Tips for Caring for Your Loved One with Dementia

A.V. Home Care Services offers some tips for caring for your loved one with dementia.

If the person you care for has advanced dementia, visiting him or her may feel very challenging. After all, how do you connect with a person who is unable to converse? You may wonder if it is even worthwhile to visit.
Research suggests that during late-stage dementia, a person’s core self remains. Much like in our earliest years of life, when we are preverbal, we perceive the world around us largely through touch, smell, sound, sight, and taste. At this stage we can still experience comforts and pleasures. These experiences contribute to our overall well being. In this light, visits are important!
Bear in mind:
• Words may not be understood, but the expression on your face and your tone of voice may be.
• A quiet room away from noise and clutter is most reassuring. Make eye contact, but don’t force interaction.
• Visits are best one person at a time. Children should be accompanied by an adult.
• If your relative doesn’t want to interact, it’s about the disease, not you. Don’t take it personally. Thirty minutes later, tomorrow, or next week, things may be very different.
Try these options for happy connection:
• Brushing hair or rubbing lotion on hands or feet. These simple gestures are reassuring and communicate love and care.
• Playing music, especially from your relative’s youth, is an amazing way to connect. People who are unable to talk can still clap or tap along, and some can even remember lyrics enough to sing favorite songs or hymns.
• Looking at photo albums, you might retell a favorite family story. Or look at a simple, colorful book and read aloud.
• Sharing a favorite food. Easy-to-chew foods are best. Perhaps a familiar pudding or a cookie?
• Cuddling a pet or stuffed animal. The touch of fur and the unconditional love of an animal—alive or stuffed—is often very comforting.

Medicare Open Enrollment starts Sunday, October 15

Routines help keep people focused, organized and even healthy. However, if your health routine doesn’t include preparing for Medicare’s Open Enrollment, now’s the time to kick start a new healthy habit.
If you have a Medicare health or prescription drug plan, Open Enrollment runs Sunday, Oct. 15, through Thursday, Dec. 7. This is the time you can make changes to your plan. Even if you’re happy with your current coverage, you might find something that’s a better fit for your budget or your health needs. If you miss an Open Enrollment deadline, you’ll most likely have to wait a full year before you can make changes to your plan.
Here are five important things every Medicare beneficiary can do to get in the Medicare Open Enrollment routine:
1. Review your plan notice. Be sure to read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year, especially your “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Look at your plan’s information to make sure your drugs are still covered and your doctors are still in the network.
2. Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Do you need a new primary care doctor? Does your network include the specialist you want for an upcoming surgery? Is your new medication covered by your current plan? Does another plan offer the same value at a lower cost? Take stock of your health status and determine if you need to make a change.
3. Find out if you qualify for help paying for your Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums, your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductibles, coinsurance and copayments, and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs. You can do this by visiting or making an appointment with a local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor.
4. Shop for plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. Starting in October, you can use Medicare’s plan finder tool at to see what other plans are offered in your area. A new plan may cost less, cover your drugs, and let you go to the providers you want, like your doctor or pharmacy.
If you find that your current coverage still meets your needs, then you’re done. Remember, during Medicare Open Enrollment, you can decide to stay in Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you’re already in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch back to Original Medicare.
5. Check your plan’s star rating before you enroll. The Medicare Plan Finder has been updated with the Star Ratings for Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Plans are given an overall quality rating on a one to five star scale, with one star representing poor performance and five stars representing excellent performance. Use the Star Ratings to compare the quality of health and drug plans being offered.
These are a few easy ways to get a jump-start on your Medicare Open Enrollment process. For more information you can, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), and say “Agent.” TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends.
You can also visit a local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor at the Coös County ServiceLink Resource Center in Berlin. SHIP counselors provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance. The Coös County ServiceLink Resource Center is located at 610 Sullivan St. in Berlin and open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information or to schedule an appointment at the Berlin office, call (603) 752-6407.
Coös County Aging & Disability Resource Counseling at ServiceLink served more than 4,766 contacts with detailed information about benefits, programs, and resources with over $138,288 in savings to clients in Coös County. That included 675 Medicare and 614 Medicaid contacts, where our highly skilled staff is able to help people navigate their way through the confusing decisions about benefits and eligibility.

Hospital to host lecture on treatment through telemedicine

AVH to Host Lecture on Treatment through Telemedicine

Thomas Kleeman, MD, Orthopaedic/Spine Surgeon, N.H. NeuroSpine Institute, will present "Spinal Symptoms, Conditions, and Treatments through the Use of Telemedicine" on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, at 6 p.m. in the AVH Mt. Success Meeting Room. Following Dr. Kleeman’s presentation, a question and answer period will follow.

Through a collaboration with Catholic Medical Center, N.H. NeuroSpine Institute, and Androscoggin Valley Hospital, Dr. Kleeman currently sees patients at AVH from his new office in Alaska through the use of video technology.

Interested participants may register for this free educational opportunity online at, Calendar of Events, or by calling James Patry, Senior Director, Patient Experience and Marketing, at 326-5606. In addition to the web, AVH is on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest. AVH is a proud partner of North Country Healthcare.


State urges residents to get flu shot as flu season arrives

CONCORD — The flu results in approximately 12,000 to 56,000 deaths every year in the United States, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As we enter another flu season, the state Department of Health and Human Services  is urging all residents ages si6x months and older to get a flu shot to prevent influenza infection and associated complications.

“We know that the influenza virus is already beginning to circulate in our communities and cause illness. The best thing people can do to stay healthy and prevent infection during flu season is to get vaccinated against influenza,” said N.H. State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan. “Even if a person got the flu shot last year, protection against infection decreases over time and the specific types of circulating influenza virus can change, so individuals need to get re-vaccinated every year to maintain protection against the flu.”

Flu season usually lasts from September through May and several cases of the influenza virus infection have already been identified in the state. If a person has not yet received the influenza vaccine, DHHS recommends getting vaccinated now. The CDC recommends that individuals should ideally be vaccinated by the end of October, although the vaccine is recommended as long as influenza is circulating. The flu vaccine is safe and does not cause the flu. The influenza virus can infect the nose, throat, and lungs causing serious disease. The infection is spread when a person with flu coughs, sneezes or talks; and infection can be spread even before an infected person has symptoms. Typical flu symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches.

Last year, there were 47 influenza-related deaths, including two pediatric deaths, identified in New Hampshire. The CDC estimates that in the United States during the 2015-2016 season, the influenza vaccine prevented more than 5 million flu illnesses, 2.5 million influenza-associated medical visits, and more than 70,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations. This year’s vaccine has been modified to match circulating flu viruses, including an updated H1N1 strain. The nasal spray flu vaccine is still not recommended this year as the CDC has determined it is not as effective as the injectable vaccine.

While everyone 6 months of age and older who doesn’t have a medical contraindication should get a flu vaccine, it is especially important for some groups who either care for persons at high risk for influenza-related complications (e.g., health care personnel) or who are at an increased risk for flu complications themselves. Person who are increased risk for medical complications from flu include:

• Children younger than 5, and especially those younger than 2 years of age.

• Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum).

• Adults 50 years of age or older.

• People who are immunosuppressed.

• People with certain chronic medical conditions, including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, kidney or liver disease, or who are extremely obese.

• Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

For more information on influenza and the vaccine, contact the N.H. Immunization Program at 1-800-852-3345 x 4482 or 603-271-4482 or the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 1-800-852-3345 x 0279 or 603-271-0279 or go to and

Behavioral health a key part of inmate rehabilitation

CONCORD — Nearly half of the individuals who are admitted to New Hampshire Department of Corrections facilities each year receive behavioral health treatment. The department offers an array of behavioral health group and treatment opportunities to the patients in its care and custody. Each Department of Corrections site has a dedicated set of behavioral health staff including licensed social workers, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors, licensed psychiatric providers and other clinical staff to support these patients and their individual needs.
Corrections Commissioner William L. Wrenn said, "The Department of Corrections has become one of the largest providers of mental health treatment in the state of New Hampshire, and we address this every day through some of the over 80 different programs and treatment offerings available."
There are specific groups that provide support for co-occurring disorders, criminal and addictive thinking, coping skills, understanding and dealing with feelings, managing anxiety, self-esteem, social skills, grief support and recreational therapy. There are many treatment modules that focus on life after release and reintegrating into society.
The Department of Corrections has also adapted evidence-based national programs such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Wellness Recovery Action Plan. Gender-specific treatment modules such as Men's Work, a national curriculum, focus specifically on male psychology and psychotherapy. Women's Adjustment and Support and Seeking Safety assists women in developing coping skills and managing issues related to trauma.
The department runs several specialized treatment units including a Wellness Unit at the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin and the New Hampshire Correctional Facility for Women in Goffstown. This is a voluntary unit for men and women at these facilities to address their mental health needs.
The Focus Unit operates at the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility, which is reserved for men who are engaging in substance use while incarcerated to encourage a treatment approach rather than discipline.
The Residential Treatment Unit at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord is a voluntary unit for men who are struggling to adjust and live in the department's regular prison housing units.
The Secure Psychiatric Unit in Concord is an involuntary unit for men and women who are civilly committed or statutorily transferred for treatment of dangerousness associated with their mental illness.
An Intensive Outpatient Program at the Concord and Goffstown facilities is a voluntary intensive substance-use treatment group that meets three times a week for men and women in these facilities to address their addiction.
The Intensive Sexual Offender Treatment Program in Concord is for men who are assessed with sexually deviant behavior in need of intensive treatment in a modified therapeutic community with the correctional facility. A Sexual Offender Treatment Program operates in Goffstown for females with the same behavioral needs.
A comprehensive list of behavioral health treatment offerings for patients in the care of the Department of Corrections can be found at