Caregivers: The Unsung (and Quietly Suffering) Heroes

By Melissa Thompson

The World’s Toughest Job” online job advertisement led to a viral video compilation of the 24 applicants interviews. The candidates vied for a position described to offer 135-hour workweeks, no vacations, no breaks no pay, and required degrees in medicine, the culinary arts and finance. [Spoiler alert] While “mother” was the role described, the role of caregiver was my first guess.

There are 85 million mothers in the United States. Not far behind (and often overlapping), every year more than 65 million Americans provide care to someone who is ill, disabled, or aged. AARP’s Public Policy Institute’s report, “Valuing the Invaluable,” estimated that this hidden segment of our healthcare system represented $450 billion of unpaid, unaccounted for, services in 2009.

Our population is aging and mental health is a pervasive and growing issue in elderly. The role of caregivers will become more critical then ever. Our healthcare system is not prepared for the dire consequences of psychiatric syndromes and conditions that our will be face as the population ages – both for the aging population, as well as their caregivers.

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Balance Your Hormones Naturally

JillProShot_RBy Dr. Jillian Finker

Many men and women have health issues related to hormonal imbalances. Various symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, PMS, anxiety and depression can be caused by an underlying hormonal issue. 

These health problems may be related to thyroid issues, adrenal gland issues, and/or male/female hormonal issues. A sluggish thyroid could cause weight gain, hair loss, brain fog and fatigue. If you have any of these symptoms, make sure your doctor checks TSH, Free T4, Free T3 and thyroid antibody levels to make sure the thyroid is functioning properly. Avoiding processed soy in the food supply and utilizing a chlorine filter in the shower can protect the thyroid from becoming unbalanced. Also, ingesting a glandular thyroid and selenium supplement when appropriate can help the thyroid to heal.
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Is Retirement Bad for Your Health?

Donna PhotoBy Donna Cardillo

Some of us may have heard stories of people who die within a year of retirement. In the modern world, the word “retirement” is being redefined and can mean a new beginning for many rather than the beginning of the end. There is an expression that says the day you stop living is the day you start dying.

There was a time that most Americans retired in their 60s and looked forward to some quiet leisure time in their “golden years.” They prepared to glide onto the front porch rocker and make birdhouses and knit blankets.

But with an increasing number of people living closer to 90 and even 100, traditional retirement isn’t always practical. I have heard from many people who retire in their 60s or 70s and then get bored after a few years of “leisure.” Many people today want to stay more engaged in life and work. And there is research telling us that that is a healthy thing to do.

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5 Ways To Be Anxiety Free

JillProShot_RBy Dr. Jillian Finker

Anxiety has become a very common health problem that is often treated with various medications. Although pharmaceuticals can be effective, they are not treating the underlying cause of the problem which can be as simple as sleep deprivation.

Here are 5 simple steps that you can take to help decrease anxiety:

1) First, sleep between 8 and 9 hours in order to help balance your stress hormones.

2) Keep the bedroom completely dark to ensure a good night’s sleep which elevates feel good hormones like melatonin.

3) Eat during the day every three to four hours; a snack or meal that contains protein. This will help to maintain optimum blood sugar levels which will help to balance stress hormones.

4) It is important to avoid stimulants such as chocolate and coffee especially after 3:00 pm because it will increase stress hormones and disrupt the circadian rhythm.

5) Most importantly incorporate some kind of exercise into your daily routine. Exercise helps to normalize the stress response and can be very effective in treating anxiety. It is important to include some kind of daily moving relaxation techniques such as yoga or tai chi that also help to decrease anxiety levels.
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Family Hospice Annual Golf Benefit: May 5, 2014

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo and support Western Pennsylvania’s leading nonprofit hospice. Family Hospice and Palliative Care holds its Annual Golf Benefit Monday May 5, at Valley Brook Country Club, in McMurray. Registration opens at 9:30 a.m., shotgun start at 11 a.m. Great fun, great food, great cause! Plus, lots of fun prizes, including a $50,000 hole-in-one contest!  All proceeds benefit patient and family services in Family Hospice’s Western Pennsylvania service area. To register and for more information, call 412-572-8812 or visit


The Alzheimer’s Epidemic

Beverly’s heart sank when she saw the fire trucks outside her mother’s house. Her mother, Eleanor, had started cooking dinner on the stove and forgot about it. It wasn’t the first time Eleanor had walked away from a lit stove, but Beverly knew it would be the last. Firefighters rescued Eleanor from the house unscathed, but the kitchen was a total loss.

That was four years ago. It was the moment Beverly had to accept her mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was real.

Beverly is not alone. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are over 5 million Americans diagnosed with the debilitating disease. If scientists can’t find a way to slow the progression of the disease, the association’s latest study projects that number will soar to 16 million cases by 2050.

Another disturbing finding in the report - Alzheimer’s disproportionately affects women, both as patients and as caregivers. Women over 65 have a one in six chance of developing Alzheimer’s and men of similar age have a one in 11 chance of developing the disease.

The women who aren’t dealing with a diagnosis for themselves are often impacted in another way, having to take over the care of a loved one who has Alzheimer’s. The report finds there are more than twice as many women as men taking care of someone with the disease.
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Having a Relationship With Someone in Recovery

By Karen Nagy

The disease of addiction affects not just the addict, but also their friends, family members and partners, who may eventually exhibit their own, reactive behaviors as they cope with their loved one’s disease.  If the addict goes into a recovery program, they begin to learn how to manage their addictive behaviors in their sobriety.  It is also important for those in relationship with people in recovery to be aware of addictive behaviors that still may occur with their partner, as certain of these behaviors can be hard on a relationship.

Not having had prior knowledge of the above, I (a non-addict) dated two different men who were in recovery programs, and wondered why it sometimes felt like I’d entered an alternate universe. My second boyfriend in recovery threw me for a loop—some of his behavior was maddening and confusing to me.  For instance, he seemed to have no concept of time, and would arrive late, early, or not at all for a date.  I eventually came to realize that this behavior was related to addiction, but I didn’t know how or why.  I am a native of western PA (Hempfield Township) and was quite sheltered from the world of addiction in my youth and young adulthood.  After many years living in south Florida, I still didn’t know much about addiction, or recovery.

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Family Hospice Presents Dementia Expert Teepa Snow at Asbury Heights May 5

Family Hospice and Palliative Care is teaming up with Asbury Heights to present “Dementia: A Positive Approach to Care”, Monday May 5 at Asbury Heights, 700 Bower Hill Rd., in Mt. Lebanon.  Two presentations (daytime and evening) will take place, featuring nationally recognized Dementia expert Teepa Snow and Family Hospice inpatient team physician Scott Miller, MD.

The daytime session takes place 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., is for health care professionals and provides six continuing education credits. Registration is $40 per person.  The evening session, 6-8 p.m., is free and open to families and caregivers.

Both sessions will address how to identify challenging behaviors in persons with Dementia and how handle situations constructively. RSVP for either session by calling 412-571-5661 or email

Free Public Health Events from Cole Memorial

FREE 90-minute Smoking & Tobacco Cessation Workshop
Wednesday, April 16 at 6 p.m.
Cole Memorial’s Emporium Health Center
Call 814-274-5550 to register.

FREE Prostate & Colorectal Cancer Screenings
Wednesday, April 23 at 3-5 p.m.
Cole Memorial’s Patterson Cancer Care Center
Call 814-274-8200 for an appointment.

FREE “It’s Your Cup of Tea” Event
For women that have been experienced cancer personally or with a loved one.
Thursday, April 17 at 5-8 p.m.
Cole Memorial’s Wellness Center in Coudersport
RSVP 814-274-5550

Metamorphosis: Nourishing Mind, Body and Spirit

Melissa Migliaro

Melissa Migliaro

By Heather Holtschlag

What began as a dream for Mt. Lebanon resident Melissa Migliaro to create an environment that would provide a variety of diverse programs and services that were designed to nourish the body, mind and spirit has become a reality.

A certified personal trainer, Migliaro also intended to add other resources to compliment this vision that would benefit the community, such as counseling, financial management, healthy cooking, and mindfulness retreats, along with an array of special offerings, such as stress management seminars and workshops on how to achieve ultimate happiness.

And in August 2013, Metamorphosis was born.

Located in the heart of McMurray, Metamorphosis motivates individuals and organizations to transform mind, body and spirit and believes that there are many approaches to keeping the human spirit healthy and well.  Through education, group classes, guest speakers, special events, and much more, Metamorphosis was created to meet the needs of a diverse community.
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Allegheny County Bar Association Combines all Bullying Prevention Efforts Under Bar All Bullying

Today the officers of the Allegheny County Bar Association announced that the bar has combined its bullying prevention efforts for local schools under the theme “Bar All Bullying” to focus more attention on this critical subject.

The association currently offers two free educational programs for primary and elementary schools.  This is a Joke—Making Fun of Others is Not! teaches children in grades K-4 the difference between a good joke and a bad one, why making fun of others is wrong, and why it’s our differences that make us special.  Don’t be a Cyberbully!, currently being offered for grades 5 and 6, cautions students about using technology to make fun of others or to pass along inappropriate comments.  The association’s children’s book, “That is No Joke!”, which was written and edited by two bar association directors, continues to have a national and international presence.  Requests for the book have come from across the United States and from several countries, including Australia, England, Canada, Singapore, and China.

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News, Calendar Events, and Grief Support from Family Hospice

Friends of Family Hospice Seeking Donated Goods

Spring cleaning?  The Friends of Family Hospice and Palliative Care auxiliary volunteer group is seeking donations for its Family Treasures Sale, September 20 at Family Hospice’s Mt. Lebanon location at 50 Moffett St. Items being sought include gently used, good quality art work, jewelry, furniture, collectibles and more.

Items may be dropped off to Family Hospice weekdays between 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.  All proceeds from the Treasures Sale will benefit patients and families served by the nonprofit organization.  Questions about donations may be directed to

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Excela Health Family Additions Maternity Center Hosts Infant Massage Training Event

Individuals seeking certification as an infant massage instructor are invited to enroll in a two-day course this spring offered by the International Loving Touch Foundation.

The class meets May 17 and 18 in the Memorial Conference Center, Ground Floor, Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital. Instructor trainer Diana Moore, MS, LMT, will lead participants through lecture, audio-visuals, discussion, demonstration and hands-on participation with dolls and through a parent-infant lab.

The program is specifically designed for nurses, massage therapists, early interventionist specialists, occupation and physical therapists, childbirth educators, social workers and other interested health care professionals who work with families.

During the training, Moore will cover such topics as the history and techniques of infant massage; massaging the well-baby, as well as physically challenged infants and children; benefits of massage and how it promotes infant development.
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Is This Coming to Your Neighborhood?

From the 2UMedical Website: “A modern rendition of the old fashioned house call ~ We come 2 U!  Home, office, hotel, or wherever you are.  If you live in the metro-Atlanta area or you’re passing through, allow us to help you with your medical needs. Schedule an appointment for wellness and health promotion, or for a cosmetic specialty service. Professional, discrete, convenient ~ contact us for an easy appointment. Quality health care has never been so hassle free!”

Celebrating National Doctors’ Day

Today, Mount Nittany Health celebrates doctors. National Doctors’ Day, held March 30 each year, is a special opportunity for healthcare organizations, patients, and colleagues alike to thank physicians for their dedication in keeping us healthy.

At Mount Nittany Health, they’re recognizing the more than 250 credentialed physicians who provide high quality care to our region’s residents. Within Mount Nittany Physician Group—one of the largest multispecialty groups in the area—they’re celebrating the more than 70 physicians who provide care throughout 20 specialties and 15 locations.

Each year, The Foundation for Mount Nittany Medical Center hosts an annual Doctors’ Day Appeal, encouraging individuals to respond with a tribute gift recognizing their physician. Last year, the average gift to this appeal was just over $116, with donors designating funds to the programs of their choice, but ultimately advancing care at Mount Nittany Medical Center.

While these special men and women deserve recognition every day, all are encouraged to take an extra moment on March 30 to thank a physician. For those interested in paying tribute to a physician in celebration of Doctors’ Day—or anytime during the year—through a gift to The Foundation, please contact The Foundation office at 814.234.6777.

Visit to learn more about Mount Nittany Health’s mission to make people healthier.