Thursday, May 13, 2010
Don't treat your health foolishly

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

There is an old saying that goes, "A fool and his money are soon parted." In healthcare we can paraphrase that to say, "A fool and his good health are soon parted." There are many ways that people foolishly approach their health care. The result is that their health worsens. Unfortunately, in many cases, this did not have to happen. In some instances, the issue is with not looking at the consequences of their health related behaviors. A classic example is cigarette smoking. Everyone knows that it is bad for your health, however, that does not stop thousands of new people each year from taking up the habit. They act foolishly. Another issue is with not taking care of medical problems, when they are present, so problems get worse. A classic example is the failure of diabetic patients to take proper care of their blood sugar. High blood sugar does not really cause any type of acute symptoms, which makes people less inclined to address it. However, over a long period of time, it causes many problems to different organs in the body. Once those problems start showing themselves, it is too late to go back and prevent them. These individuals are acting foolishly. In some cases, the issue is with not getting proper preventive care. A classic example is parents who will not give their children immunizations. They imagine that there is a problem with immunizations. Then, based upon that imagined problem, they do not provide their children with proper protection. Polio, smallpox and diphtheria are but three of the diseases that we no longer see because of the success of immunizations. These parents are acting foolishly. Another problem is not getting proper screening procedures. A classic example is the reluctance to get checked for colon cancer. There are many ways to check for colon cancer. The best way is through colonoscopy for people of the appropriate age. Some people do not want to have that done. Some will not even check their stool for blood. What could be easily fixed, later becomes a fatal disease. These people are acting foolishly. Others act foolishly by not taking medication properly. Some individuals forget to take their medication, others don't bother. There are others who are afraid of the side effects of medication. They do not look seriously enough at the actual effects of the disease that the medication is prescribed for. They may have high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Regardless of the diagnosis, there are often many bad things that can happen from an untreated diagnosis. These individuals are also acting foolishly. No one wants to be thought of as a fool. However, some individuals will go out of their way to behave like one. The end result is that "A fool and his/her good health are soon parted."

Medicare seminar planned Rep. Ruth Briggs King invites you to attend an informational seminar on Medicare, sponsored by ELDERinfo, which offers free, unbiased health insurance counseling for people with Medicare. The seminar will answer questions about Medicare coverage and provide information on deadlines for new benefits. New and soon-to-be beneficiaries are invited to learn about Medicare benefits, supplemental insurance policies, Medicare Advantage plans and prescription drug coverage. The seminar will be held on the following dates: Wednesday, May 19, 10 a.m. to noon - CHEER Center, 20520 Sand Hill Road, Georgetown Tuesday, May 25, 6 to 8 p.m. - CHEER Center, Georgetown Thursday, May 27, 10 a.m. to noon - Laurel Public Library, 101 E. 4th St., Laurel Seating is limited and advanced registration is required. To register, call ELDERinfo at 800-336-9500 or 302-674-7364.

Celebrate Older Americans Month May is Older Americans Month, and it's the perfect time to honor our aging population while raising awareness about the health risks they might face as senior citizens enjoy their golden years. Mary Johnson, health educator for the Delaware Division of Public Health, will be the featured guest speaker at the May meeting of the Sussex County Advisory Committee for the Aging & Adults with Physical Disabilities. Johnson will discuss ways senior citizens can 'Age Strong! Live Long!', the theme of this year's Older Americans Month. Johnson will offer tips on how to stay active and keep the heart healthy, an acute concern among all Americans, but particularly older people. The Advisory Committee invites the public to attend the committee's next meeting at 10 a.m. Monday, May 17, at the Sussex County Administrative Offices West Complex on North DuPont Highway in Georgetown. An open discussion will follow the featured presentation. The Sussex County Advisory Committee for the Aging & Adults with Physical Disabilities is an 11-member panel established by the Sussex County Council to be an advocate for programs and policies that benefit older and disabled residents.

The committee meets every other month, in January, March, May, July, September and November. All meetings are open to the public.

License plate for breast cancer Efforts to raise awareness about breast cancer and to help combat the disease would get a financial boost under recent legislation introduced by Sen. Michael Katz, D-Centerville. Katz's legislation would authorize the production of a special license plate whose proceeds would assist the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, which runs a number of education and outreach programs throughout the state and partners with the state's Department of Public Health in operating a mobile mammography van to provide breast cancer exams for women who might not be able to afford one otherwise. If approved, the plates would cost motorists an extra $100 above the normal cost of license plates, with the money going to help fund the coalition's activities. There also would be a $10 administrative fee for the initial application for the plates. House Majority Whip Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, said the plates themselves would be a highly visible way to raise awareness.

Free prostate cancer screening Bayhealth Medical Center is offering a free screening for prostate cancer on Saturday, May 22, beginning at 9 a.m., at the Bayhealth Cancer Center at Milford Memorial Hospital. The free screening consists of a PSA blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE). Pre-registration is required. For more details or to register, contact Paula Hess, MSN RN OCN, at 744-6752.

Bayhealth sponsors stroke seminar Stroke is the third leading killer and the top cause of disability in the United States. Bayhealth Stroke Care Coordinator Dawn Fowler, MSN, RN, PCCN, will join Bayhealth Neurologist Joel Rutenberg, MD, during Bayhealth's upcoming Stroke Seminar, Wednesday, May 19 and Thursday, May 20. Dr. Rutenberg will lead a discussion about prevention and treatment for stroke, while Fowler will provide insight on how strokes impact entire families. The seminars will be held on the following dates and times: Wednesday, May 19, 5-8 p.m., in the Board Room & Conference Center at Milford Memorial Hospital, Milford. Thursday, May 20, 5-8 p.m., in the General Foods Conference Room at Kent General Hospital, Dover. For more information, visit or call 302-744-6584.

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings Residents living in and around the Blades community can be screened to reduce their risk of having a stroke or bone fracture. The Blades Town Hall-Hardin Hall will host Life Line Screening on May 17. The site is located at 20 W. Fourth St. in Blades. Appointments will begin at 9 a.m. For more information regarding the screenings or to schedule an appointment, call 1-877-237-1287 or visit our website at Pre-registration is required. Life Line Screening was established in 1993, and has since become the nation's leading provider of preventive screenings.

Cancer support group The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a free general cancer support group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. The monthly support group meets in the second floor conference room of the Cancer Care Center on the third Monday of each month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The Wellness Community is dedicated to helping people affected by cancer enhance their health and well-being through participation in a professional program of emotional support and hope. All facilitators of these groups are trained mental health professionals. Call 645-9150 for information or to register.

Depression Support Group There is 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 302-465-6612.

Bereavement support group Compassionate Care Hospice, The Wellness Community-DE and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will collaborate to present a monthly bereavement group, The Next Step. The group focuses on issues of loss that continue beyond the early stages of grief. Mary Van House, bereavement coordinator, will facilitate the group at 10 a.m. on the third Tuesday of each month, at the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, second floor conference room. To register, call Lisa at 629-6611, ext. 2378.