Thursday, February 13, 2014
Nurture children's natural talents

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
For much of the month of February, we will be watching the Winter Olympics. We will marvel at the accomplishments of the athletes. We sometimes forget that we are not necessarily watching the best athletes in the world. We are watching the best trained athletes in the world. We are all familiar with the story of the parents who have moved across the country to live near an Olympic caliber coach. We are also familiar with the endless hours the athletes spend training. What we are less familiar with is the fact that raw Olympic talent is not always recognized. Children have many different talents. We need to understand that fact and recognize and develop those talents. A child may have the best raw talent in the world but if it is not recognized and nurtured, it will not develop. That talent might be in athletics, art, academics or music. Parents need to realize this. They need to expose their children to a variety of things which will allow them to recognize which talents the child has. I once treated a 6th grade girl who had a memory problem that caused problems on tests in school. She got poor grades and got teased because of her grades. I told her parents that we needed something to support her self esteem. They enrolled her in gymnastics. She had a natural talent for it. Within 6 months, she was one of the top 10 gymnasts in the state of South Carolina. After each meet, the school would announce how well she did over the loudspeaker. She became one of the most popular girls at the school. No one cared about her memory issues. Thus, there is one very good reason to support a child's talent - it helps them with their self image. Not every child can be good at everything. However, all children can be good at something. The challenge is for parents to recognize what that something happens to be. They may not have Olympic level talent. However, they likely have many unrecognized talents. We have a role as parents to find those talents. It is actually one of the hardest jobs that parents have. Unfortunately, some parents are narrow minded. They decide in advance what they want their child to succeed at. They may decide that their child is going to be an athlete, however, the child's talents may lie in the arts. They may decide that their child is going to be a musician, however, the child's talents may lie in athletics. Children should be exposed to multiple activities. These do not need to cost a lot of money or be formal activities. If a child excels in something, it is usually pretty easy to tell. Parents then need to nurture those activities. It is likely that there will be many parents watching the Olympics this year. It is also likely that some of them will have children with Olympic caliber talent. Parents might not recognize that so they might not get the training that the child needs. They will be content watching the best trained athletes in the world, not necessarily those who are the best athletes in the world. Be a wise health care consumer As consumers we spend a lot of time shopping for our groceries, cars and clothes. Some of us even look for sales, coupons and consumer reviews before making a purchase. When it comes to healthcare, this isn't always the case. Studies show that Americans spend more time researching car purchases and new appliances than they do choosing doctors and health plans. Peninsula Home Care wants to make it easier for patients and caregivers to understand their options and how they can reduce their health care costs. "Education is key," said Therese Ganster, Peninsula Home Care community liaison. "Information about health care choices can be confusing and hard to find for the consumer. In addition to the cost savings patients can accrue by shopping around, family members and caregivers need to know that they have the right to choose the care providers that best meet their health care needs. Many caregivers don't realize they can advocate for their loved ones to receive home care and other services by simply asking questions and making requests to their physicians." In addition to services and care providers, patients have a choice when it comes time to pay the bill. Medicare doesn't necessarily offer a "one-size-fits-all" package and therefore consumers need to understand the benefits and liabilities that come with each program.

How to be a wise health care consumer 1. Understand your health insurance plan. A list of basic questions about what is covered and knowing the answers to these questions can save time and money. 2. Take the time to carefully select a doctor or health care provider. Investigate whether or not the doctor participates with your health insurance plan. 3. Prepare for visits to your health care provider by compiling lists of questions or concerns you wish to discuss during your appointment. Don't be shy about asking them to explain words/terminology you may not understand. You can make the most of the time you have and avoid unnecessary calls and repeat visits. 4. Don't be afraid to ask questions about medications you are prescribed. Understand why you are taking it and how it should be taken. 5. Keep a checklist of all medications you are taking and share this list with your health care provider(s). This is especially true if you had a recent hospitalization or a new physician visit when some medications may have been added, deleted or using a generic name instead of the name initially prescribed. Your home health nurse will help sort this out for you and make sure all meds are being taken properly. 6. Don't forget that over the counter medications and supplements may interact with your prescribed medications. Bring those to the physician's office and or share with your home care nurse. 7. Keep your appointments with your physicians and schedule routine medical tests and examinations, at the recommended times to have them. You may be able to avoid further unnecessary and expensive tests, surgeries or treatments in the future if you follow recommendations made by your physicians. 8. Preventing falls are critical when it comes to your health. If your health and or ability to get around have changed due to a recent illness or move to a new environment, consider having physical therapy and occupational therapy in your home. The occupational therapist can be a great resource to assist you in adapting your home environment to meet your needs to keep you as independent as possible in your own home. 9. Take care of your mental health as well as you would your physical health. States of emotional upset can interfere with daily living routines, and can ultimately affect your physical well-being. Your physician can assist you with obtaining resources to help in coping with stress. 10. Keep a list of health agencies handy as a reference to help you age in place, preferably in your home. Most are available by phone, fax or email and can serve as a resource for free information and support. For more information, visit

Southern Delaware Kidney Walk The National Kidney Foundation of Maryland (NKF-MD) will hold its sixth annual Southern Delaware Kidney Walk, Sunday, Apr. 27, at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes. Kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States and kills more people every year than breast cancer, prostate cancer or leukemia. Check-in and festivities begin at 9 a.m. at the Picnic Pavilion. The walk will kick off at 10. Participants can choose from a 3.2-mile trail or a shorter trail for strollers and wheelchairs. Enjoy refreshments from Surf Bagel and Aquafina, music from Moonbeam Entertainment and the Kidney Kids Corner with face painting and games. With a $10 donation, dogs and owners can be a part of the "Kidney Paws for a Cause" and receive a goody bag with dog treats, as well as engraved dog tags from All Aboard Grooming and Kennels. There is no registration fee, but Cape Henlopen State Park charges an entrance fee of $4 for vehicles registered in Delaware and $8 for vehicles registered outside of Delaware. All participants who raise a minimum of $100 will earn a 2013 Kidney Walk t-shirt. For pre-registration or information about sponsorship or volunteer opportunities, call 410-726-8732 or visit

2014 Walk MS dates announced The Delaware Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has announced the 2014 Walk MS dates and invites all Delawareans to join the movement. Twilight at Heritage Shores will be held on Friday, May 30. Registration starts at 5 p.m. and the walk kicks-off at 6. "Each year, thousands of participants come out to celebrate hope and the accomplishments made in the MS Movement," said Linda Risk, development director. "Our dedicated walkers raised almost $300,000 last year." To register for any of the walks, visit or call 302-655-5610. For more information about MS in Delaware, visit

Hospice plans pet loss workshop Delaware Hospice's Family Support Center will hold a free two-part workshop on "Caring for Aging Pets and the Grief of Pet Loss" from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 1, at the Delaware Hospice Center, Milford. This two-part workshop will examine how to improve the quality of life for our aging companions in a holistic manner and how to cope with the death of our most beloved friends. The first session is "Caring for Aging Pets: How to Improve the Quality of Life of our Aging Companions," with guest speaker Dr. Christina Dayton-Wall, DVM PLUS. The second session is "The Grief of Pet Loss," with guest speaker Laurie Vonasek, RN. Those who have lost pets may bring a photo for the Remembrance Table. Registration is required by Thursday, Feb. 27th. Register by contacting Michelle August at 800-838-9800 or

Plans for Medicaid clients United Healthcare Community Plan and Nemours Health Systems are in contract negotiations. If the negotiations are not successful, the state has plans in place to ensure that children who are members of Delaware's Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) plans and are being treated by Nemours doctors can continue to see those doctors. Specifically, families will have the option of changing their managed care organization and keeping their current Nemours health care provider. The state will ensure that families receive the services they need and avoid disruption in their children's health care. Through Delaware's Medicaid and CHIP programs, more than 33,000 children are served by United Healthcare Community Plan. If families have questions, they may call Medicaid's health benefits manager at 1-800-996-9969 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays. The changeover could begin as soon as March 1.

Cholesterol screening on Feb. 14 Nanticoke Health Services will host a community cholesterol and diabetes screening from 7 to 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 14, at the Nanticoke EZ Lab, Mears Health Campus in Seaford. A 12-hour fasting is required. A donation of $10 is appreciated but not required. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 8948.

Alzheimer's caregiver support Laurel Adult Care will host an Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group that meets the third Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. Jamie Magee, program coordinator for the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter, will be the guest speaker at the next meeting on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 1 p.m. Join us for a discussion of Alzheimer's and other dementias at 113 N. Central Ave., Laurel. All meetings are free and open to the public. RSVP to Robbin Lecates at 875-2301 or Jamie Magee at 854-9788 or email

Delaware Hospice fundraiser A "Ride for Delaware Hospice" Spin-a-thon fundraiser will be held on Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Resort Quest Sea Colony's Freeman Fitness Center, Bethany Beach. There will be four spinning sessions between 8 a.m. and noon, and participants will purchase 45 minute time slots for $25 within one of those sessions. Riders will also be encouraged to raise money through pledges. Sponsorship opportunities are available. Proceeds benefit Delaware Hospice, helping the only not-for-profit hospice in Delaware continue to provide programs and service to people in need. For more information, call the Freeman Fitness Center at 302-539-4511 or contact Jen Neal at or Michael Pitts at or visit

State's first flu death reported Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) reports the first flu-related death of the 2013-2014 flu season with no known underlying causes. The individual was a 50-year-old woman from central Sussex County who died on Jan. 6. Infection with influenza A was later confirmed by the Delaware Public Health Laboratory as part of the state's routine surveillance efforts. Flu status for both Delaware and the nation is considered widespread for the first week of February. DPH reports a total of 655 cases for the current flu season in Delaware. Of these, 636 (97%) were influenza type A cases. In calendar year 2013, there were 1,748 confirmed flu cases in Delaware with four flu-related deaths. If you need information on the flu or where to get vaccinated visit or call 800-282-8672.