises the most money over $1,000. "We are hoping that families and friends of those affected will begin forming teams and walk and fund raise together," said Mary Landon Green, LDAF program and event coordinator. Many volunteers are needed for this event. Church groups, civic groups, high school sports teams, businesses and families are encouraged to help. For more information or to register for the race online, visit or call Green at 302-644-3410.

Cancer Networking Support Group The Wellness Community of Delaware offers a "General Cancer Networking" support group the third Monday of each month from 4:30- 6:30 p.m. held at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Cancer Care Center second-floor library, Seaford. Professionally led cancer support programs offer hope, education, and emotional support for adults with cancer and their loved ones who want to fight for recovery and the quality of their lives. Learn how to feel less isolated and more in control. All programs offered through The Wellness Community of Delaware are free of charge to people affected by cancer. For further information, or to register, call 645-9150.

Laurel Depression Support Group There will be a free bimonthly Depression Support Group meeting in Laurel on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Any person who has signs and symptoms of depression and is under the care of a professional counselor/MD is welcome to attend. To register, call Life Matters Counseling and Consulting at 302-465-6612.

Safe Sitter Class offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital is offering a Safe Sitter class for girls and boys ages 11 to 13. The one day course will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, April 10. The Safe Sitter program teaches youngsters how to handle emergencies when caring for younger children. The cost is $35 and participants are to bring a bagged lunch. All medical information will be taught by a certified professional. Students get hands-on practice in basic life-saving techniques so they are prepared to act in a crisis. Instructors also provide tips to make sitters more confident caregivers. They teach safety and security precautions, such as what to do if a stranger comes to the door and when and how to call for help. They give information on child development and suggest age-appropriate activities. Participants will also learn about the business aspects of babysitting. To register, call 629-6611, ext. 2540.

Nurses' assistant program Become a member of the rapidly expanding health care field by taking the evening nurses' assistant course, offered through Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus. Instruction will be given at LifeCare at Lofland Park in Seaford and Delaware Tech in Georgetown from April 27 to June 25; classes will meet on Monday through Thursday from 5 to 10:30 p.m. This 150-hour course teaches students to safely perform basic nursing skills under the supervision of a licensed nurse. Graduates will be prepared to take the Nurse Aid Competency Exam for certification. All nurses' assistants must take this exam to be certified to work in Delaware. Funding through the Department of Labor and limited scholarships are available for this course. For complete information, contact Delaware Tech's Corporate and Community Programs at 302-854-6966.