Thursday, December 30, 2010
Texting age alters communication

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

One of the things that I do not like about using e-mail is the fact that you can only send words. Email does not convey the tone of the words. When you talk to someone on the phone, you get more of a feel for the tone. When you talk to someone in person, you get additional information from body language. There are many things that go into the art of communication. These include the words themselves, the tone and the speed that the words are spoken. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget that, like anything else, spoken language is learned. Most of it is learned from our parents because we hear them talk more than we do anyone else. If a parent does not like the words a child uses, they need to ask themselves how often they use the words. If a parent does not like the kind of conversation they are hearing, they need to ask if it reflects the way that they speak. Language is also learned in schools. However, we sometimes forget that the emphasis in school is on reading and writing. While speaking is part of the responses that children provide, there is usually no course in speech. Thus while 85% of what we do everyday is spoken, 85% of what is taught in school is written. The result is that most of us receive no significant formal training in speaking. It should then come as no surprise that communication issues are common in everyday life. These might involve communication within the family, at work and in our interaction with others. The new texting phenomenon has changed communication skills even more. We now send more frequent messages. However, they are sent in a telegraphic type style. The result is that there is even more opportunity for miscommunication. In addition, there is also less opportunity for learning how to use spoken language. The result of all this is that it becomes even more important for parents to spend time focusing on correct spoken language. It cannot be taken for granted. The result might be a communication style that interferes significantly in adult life. If it interferes with family communication, there will be more arguments and perhaps more divorces. If it interferes with work communication, there could be more job loss. If it interferes with communication in other situations, it could result in a variety of bad outcomes. Spoken language is often taken for granted. When that happens, it is likely to result in unexpected problems. Like anything else that we learn, if we do not do it right from the start, it will create long term issues.

Be safe from dangers of carbon monoxide During the winter months, Delawareans may assume that any dizziness, headache and fatigue they experience are caused by a "bug going around." Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, toxic gas, can also cause these symptoms, along with nausea, vomiting, chest pain and disorientation. According to the National Poison Data System, carbon monoxide killed 47 people in the U.S. in 2008. Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels burn. Improperly functioning heating systems, stoves, fireplaces, space heaters, cars, small gasoline engines and outdoor equipment can produce elevated levels of carbon monoxide which can build up rapidly indoors. At high levels, such as occur when running a car or other engine in a closed garage, carbon monoxide can be rapidly fatal. Children, elderly, smokers, people with heart and respiratory disease, and those with increased oxygen needs due to fever, hyperthyroidism or pregnancy are considered most susceptible. Carbon monoxide poisoning in pregnant women can cause birth defects. To be safe, follow these recommendations:

  • If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning leave the location and then call 911.

  • Get a carbon monoxide detector from a local hardware store. Detectors should be installed outside sleeping areas and near fuel-burning appliances.

  • Have trained professionals inspect fuel-burning appliances and fireplaces. Make certain that appliances are properly installed and vent fumes outside whenever possible.

  • Inspect chimney, flue and fireplace before use. Obvious signs of loose or damaged masonry, rusting or water streaking on a vent or chimney, falling soot, or the presence of animals or birds in chimneys need correction.

  • Don't idle the car in the garage. Fumes can build up quickly and enter your home.

  • Never use a charcoal grill indoors, even in a fireplace.

  • Don't sleep in a room with a fuel-burning space heater. Its fumes can sicken you when you are most vulnerable.

  • In a power outage, never run portable generators in the home or garage. Portable generators should always be used outside. DPH's Healthy Homes program offers a home health hazard assessment. For more information, call (302) 744-4546 or visit
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.

Alzheimer's Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Alzheimer's Support Group meeting is being held on Tuesday, January 11th, 1:30 p.m. at LifeCare at Lofland Park's, first floor Resident Lounge, 715 East King Street, Seaford. This group provides support and information about Alzheimer's and dementia to families, caregivers and anyone who is affected by this disease. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this FREE support group. For additional information, contact LifeCare at Lofland Park at 302-628-3000, extension 8302.

Childbirth classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will be offering a childbirth class on Wednesday, Jan. 12 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in the hospital.The class will meet each Wednesday for four weeks. The maternity education classes are designed to offer information, counseling, support and hands-on experience to help prepare for a new family member. They will cover pregnancy in general, information to prepare the expectant mother for labor and delivery, and will include a tour of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Mother Baby Care Unit. A refresher course is also available for those who have previously taken childbirth classes. The refresher class covers breathing techniques, signs, symptoms and stages of labor, birthing options and a tour of Nanticoke's Mother Baby Care Unit.

The cost of the childbirth course is $50, and the cost for the refresher course is $25. Mothers are encouraged to bring their partner or support person for all courses. Registration in advance is required for either class. To register, or for more information, contact the Health Education Registration line of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 2540.

Hospice offers support group Delaware Hospice's Bereavement Counselor, Midge DiNatale, will lead an eight-week support group for adults on "Grieving the Loss of a Loved One," Jan. 19 through March 9, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., at the Easter Seals Conference Room, 22317 DuPont Highway, Rt. 113, Georgetown. Any adult who would like to give and receive support from others experiencing a loss are invited to attend. Many people find that sharing reduces the loneliness and heartaches of grief. Topics discussed are what to expect when grieving, mistaken ideas about grieving, managing and coping with grief, family interactions, spiritual issues, how to handle special days and holidays and ways to find a renewed sense of purpose. There is no fee for this service which is provided as a community outreach by Delaware Hospice. Registration is requested by calling Midge DiNatale, at 302-416-0581 or 302-856-7717, or by emailing,

Family Caregiver Training offered The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter sponsors The Family Caregiver Education Series several times a year in each of Delaware's three counties. LifeCare at Lofland Park in Seaford will host the training on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011, from 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. This program includes a medical overview, legal and financial issues, challenging symptoms, daily care issues and information on getting the help you need. This training for family caregivers is free and lunch will be provided by LifeCare. Pre-registration is required by Jan. 14. For more information or to register, call Jamie Magee, branch office coordinator, at 854-9788 or 1-800-272-3900.

Support the Heart and Stroke Gala The 2011 Southern Delaware Heart and Stroke Gala, "An Evening in Oz," will be held on Saturday, March 19, 2011, at the Sheraton Dover Hotel. The annual event benefits the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. Volunteers are actively planning the gala. Volunteers work on committees, including sponsorship, publicity, auction, hospitality, multimedia, website, entertainment, casino, photography and decorating. To find out more about sponsorship or to volunteer, contact Karen Gritton, special events director at or 286-5705. You may also contact the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association's Delaware office toll free at 877-750-4276.

Diabetes education program offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold a four-session diabetes educational program on Jan. 5, 12, 19 & 26, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the hospital. 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. Our goal is to give you the self-management skills to control your diabetes. Family members/significant others are welcome to attend the weekly sessions. Pre-registration is required prior to attending classes. To register and to obtain more information regarding the course, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Free cancer support group The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a general cancer support group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. The ongoing monthly support group meets in the first floor resource library of the Cancer Care Center on the third Monday of each month. The next meeting takes place on Jan. 21, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The Wellness Community, an affiliate of the Cancer Support 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 are trained mental health professionals with a master's degree or more. Call 645-9150 for information or to register for this program. All support groups offered at The Wellness Community are free of charge. This program is made possible by the support of the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. For more information, visit

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. The program is facilitated by Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center professional staff - Terri A. Clifton, MS, NCC, Cancer Care coordinator; Mary Brown, RN, DSN, manager Cancer Care Center; and Wendy Polk, nutritionist - with assistance from Lois Wilkinson, DBCC special projects manager, who helps facilitate the program at Bayhealth. Of particular value to newly-diagnosed women is DBCC's Peer Mentor Program through which they are paired with a long-term survivor for one-on-one support. To learn more about Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Bereavement luncheons Delaware Hospice's "New Beginnings" bereavement luncheons are an informal way to meet and talk with others, who have had similar loss experiences. Lunch begins at noon and is followed by a brief program. The location rotates each week of the month according to the following schedule:
  • 1st Thursday: Grottos Pizza, Rte. 26, Bethany Beach;
  • 2nd Thursday: Georgia House, 300 Delaware Ave., Laurel;
  • 3rd Thursday: Millsboro Pizza Palace, Rt. 113-southbound lane, Millsboro;
  • 4th Thursday: Blue Ocean Grill (formerly Milton House), 200 Broadkill Rd., Milton;
  • 5th Thursday (when applicable): Texas Grill (formerly Ocean Point Grill), 26089 Long Neck Rd., Millsboro.
"New Beginnings" luncheons are open to the public. Registration is not required. There is no fee except the cost of your lunch. For more information, call Carol Dobson or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.