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Know your pets are cared for while you are receiving care.

Woman holding her dogDo you need a temporary place to house your pet for thirty days or less while you are in the hospital or a skilled nursing facility, and are worried there is no neighbor or friend who can care for him temporarily? Are you putting off needed medical care because you are worried about your much-loved pet?

Dakin Humane Society may be able to help. The Safety Plan for Animals (SPAN) is a coalition of human and animal service providers who provide foster care for the pets of elders or people with disabilities while their owners are temporarily away from home in a hospital or nursing facility. According to Dakin, if you are at risk of hospitalization or entering a nursing care facility, you should take the following steps to protect your animal friends:

“The Safety Plan for Animals (SPAN) is a coalition of human and animal service providers who provide foster care for the pets of elders or people with disabilities while their owners are temporarily away from home in a hospital or nursing facility.”

  1. Make sure your family member, home health care provider, or advocate knows about your pets and is prepared to work with Dakin staff to complete paperwork. If possible, give them written permission to work with Dakin on behalf of your pets.
  2. Have emergency information about your pet posted on your refrigerator, including the pet’s name, the type of food he prefers, the name of his veterinarian, and a list of any medications he needs.

If family or friends cannot care for your pet while you are away, contact Dakin’s Springfield location at 413-781-4000 to request their help. If you need to leave a voicemail, please say you are calling about the SPAN program, and a volunteer will call you back as soon as possible. A loved one will need to bring your pets to the Springfield Dakin Humane Society location only at 171 Union St., Springfield, MA, 01105 for drop off. As soon as you return home, your pet will be reunited with you.

Raeann LeBlancRaeann G. LeBlanc, DNP, ANP/GNP-BC, CHPN, University of Massachusetts AmherstRaeann G LeBlanc is an Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Professor, and Researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Raeann can be reached This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 413-545-6630 if you would like to discuss this topic or share a question or idea.

When we think of caregiving, the action of giving and receiving care, we might think of tangible care: providing a bath, medical care, transportation. But what about caring for memories, as an act of caregiving and care of the caregiver?

Arthur Kleinman, notable scholar, and medical anthropologist at Harvard University, asks just that in a paper published in The Lancet (2016) entitled “The Art of Medicine: Caring for Memories.” In this paper, Kleinman shares his experience caring for his late spouse for several years through the courageous journey of dementia caregiving. Kleinman navigates his experience and the importance of our memories and their meaning in the presence of life changes and loss. Memories are a form of care in themselves, as Kleinman states:

“For those of us who have experienced the loss of a loved one, it is not just that we remember in order to conjure back that partner, parent, or child—though it surely is this too. We seem to need to remember so as to project or reaffirm key meanings in our lives. We remember to recreate meanings that sustain us, that help us to endure.”

Moody photograph of a girl standing near a treeIn early May, I lost a family member to dementia. Going back into old photographs, I found pictures of my Aunt Joyce as a young person of about 11 years old, standing beneath a modest tree, with a big open sky. The photo emphasized her size next to this growing tree. Though she lived many miles from this original home when she died, this large tree still stands at the home where I was born and where her sister, my mother, still lives. The image of the tree connects our generations, holds constant over years of much change and loss, and conjures up more memories and caring.

Kleinman emphasizes that the work of remembering is also the important and valuable work of caregiving.

“The work of remembering and the time spent ordering, reordering, and living through memories, when it relates to those who have died, is a continuation of the caregiving we provided when they lived. Caregiving, viewed this way, doesn’t end with the death of the care receiver. It goes on during bereavement; in fact, bereavement is caregiving. And it lasts long after the psychophysiological symptoms of grieving have stopped bothering us.”

Next time you find yourself remembering, consider you are caring for a memory and recognize what is “usually silent caring.” If you are interested in being part of a future project on memory sharing for caregivers, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For a full copy of the article cited in this paper, it may be retrieved from: Kleinman, Arthur. 2016. “The art of medicine: caring for memories.” The Lancet 387 (10038): 2596 - 2597.

Andi WaismanAndi Waisman, Healthy Living Program Manager

LifePath’s Healthy Living program is hosting a free Diabetes Self-Management workshop in Greenfield on Thursday evenings, starting June 13. We will gather 10-15 people with diabetes and/or their caregivers in a small group each week for 6 weeks, where we will learn:

  • Techniques to deal with the symptoms of diabetes: fatigue, pain, hyper/hypoglycemia, stress, and emotional problems such as depression, anger, fear and frustration
  • Appropriate exercise or maintaining and improving strength and endurance
  • Healthy eating
  • Appropriate use of medication
  • Working more effectively with health care providers

“There are many things that people with diabetes can do to delay or prevent the onset of heart disease.”

Participants will make weekly action plans, share experiences, and help each other solve problems they encounter in creating and carrying out their self-management program.

Diabetes is currently the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and studies show that deaths related to diabetes may be under-reported! Today, 1 in 10 US adults have diabetes, and if trends continue, 1 in 5 will have it by 2025. An additional 84.1 million US adults (1 in 3) have prediabetes, which means their blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. Without intervention, many people with prediabetes could develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years, which puts them at risk of serious health problems, including:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Blindness
  • Kidney failure, and
  • Loss of toes, feet, or legs

Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease by 2 to 4 times. There are many things that people with diabetes can do to delay or prevent the onset of heart disease. The following behaviors are effective strategies to prevent complications from diabetes and prediabetes: healthy eating (reducing salt intake and increasing fruits and vegetables), being active (150 minutes spread out over 3 days a week), taking medication, monitoring, reducing risks, problem solving, and healthy coping.

Race and ethnicity also affect your risk. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and some Asian Americans are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes.

Our program, developed and reviewed by physicians, diabetes educators, dietitians, and other health professionals at Stanford University has reached many people with great results. The program is taught by Peer Educators and provides support to overcome the daunting challenges to changing our lifestyles. This workshop season, we are holding our Diabetes Self Management workshop on Thursday evenings from 5:30 pm - 8 pm. Please call Andi Waisman at 413-773-5555, extension 2297 to register or for location information.

Nutritionist Karen LentnerNutritionist Karen Lentner

Did you know that eating certain foods may decrease your risk of dementia? We often associate forgetfulness and a decline in brain function with normal signs of aging. It doesn’t have to be inevitable. In fact, there is a lot you can do to maintain a healthy mind and body. Good nutrition is a key factor in healthy aging, and making simple changes to your diet can make a difference.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Rush University Medical School have found that older adults who follow the “MIND” diet have decreased their risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

What is the “MIND” diet?

The word MIND actually stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet is a combination of the Mediterranean Diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or the DASH diet.

The MIND diet recommends eating more of these foods:

  • Green Leafy Vegetables. Include spinach, kale, and cabbage 6 or more times per week.
  • All Other Vegetables. Include broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc., at least once per day. Try eating a salad every day.
  • Berries. Eat berries at least twice per week.
  • Nuts. Try to consume five or more servings of nuts each week.
  • Olive Oil. Use olive oil as your primary cooking or salad oil.
  • Whole Grains. Include at least three servings daily including oatmeal, 100% whole wheat bread, quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta.
  • Fish. Choose salmon, trout, mackerel, or sardines at least once a week.
  • Beans. Include lentils, chickpeas, and all beans at least three times per week.
  • Poultry. Choose chicken or turkey at least twice weekly.
  • Wine, but no more than one glass per day.

If it is unrealistic to consume the recommended number of servings listed above, eat what you can as all changes are positive changes for brain health.

“Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Rush University Medical School have found that older adults who follow the ‘MIND’ diet have decreased their risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The MIND diet also recommends avoiding or consuming less of the following foods:

  • Red Meat and Processed Foods (and less salt).
  • Cheese.
  • Butter or Margarine. Use less than one tablespoon per day; try olive oil instead.
  • Fried Foods.
  • Pastries, Sweets, and Refined Grains (such as white bread).

Other positive lifestyle changes for brain health include exercise such as walking to increase the blood supply to your brain. Try solving a crossword puzzle or Sudoku to help improve your ability to concentrate and pay attention. If you are overweight, consider reducing your total daily calories by 200 or more per day, or simply replacing a sweet dessert or candy with berries, fruit, or an extra-large serving of vegetables. Try nuts, raw vegetables, or fruit for a snack instead of potato chips. If you can, make small, realistic changes every week. Every change is a step towards a healthy body and brain.

Consider joining us for a healthy meal at one of our dining centers (find a complete list here), or call LifePath to set up Meals on Wheels at 413-773-5555.

Avoid delays and problems by planning ahead.

Woman driving a carVisiting the Registry of Motor Vehicles to renew your license or ID can be frustrating and time consuming. Having the choice between a REAL ID or a Standard Massachusetts Driver’s License or ID Card can add to this confusion. REAL ID is a Federal Security Standard for driver’s licenses and IDs that has been available since March 2018. After October of 2020, you will need either a passport or REAL ID Massachusetts Driver’s License or ID card to fly in the United States, or to enter restricted areas of federal buildings. The Standard Massachusetts License or ID card will not be valid as a federal ID after October 2020. Before renewing your license or ID, plan ahead to decide which type of license or ID card is right for you.

If you are computer savvy, you might want to visit mass.gov/rmv and answer a few questions to determine if you should choose a REAL ID Driver’s License or ID or a Standard Driver’s License or ID, and exactly what identification documents are necessary for each. Renewal customers requesting a Standard Driver’s License or ID may be able to perform their renewal successfully online, without coming in for the transaction in person. However, if you decide you need the REAL ID Driver’s License or ID, then you will need to complete your application in person.

If you do not use a computer, you can call (800) 858-3926 to get more information or visit your nearest RMV office. Also, if you are a AAA member you can contact your local AAA branch to find out what renewal services they offer.

If you want a REAL ID Driver’s License or ID, you’ll need to get the right documents together, along with the $50 fee. You’ll need to prove your:

  • U.S. citizenship or lawful presence via a current passport or birth certificate or a current visa or green card
  • Social Security number via a Social Security card
  • Massachusetts residency via two pieces of mail with a postmark not older than 60 days with your current name and address (for instance, a utility or credit card statement and a bank statement)
  • Your current driver’s license/ID

“After October of 2020, you will need either a passport or REAL ID Massachusetts Driver’s License or ID card to fly in the United States, or to enter restricted areas of federal buildings.”

If you’ve decided to stick with a Standard Driver’s License or ID you will need your current driver’s license or ID and your current passport or birth certificate or a current visa or green card, along with the $50 fee.

For both types of driver’s licenses or IDs, it is important to remember that all documents must be originals, as photocopies and laminated documents will not be accepted, and a document cannot be used to prove more than one requirement. Also, both types of driver’s licenses or IDs require you to fill out an application.

Keep in mind that your name must match for the Real ID Driver’s License or ID. If your current name doesn’t match the one that appears on your lawful presence document(s), you must prove your legal name change in order to qualify for a REAL ID Driver’s License or ID. If you have had multiple name changes, documentation for each name change must be provided. You will need to provide one of the following:

  • Marriage Certificate (must be issued from the municipality)
  • Divorce Decree
  • Court Document

For a Standard Driver’s License or ID card, a proof of name change document is not required.

Planning ahead will save you time and frustration, no matter whether you choose the Real ID or Standard option!