News and Articles

Stay up to date on Noyes Health news

August 13, 2017

Powerful Tools for Caregivers

About 34.2 million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older each year. The caregiving can be exhausting and leave an individual stressed and worn out. The physical and emotional strain takes its toll. In 2011, the American Psychological Association conducted the Stress in America survey. They found that on a scale of 1 to 10, caregivers mean level of stress was 6.5 compared with 5.2 among the public. Fifty-five percent of those folks said they were overwhelmed by amount of care they must provide. Caregivers are among the three most-stressed groups in the country, according to the 2012 Stress in America Report. Some researchers call the unique stress experienced by family caregivers a form of posttraumatic stress syndrome. According to, as many as 70 percent of family caregivers show signs of depression -- far higher rates than for peers who are not in a caregiver role. Signs and symptoms of caregiver stress include: feeling overwhelmed, feeling alone and isolated, sleeping too much or too little, gaining or losing a lot of weight, feeling tired most of the time, losing interest in activities you used to enjoy, often feeling worried or sad, and often having headaches or body aches. With the average duration of care lasting four years, it is understandable that caregivers may feel worn out. However, in many cases, caregiver stress goes beyond fatigue and actually affects the individual’s health. Long periods of caregiving can lead to depression and anxiety, a weak immune system, obesity, and a higher risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or arthritis. It is vital for caregivers to practice good self-care and learn about community help. The Department of Health and Human Services suggests these tips to prevent or manage caregiver stress: Take a caregiver class Find caregiving resources in your community to give you a break. Ask for and accept help. Make a list of way others can help you, such as getting groceries or sitting with the person while you do an errand. Make to-do lists and set a daily routine. Stay in touch with family and friends, and do things you enjoy with your loved ones. Take care of your health. See your doctor for checkups, find time to be physically active on most days of the week, choose healthy foods, and get enough sleep. To walk alongside and help local caregivers, the Noyes Caregiver Resource Center and the Livingston County Office for the Aging are offering a free program called Powerful Tools for Caregivers. It is a six-week class for family and friends caring for older adults suffering with long-term illnesses. The class provides the skills and confidence people need to better care for themselves while caring for others. In the six weekly sessions, caregivers develop a wealth of self-care tools to: reduce personal stress, change negative self-talk, communicate their needs to family members and healthcare or service providers, communicate more effectively in challenging situations, recognize the messages in their emotions, deal with difficult feelings, and make tough caregiving decisions. Class participants also receive a copy of The Caregiver Helpbook developed specifically for the class. Past Powerful Tools for Caregivers participants had the following comments: “I’m a better person for the classes.” “Every topic was helpful.” “I will take better care of myself for my husband.” “Made me realize there are better ways of being a caregiver without being angry all the time.” “I loved the whole program. It can be applied to all aspects of life.” “Makes me feel better about being a caregiver.” “Caregiving is a journey, not a job.” Powerful Tools for Caregivers will meet 1:00-2:30 pm, six Thursdays, September 14 through October 19. Classes will be held at the Dansville Public Library, 200 Main Street, Dansville, NY. The class is free but seating is limited. To register call 585-335-4358 or email A companion volunteer may be available to stay with your loved so you can attend. Require about availability when you register. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville, NY. For article suggestions or questions, contact Lorraine at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

August 6, 2017

Playing It Safe Preventing Sports Injuries

If you go into my attic, you will find a pair of crutches. For years, they have been used on and off for every member of the family. A broken leg, a torn ACL, a bad ankle sprain, and painful tendonitis are but a few of the injuries in the Wichtowski household. It seemed that at least once a year, one of my kiddos had an injury, usually from a sports practice or game. As it turns out, our household is rather typical. Every year, over 36 million children play an organized sport and 2.6 million of those youngsters will visit the emergency department for a sport or recreation related injury. Injuries vary from run of the mill scrapes and bruises to serious brain and spinal cord injuries. Most, however, fall into the musculoskeletal category. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the most frequent types of sports injuries are sprains (injuries to ligaments connecting two or more bones), strains (injuries to muscles), and stress fractures (injuries to bones). Not all these injuries will show up on an x-ray but they do cause pain and discomfort. Many of these injuries will respond to the RICE treatment – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Other treatments may include crutches, cast immobilization, or physical therapy. Get professional medical care if the injury is severe. The National Institutes of Health defines severe as an obvious fracture, dislocation of a joint, prolonged swelling, or prolonged and/or severe pain. It is important for children (and their parents) to be active. The benefits of exercise far outweigh the risk for injury. Exercise reduces the chance for obesity and the risk for type 2 diabetes. In addition, it helps build social and leadership skills. Not to mention, sports are fun! Nonetheless, injuries happen. With a little planning and good habits, many injuries may be avoided. The American Academy of Pediatrics 2017 Sports Injury Prevention Tip Sheet offers the following advice: Take time off. Plan to have at least 1 day off per week and at least one month off per year from training for a particular sport to allow the body to recover. Wear the right gear. Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and eyewear. Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will prevent all injuries while performing more dangerous or risky activities. Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises during practice strengthens muscles used in play. Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises after games or practice can increase flexibility. Stretching should also be incorporated into a daily fitness plan. Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season. Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness. Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), spearing (football), and checking (in hockey) should be enforced. Do not play through pain. In addition, do not play when very tired, as reflexes and coordination will not be optimal. Avoid heat illness by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play. Schedule regular fluid breaks during practice and games. For example, drink 8 to 16 ounces of water, 15 to 30 minutes before exercising, 4 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes while playing, and 16 to 20 ounces after play to rehydrate. Plain water usually suffices; however, sports drinks may prove beneficial for prolonged or intense exercise or warm to hot and humid conditions. Decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing. If children are jumping on a trampoline, a responsible adult should supervise them, and only one child should be on the trampoline at a time; 75% of trampoline injuries occur when more than one person is jumping at a time. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville, NY. For article suggestions or more information, contact Lorraine at or (585)335-4327. ... Read More

July 31, 2017

Everyday Happiness

Last week, I wrote about the connection between happiness and our physical health. Plenty of studies show the connection between positive emotions like happiness, joy, gratitude, and peace and our biological systems. Upbeat folks, in general, are healthier. They have less cardiovascular disease, better immune systems, fewer aches and pains, and live longer. At the end of the day, everybody just wants to be happy. Self-help books and articles abound about how to pursue happiness and somehow reach a Zen-like state on a regular basis. Some of these notions are not realistic and may even be counteractive. New research (and a bit of common sense) points toward a more genuine approach to everyday living and achieving a happiness balance that benefits the body, mind, and soul. Authentic Happiness, The Happiness Solution, The Art of Happiness, and Happiness Now! are just a few of the books out there promising formulas and techniques for lasting fulfillment, everyday happiness, and joy. Happiness is now becoming an industry with motivational speakers, books, blogs, research, and therapists. While intentions are good, the message of everyday happiness may not be as beneficial as some initially thought. Wanting to be happy can make you less happy reports researcher Iris Mauss, an assistant professor in psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. Focusing on happiness appears to have a self-defeating quality. When people are really working at being happy, they set unrealistic, unattainable higher standards. Mauss’s research shows that this ultimately leads to greater discontent, which in turn lowers levels of happiness and well-being. In some cases, the overemphasis on happiness leads to more depressive symptoms. Researcher Lahnna Catalino notes that the pursuit of happiness appears to be a delicate art. She and her colleagues likewise conclude that people who obsess about happiness are more likely to see their happiness quotient plummet. Catalino’s research, however, suggests that people who regularly seek out positivity as they arrange their everyday lives are happier. That is, people who figure out how to fit in bits of pleasantry in their normal, everyday lives and enjoy those moments are more content. Understanding and defining happiness is also important. Many folks misunderstand happiness and assume it is great joy, being in fantastic mood and lovin’ life all the time. Experts, however, say that this is not realistic. Humans have a wide range of emotions that are crucial for motivation, safety, creativity, and more. For example, being displeased with your performance at work or school can be a motivator to work harder or try something new. Being anxious in an unsafe situation may prompt you to get a move on and skedaddle. It does not make sense to try to be happy in all situations. In fact, people who exhibit inappropriate happiness are more likely to be neurotic. So if happiness is not mountaintop experiences every day or trying to make every minute a joyous one, what is it then? Happiness can be anything that is pleasant. For some, this is a quiet cup of coffee in the morning before the kids get up. For others, it is a social gathering with friends once a week. Yet others may define it as playing soccer, painting, cooking, or gardening. For years, one of my everyday happy moments was lunch with my coworkers. It was a 20-minute break from the grind, a time to kick back, laugh a bit, and enjoy friends. Moreover, anybody who knows me can testify that I consider my pot of tea every morning to be pure joy! How can you incorporate more happiness? Happiness researchers offer these suggestions: Let go of extreme ideas of happiness. It is not realistic to feel joy, contentment, gratitude, and peace every second of the day. Some days really are stressful. Some days are truly incredible. Some days (many days) are vanilla – you know nothing bad but nothing-super fantastic. Figure out what sparks joy. Reflect on activities, moments, and situations that give you joy, contentment, or simply put a smile on your face. Research shows that most people gain the most enjoyment by connecting with loved ones or doing something physical. Schedule enjoyment into your day, week, and month. Once you know what sparks joy, put it on the calendar. If you like running or walking with a friend, call or text and make a date. If you love reading, carve out 20 minutes to escape with that novel. If you would much rather drink your first cup of joe alone in the morning, wake up 10 minutes before the rest of the household. Finally, pursue happiness for the right reasons. Yes, it is good for your health but it is also good for your relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. June Gruber of UC Berkeley writes, “True happiness, it seems, comes from fostering kindness toward others – and yourself.” Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator for UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or article suggestions, contact her at 585-335-4327 or ... Read More

July 27, 2017

Ronald McDonald House Charities Awards Mini Grant to UR Medicine Noyes Health

UR Medicine | Noyes Health’s Mental Health and Wellness Services will receive a $988 “mini grant” from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester (RMHCR) to fund the purchase of play therapy dollhouses and a sand table. The “mini grant” is part of the organization’s Community Grant program, which supports projects and programs that improve the physical and behavioral health of children in Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Ontario and Wayne counties. “We thank the Ronald McDonald House Charities grant making committee for understanding how valuable these tools are,” says Dr. Robert Whelpley, director of Noyes Mental Health and Wellness Services. “These therapy toys will help our youngest clients express themselves and work through whatever is bothering them in a non-threatening and comforting way with our staff. A mini grant can make a big difference!” UR Medicine |Noyes Health is a diverse and comprehensive non-profit healthcare system serving all of Livingston County and parts of Steuben, Allegany and Ontario counties in New York State. The system includes Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital, in Dansville, Noyes Health Services in Geneseo, Noyes Kidney and Dialysis Center in Geneseo, and Noyes Mental Health and Wellness Services in Dansville. Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital, a full-service, 67-bed community hospital with an After Hours Clinic and the only 24-hour Emergency Department in Livingston County, is accredited by the Joint Commission. The hospital is located off Interstate 390, Exit 4. For more information about UR Medicine | Noyes Health, ... Read More

July 24, 2017

Happiness and Health

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” -Declaration of Independence “The pursuit of happiness” – an interesting phrase used by the founders of this country in the Declaration of Independence. Happiness was not a right but rather the pursuit, the chase, the hunt, the search of happiness was the right endowed by the creator. Our forefathers believed the pursuit of happiness was as important as life and liberty. The Book of Proverbs written and compiled sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries BC contains the verse “A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” In recent times, the beautiful Ingrid Bergman said, “Happiness is good health and a bad memory.” Throughout the centuries, humans have realized that happiness is tied to a good life, physical, and mental health. With advances in the understanding of brain function and cellular biology, science is now confirming that indeed there is a link between our happiness and health. Happiness can make our hearts healthier, our immune systems stronger, and our lives longer. Cardiovascular Health A 2005 study in Neurobiology of Aging found happiness predicts a lower heart rate and blood pressure. Researchers collected various saliva and blood samples to test for stress reactions and hormones. People who reported greater happiness had lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Patients with lower cortisol levels have lower blood pressure and heart rates, which equals better cardiovascular health. Over time being happy pays off. The European Heart Journal published a Canadian study in 2010. The study followed nearly 2,000 Canadians over ten years. The results were astonishing as increased happiness was protective against coronary heart disease over the course of ten years. Immune System A 2003 study in the Psychosomatic Medicine assessed 334 healthy people for positive versus negative emotions. These folks were then given nasal drops with a cold virus and monitored in quarantine for the development of the common cold. Two findings: 1) those with positive emotions had a greater resistance to colds and 2) even if they developed a cold, the happy people reported fewer symptoms. In 2006, a study found that people with better moods actually have higher antibody responses, a sign of a robust immune system. While more research is needed, it appears that positive emotions like being happy and content work at the cellular level and directly affect our health. Not So Many Ouchies In a 2001 Journal of Research in Personality study, researchers concluded, “positive affectivity (happiness) emerged as a significant predictor of good health.” In the study, they rated emotional states of patients. Five weeks later researchers asked participants how much they experienced muscle strain, dizziness, heartburn, and the like over the 5-week period. The happiest people actually became healthier over the weeks while the unhappy participants reported being sicker. Longevity Some of the most convincing evidence that happiness affects health comes from longevity studies. In 2000, University of Kentucky researchers conducted an interesting study. They examined autobiographical essays written by 180 Catholic nuns decades earlier when the women first arrived at the convent. They looked for positive expressions of feelings like amusement, contentment, gratitude, and love. In the end, the happiest-seeming nuns lived an amazing 7-10 years longer than the least happy. A 2011 National Academy of Sciences report suggests similar results. In that study, almost 4,000 English adults ages 52-79 reported how happy, excited, and content they were multiple times in a single day. They found happier people were 35 percent less likely to die over the course of about five years than their unhappier counterparts. Yet another study published in 2010 in Health Psychology followed almost 7,000 people for almost 30 years. They found people more satisfied with life at the beginning were less likely to die during the course of the study. In years past, scientists believed that being healthy lead to happiness. It now appears that being happy to begin with plays a major role in our physical and mental health. Of course, happiness by itself is not the cure all. Other factors such as genetics, diet, exercise, substance use, and geographical location all play a role. At this point, however, a myriad of studies confirm a strong link between health and happiness. Next week, we will look at how to pursue happiness at any age. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator for UR Medicine Noyes Health. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles, contact her at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

July 20, 2017

UR Medicine | Noyes Health Receives $6.3 million in NYS Health Care Transformation Grants

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced June 18 that UR Medicine | Noyes Health in Dansville, N.Y. will receive a $6.3 million grant to integrate the healthcare system’s electronic medical records with UR Medicine’s EPIC system, allowing seamless access and exchange of patient information among all system providers. The grant is part of the Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program which supports projects that are part of an overall plan to create financially sustainable systems of care. The funds are intended to reduce health care costs and improve outcomes by expanding access to inpatient, primary, preventative and other ambulatory care services as part of regionally integrated health care delivery systems. UR Medicine affiliate Jones Memorial Hospital is receiving a similar grant of $5.7 million. For UR Medicine, the grants help to reinforce the health network’s efforts to create a collaborative health system among Rochester and hospitals in Livingston, Northern Steuben and Allegany counties. “We are grateful to our legislators for providing us with this necessary funding,” says Amy Pollard, UR Medicine | Noyes Health CEO, “The system integration will enable our providers to share important information more efficiently, allowing them to collaborate more effectively on a treatment plan and get patients the information they need more quickly.” “These grants help to close the gap between what’s needed by those we serve and what’s affordable based on our operations. This funding will help us build an infrastructure that works better for patients and providers, and furthers our efforts to address daunting behavioral health challenges,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of UR Medicine. “I want to thank Gov. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for their support in helping us facilitate a broad, comprehensive delivery system transformation plan across several systems in a manner that ensures that these hospitals remain the cornerstone of local health care by strengthening services for patients across the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier.” UR Medicine |Noyes Health is a diverse and comprehensive healthcare system, which includes Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital, a 67-bed facility in Dansville, Noyes Health Services in Geneseo, Noyes Kidney and Dialysis Center in Geneseo, and Noyes Mental Health and Wellness Services in Dansville. Noyes Health is accredited by the Joint Commission and serves all of Livingston County and parts of Steuben, Allegany and Ontario Counties. Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital is a community hospital and the only Emergency Department in Livingston County, located off Interstate 390, Exit 4. For more information about Noyes Health, ... Read More

July 18, 2017

Third annual Kyle J Button Memorial Golf Tournament

The Foundation for Noyes Health is hosting the third annual Kyle J. Button Memorial Golf Tournament on Saturday, August 5 at Brae Burn Golf Course. An afternoon of golf will be followed by a party under the tent at Scovill’s with dinner, raffles and a live auction. Golfers tee off at 12 p.m. and evening festivities will start at 6 p.m. Limited golf spots are available at $90 per person for golf, a gift bag, snacks on the course, the post-tournament dinner with a drink coupon and party. Post-tournament party tickets are available at $25 per person and include dinner, a drink coupon, mini-golf, and a chance to win raffle items and bid in the live auction. Auction items include: • VIP Buffalo Bills Suite tickets for (4) donated by Batavia Downs • VIP Buffalo Sabres tickets for (4) • NY Yankees tickets (2) • Thurman Thomas Jersey and autographed football • 100 gallons of propane from Valley Fuel • Apple Watch • Yeti Cooler • Large Screen TV • Gunlocke deluxe office chair, and more! To register for golf or the post-tournament party, send a check made out to the Foundation for Noyes Health to the attention of Jon Shay, 9384 Main Street, Dansville, NY 14437. Tickets for the post-tournament party are also available for purchase online through the Noyes Health Facebook page or the Dansville NY events page at Or email ... Read More

July 15, 2017

Sauerkraut, Kombucha, and Kimchi, oh my!

Growing up in a Slavic household, I was no stranger to sauerkraut. The tangy, fermented cabbage dish was a dinnertime staple especially through the winter months. About ten years ago, our family tried another fermented cabbage dish, kimchi. A young man from South Korea introduced us to the spicy, slightly fishy side dish. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha (a fizzy fermented tea), yogurt, and sourdough bread have gained a lot of attention over the past decade. However, the popularity of these foodstuffs goes beyond taste and grocery story marketing. They are getting a lot of press in the scientific world as researchers discover that the good for you bacteria present in fermented foods may help with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and possibly mental health. Fermented foods have been in the human diet for thousands of years. Wine, beer, yogurt, pickled vegetables, and sausages like salami (made the old-fashioned way) have been household staples around the globe for centuries. Fermentation is the conversion of a carbohydrate such as sugar into an acid or alcohol. While the process can occur naturally without any intervention, most fermented foods are produced by adding yeast or bacteria to change sugar to alcohol or lactic acid. Beer is made by taking a grain such as barley, germinating and drying it, and then pulping it into a mash. The mash is mixed with hot water and some fermentation begins. Yeast is then added. The yeast “eats” the mash sugar and converts it to carbon dioxide and alcohol. Wine is made in a similar fashion. Yogurt, on the other hand, is made by adding a number of special bacteria, such as L. acidophilus and L. bulgaricus to milk. The bacteria convert the dairy sugar to lactic acid, eventually creating yogurt. The fermentation process increases shelf life, creates new tastes and textures, and produces beneficial compounds. During dairy fermentation, many helpful compounds are produced or increased such as vitamin B-12, folic acid, and biotin. The mineral concentration of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc are nearly 50% higher in yogurt than in milk. Yogurt is also an excellent source of “good for you” bacteria or probiotics. A probiotic is any live microorganism that when consumed in adequate amounts offers some sort of health benefit. Various clinical studies indicate that the ingestion of yogurt and other fermented dairy products (kefir, skyr, cheese) is significantly associated with decreased disease. The strongest evidence is the use of the bacteria found in yogurt for the treatment of diarrhea (especially caused by antibiotics.) Further studies in the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark, found decreases in bladder cancer, cardiovascular disease, and periondontitis among those with higher fermented dairy intake. A 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed strong associations between the consumption of fermented dairy foods and weight maintenance. Extensive studies also show a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and overall mortality for frequent yogurt eaters. Similarly, evidence is accumulating for the benefits of kimchi. A 2013 study found that fermented kimchi has anti-diabetic and anti-obesity benefits. Peptides and other compounds created in the fermentation process are being investigated for their possible beneficial effects on hypertension, clots, the immune system and more. One theory called the hygiene or diversity hypothesis proposes that bacterial exposure is essential for the normal development of the immune system and brain function. A 2017 report in the Current Opinion in Biotechnology, therefore, suggests, “Consumption of fermented foods may provide an indirect means of counteracting the hygienic, sanitized Western diet and lifestyle.” Moreover, while we are a long way off from prescribing fermented foods for depression and other mental health issues, a 2014 analysis in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology indicates that there is ample justification for further research into gut-brain health. Authors of the study submit that fermented foods have the potential to influence brain health due to probiotics that magnify antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Our ancestors perfected the production of various fermented fare over the centuries and made it part of their daily dietary life. Due to the increase in processed foods, the diversity and amount of fermented foods decreased over the last century. Those numbers are increasing once again as science confirms the health benefits of humble foods like sauerkraut! Here are some helpful hints as you consider adding fermented foods into your diet: Speak with your doctor if you have a compromised immune system. Fermented foods may not be recommended for certain conditions as they could be carcinogenic or contain high levels of sodium or sugar. Eat and drink fermented foods as part of a healthy diet that includes fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Read ingredient and nutrition labels. For example, to reap any benefit from yogurt, it must contain live cultures. Eat plain, low-fat yogurt and add fresh or frozen fruit to sweeten. Many commercially fermented foods have added sugars, salt, and are pasteurized. As a result, they have little to no nutritional or probiotic benefits. Look for non-pasteurized options with live cultures. Examples of fermented foods include: sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, yogurt, kefir, skyr, pickles, olives, natto (forms the base of miso used in Japanese cooking), and red wine. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles, she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

July 10, 2017

The Joys of Reading

I have always loved books. Yep, I was the nerdy kid wearing reading glasses by sixth grade due to eyestrain. My folks did not have to beg me to read. Long before school summer reading assignments were mandatory, my mom dropped me off at the library where I devoured novels all summer long. I still love reading. I read for work. I read for pleasure. I belong to a book club. Despite being a bookworm at heart, I admit, I am distracted by technology. Especially during the workday, I find myself pulled by email, Facebook posts, texts, phone calls, and several screens on the computer. At night, it is easy to turn on the TV and mindlessly watch dramas and reality shows. The frenetic pace and constant imagery and sound leaves me feeling disjointed, disappointed, and tense. Neuroscience is now looking at this phenomenon and confirming that the cyber world not only adds stress but also limits our brainpower and social skills. To remedy this, many suggest good old-fashioned reading. For people who make reading a regular part of their lives, there are numerous benefits. Reading, however, is not an easy sell these days. 65% of U.S. households have three or more TVs. The number of minutes per week the average child watches TV is 1,480. That is over 24 hours or one whole day a week spent in front of a TV. Add to these numbers, tablets, smartphones, and other devices and it is not an exaggeration to say that technology is a huge part of our daily lives. The constant influx of abbreviated, fast-paced information ultimately effects pathways in the brain. Studies indicate that preschoolers who have a TV in the bedroom have a weaker understanding of other people’s feelings and emotions, which can lead to disruptive behaviors. This also held true for children in households where the TV was on in the background throughout the day. However, children are not the only ones affected by tech. A study presented in 2016 by the University of Virginia in conjunction with the University of British Columbia found that adults using smartphones are more likely to be distracted. The results suggest that even people who have not been diagnosed with ADHD may experience some of the disorder's symptoms, including distraction, difficulty focusing and getting bored easily when trying to focus, fidgeting, having trouble sitting still, difficulty doing quiet tasks and activities, and restlessness. "The findings simply suggest that our constant digital stimulation may be contributing to an increasingly problematic deficit of attention in modern society," said Kostadin Kushlev, a psychology research scientist at the University of Virginia. Conversely, a 2014 Emory University study published in the journal Brain Connectivity, found that becoming engrossed in a novel improves brain function. Reading fiction, in particular, improves a reader’s empathy level and ability to imagine. Reading stories, whether it is Cat in the Hat or Moby Dick, requires several parts of the brain to work all at the same time. Using all these sections of the noggin at once increases the number of pathways and connections. All that activity leads to a better understanding of people and the world. It also improves memory, comprehension, and concentration. Here are a few more benefits of reading: Relaxation. Reading allows you to escape the day’s worries and stresses. Tuning out the world and getting engrossed in a story and its characters occupies the mind and helps relax the body. Sharp brain over the lifetime. Reading benefits young and old with increased knowledge, vocabulary, and focus. Students, who read more, score higher on reading tests and tests of general intelligence. People who read over their lifetime experience slower mental decline. A 2013 study published in Neurology concludes that frequent cognitive (mental) activity across the life span has an association with slower late-life cognitive decline. Lead author, Robert S. Wilson, states, “We shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents.” Bottom line, Wilson and other researchers, recommend reading, puzzles, and other brain activities from childhood through the elder years in order to keep the brain sharper for longer. Better Sleep. Reading a real book with paper pages helps you relax and therefore, sleep better. Tablets, phones, computers, and TV can actually hurt your sleep because the screen light signals the brain that it is time to wake up. Reading an actual book in bed under dim light is the best bet for unwinding. It is FREE and there is something for everyone! One of the great joys of living in NY is the free library system. Talk about low-budget entertainment! Local libraries have books, eBooks, audio books, and more on every subject imaginable. Whether you enjoy poetry, the classics, westerns, romance, or fantasy, there is something sure to spark your imagination and curiosity. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles, she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

June 30, 2017

Shoe Sense

Like many women, I have a love hate relationship with my shoe collection. I love the beauty of high heel shoes, the trendy look of wedges, and the freedom of flip-flops. However, I hate how my feet feel after even a half hour of wearing any of the aforementioned. As a “mature” woman, I mainly wear sensible shoes with low heels, good arch support, and roomy toe areas. The high heels still come out but only for special occasions. The pain and discomfort are simply not worth it. Furthermore, the long-term foot health issues are definitely not worth it. Now that summer is here, we are all wearing a variety of shoes from flip-flops at the lake to stilettos at weddings and parties. Learning the worst offenders and greatest champions in the shoe world is important for preventing injury and chronic foot and joint issues. Poor footwear can cause everything from nerve damage and hammertoes to bunions and calluses. Worst Offenders Stilettos. The word stiletto is Italian for a knife or dagger with a long slender blade and needle-like point. Therefore, we are walking in something primarily intended as a stabbing weapon! Walking on long, slender heels causes problems. NY podiatrist, Hillary Brenner, says, "The weight is pinpointed on one area…that makes you wobble like you're walking on stilts." The result is that you are more likely to trip and sprain your ankle. Ballet flats. While you might not trip in ballet flats, you are still at risk for injury. Brenner compares these dainty shoes to walking on cardboard. There is no arch support and as a result, the feet do not function properly. This can lead to knee, hip, and back problems as well as a painful foot condition called plantar fasciitis. Flip-flops. Andrew Shapiro, DPM, a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association says, “Women are wearing flip-flops as everyday shoes. They are meant for the beach and the pool, not for everyday walking. They don’t give you any arch support.” Shapiro goes on to explain that people run, jump, and play in flip-flops. Because you are essentially barefoot, the feet are then very prone to scrapes, cuts, bruising, broken toes, and strained ankles. In addition, due to lack of support, chronic problems such as tendonitis and plantar fasciitis are common among regular wearers. Pointy-toed Pumps. If you look at the shape of your foot and then the shape of a pointy-toed shoe, it is not hard to imagine why this causes problems. These beauties cause metatarsalgia – an acute pain in the ball of the foot that can become chronic. Furthermore, hammertoes and an inflammation of the nerve between the toes called neuroma can occur. Neuroma commonly occurs between the third and fourth toes (but can happen between any of them). The pinched, inflamed nerve causes pain and burning. Typical treatments for this condition include injections, physical therapy, or even surgery. Shoe Champions The obvious shoe champions are well-designed, well-fitted athletic shoes. If work requires something a bit dressier, Shapiro recommends either a dressy flat with good arch support and well-fitted heel or a pump with no more than a 1-1.5 inch heel. No matter the shoe, you want arch support, a low heel, a wider toe box, and preferably a lace or buckle closure to ensure good fit and support. Harvard Health offers the following advice for shoe shopping: Wait until the afternoon to shop for shoes — your feet naturally expand with use during the day and may swell in hot weather. Wear the same type of socks that you intend to wear with the shoes. Have the salesperson measure both of your feet — and get measured every time you buy new shoes. If one foot is larger or wider than the other, buy a size that fits the larger foot. Stand in the shoes. Make sure you have at least a quarter- to a half-inch of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Walk around in the shoes to determine how they feel. Is there enough room at the balls of the feet? Do the heels fit snugly, or do they pinch or slip off? Don't rationalize that the shoes just need to be "broken in" or that they'll stretch with time. Find shoes that fit from the start. Trust your own comfort level rather than a shoe's size or description. Sizes vary from one manufacturer to another. And no matter how comfortable an advertisement claims those shoes are, you're the real judge. Feel the inside of the shoes to see if they have any tags, seams, or other material that might irritate your feet or cause blisters. Turn the shoes over and examine the soles. Are they sturdy enough to provide protection from sharp objects? Do they provide any cushioning? Also, take the sole test as you walk around the shoe store: do the soles cushion against impact? Try to walk on hard surfaces as well as carpet to see how the shoes feel. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have article suggestions or questions, contact Lorraine at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More