Thursday, October 08, 2015
Doctor's Perspective
The importance of context

By Dr. Anthony Policastro We know that children learn to speak at about the same age. We know that their first words are "mama" and "dada." However, as they learn new words between the ages of 12 and 24 months, each child tends to learn a different group of words. We have tended to think that if we repeat a word over and over to a child, they will learn that word. A recent study suggests that is only partially true. The perception is that a child hears a word and then repeats that word. This appears to be only a part of the process. It now looks like the context in which the word is used is also important. Thus, a word used in isolation does not really convey any meaning to the child. The context of learning new words will vary with the individual family setting so not all children learn the same words. One of the pieces of context is location. Certain words are more commonly used at the dinner table while other words are more commonly used in the bathroom or the bedroom. Children learn that certain locations are associated with specific words and they learn these words more quickly. The word might be "eat" at the dinner table, "bath" in the bathroom and "sleep" in the bedroom. Thus, words like these are more easily learned than words at random. Another piece of context is time of day. Some words are more likely to be used in the morning while others are more likely to be used in the evening. This gives the child another point of reference in addition to location. Thus, even though a child might not yet say the word "breakfast," he/she knows that in the morning at the kitchen table, "breakfast" means it is time to eat. A third piece of context is related to topics of conversation. These too vary within families. For example, my oldest daughter was able to use the words "doctor" and "stethoscope" at 18 months of age. That would not be the case with most 18 month olds because conversations would not often involve those words. The lesson to parents in this new study is to recognize that words are not learned in a vacuum. Just saying a word to a child without context is not as valuable as building associations to that word. Most parents are proud of the things their children say. There is now evidence that there are ways they can increase the use of words that they would like to hear.

Parkinson's Support Group Nanticoke Health Services, in conjunction with CHEER and Care DE and The Methodist Manor House, holds Parkinson's education and support groups on the third Thursday of each month from 9:30-11 a.m. at the Methodist Manor House in Seaford. The next meeting is Thursday, Oct. 15. This support group, which is free and open to the public, is not only helpful for the individual diagnosed with PD, but also for caregivers, friends and family. Group members welcome guest speakers on a variety of subjects related to PD and provide support to each other through other small group discussions. Tara Trout, LPN, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, co-facilitates the group with Kathy Landis, caregiver resource coordinator, CHEER. For more information, contact Trout at 629-6611, ext. 3838.

Weight Loss Seminars Nanticoke Physician Network General and Bariatric Surgery will host free weight loss seminars on the second Wednesday of each month from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and the third Saturday of each month from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. This month's meetings will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 14 and Saturday, Oct. 17. Seminars are designed to provide education to individuals considering weight loss surgery to help them make informed decisions on whether surgery is an appropriate option. Seminars will consist of presentations by Dr. Tarek Waked to inform individuals about the many benefits of weight loss surgery. Patients and their spouses, family members or friends are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. For more information about this seminar or about weight loss surgery, contact Shelly Geis at 629-6611, ext. 8810.

Lymphedema Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a Lymphedema Support Group on the third Thursday of each month at the Seaford Library and Cultural Center from 1:30-3 p.m. The topic on Oct. 15 is OT Self Care. This free support group is open to anyone affected by lymphedema including patients, caregivers, and relatives. Meetings will consist of a lecture by health care professionals and medical equipment providers followed by refreshments and an open question and answer session or discussion among participants. Registration is required. For more information or to register, contact Robert Donati at 629-6224 or

'Walk With Me Delmarva' is Oct. 18 There is still time to register for the third annual Easter Seals Delaware & Maryland's Eastern Shore "Walk With Me Delmarva" event to be held on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 3 p.m. at Baywood Greens, Long Neck. "Delmarva's Walk With Me is an opportunity for families, friends, neighbors and colleagues to walk together to support services for families living with disabilities in our local community," Linda Forte, event coordinator. Not only will walkers share the company of event ambassadors, who receive services from Easter Seals in Georgetown, they will also be serenaded by Elvis (Bob Lougheed) and Broadway/film actors along the walk route.

Frozen Farmer will be on hand with treats donating a portion of each purchase to the walk. There will also be Delaware State Police K-9s, face painting and more to entertain the entire family. Registration is available at or by contacting Linda Forte at 302-253-1100, ext. 1121 or To learn more about how Easter Seals helps children and adults with disabilities, call 1-800-677-3800 or visit

Spin-a-Thon for DBCC The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) is pleased to announce that Midway Fitness & Racquetball is Spinning For Awareness on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 9 a.m. to noon at their fitness center in Rehoboth Beach. In addition to raising awareness for breast cancer during the month of October, the special event will help raise money for the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition to support local breast cancer programs and services. Classes are $30/bike half hour or supporters can pledge $30 to be a class sponsor. Donations will be collected at Midway Fitness through Oct. 24. To participate, you must RSVP. For more information, contact Kyle Kilgo at or 302-645-0407.

Monster Miles for a Cause Delaware Hospice will hold Monster Miles for a Cause at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 17. Check-in is at 8:30 a.m. and the walk begins at 10:30 a.m. This fun family event will feature vendors, music, food and raffles. A $5 donation to Delaware Hospice registers you for the un-timed walk in memory or honor of a loved one and a Delaware Hospice t-shirt. To register or for more information, visit or contact Janet Luke at 302-746-4535.

Boo To Do Hollywood Premiere Join Delaware Hospice for the Boo To Do Hollywood Premiere at Nassau Valley Vineyards, Lewes, on Saturday, Oct. 31 from 7-11 p.m. Boo To Do is a sophisticated, fun evening to benefit Delaware Hospice. This Hollywood Premiere themed event will include gourmet food by Nage, live music by The Funsters, photos and a costume contest. Come as your favorite Hollywood Star or in your Sunday best. Limited $75 tickets are still available. For more information, visit or contact Peggy Dolby at 302-746-4666 or To order tickets online, visit

Nanticoke offers flu shots It's time to get your seasonal flu shot. Influenza is a serious disease that affects many people, including the elderly and those with serious, long-term health problems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone get a seasonal flu vaccine every year. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer seasonal flu shots to individuals 16 years of age and older at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Mears Health Campus (Rehabilitation Services Building, 300 Rawlins Dr., Seaford) on: Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 8 a.m. to noon and Wednesday, Oct. 21 from 2-6 p.m. A donation of $10 per vaccination is appreciated. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, please call 629-6611, ext. 8948.

Safe Sitter Class Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a Safe Sitter class from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9, for children ages 11 to 13, who are interested in learning child care essentials and safety. The Safe Sitter course is designed to train tweens and teens on how to be safe baby/child sitters. Components include infant/child development and care, safety, injury prevention, first aid, accident management, rescue breathing and choking management. Cost is $35 per student, which includes the class and all materials. Advance registration is required. To register or for more information, call 629-6611, ext. 2540.

Tea for breast cancer survivors October is Breast Cancer Survivors Month and the Cancer Support Community-DE, Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, American Cancer Society, and the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center will honor breast cancer survivors at a special Pink Ribbon Tea. Join other survivors and enjoy an afternoon of inspiration and time of celebration. The Nanticoke Pink Ribbon Tea will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 16, at Seaford Library. To register, call 645-9150 by Oct. 9. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free of charge, but seating is limited.

Diabetes Prevention Class Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a Diabetes Prevention Class at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2, in the Medical Staff Conference Room. This two-session course is designed for individuals who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Utilizing resources developed by the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), this course provides individuals with basic tools to help them make lifestyle changes and reduce their risk for developing diabetes. Cost is $20 per person and a physician referral is required for registration. For more information and to register, call 629-6611, ext. 2288.