ParentCare » Vol. 28

Caregiving NOW!


caregiving-now-helen-mankevetch-and-barbara-drapos-photo-credit-frances-morrierMay was “Older Americans Month,” and this year’s theme ~ “Never Too Old to Play” ~ encourages older Americans to stay engaged, active and involved in their own lives and communities. RSVP annually recognizes over 550 Worcester area senior volunteers for their active engagement in nonprofits, hospitals and schools throughout Worcester County. On May 24, a crowd joined Congressman Jim McGovern and Worcester Mayor Joe Petty a banquet at Union Station in Worcester which featured Helen Mankevetch of Millbury, an active volunteer at age 97, receiving RSVP’s “Volunteer of the Year” award. For more information about RSVP’s mission, programs, and events,  visit

Photo by  Frances Morrier: Barbara Drapos, RSVP Program Director & Literacy Programs Coordinator, left, with Volunteer of the Year Helen Mankevetch, right,  receiving her award


Co-hosted by the Arthritis Foundation New England Region and the EcoTarium, the symposium will be held Tues., June 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the EcoTarium, 222 Harrington Way, Worcester. Topics will include “Everything You Need/Want to Know About Pain” with Raymond M. Pertusi, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, UMass Medical School; “Visit with Wildlife” with Kathy Kennedy, MS, EcoTarium; “Practical Tips for Living with Arthritis” by Mike Zona, Apple Home Care and Rehabilitation; “Enhancing Retirement Income” with Jon E. Steffensen, Esquire; “Walking Your Way to Better Health” with Suzanne Gauthier, Arthritis Foundation New England Region; “The New Massachusetts Probate System and Income Enhancement Devices with Kenneth M. Kirby, CFRE, Arthritis Foundation, Stephen M. Pitcher, EcoTarium, Jon E. Steffensen, Esquire; “Tai Chi for Arthritis” with Theodore M. Shoemaker, MD, Family Health Center of Worcester. Roundtable discussions will follow the opening presentation.  A free tour of the EcoTarium, a free viewing of the planetarium, and a light lunch will be provided. Seating is limited. For reservations, please call Elaine Mooney at 1-800-766-9449 ext. 136 or e-mail


dsc_0015_2According to a new study that concludes that positive psychological well-being appears to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events, the most optimistic individuals had an approximately 50% reduced risk of experiencing an initial cardiovascular event compared to their less optimistic peers.
Over the last few decades, multiple studies have shown that negative states ~ including depression, anger, anxiety, and hostility ~ are detrimental to an individual’s cardiovascular health. The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers, however, wanted to come at the issue from the opposite side ~ how positive psychological characteristics relate to heart health.

The study, which the researchers claim is the first and largest systematic review of the topic, was published online April 17, 2012 in Psychological Bulletin.

Lead author Julia Boehm, research fellow in the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at HSPH, shared that “The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive. We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness are associated with reduced risk of CVD regardless of such factors as a person’s age, socioeconomic status, smoking status, or body weight. For example, the most optimistic individuals had an approximately 50% reduced risk of experiencing an initial cardiovascular event compared to their less optimistic peers.”

In a review of more than 200 studies published in two major scientific databases, Boehm and senior author Laura Kubzansky, associate professor of society, human development, and health at HSPH, found there are psychological assets, like optimism and positive emotion, that provide protection against cardiovascular disease. It appears that these factors also slow the progression of disease.

To further understand how psychological well-being and CVD might be related, Boehm and Kubzansky also investigated well-being’s association with cardiovascular-related health behaviors and biological markers. They found that people with a sense of well-being engaged in healthier behaviors including getting sufficient sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, and exercising.

In addition, greater well-being was related to better biological function, such as lower blood pressure, healthier lipid  profiles, and normal body weight.

If future research continues to indicate that higher levels of satisfaction, optimism, and happiness come before cardiovascular health, this has strong implications for the design of prevention and intervention strategies. “These findings suggest that an emphasis on bolstering psychological strengths rather than simply mitigating psychological deficits may improve cardiovascular health,” Kuzbansky said.

The American Heart Association reports more than 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease (CVD) each day, an average of one death every 39 seconds. Stroke accounts for about one of every 18 U.S. deaths.

The study was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio through the grant “Exploring Concepts of Positive Health.”

Thanks to


therapedic_international_l-copySleep experts advise that 65o is the optimal temperature for achieving a deep sleep. Since unseasonably warm weather interferes with regular sleep patterns, and many seniors are not comfortable in the chill of air conditioning but for health reasons should not let their body temperatures get too high, Therapedic International has introduced a Temperature Technology Mattress Pad to help seniors get their much needed sleep as temperatures start to rise.

Featuring TENCEL Technology, a breakthrough, temperature-regulating fiber that keeps sleepers cool, the soft, wrinkle resistant absorbent and durable mattress pad is cool to the touch and features clean comfort technology which resists stains and spills. The product ($59.99-89.99) is ONLY being rolled out at select stores nationwide including Milford, MA.

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