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September 22, 2016

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian Cancer is one of the most deadly of women's cancers. The American Cancer Society estimates there are about 22,280 women diagnosed yearly for ovarian cancer. About 14,240 of those women will die from ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. A woman's risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 75. Her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 100. This cancer typically occurs in women in their fifties and sixties with the median age being 63. According to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, ovarian cancer is a disease in which depending on the type and stage of the disease, malignant (cancerous) cells are found inside, near, or on the outer layer of the ovaries. An ovary is one of two small, almond-shaped organs located on each side of the uterus that store eggs, or germ cells, and produce the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Many women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a genetic history that may include carrying the BRCA mutation gene or have a strong family history of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is more common in women who are overweight, women who have a mother, sister or daughter with the disease, and those who have never had children. Other risk factors may include talcum powder use, a history of breast cancer, and the use of estrogen after menopause. While some studies are inconclusive, others indicate that eating a low-fat diet, being pregnant, breastfeeding, and using birth control pills prior to menopause seem to be protective factors for contracting this cancer. Since the organs involved in this illness are so deep in the abdomen, it can be quite difficult to diagnose. A pelvic exam can sometimes reveal a problem but even the most skilled examiner may not be able to feel a tumor especially at an early stage. Symptoms can be absent or vague, including swelling or bloating of the abdomen, stomach pain or pelvic pressure, having trouble eating or feeling full quickly, or urinary urgency or frequency. Those symptoms are quite common for other diseases as well, which makes ovarian cancer diagnosis even harder. It is, therefore, important for a woman to report any changes in feeling different to her physician. There are no screening tests for ovarian cancer that can be applied to large numbers of women, like there are for breast cancer. It is important to note that the Pap test is effective for early detection of cervical cancer, but isn’t a test for ovarian cancer. If a woman has strong risk factors for ovarian cancer, her health care provider can use a blood test, ultrasound, and CT scans to look for signs of cancer. If a tumor is found, a biopsy is performed to determine if it is cancerous or not. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment begins fairly quickly. Surgery to remove as much of the tumor (or tumors) as possible is performed and depending how widespread the cancer is, the ovaries and uterus might be removed at the same time. A regimen of chemotherapy, sometimes followed by radiation is the next step in treatment. According the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rate for all types of ovarian cancer is 45%. Women diagnosed when they are younger than 65 do better than older women. If ovarian cancer is found (and treated) before the cancer has spread outside the ovary (stages IA and IB), the 5-year relative survival rate is 92%. However, only 15% of all ovarian cancers are found at this early stage. The key takeaway from this data is be your own best advocate. If you have a family history of ovarian cancer, go for regular physicals with your primary care physician and never miss your annual gynecological exam. In addition, pay attention to your body. If you have symptoms that persist or worsen, don’t ignore them. To learn more about ovarian cancer risks, diagnosis, and treatment options visit: American Cancer Society at or National Ovarian Cancer Coalition at Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

September 19, 2016

Living Healthy for Life

My mom says Arthur goes with her everywhere. It is with her at night, when she wakes in the morning, and every step and movement during the day. Arthur is not a dog, cat, or even gentlemen friend. Arthur is mom’s code word for arthritis. It is indeed a constant companion although not a welcome one. Over time, it has changed her life and decreased some of her activities. I imagine we all know someone like my mom, living with chronic pain or a chronic condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or even anxiety. Often these conditions compromise the quality of daily life. There is the pain, the limitations, and consequently for some, poor emotional health to deal with on an everyday basis. If you or a loved one fits this description, you may want to consider a Living Healthy workshop. Living Healthy workshops are educational programs designed to help people manage life with chronic pain or disease. They are based on the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP). This evidence-based, self-management education program helps participants learn self-management skills needed to help deal with the symptoms of their chronic condition and with the life role changes and emotions experienced when living with a chronic condition. The emphasis of the workshop’s curriculum is to help people: manage common problems such as fatigue; communicate with friends, family, and providers; deal with anger and depression; and design and maintain a healthy eating and exercise plan. In addition, participants learn disease related decision-making and problem solving skills. As a result, these interventions help participants reduce pain, depression, fear, and frustration; improve mobility and exercise; increase energy; and boost confidence in their ability to manage their condition. The most important outcome is that people become more confident and are able to combine more active lives with self-management of their chronic health condition. From 2012 to now, more than 7,300 people have participated in CDSMP Living Healthy workshops across New York. Most of those people live with multiple chronic conditions including: arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, lung disease, depression and others. Chronic disease self-management programs are being implemented successfully in senior centers, churches, and other community settings across the country. According to, subjects who took the program, when compared to those who did not, demonstrated significant improvements in exercise, cognitive symptom management, and communication with physicians, self-reported general health, health distress and fatigue, disability, and social/role activities limitations. They also spent fewer days in the hospital, and there was also a trend toward fewer outpatient visits and hospitalizations. In addition, participants applaud benefits of the Living Healthy self-help workshops: “They taught us to focus on what we can do…not on what we can’t do.” “The pain doesn’t go away, but you learn to manage the pain instead of the pain managing you.” “Now I can work better with my doctor to manage my symptoms.” “I know the things to do and this helps my motivation to get it done.” “The progress is due to the positive class support.” Locally, Noyes Health offers Living Healthy classes in the fall and spring. Participants learn from trained volunteer leaders with health conditions themselves. Each person learns how to set his or her own goals and make a step-by-step plan to improve his or her own health and life! The workshops meet for 2 ½ hours once per week for six weeks. The Fall, 2016 workshop, Living Healthy with a Chronic Condition, will be held in Nunda starting October 12th from 10 am – 12:30 pm. Classes are FREE but spaces are limited and registration is required. If you would like more information or would like to register, call (585)335-4358 or email: This article was written by Christa Barrows, Living Healthy coordinator at Noyes Health and Lorraine Wichtowski. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

September 12, 2016

“Night for Noyes” Event to Benefit New Cancer Center

Noyes Health Foundation and Noyes Health Auxiliary invite you to the first “Night for Noyes” on Saturday, October 15 at Nugget Hill Event Center in Wayland to benefit the Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center. The festive-not-fancy evening under the stars kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Guests will be treated to appetizers, entrée stations, and a live and silent auction, as well as a DJ taking requests throughout the night. Tickets are $40, and may be purchased at Noyes Memorial Hospital’s front desk, Dogwood Trading Company on Main Street in Dansville and the Not Dot Shop on Main Street in Geneseo. Lead sponsors of the event are The Gunlocke Company and UR Medicine, with co-sponsor Lent Hill Dairy Farm, LLC. The Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center is a unique collaborative project between Wilmot Cancer Institute, Jones Memorial Hospital, and Noyes Health currently under construction on the campus of Noyes Hospital. When it opens early next year, the Cancer Center will provide patients in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, and Western New York more convenient access to comprehensive, state-of-the art cancer care. It will also serve as a hub for oncology services and includes a medical oncology clinic in Wellsville and Hornell. Established with a $2 million gift from Ann and Carl Myers, the $5.8 million project will feature a 4,500 square foot radiation oncology clinic and a 2,300 square foot medical oncology clinic featuring three exam rooms and seven chemotherapy/infusion chairs. It will also provide patients with access to advanced diagnostic testing, clinical trials, outpatient palliative care, and Wilmot Cancer Institute’s Judy DiMarzo Cancer Survivorship Program. Physicians at the cancer center and medical oncology clinic at Jones will have access to UR Medicine’s region-wide electronic medical record system and regular consultations with multidisciplinary teams focused on cancer. Donations of auction items welcome! Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Please contact Mary Sue Dehn, Noyes Health Foundation Director at (585)335-4363 with questions. ... Read More

September 9, 2016

Gardening - The season is coming to an end, but not the benefits!

When I was a little girl growing up in Honeoye, my family befriended a man named Al. He was a kind, gentle man who lived in a group home for veterans. Al’s therapy was his garden. He did not drive so during the summer months, we often picked him up in the morning and drove him to a small plot of land donated by a local farmer. There was a small shed, a rain barrel, and rows upon rows of vegetables. Al would plant, weed, water, and harvest all summer long. His vegetables fed the group home and our house as well. I still remember large crocks full of carrots and potatoes that lasted us well into the winter months. Al did not talk much but spoke volumes when he smiled and handed you a fresh cucumber out of the garden, still warm from the sun. Nothing tasted better. This was way back in the 1960s and 70s. Not too much was known then about all the benefits of gardening but since then, science has confirmed what Al knew intuitively. Gardening is good for the soul and for the body. Researchers use fancy language like gardening is positively correlated with social and interpersonal skills or gardening positively influences attitudes towards healthy nutrition and environmental stewardship. But all that really means is that folks who garden generally connect better with people, like fruits and vegetables more, and love the land! This past summer, a group of children in Lima had the chance to experience gardening first hand. Noyes Health with funding from the Rural Health Grant of New York State created new raised bed gardens and provided healthy nutrition curriculum for the Great Expectations Childcare Center. Petra Page-Mann, owner of the organic seed and plant company Fruition Seeds, spent a morning back in early June, teaching the children about seeds and how to plant. She also sent seed packets home with every child for their families to enjoy. Then the staff of Great Expectations took over. Under the direction of co-owner, Jane Chatterton, the teachers integrated a fruit and vegetable curriculum into their class work. In addition, the children had the opportunity to plant, weed, water, and harvest vegetables, herbs, and even edible flowers. The kiddos also got a lesson in entomology during a Japanese beetle invasion! Overall, the project was a grand success. The children learned the biology of plant growth, worked the soil, and harvested a variety of vegetables. They tasted cherry tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, beans, peppers, ground cherries and more. According to numerous studies over the last three decades, children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables or express a preference for these foods. In one past childcare garden project, 57% of parents reported that their children now ate veggies that they did not eat before gardening. Because garden programs like the one with Noyes Health and Great Expectations include lessons on nutrition, children are more knowledgeable about healthy eating in general. There is also mounting evidence that active learning in less structured spaces like gardens is more likely to transform children’s food attitudes and habits. All this leads to lifelong benefits. A 2005 study of over 2,000 men and women found that those who picked flowers, fruits and vegetables in childhood were more likely to show an interest in gardening as they aged. Even more important, is the lifelong desire to eat fruits and vegetables which is crucial for healthy digestion, immune function, and weight management. If we can hook children on vegetables at an early age, it may help curb the obesity epidemic. Noyes Health will once again be building a garden for a childcare center in Livingston County in 2017. If you know of a childcare center who would like to participate in this program, please contact Lorraine Wichtowski, Noyes Health community health educator, at 585-335-4327 or Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

September 2, 2016

Suicide Prevention Week

September 5th – 11th is Suicide Prevention Week. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States with one suicide occurring on average every 12.3 minutes. Even more startling is that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds. Furthermore, while the elderly make up 14. 5% of the population, they comprise 18% of all suicides. Overall, approximately 1.1 million Americans attempt suicide every year and an estimated 4.8 million Americans are survivors of suicide of a friend, family member, or loved one. Suicide has a huge impact on society. 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. Mental illness is quite prevalent in American society. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S - 43.7 million, or 18.6% - experiences mental illness in a given year. In addition, 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. - 13.6 million, or 4.1% - experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits their life. 1.1% of American adults live with schizophrenia and 2.6% live with bipolar disorder. The most common disorders, however, are major depression, which affects 6.9% of the population and anxiety disorders which affect 18.1%. Statistics show that mental illness affects men and women, the young and the old, all races and ethnicities, and social economic classes. No group is left untouched. It impacts life and death on a daily basis in the US. Fortunately, most depressive disorders are treatable with psychotherapy, drugs, and other interventions. But if undetected and untreated, clinical depression can destroy quality of life and exacerbate health problems. It can lead to the person suffering, withdrawal from others, family disruption, and sometimes suicide. Because it brings the potential for suicide, depression is a life-threatening illness. The first step to combatting suicide statistics is to talk openly about mental health and seek help. There's no easy test to differentiate typical behaviors from mental illness. According to NAMI, each illness has its own set of symptoms but some common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents may include the following: Excessive worrying or fear Feeling excessively sad or low Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger Avoiding friends and social activities Difficulties understanding or relating to other people Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite Changes in sex drive Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality) Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight”) Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”) Thinking about suicide Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance (mostly in adolescents) Mental health professionals offer this advice. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Important first steps include: 1) Talk with your doctor; 2) Connect with other individuals and families; and 3) Learn more about mental illness, symptoms, and treatment. For more information, connect with the National Institute of Mental Health at or the National Alliance on Mental Illness at or the American Association of Suicidology at Locally, Noyes Mental Health Services can be reached at (585) 335-4316 and Livingston County Mental Health Services can be reached at (585) 243-7250. If you or someone you know is in danger or suicidal, call 911. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

August 25, 2016

Duel in the Pool

Girls’ varsity swimmers from Dansville High School and Wayland Cohocton High School toured the under-construction Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center at UR Medicine / Noyes Health on August 23. The girls will compete with more than 200 varsity swimmers from across the region in the first ever “Duel in the Pool” on Saturday, September 24 at the Bath-Haverling Aquatics Complex starting at 10:30 a.m. The unique cross-conference meet, organized by Dansville High School swimming coach Jim Welch and his wife Natalie, will pit Livingston County Conference swimmers as one team against rivals from the Finger Lakes League. The $5 admission fee, as well as proceeds from t-shirt sales, a 50/50 raffle and pool games will benefit the Cancer Center. PHOTO IDs L to R: Jim and Natalie Welch, Emily Polizzi (Dansville), Kadelynn McInnis (Wayland Cohocton), Jesse Gunn (Dansville), MacKenzie Curtin (Wayland-Cohocton), Cheyenne Markowski (Dansville) For more information visit, Noyes Health Facebook Page or contact Mary Sue Dehn, Director of PR/Foundation or 585-335-4323.... Read More

August 25, 2016

Prevent Falls

The number of adults over 65 years of age who die from unintentional falls continues to increase. About 12 million older adults, approximately 1 in 3, fall each year in the U.S. Over half of these falls occur in the home. Every year, 2. 5 million older people are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries including fractured arms, wrists, legs, and hips. 250,000 older folks are hospitalized for hip fractures alone. In addition, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. Falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults but the good news is that many risk factors can be changed or modified to cut the risk for injury. According to the CDC, most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. Those factors include: Lower body weakness Vitamin D deficiency Difficulties with walking or balance Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. (Even some over the counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.) Vision problems Foot pain or poor footwear (high heels, floppy slippers, and shoes with slick soles should be avoided) Home hazards such as broken or uneven steps, throw rugs or clutter than can be tripped over, and no handrails in the stairways or bathrooms. Many falls can be prevented. Speaking with a physician, making your home safer, and increasing strength and balance can help reduce the risk for a fall. The Mayo Clinic, CDC, and Harvard Medical School recommend the following: Talk to Your Doctor Ask your healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling. Ask your doctor and pharmacist to review all your medications (prescription and over the counter) to see if any might make you sleepy or dizzy. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update glasses as necessary. Make Your Home Safer Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords, and phone cords from walkways. Move coffee tables, magazine racks, baskets, and plant stands from high traffic areas. Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing OR simply remove all loose rugs from the home. Repair loose, wooden floors and carpet. Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach. Install railings on both sides of stair ways and grab bars inside and outside of tubs and showers as well as next to the toilet. Place night lights in bedroom, bathroom, and hallways. Place a lamp within reach of bed for middle of the night needs. Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs. Store flashlights in easy to find places in case of power outages. Increase Your Strength and Balance Note: Consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Consider physical therapy for the balance system. Gentle exercises like a pelvic tilt or leg lift can increase strength. Tai Chi, Silver Sneakers, Matter of Balance, and Yoga help with control and the quality of movement. All three types of exercise help with balance, range of motion, leg and core strength, and reflexes. Contact 335-4359 for local programs. Ask a physician if a cane or walker would complement your balance and offer more stability. Locally, the Genesee Valley Health Partnership, the Livingston County Office for the Aging, and the Medical Reserve Corps in cooperation with Noyes Health are sponsoring the 3rd Annual Fall Prevention Workshop on Friday, September 16, 2016 from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm at the Lakeville Training Grounds in Lakeville. This free event will highlight several fall prevention experts and includes refreshments. Attendees will learn strategies and skills to prevent falls in the home and connect with local resources and agencies. Registration is required. To register, please call Noyes Health Community Outreach Services at 335-4359 or email Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

August 18, 2016

Your Child’s Vision

The world is getting blurry, fuzzy, and out of focus. Literally, we are not seeing as well as we did in the past. According to a May, 2016 article in the American Academy of Ophthalmology Journal, 50% of the world’s population, nearly 5 billion people will be myopic by the year 2050. Currently, 30% of the U.S. population struggles with myopia (nearsightedness). Overall, 40% of Americans need glasses to correct their vision. Children are not exempt from this malady. The American Academy of Opthamology (AAO) reports more than a third of U.S. children ages 12 to 17 are nearsighted, a sharp increase from the 1970s when only 24% in this age group had myopia. Researchers don’t know exactly all the reasons this is occurring but they suspect lifestyle changes are the culprit. Studies indicate that decreased time outdoors and increased near work activities, particularly computer, tablet, and cell phone use are to blame. The American Optometric Association (AOA) reports that 80% of the learning a child does occurs through his or her eyes. Good vision is necessary for reading, writing, music, art, sports, and more. Vision is more than just seeing clearly. The eyes work together with the brain to recognize, comprehend, and retain information. To effectively read and learn for instance, the eyes focus in on words, help us track sentences across and down a page, and work together to judge distances and spaces. In addition, as a child progresses through K-12, the eyes have a greater workload. With each successive grade, there is more reading, more computer work, smaller print, and increased homework and study time. Bottom line, good vision is critical for school work and success. If glasses or contacts are needed, specialists say the earlier, the better. When a vision problem is detected and treated in its early stages, it is more likely the treatment will be successful. Vision can change frequently during the school years so regular eye and vision care is important. Sadly, many children never have their eyes checked. The AAO states almost 40% of children in the U.S. have never undergone a vision screening. The school year starts in just a few short weeks and it is a great time to schedule a comprehensive exam. It is recommended that a child receive an eye examination at least once every two years – more frequently if there are specific problems or risk factors. It is important to note that school and pediatric vision screening may only test for distance visual acuity. Furthermore, children often do not recognize vision problems; they think everyone sees as they do and it is normal. The AOA and the AAO suggest the following signs may indicate your child has a vision problem: Frequent eye rubbing or blinking Short attention span Avoiding reading and other close activities Frequent headaches Covering one eye Tilting the head to one side Holding reading materials close to the face An eye turning in or out Seeing double Losing place when reading Difficulty remembering what he or she read Squinting when looking in the distance Sitting to close to the TV To learn more about children and vision, check out these websites: American Optometric Association - American Academy of Opthamology - National Eye Institute - To help a child in your life learn more about vision in a fun, creative way, log onto: Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

August 17, 2016


Brae Burn Golf Course welcomed teams of golfers from around the area to the second annual Kyle Button Golf Tournament on Saturday, August 6. The event raised more than $11,000 for the Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center, currently under construction on the campus of Noyes Hospital in Dansville. The tournament honors the memory of Dansville teacher Kyle Button who, at age 30, lost his battle with Stage 4 colon cancer in January of 2015. “We are grateful to Kyle’s wife Lynne and his son Matthew for allowing us to share Kyle’s story,” said Noyes Health Foundation chair Jon Shay. “Kyle knew the Cancer Center was coming and was so supportive of it. He knew that it will make things easier for his friends and neighbors seeking cancer treatment.” Shay also thanked the many local businesses who sponsored the event and continue to support the Cancer Center’s construction. The Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center, under construction on the campus of Noyes Hospital in Dansville, is a collaborative project between Wilmot Cancer Institute, Jones Memorial Hospital, and Noyes Health. When completed in early 2017, it will provide patients in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, and Western New York more convenient access to comprehensive, state-of-the art cancer care. Established with a $2 million gift from Ann and Carl Myers, the $5.8 million project features a 4,500 square foot radiation oncology clinic and a 2,300 square foot medical oncology clinic. The regional cancer center will also provide patients with access to advanced diagnostic testing, clinical trials, outpatient palliative care, and Wilmot Cancer Institute’s Judy DiMarzo Cancer Survivorship Program. Physicians at the cancer center and the medical oncology clinic at Jones will have access to UR Medicine’s region-wide electronic medical record system and regular consultations with multidisciplinary teams focused on cancer. To donate, go to and click on the “Make a Donation” button. For more information visit, Noyes Health Facebook Page or contact Mary Sue Dehn, Director of PR/Foundation, or 585-335-4323. ... Read More

August 14, 2016

Back to School Stress Busters

Whether you have a kindergartner or college student, the annual back to school preparations and schedule can be stressful. Financial, social, and emotional stresses can tax parents and kiddos alike. Financially, there are school supplies and clothes to be purchased. Socially, students may be prepping themselves to say goodbye to old friends and meet new ones. Emotionally, students, parents, and even grandparents may be dealing with separation anxiety and fear of the unknown. At the same time, the beginning of the school year brings promise and hope. It is an exciting time full of new opportunities. Studies agree that organization, preparation, and mindset are important tools for a successful transition to the fall school-year schedule. Here are some tips for reducing stress and zoning in on the positive: Organization Organize clutter – A 2011 Princeton University study showed that “when the environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus and limits your brain’s capacity to process information.” Basically, when too much stuff is on the counters, tables, and floors, your brain gets cluttered and you get stressed. Before school starts, conquer the clutter. Make a schedule and tackle a different room (or counter, etc.) each day. First, determine what to save, what to throw out, what to recycle, and what to donate. Second, take the saved items and find a home for them in boxes, on shelves, on hooks, or in bins. Develop a daily to-do chart for all family members – Even the youngest students can “read” a picture chart and participate in the daily responsibilities. Before the school year starts, determine the chore list for each person in the household and post it on the refrigerator or on each child’s door with their duties highlighted. Duties may include: make lunch, lay out clothes for next day, prepare backpack, clean off counters, wash sports uniform, etc. Work ahead for healthy snacks and lunches – Once a week, prepare foods into single servings sizes for on the go healthy snacks and lunches. For example, prepare single serving size baggies of carrots, celery, peppers, nuts, trail mix, or whole wheat crackers and cheese. Place them eye level and toward the front of the refrigerator for easy access when packing lunches and sport bags. Preparation Start early to prevent sleep loss – Everyone needs proper sleep to function well. Preschoolers, ages 3-5, need 10-13 hours of sleep per night. School-aged children, 6 to 13 year olds, need 9 to 11 hours and teens need 9 – 9.5 hours of snooze time. The reality is most families are relaxed about bed time during the summer. To avoid sleep deprivation and stress, begin going to bed earlier and getting up a tad earlier (mimic the school week schedule) starting two to three weeks before school starts. Being well rested will help keep everyone’s stress levels down. Do a walk-through – Visit the school and if possible teachers before the start of school. Take fear of the unknown out of the equation by visiting the hallways, lunchroom, and even bathrooms. If your child knows what to expect, he or she will be less anxious. Prepare a good breakfast every morning – A complete, balanced breakfast will energize you and your child for the day to come. Yogurt with berries and nuts or granola topping, eggs with wheat toast and fruit, oatmeal with berries, or even leftover rice with an egg and veggies is a great way to start the day. Avoid sugary cereals and toaster pastries which spike blood sugar but don’t provide any long lasting nutrition for the morning. Mindset Present your most positive self – Even if you are anxious about seeing your little one (or college one) off, conceal your worries and present a positive attitude. Children pick up on anxiety. Lend a listening ear, support and encourage students as they head off to new waters. Embrace change as an opportunity – The new academic year is a time to grow and develop new skills. This change can draw out new creativity, talents, and abilities. Concentrate on the positive things to come from change (even if it is a bit anxiety provoking!) Listen first, talk second – Ask open ended questions such as “What are you most excited about?” or “You seem a little nervous. What about school concerns you the most?” And then listen. If your child expresses some negativity, don’t discount it. Acknowledge the feelings and then work toward finding solutions. This is often a great time to talk about how to handle bullies and peer pressure. Discuss at dinner – Children whose families eat together on a regular basis achieve greater social and academic success. The open conversation also promotes communication which helps to eliminate surprises thereby reducing stress. Dinner is the perfect time to discuss the day, laugh, and problem solve if necessary. Again, ask open-ended questions, “What was the best thing/silliest thing/grossest thing that happened at school today?” Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More