Author - Live Well Lamoille

1
What Is Your New Years Resolution?
2
Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss
3
Considerate Festive Cooking for Everyone: Special Diets/Allergies
4
Tips for a Less Stressful Holiday
5
Helping People Navigate the Health Care System
6
The Jeffersonville Culvert Program
7
Family Health History
8
Getting Rid of “Dangerous Leftovers”
9
Prepping for the Dark Season
10
The Power of Habit

What Is Your New Years Resolution?

A new year has arrived, presenting the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past and reset. Even if you’re not in need of a completely fresh start, everyone can benefit from embracing a more positive frame of mind and a few new wellness goals.

We asked Live Well Lamoille bloggers to share the healthy habits they hope to embrace this year. Here is what they said:

Valerie Valcour, Vermont Department of Health: A renewed focus for me in 2019 is work-life balance. The first step will be to incorporate 10 minutes of meditation into each day. The best time will be the transition between work and home each afternoon and mornings on the weekend. A book with 52 meditative focus areas will be my weekly topic guide. I wish you all the best in accomplishing your goals for 2019.

Caleb Magoon, Power Play Sports: A couple of years ago, I was a bit down in the dumps following a very tough year. In an effort to focus on all the positive things I had going in life, I resolved at the New Year to write a bit about those positive aspects of my life. Rather than a traditional journal chronicling all life events, I decided instead to simply write about positive events, moments of beauty I saw daily, or uplifting interactions with people around me. My goal was to write nearly every day, which I did, albeit not for the whole year.

Though my effort was short-lived, it was not without a positive effect. I found that by focusing on the positive rather than complaining about the many negative things (because that is just too easy), had a profound effect on my outlook.

This year, I plan to do something similar. I have some new and slightly more realistic expectations. I’m quite certain that by taking just a few minutes each week to celebrate the positive things in my life, I will see an improved outlook. Deep in the Vermont winter, many of us struggle to keep a positive attitude. Small exercises like this that take little time can do big things for your mental health.

Dan Regan, Northern Vermont University-Johnson: In 2019 I resolve to continue two strategies, which I’ve begun. The first is: Allot extra time for all tasks and commitments. My mom gave me this advice, and she lived past 95. It means leaving early to pick someone up, arriving beforehand for an appointment or meeting, planning on extra time to cook dinner, complete a report, etc. I’m someone who acutely feels the pressure of an upcoming commitment. For me, and maybe others among you, a more unhurried approach reduces stress, helps control blood pressure and contributes to overall health.

In my seventies, time is obviously precious; but I can’t honestly claim that each second is equally indispensable. So I don’t begrudge waiting and “wasting” some of those seconds. Paradoxically, the willingness to waste some time unapologetically has made my “productive” moments feel—well—more productive and meaningful.

The second resolution is: Minimize multitasking. That means, for starters, no peering at screens while I’m exercising or checking phones when I’m actually watching something. I find the more I commit to uni-tasking, the more I get done. I’m better able to focus on the task at hand. And an unforeseen benefit is that, without distraction, my mind is free to move in unexpected and sometimes productive directions. For instance, I “wrote” this short piece in my head while running in a pool.

I hope I can make good on these two, simple commitments and I wish everyone a good (better) and healthy 2019!

What are your health and wellness resolutions? Maybe you’d like to start meal planning, start walking for 20 minutes per day, or just want to stop overscheduling your calendar to cut down on stress. How do you plan to stick to them? Let us know in the comments section below.

Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss

Death by suicide is complicated as is the survivor grief that follows. Did you know:

  • Grief is unpredictable.
  • Grief is complicated.
  • Grief is not one emotion, but many.
  • Grief is exhausting.
  • Grief ambushes you.
  • Grief never really goes away.
  • Grief permeates all aspects of life.
  • Grief is a process, not an event.
  • Only you know how much time you need to grieve.

Monique Reil of Lamoille County Mental Health Services and Jane Paine with Lamoille Home Health & Hospice are coordinating a support group for survivors of suicide loss. Please join us in this safe, confidential space to share your story or just to be surrounded by those who understand and care.

The Survivors of Suicide Loss (SOSL) support group meets the last Wednesday of each month from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. For location details, call Jane Paine at 888-4651 or Monique Reil at 888-5026.

Considerate Festive Cooking for Everyone: Special Diets/Allergies

By: Stacy Wein, Librarian, Copley Health Sciences Library*

During the holidays we often get together with others for parties or large family dinners. Planning the menus and cooking can be great fun until you remember Aunt Sally has a nut allergy and John has a gluten allergy. There is sure to be someone who is vegan or diabetic. How do you prepare a delicious and safe feast for all? Don’t worry, it can still be fun to plan a menu.

Hosting a festive gathering should be welcoming to all. Some of your guests may have dietary restrictions by choice, religion or culture, lifestyle choices, or it might be a matter of life and death. Make sure your guests know you are aware some might have dietary restrictions. Since you want everyone to enjoy themselves and you want to provide a safe menu, here are some suggestions and links to online resources to assist you in creating a deliciously safe feast for all.

  • Get to know your guests’ dietary restrictions. They might be able to make some suggestions or provide helpful information.
  • In the menu, be sure to list the ingredients for each dish. You might want to save the labels of the purchased items for the dish for reference.
  • Simplify! Keep recipes very basic. Stick to a little salt and pepper and provide other seasonings and ingredients, like nuts, to be available so guests can season their own serving.
  • Remember to wash hands, cooking utensils, and surfaces often. This prevents cross-contamination. You might also prepare dishes on different days.
  • And there is always the buffet or “build your own” option (like a taco bar) where people prepare their own from available options.

More Resources:

*This article was modified with permission from an article written by Carolyn Martin, MLS, AHIP,  Consumer Health Coordinator with University of Washington Health Sciences Library.

Tips for a Less Stressful Holiday

By: Leah Hollenberger

Tips to reduce holiday stress

The holidays can be one of the most stressful and emotional times of the year.  The loss of loved ones is felt deeply, financial worries, and stress over trying to fit in holiday activities along with daily life all contribute. There are two steps to helping make the holidays easier and more enjoyable. The first step is being honest with how much you can afford to spend for the holiday and sticking to your budget. The second step is focusing on what is most meaningful to you and your family and letting go of all the other activities and events that we tell ourselves must be a part of the holidays. This can be hard given all of the commercials, movies, and others’ traditions and expectations that are shared this time of the year.  Here are some tips that may help:

Speak with your extended family or friends in advance and mutually agree to provide gifts only for anyone under the age of 18.

For the adults, hold a Yankee Swap. Set a reasonable price limit, which is fair to everyone. You’ll find people will get creative. It is fun watching everyone open the presents and you’ll have a lot of laughs with the trading and swapping that ensues!

If you enjoy making gifts, try making one gift your signature gift for the holiday season. Make multiples of the item and give it to every adult on your list. Think homemade cocoa mix, granola, canned or preserved items like jam or pickles, candles, and the like.

Realize that once you give a gift, you are not invested as to if the recipient likes the gift. Of course, you hope they love it, but if they don’t, it is not a reflection on you. Let it go. It is fine if they want to re-gift or donate the item so someone else can enjoy it.

Give experiences as gifts; tickets to a play, a museum pass, a restaurant gift card – something that encourages the recipient to spend time with someone they love.

Give your time: a coupon to babysit; a calendar with an offer to get together monthly for a “walk and talk;” a bag of your homemade cocoa mix with a note to get together to watch a favorite tv show; an offer to drive them to the library, grocery store or laundromat, etc.  You could even suggest volunteering at the food share, nursing home, or with a local non-profit together.

Have your children shop with you for each other, within the budget you set. Siblings typically do a great job picking out a gift for each other – and it means more knowing their brother or sister picked it out especially for them.

The 4-gift rule is popular: one gift is something they want, one gift is something they need, one gift is something they wear, and one gift is something they read. I’m not sure where this rule originated, but it works for everyone and helps you stay on budget.

Figure out the two or three things that you love the most about the holiday and focus on them. If you love the lights on the Christmas tree but dislike decorating it, why not go with just lights on the tree? Make just one or two kinds of Christmas cookies instead of four or five. Better yet, participate in a cookie-walk if you want a variety of cookies. Area churches often hold them and promote them via Front Porch Forum.

Instead of going out to dinner, or fixing a fancy meal, suggest a potluck instead or serve a simple meal with a fancy dessert. Meet after dinner and take a drive around town to see the Christmas lights. Or play a board game with Christmas music playing in the background.

Simplify the expectations you have for yourself and others and you’ll find your holiday is less stressful and filled with what truly matters: spending meaningful time with family and friends.

What tips do you have for making the holidays less stressful?


Leah Hollenberger is the Vice President of Marketing, Development, and Community Relations for Copley Hospital. A former award-winning TV and Radio producer, she is the mother of two and lives in Morrisville. Her free time is spent volunteering, cooking, playing outdoors, and producing textile arts. Leah writes about community events, preventive care, and assorted ideas to help one make healthy choices.

Helping People Navigate the Health Care System

By: Rebecca Copans

Anyone who has accompanied a loved one to an emergency room knows how challenging it can be to navigate the medical system. Its complex language, daunting costs, and frenetic pace make it difficult for the average person to take in. If the patient has no one by their side and if they are dealing with two or more chronic conditions — plus poverty, food insecurity, and unstable housing — they face even greater challenges in navigating the healthcare system.

Sarah Williams, Lamoille County Mental Health Services (LCMHS) Medical Care Coordinator, has seen first-hand the results of that confusion and it has become her mission to directly challenge that problem. In her role, Williams has created collaborative relationships among providers at LCMHS and community partners, including primary care physicians, endocrinologists, neurologists, pharmacists, and hospital emergency room staff. Her role brings together providers and information systems to coordinate health services with patient needs to better achieve the goals of treatment. “When I look into a person’s eyes, I can see the difference that help has made. They are less stressed and can focus on getting well.”

Having someone to help patients navigate a complex system improves the quality of the care they receive. Outcomes improve as well, as the person receives the kind of medical follow-up that is required to treat their needs. Research across disciplines have shown that care coordination increases efficiency and improves clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction with care. “Greater coordination of care—across providers and across settings—will improve quality care, improve outcomes, and reduce spending, especially attributed to unnecessary hospitalization, unnecessary emergency department utilization, repeated diagnostic testing, repeated medical histories, multiple prescriptions, and adverse drug interactions” writes Susan Salmond and Mercedes Echevarria of Rutgers University School of Nursing.

Through these coordinated partnerships, LCMHS is enhancing the quality of care for the individuals they serve. This gives the individual an advocate, as well as someone to translate the often murky landscape of multiple disciplines of medicine. This has a striking benefit to patients’ mental health, quality of life, and their own sense of optimism as they have one distinct person that can be contacted to help clarify information, track multiple appointments, and identify specialists.

As primary and behavioral health care providers strive to integrate services, care coordination will support system-wide efforts to reduce emergency room visits and hospital stays, which is one of the greatest cost-drivers for the health care system. Based on the foundation of care coordination, primary and behavioral health care integration will make huge inroads in achieving the triple bottom line of health care: to improve the health of the population, to improve the patient experience of care (including quality, access, and reliability), and to control or reduce costs.


Rebecca Copans has worked extensively in government affairs, public relations and communications. As a society, our greatest potential lies with our children. With this basic tenant firmly in mind, Rebecca worked most recently with the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children and now with Lamoille County Mental Health to secure a stronger foundation for all Vermont families. 

A graduate of the University of Vermont and Dartmouth College, Rebecca holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in globalization. Her thesis concentration was the history and societal use of language and its effect on early cognitive development. She lives in Montpelier with her husband and three children.

The Jeffersonville Culvert Program

By: Lea Kilvádyová, Lamoille County Planning Commission

This is a story of one community’s dedication to improving the health of its residents by reducing the occurrence of flooding in the historic core of their village. Read about the intent behind installing a new large culvert under VT Route 15 in Jeffersonville.

Due to its location at the confluence of the Brewster and Lamoille Rivers, the Village of Jeffersonville lies within the 100-year floodplain and is prone to severe flooding. During 2011, Jeffersonville was inundated with floodwaters three times and experienced extensive damage to roads, culverts, businesses, and homes. Mann’s Meadow, housing for families and seniors, was evacuated due to road closure, power outage, and building flooding.

Arial photo of Jeffersonville’s 2011 flooding with an approximate location of flood mitigation improvements (in red).

 

Following the 2011 floods, the community worked with regional planners from Lamoille County Planning Commission and Milone & McBroom Engineers to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce the flooding in Jeffersonville. One part of the plan, and the most recent improvement implemented in November 2018, was the construction of a large flood bypass culvert under Route 15. (A culvert is a structure that allows water to flow under a road, trail, or similar obstruction from one side to the other side.)

The culvert is located between the new Union Bank building and the Joinery/Jeffersonville Automotive. The culvert is designed to reduce flood damages in the Village of Jeffersonville by allowing floodwaters from the Brewster River to flow out of the Village before impacting structures and property. Based on the detailed flood modeling completed after the spring 2011 flooding, the culvert – along with the larger Greenway Bridge installed last year – will significantly reduce flood levels and greatly reduce the need for road closures or evacuations of Village residents in the future.

New flood bypass culvert under Route 15 in Jeffersonville

 

The culvert construction has been made possible in part by funding provided by FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and Vermont’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery Program. For more information, contact Lamoille County Planning Commission at 888-4548.

Family Health History

By: Leah Hollenberger

Thanksgiving Day, November 22, is also Family Health History Day. As you gather with family this holiday, why not spend a few minutes with your loved ones exchanging medical histories?

There are several diseases that commonly run in families, including diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer osteoporosis, and sickle cell anemia.

Not many of us have detailed and precise information about other family members’ health histories. But any information can be helpful. Creating a Family Health History, and sharing it with your doctor and other healthcare practitioners, will help your provider recommend actions for reducing your personal risk of disease or help in looking for early warning signs of disease.

Reaching out to other family members to share your family health history, can help develop a more inclusive, larger family health history. And in doing so, talking about your family health history can help each of you stay healthy.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has an online tool,  “My Family Health Portrait,” that makes it easy to capture and save your family medical history. You can share the document with other family members and easily update it. The tool is available online at https://phgkb.cdc.gov/FHH/html/index.html.

Pen and paper works just fine as well. The March of Dimes also has downloadable PDF health history form you can use at marchofdimes.org/family-health-history-form.pdf.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a form too, at www.hhs.gov/programs/prevention-and-wellness/family-health-history/family-health-portrait-tool/printable/index.html.

However you decide to record your family health history, it should include:

  • Health history of your parents, your brothers, and sisters, and your children; next in importance are grandparents, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, and any half-brothers or half-sisters. Finally, it is helpful to include great aunts, great uncles, and cousins.
  • Age for all relatives, including age at time of death for the deceased and what caused their death.
  • Ethnicity/Ancestory, as some genetic diseases are more common in certain ethnic groups.
  • Presence of chronic diseases.

The HHS suggests these questions to help get the conversation going:

  • Do you have any chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes?
  • Have you had any other serious illnesses, such as cancer or stroke?
  • How old were you when you developed these illnesses?
  • Have you or your partner had any difficulties with pregnancies, such as miscarriages?
  • What medications are you currently taking?
  • Do you have, or have you had, any learning or developmental disabilities?

You should be prepared to ask some follow up questions. For example, if an uncle tells you he has heart disease you will want to ask:

  • How old were you when you developed the disease?
  • Did you have a heart attack?
  • Have you had any procedures done related to your heart? If so, what and when?
  • Do you have other medical problems, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure?
  • What medications are you taking to help with any of the above?

Please realize that this conversation could be difficult for some members of your family. Not everyone may want to share their personal health information or it could bring up some difficult emotions. Being respectful and sensitive to their feelings is important. It may help to share in advance why you are asking these questions and what you plan to do with the information.

So this Thanksgiving, in addition to asking for the recipe for that delicious side dish, ask them to also share their health history and anything they know about other family members’ past health.

Wishing you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.


Leah Hollenberger is the Vice President of Marketing, Development, and Community Relations for Copley Hospital. A former award-winning TV and Radio producer, she is the mother of two and lives in Morrisville. Her free time is spent volunteering, cooking, playing outdoors, and producing textile arts. Leah writes about community events, preventive care, and assorted ideas to help one make healthy choices.

Getting Rid of “Dangerous Leftovers”

Year-round secure medication drop boxes are a convenient and safe way to get rid of  “dangerous leftovers” – i.e. unused, expired, and/or unwanted prescription medication. There are several in the area, including:

  • Copley Hospital – in the main hallway outside of the Laboratory Check-In window
  • Lamoille County Sheriff’s office in Hyde Park
  • Morristown Police Department
  • Hardwick Police Department.

This service is made possible through an agreement with the Vermont Department of Health in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and in collaboration with Healthy Lamoille Valley.

Meg Morris, RPH, Copley Hospital’s Director of Pharmacy with Sheriff Roger Marcoux, Copley CEO Art Mathisen and Chief Medical Officer Donald Dupuis, MD, flank the area’s newest prescription medication drop off box for unused or expired medications. It’s located at Copley Hospital, in the hallway before the Laboratory’s Check-In window.

 

Proper disposal of medication is essential. Otherwise, it might end up in the wrong hands; presenting a danger to children and pets; it could be used improperly, possibly fueling addition; or it could pollute local water systems if flushed down the toilet.

The Drop Boxes accept prescription, over-the-counter, and pet medication in any form from households. This includes: pills & capsules, blister packs, creams & gels, inhalers, patches, powders, and sprays. Please – no needles, syringes, lancets or thermometers and no medications from businesses.

Drop off is anonymous – no ID is required. Before dropping off any medications, please prepare them by crossing your name off the container and putting all of the containers together in a sealed clear plastic bag (such as a Ziplock bag). If you don’t have the original container, please place the medications in a sealed clear plastic bag and label it with the name of the medication.

In addition to the Prescription Medication Drop Box program, the Vermont Health Department has introduced mail-back envelopes for safe and secure drug disposal. Consumers can use these envelopes at home to safely and securely mail in expired and unused prescription medications.

Learn more about drug safety at healthylamoillevalley.org/prescription-drugs and at healthvermont.gov/alcohol-drugs/services/prescription-drug-disposal.

Prepping for the Dark Season

By: Caleb Magoon

It’s getting dark and it’s a tough time of year to stay fit and healthy. “Stick season” (as it’s known here in Vermont), brings tough weather and limited daylight, making it harder to compel ourselves to get out and stay active.

That said, this is the perfect time to make a plan to stay active during the dark season, now through the winter. Here are a few thoughts on planning for the winter and staying safe in the dark.

Don’t let the dark get you down! Some of us will be driven inside, but others will continue activities outside and simply change how we do them. If your goal is to stay outdoors, safety and visibility need to be your number one priority. Safety vests and reflective material have gotten way better in recent years, and you need to own some. LED headlamps and lights have become more efficient, and red light and strobe options help make you super visible. The same is true for bike lights, which have gotten much nicer in recent years. Many options are rechargeable now so you don’t have to keep inserting new batteries. Reflective material and lights are worthy investments so you can walk, run, or bike safely during this time of year.

Stick season is a good time of year to see if working out at a gym is “for you.” Many gyms offer free trial periods, making it affordable to try out a new space. Try a few gyms and find one that fits you! Make sure it’s a place that fits your attitude towards staying fit (very serious vs. casual) and offers the equipment you need.

It is also worth considering the many alternative indoor fitness options that our area has to offer. Indoor pools are available at Johnson State College and The Swimming Hole in Stowe. Some resorts like the Golden Eagle in Stowe or Smugglers Notch offer open swim times. Other indoor activities include pickup games of soccer, volleyball, and racketball at places like Johnson State College, the Cambridge Community Center, Smugglers Notch, and more. There is also a local men’s basketball league, pickup soccer in the People’s Academy Gym, and our local pickleball club is seeking out an indoor play space. There are always games being played, just ask around!

Perhaps you don’t enjoy team sports? Well, it’s a great time to outfit your spare room, basement, or garage with some free weights, a bike trainer, or maybe an elliptical. Prepare now before you really need it.

In a month or so we will hopefully have enough snow and cold to enjoy some skating and snow activities, but a diverse fitness routine is always ideal. Be prepared with at least one indoor activity that isn’t dependent on the weather.

Now is the time to line up your plans for staying active this winter – there’s no need to wait for the really cold temperatures. Start looking for local groups you can plan with and locations where you can work out or stay fit; or come up with your winter outdoor safety plan including lights, warm clothes, and routes you can safely run or bike. Beware of hunting season which is now on.

The more prepared we are and the better the plan, the more likely you are to stick to it. So use stick season as your excuse to prepare. After all, winter is coming!


Caleb Magoon is a Hyde Park native who grew up hiking, hunting, biking and exploring Vermont’s Green Mountains. His passions for sports and recreation have fueled his career as the owner of Power Play Sports and Waterbury Sports. Caleb encourages outdoor activity and believes it is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle and the Vermont way of life. Caleb serves the Lamoille Valley by volunteering on numerous community boards such as the Lamoille County Planning Commission, The Morrisville Alliance for Commerce and Culture, Mellow Velo, and the state chapter of The Main Street Alliance. He lives, plays and works in Hyde Park with his wife Kerrie.

The Power of Habit

By: Rorie Dunphey

Have you ever ‘decided’ to make changes to your health (lose weight, quit smoking, start exercising…), only to be disappointed in yourself days or weeks later having ‘failed’? You may feel disappointed in yourself due to a ‘lack of willpower’ or simply feel overwhelmed by how hard it is to change. In fact, change is not a ‘decision’, but rather it is a process that takes time and patience.

Don’t underestimate the power of habit! Habit formation (whether starting or stopping a behavior) is both physical and psychological. Our brain actually creates neural pathways for new behaviors. Our body and mind are in the habit of behaving in a certain way, and it can take time for a new habit to form or an old habit to diminish.

Change is a process, not an event. Here are some tips to help create healthy habits:

  • Practice patience. Research tells us that it takes as much as 180 days to truly let go of an old habit and adopt a new one. So hang in there!
  • Stop beating yourself up! Putting yourself down if you find yourself engaged in the old habit can damage our confidence. Instead, practice positive thinking and be compassionate with yourself.
  • Celebrate catching yourself. Instead of putting yourself down for ‘being weak’, congratulate yourself for being aware. Each time you catch yourself and become aware, you will build confidence and motivation.
  • Use structures to help remind yourself about the new behavior or goal. For example, put sticky notes on the bathroom mirror, set an alarm on your phone, or link the new behavior to something you already do (like walking right after breakfast).
  • Involve others in your goal. Let family, friends or co-workers know you are working to change. Enlist support and feedback to help. Find a partner with a similar goal to help motivate each other!
  • Work with a health coach or healthcare provider. They can provide support and accountability during the process of habit formation.

Don’t wait until New Years to make healthy changes in your life. Habits can be changed or created any time of year!


Rorie Dunphey works under Vermont’s Blueprint for Health as the RN Chronic Care Coordinator at Family Practice Associates in Cambridge. She works one-on-one with people and also leads classes to promote health and help people better manage their chronic diseases. She also assists patients in accessing community and state resources to better coordinate their health and wellness needs. Rorie has a particular passion for promoting a healthy diet and exercise routine to inspire people to live their best life.