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Mike’s review: “I was surprised at the powerful effect that changing my diet had”

Oct 2017 Healthy Living client story Mike photo WEBMike feels he knows what to do now to support his own health after taking a Healthy Living workshop series with LifePath.Small changes can have a powerful effect on your life. Just ask Mike.

Mike hadn’t been feeling completely himself. “I had tingling in my feet and I was having it a lot,” he says. Wanting to see if a free community workshop would help, he signed up to take a Healthy Eating workshop from LifePath’s Healthy Living Program. The six-week workshop focuses on how food and exercise can help change a person’s health for the better or prevent a health condition from developing or getting worse.

Mike was surprised when the changes he was making started to impact how he was feeling. “Physically, I felt better. After I started the course, at some point I noticed that my feet were no longer tingling. I watched what I ate, and the tingling stopped.”

The program book, says Mike, “had a lot of good information and helped me chart my daily eating and intake habits. I would look up what I ate, and the detailed information about amounts on the charts helped me tweak what I was eating.”

Mike also appreciated being in the workshop with others who were in a similar place. “The weekly commitment and action planning that means you had to be accountable to the group the next week,” says Mike. “It would be easy to sit around the house and say, ‘Let’s start tomorrow.’ But knowing that I had to go back in a week and face the instructors committed me to doing something.” 

After taking the workshop, Mike feels better about how his life is going. “The course changed me by giving the motivation to exercise and watch what I ate. It informed me about what I should be eating and how much. And all for free! Thank you, LifePath!”

Healthy Living workshops are “evidence-based,” which means they are proven to work, and are led by local volunteers in communities across Franklin County and the North Quabbin. Workshops are small, and people who attend interact with and support each other. They are open to people with chronic (long-term) health conditions and their caregivers and loved ones.

In addition to Healthy Eating, workshops offered by Healthy Living cover topics like:

  • Managing chronic health conditions
  • Managing chronic pain
  • Managing diabetes
  • Improving balance and preventing falls

For more information about Healthy Living or to register for a free workshop, click here.

Part 2: Life after loss

About 10% of bereaved people experience complicated grief, a condition that makes it harder for some people to adapt to the loss of a loved one. People with this prolonged, intense grief tend to get caught up in certain kinds of thinking, says Columbia University Psychiatrist Dr. M. Katherine Shear, who studies complicated grief. They may think the death did not have to happen or happen in the way that it did. They also might judge their grief – questioning if it’s too little or too much – and focus on avoiding reminders of the loss.

“It can be very discouraging to experience complicated grief, but it’s important not to be judgmental about your grief and not to let other people judge you,” Shear explains.

Shear and her research team created and tested a specialized therapy for complicated grief in three National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded studies. The therapy aimed to help people identify the thoughts, feelings, and actions that can get in the way of adapting to loss. They also focused on strengthening one’s natural process of adapting to loss. The studies showed that 70% of people taking part in the therapy reported improved symptoms. In comparison, only 30% of people who received the standard treatment for depression had improved symptoms.

You may begin to feel the loss of your loved one even before their death. This is called anticipatory grief. It’s common among people who are long-term caregivers. You might feel sad about the changes you are going through and the losses you are going to have. Some studies have found that when patients, doctors, and family members directly address the prospect of death before the loss happens, it helps survivors cope after the death.

NIH-funded scientists continue to study different aspects of the grieving process. They hope their findings will suggest new ways to help people cope with the loss of a loved one.

Although the death of a loved one can feel overwhelming, many people make it through the grieving process with the support of family and friends. Take care of yourself, accept offers of help from those around you, and be sure to get counseling if you need it.

“We believe grief is a form of love and it needs to find a place in your life after you lose someone close,” Shear says. “If you are having trouble moving forward in your own life, you may need professional help. Please don’t lose hope. We have some good ways to help you.”

Article adapted from the National Institutes of Health October 2017 News in Health, available online at newsinhealth.nih.gov.

Regina LoBello: “It’s a wonderful service.”

In the center of the small New England town of Whately, Mass., Regina LoBello lives in a beautiful home built in 1763, just over a decade before the American Independence. Flags flutter outside the house, and in the garden, flowers grow to make nectar for the bees. Behind the house, the grass stretches back to a vista overlooking the Pioneer Valley and the mountains beyond. After many years away, building a life with her husband, family, and several family businesses, Regina returned here to her childhood home. “I do feel very comfortable here,” says Regina. “I hope I can stay as long as possible.”

October 2017 Regina photo WEBRegina LoBello, left, meets at her kitchen table with LifePath Case Manager Laurie Dickson, to check in on her services and make sure she is getting the help she needs to continue living in her home in Whately Center.When Regina was ten years old, she moved with her family to this house, where she spent her childhood years. Soon enough, it was time for high school. “At that time we had a choice of either going to Northampton High School or (it was called) Deerfield High School. Of course, being from the country, Northampton was the city to me, and I wanted to go to the city. So I went to Northampton High School.”

Northampton High was where Regina met her husband, Vincent. “We were high school sweethearts,” she says. After graduation, “he went to college and I went into nurse’s training,” Regina explains, and then they were married.

“Three years after we were married, we opened the first nursing home in Easthampton, Massachusetts.” They ran the business for 15 years. “With two little children, I don’t know how we did it.”

After selling the business, Vincent became a business manager at a local private school. “I opened a ladies dress shop at the Hadley Village Barn Shops,” says Regina, which she ran for several years, until the family decided to sell the store and buy a restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine.

“The name of the restaurant was Vincent’s,” says Regina. “We were known for our prime rib. And then my husband passed away after ten years of business.” Regina’s son had gone to school for hotel and restaurant management, and he, his wife, and Regina continued to run the restaurant. “My two daughters worked there also, while they were in college, waitressing and doing all kinds of odd jobs. So it was a family business, which was wonderful.”

Then, in the early 1990s, Regina moved back to the family home in Whately. “The house really needed a lot of work. My mom and dad, you know, they were very content with things the way they were, and they basically lived downstairs. The upstairs had not had any attention in a long, long time. So I set out to restore the house,” says Regina, “and I opened a bed and breakfast.” Regina says that the process of restoring the home and opening a new business was “really great medicine” after the loss of her husband. “It kept me so busy and so focused and all – it was really grand.”

Regina enjoyed running a B&B. “It was just wonderful. I just met so many people from all over the country. I had clients even that came over from Germany, England, and Scotland.” Many of her guests were visiting Historic Deerfield and other local places of interest or were the family of students at Deerfield Academy, and would return year after year. “They just got to be part of the family. I would think, ‘You know where your room is.’ I enjoyed that an awful lot.”

After about 15 years, says Regina, “it just was time to give it up. It got to be a lot.”

Around 2011, Regina began to lose her vision, “but I could still manage,” she says. A few years later, in the early hours of Christmas morning, Regina had a heart attack. It was then that a woman in her town told her about LifePath. Regina called and was matched with Laurie Dickson, a case manager, who set Regina up with home care services.

“The services are mainly to do my grocery shopping and to make sure that my kitchen and bathroom and everything are clean,” says Regina. “I feel so good once that gal has been here and gone! I know that things are the way they should be and that the spiders haven’t taken over the house. In an old home, that isn’t even a joke. They do love old homes.”

Regina’s daughter who lives in eastern Massachusetts comes a couple times a month to stay for a bit, catching up with her mom and lending a hand. Just recently, she enjoyed getting some fresh air with her son out on her back lawn, hitting golf balls into the horizon. “It’s just wonderful to be outside.”

Regina feels that, if she were to need more assistance, she has options with LifePath.

“I think you’re all just wonderful,” says Regina. “It’s a wonderful service.”

To learn more about how LifePath could help you or your loved ones, give us a call at 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Read more at LifePathMA.org.

Part 1: Living with loss

October 2017 NIH Coping with grief Part 1 photoLoss is a part of life, and everyone grieves differently. Take time to grieve in your own way. Photo by Christian Langballe on Unsplash.com.Losing someone you love can change your world. You miss the person who has died and want them back. You may feel sad, alone, or even angry. You might have trouble concentrating or sleeping. If you were a busy caregiver, you might feel lost when you’re suddenly faced with lots of unscheduled time. These feelings are normal. There’s no right or wrong way to mourn. Scientists have been studying how we process grief and are learning more about healthy ways to cope with loss.

The death of a loved one can affect how you feel, how you act, and what you think. Together, these reactions are called grief. It’s a natural response to loss. Grieving doesn’t mean that you have to feel certain emotions. People can grieve in very different ways.

Cultural beliefs and traditions can influence how someone expresses grief and mourns. For example, in some cultures, grief is expressed quietly and privately. In others, it can be loud and out in the open. Culture also shapes how long family members are expected to grieve.

“People often believe they should feel a certain way,” says Dr. Wendy Lichtenthal, a psychologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “But such ‘shoulds’ can lead to feeling badly about feeling badly. It’s hugely important to give yourself permission to grieve and allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. People can be quite hard on themselves and critical of what they are feeling. Be compassionate and kind to yourself.”

Adapting to loss

Experts say you should let yourself grieve in your own way and time. People have unique ways of expressing emotions. For example, some might express their feelings by doing things rather than talking about them. They may feel better going on a walk or swimming, or by doing something creative like writing or painting. For others, it may be more helpful to talk with family and friends about the person who’s gone, or with a counselor.

“Though people don’t often associate them with grief, laughing and smiling are also healthy responses to loss and can be protective,” explains Dr. George Bonanno, who studies how people cope with loss and trauma at Columbia University. He has found that people who express flexibility in their emotions often cope well with loss and are healthier over time.

“It’s not about whether you should express or suppress emotion, but that you can do this when the situation calls for it,” he says. For instance, a person with emotional flexibility can show positive feelings, like joy, when sharing a happy memory of the person they lost and then switch to expressing sadness or anger when recalling more negative memories, like an argument with that person.

Grief is a process of letting go and learning to accept and live with loss. The amount of time it takes to do this varies with each person. “Usually people experience a strong acute grief reaction when someone dies and at the same time they begin the gradual process of adapting to the loss,” explains psychiatrist Dr. M. Katherine Shear at Columbia University. “To adapt to a loss, a person needs to accept its finality and understand what it means to them. They also have to find a way to re-envision their life with possibilities for happiness and for honoring their enduring connection to the person who died.”

Researchers like Lichtenthal have found that finding meaning in life after loss can help you adapt. Connecting to those things that are most important, including the relationship with the person who died, can help you co-exist with the pain of grief.

Tips for coping with loss

  1. Take care of yourself. Try to exercise regularly, eat healthy food, and get enough sleep. Avoid habits that can put your health at risk, like drinking too much alcohol or smoking.
  2. Talk with caring friends. Let others know if you need to talk.
  3. Try not to make any major changes right away. It’s a good idea to wait for a while before making big decisions, like moving or changing jobs.
  4. Join a grief support group in person or online. It might help to talk with others who are also grieving. Check with your local hospice, hospitals, religious communities, and government agencies to find a group in your area.
  5. Consider professional support. Sometimes talking to a counselor about your grief can help.
  6. Talk to your doctor. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know if you’re having trouble with everyday activities, like getting dressed, sleeping, or fixing meals.
  7. Be patient with yourself. Mourning takes time. It’s common to feel a mix of emotions for a while.

Article adapted from the National Institutes of Health October 2017 News in Health, available online at newsinhealth.nih.gov.

October 2017 Outdoor Access article photoBrenda Davies, founder and director of Outdoor Access, demonstrates to Angela how to use the oars of an adaptive kayak.Stavros’ Outdoor Access program, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, is dedicated to providing opportunities for individuals with one or more disabilities to enjoy the natural beauty of the region and experience outdoor recreation. The program offers a wide variety of outdoor activities each season, including everything from hiking and canoeing in the summer to cross country skiing in the winter.

The Outdoor Access program provides accessibility to state parks and forests through various site improvements, providing specialized adaptive recreation equipment, and offering myriad activities so that individuals of all ability levels are able to participate.

On a sunny morning in early August, Angela Boyle and her partner, Dan, were excited to get out on the water in their kayaks. By utilizing an adaptive kayak with assistance from the Outdoor Access team, Angela was able to independently paddle out onto Highland Lake as the team prepared for the day’s excursion. “They have such a professional, caring attitude,” said Dan, looking at out the stillness of the water as he prepared to push off from the shore. “I’ve always been so impressed with what they have to offer.”

For a full listing of upcoming Outdoor Access events, or to learn more about becoming a volunteer with Outdoor Access, visit them online at www.outdoor-access.org. To learn more about the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s statewide Universal Access Program, visit them on Facebook.