Thursday, November 17, 2011
The importance of reading to your children every day

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

One thing we all know is that it is important to read books to children. Unfortunately, we dont usually do it. Statistics show that only 48% of families read to their children on a daily basis. The numbers range from 36% for low income families to 59% for high income families. We know that some children will have as many as 1,000 hours of being read to by the end of 1st grade. That is about 20 minutes per day. There are others that have as few as 25 total hours by the end of first grade. That is about 20 minutes per month. Since only about half of children are read to on a regular basis, it is not a surprise that 34% of children entering kindergarten are behind expectations for basic language skills. Children that are poor readers when they begin to read will often not ever catch up to where they should be for their age. Reading allows parents to use words that they do not use in everyday language. Research has indicated that the more words a parent says out loud to an 8 month old infant, the greater the childs vocabulary at age 3 years. Thus the more words they hear the more words they learn to say. The research has also shown that the words need to be heard live from the parents. Television and radio do not count. Television is not a substitute for a good book. Some people might wonder what the right age is to begin reading to a child. The answer is easy. You need to begin as soon after birth as possible. Children will get used to words. They will get used to books. They will get used to pages in books. They will get used to turning pages. Even infants younger than 12 months will show that they know what a book is for once they get used to them. There are books for young infants that are made of things other than paper so that they can explore them with their mouth. There are books that have things other than words in them. Children learn languages better than adults. For that reason, reading books to children in other languages might provide a lot more learning of a second language than you might expect. Reading to children on a daily basis should continue until they are old enough to begin reading on their own. We need to remember that children will do what they see their parents do. A parent who tells their child to read needs to be a reader themselves. If that is not the case, the child is not going to show the right level of interest. As is the case with most child development areas, reading to your child is often an area in which parents can improve. Based upon current statistics, it is an area that parents should improve. As a nation, it is an area where our parents have to improve.

Recognizing the signs of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Imagine running around the block while breathing through a straw. This is what a patient diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) feels like after a simple walk to the mailbox. During COPD Awareness Month this month, Peninsula Home Care is educating and encouraging patients and caregivers to recognize the signs and symptoms of COPD. More than 12 million people have been diagnosed with COPD and an additional 12 million likely have the disease and dont even know it. Under the COPD umbrella COPD refers to a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it increasingly difficult to breathe: Emphysema occurs when the walls of tiny air sacs of the lungs (called alveoli) become inflamed. This can destroy the walls and allows small airways to collapse when a person exhales, causing less air flow out of the lungs. Chronic bronchitis, characterized by an ongoing cough, causes inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes. Chronic asthmatic bronchitis or bronchial asthma accompanied by contractions of muscle fibers in the lining of the airways is also at times classified as COPD. Of the 1,900 respiratory distress calls our crews responded to in 2010, almost half were related to COPD, said Robert Stuart, Sussex County Emergency Medical Services, director. We stress the importance of understanding the risk factors of COPD to help patients take the proper steps to manage the condition and live a healthier life.

Key risk factors COPD is one of the top diagnoses that Peninsula Home Care nurses see in the field. Generally it is identified with one or more of the following risk factors: Shortness of breath, chronic cough or trouble performing simple daily tasks like climbing stairs, grocery shopping, or laundry Over age 40 and currently smoke or used to smoke Have worked or lived around chemicals or fumes Have certain genetic conditions

The importance of a flu shot During flu season (October through April, with the peak usually January through March,) colder temperatures can present greater challenges and problems for patients with COPD. Something as simple as walking in a brisk wind can trigger fatigue and make it more difficult for an individual to catch their breath. We emphasize the importance of getting a flu shot to our COPD patients, said Therese Ganster, branch director, Peninsula Home Care. We also try to teach common sense approaches to managing COPD, such as wrapping a scarf around the mouth and nose when a patient is outside. This will warm the air before it enters the lungs which can help prevent symptoms. Ganster counsels that planning is critical for COPD sufferers. Carrying a rescue inhaler and a prescription for oxygen, planning stops on a walk for rest and warmth, and walking or traveling with a friend are a few important steps for managing the condition.

Test your lungs Peninsula Home Care encourages patients to be aware of their pulmonary function test results. There is a simple breathing test used to diagnose COPD called the spirometry test. It is performed with a hand-held device called a spirometer and can easily be used by patients with the assistance of a medical professional. The three key measurements that are critical in the interpretation of spirometry results are: 1. Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) - This is a measurement of lung size (in liters) and represents the volume of air in the lungs that can be exhaled following a deep inhalation. 2. Forced Expiratory Volume-One Second (FEV1) - This is a measurement of how much air can be exhaled in one second following a deep inhalation. 3. FEV1/ FVC Ratio - This number represents the percent of the lung size (FVC) that can be exhaled in one second. For example, if the FEV1 is 4 and the FVC is 5, then the FEV1/ FVC ratio would be 4/5 or 80%. This means the individual can breathe out 80% of the inhaled air in the lungs in one second. The three spirometry measurements for a given individual are compared to reference values. The reference value is based on healthy individuals with normal lung function and it tells the doctor the values that would be expected for someone of the same sex, age and height.

COPD patient checklist 1. Get a flu shot 2. Limit time outside and in public places 3. Wash hands frequently 4. Talk to the doctor about the difference between everyday medication and how it may interact with rescue inhalers 5. Make sure to know how to take medications when needed and that medications are available and have not expired For more information on COPD, visit

Eating Better & Moving More The CHEER Nutrition Program serves heart-healthy meals that meet one-third of the dietary intake reference for older Americans. All diets are analyzed and supervised by a registered dietician. The meals are served midday at each of its seven activity centers. CHEER is taking nutrition one step further by encouraging its members to create a healthy lifestyle. CHEER recommends the Eating Better & Moving More program which consists of 12 weekly, 30 minute sessions. The program includes mini talks, activities, resources and take home assignments. Healthier food choices are encouraged by easy food check-offs. Participants are encouraged to walk more by using the simple step counters that are provided. The program is being offered at the Georgetown CHEER Center starting Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 11 a.m. Door prizes, participation prizes and goal related prizes are awarded each week. For more information, call Cindy at 856-5187.

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. To learn more, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Relay for Life fundraiser Dr. Marie Wolfgang is again sponsoring a 12 night Winter Getaway Cruise to the Southern Caribbean as a fundraiser for Relay for Life, sailing from Cape Liberty, N.J. on Feb. 10. The itinerary includes St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Johns (Antigua), St. Lucia and St. Maarten (Philipsburg). Transportation to and from the dock is available. For a brochure, call or visit Dr. Wolfgangs office at One Cedar Ave. in Seaford, 629-4471. Space is limited.

Bereavement luncheons Delaware Hospices 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 throughout Sussex County. 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 Midge Dinatale or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.

New depression support groups If you have been diagnosed with depression, are currently receiving treatment and need extra support, join the Mental Health Association in Delawares newest depression support groups. The support groups provide a safe and comfortable environment for adults who may be struggling with depressionto find others who may be going through similar experiences, learn coping skills and take back control of their life by being proactive. A support group meets in Seaford every Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The location of the meeting is provided only to registered members. To register, contact the Mental Health Association in Delaware at 302-654-6833 or 800-287-6423. These new groups are made possible due to a grant received from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delawares BluePrints for the Community program.