Improve Your Health by Exploring Nature

It’s well known that walking in nature positively effects your physical health, but did you know that it improves your mental health as well? As many of us spend more time indoors, we increase our risk of developing mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and other related illnesses.

As New Englanders, we’re lucky to have an abundance of nature right outside our doors. Our access to green areas, such as mountains, lakes, and forests, provides us with the sort of natural sanctuaries that other places may find rare. When you frequently spend time in nature, you can experience a decrease in stress and anxiety, along with an increase in cognitive functioning.

“There’s the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” or shinrni-yoku which promotes the healing benefits of nature on mental health as well as physical health,” says Dr. S. Tyler O’Sullivan, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. “Of course, the mind and body are interconnected, so mental health and physical health are both key parts of our wellbeing. And the science is there. A study in 2015 showed improved blood pressure, heart rates, and lower levels of adrenaline after spending roughly an hour in nature. So, take some time and unplug. Go out in nature without your phone or camera and bathe in the soothing sounds – and lack of sounds.”

Take advantage of the cooler, late summer weather and explore the natural beauty that Maine and New Hampshire have to offer. Get out there, stay active, an promote a healthy mind!

Here are some local trails to get you started:

East Point Audubon Sanctuary Trail – 1.5 miles – Biddeford, ME

Trail walkers have commented on the trail’s rocky shore, the clear view of Wood Island, and the wonderful scenery. If you hike here, you’re bound to see some seagulls and made even a common eider.

Maquoit Bay Conservation Land Trail – 1.5 miles – Brunswick, ME

Hiking this small trial will give you a break from the city. You’ll find yourself surrounded by extensive woodland, salt marshes, and clam flats. Of course, the trail is highlighted by its views of Maquoit Bay.

Tannery Brook Park– 1.6 miles – Gorham, ME

This is a great trail for all seasons, offering lush greenery and a view of Tannery Brook in the summer, changing leaves in the fall, and snowy paths perfect for snowshoeing in the winter. This is truly a trail you’ll want to visit again and again.

Little John Island Loop Trail – 1.4 miles – Yarmouth, ME

Do you think the Greater Portland area only offers bustling city life? Think again! The Littlejohn Island Preserve offers a peaceful, non-industrialized look at the Greater Portland area. If you walk this trail on a summer day, you’ll find beautiful wildflowers, ocean views, and quiet spots to have a picnic. You could even see a bald eagle or a great horned owl.

Ferry Way Trail Loop – 1.9 miles – Portsmouth, NH

This trail allows spectacular views of Great Bay and the marshes. There have been many reports of wildlife sightings along the trail, including sightings of turkeys, barred owls, and red squirrels.

Prouts Neck Cliff Walk – 4.3 miles – Scarborough, ME

While this trail may not be as secluded as some others, it offers a chance to experience a natural landscape for those in the Scarborough area who may not be able to travel or have a means of transportation. This loop-trail covers not only the cliff-walk, but Scarborough Beach and Ferry Beach as well. There’s no need to walk the entire trail at one time, though doing so would lead to a spectacular day of beach and cliff views of the ocean, as well sightings of piping plovers and sea plants.

There are over 2000 trails across Maine and New Hampshire, so whether you want to make your nature walk part of a day trip or take a relaxing trail walk in your local area after work, there is something for you. Make time for yourself and your mental health.

Visit Portland Trails or AllTrails for more information on great trails near you.

About the Author

Autumn Wentworth is from Lebanon, Maine, a small town on the New Hampshire border. She is currently attending the University of Southern Maine where she is completing her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Communication. When she is not in class or at her internship, you can often find her spending time relaxing and recharging through her exploration of local trails, mountains, and sanctuaries.”

We Want to Hear Your Story

At Martin’s Point, we’re here to help you reach your best health so you can do what matters to you most—whether that is simply spending time with your friends and family, enjoying a hobby, volunteering in your community, or setting off on your next adventure.

Our Your Health, Your Story series captures the unique stories of our patients and health plan members who have been able to pursue their passions or their simple pleasures with the help of the care they receive from Martin’s Point.

We hope you’ll enjoy hearing these stories and will consider sending us one of your own!

DO YOU HAVE A STORY TO SHARE? We would love to hear it!

A Great Day for a Great Cause

Martin’s Point Staff Participate in ADA’s Tour de Cure

On Sunday, June 9, the annual Kennebunks Tour de Cure took place at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. The tour is an annual walk/bike event hosted by the American Diabetes Association, which raises money for diabetes research, advocacy, programs, and education. It receives strong support from the community and those passionate about improving the lives of individuals affected by Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

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Martin’s Point offered support through employee volunteer efforts and a generous sponsorship. 11 employees participated in the event, either walking or biking while four others who volunteered at the Martin’s Point tent.

Together, we surpassed our goal, raising $3,072 in support of the American Diabetes Association.

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Martin’s Point employees, Terry Keough and Heidi Fisher, have been attending the Tour de Cure for several years. When asked about her experience with the event, Terry stated,

“the Tour de Cure is a great cause to get behind. It makes me feel like I am making a difference in something that is so important and…it’s super fun!” Not only is this the Tour de Cure important for diabetes research, it also helps cultivate a sense of community. Heidi says, “I love the camaraderie that goes with participating in any company sponsored event…You always meet new people, and everyone is so friendly and encouraging. “It is a perfect way to spend a Sunday, represent Martin’s Point, get some great exercise and also raise funds for people with diabetes.”

Both es emphasized how the Tour de Cure not only serves as an opportunity to support the American Diabetes Association, but also as a chance to celebrate human connection. “It is a perfect way to spend a Sunday, represent Martin’s Point, get some great exercise and also raise funds for people with diabetes.”

$22K Donation to Stem Community Hunger Has Special Meaning

Food insecurity is no small problem in Maine. One in five children don’t have enough to eat, and 950 adults in Cumberland and York counties alone need help getting enough meals. This month, Martin’s Point Health Care will donate $22,000 to ease food insecurity among seniors and children in Maine. The gift includes an $11,000 donation in continued support of the Southern Maine Agency on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program, which alleviates hunger and isolation among homebound seniors, and an $11,000 donation to Full Plates Full Potential, a collaborative effort to end child hunger in Maine.

The total amount of the donations has special significance, as Martin’s Point celebrates earning the #22 spot on Fortune magazine’s Great Place to Work® 2019 ranking of U.S. health care organizations. Martin’s Point was the only New England organization to break the top 25, with rankings determined by a survey of almost 730,000 U.S. employees. 

“We owe our repeat spot on the Best Workplaces list to our employees’ commitment to sustaining a culture that respects and nurtures all of us, within our organization and in our community at large,” said Dr. David Howes, President and CEO of Martin’s Point. “In that nurturing spirit, our donations to local organizations focused on nourishing the most vulnerable in our community — seniors and kids — seemed like the perfect way to celebrate and thank our employees for their efforts.”

The funds will go a long way to help feed those in need. “This generous donation will allow us to provide 1,375 meals for seniors,” says Renee Longarini, Nutrition Manager at Southern Maine Area of Aging, noting a recent surge in local need. “We have more than 250 clients currently on our waitlist to receive meals.”  

“This donation will fund grants to help Maine public schools change their culture around food access and remove barriers, so every child that needs food can grow and learn,” says Justin Alfond, co-founder of Full-Plates Full Potential. “We’re honored to have support from Martin’s Point.”

Community support is an integral part of company culture at Martin’s Point. Many employees are involved in a variety of volunteer efforts, from helping young children learn to read to sharing time with isolated seniors. Martin’s Point backs their generosity with paid time off for employees to volunteer, charitable giving, and strategic partnerships with community partners like University of Southern Maine, Southern Maine Agency on Aging, American Heart Association, and American Diabetes Association.

Martin’s Point Employees Help Out While in Houston

For most of us, going to a conference is an opportunity to learn from experts and trade notes with colleagues. For Martin’s Point employees Bonnie Baker and Madeline Cate, it was also a chance to give back.

When the pair traveled to the Lean Enterprise Institute Summit 2019 in Houston this past March to learn about the latest in lean management, they stayed an extra day for a special session – a volunteer day, where 25 conference goers helped rebuild homes for people still struggling with the fallout of Hurricane Harvey.

Martin’s Point’s Madeline Cate sanding the floor at Miss Nellie’s house

Unique benefit makes volunteering easier, here and away

Many Martin’s Point employees take advantage of their volunteer-time-off (VTO) benefit, which gives employees 24 hours of paid-time-off to give back to their local communities each year. But Bonnie, Vice President of Martin’s Point Management System, and Madeline, Administrative Coordinator, put their “community-first” mindset in action 2,000 miles away.

“Without the VTO benefit I never would have signed up,” says Madeline.

The volunteer day let attendees see where the rubber meets the road in lean management. SBP, the nonprofit in charge of the rebuilds, has been working with Toyota’s production people to slash work time and kick up the number of rebuilds they finish each month. The results are impressive. Their efforts have cut 66 days from the rebuild process – a 33% improvement in efficiency.

Bonnie Baker and Madeline Cate take a quick selfie break

Senior Hurricane Harvey victim gets a fresh start

Madeline and Bonnie rolled up their sleeves at the home of Houston resident Miss Nellie, whose house was flooded with two feet of water in August 2017. With help from AmeriCorps members, SBP staff do everything from demolition and mold remediation, to installing insulation, drywall, flooring, and trim, and painting.

“It was tough physical labor sanding concrete and painting walls, but it felt really rewarding to accomplish specific tasks, and to know Miss Nellie was that much closer to being able to return to her home,” said Bonnie.

“We felt really grateful to have the volunteer time benefit and to be able to contribute in a way that is very different from our work in an office environment,” Madeline added. “Seeing the effect of a major disaster in person and being part of the recovery every was really humbling.”

“It was surprising how much damage there still is when you realize that Hurricane Harvey happened back in 2017,” said Bonnie. “That’s a long time to be staying with family and friends and to be without a permanent home, especially for an elderly person.”

Looking for a way to give back?

Check out these websites designed to connect volunteers and nonprofits; VolunteerMatch.orgIdealist.org, or Serve.gov.

Know a young person or student looking to help their community in Maine? Check out www.howtohelpinmaine.org


Colorectal Cancer Screenings Save Lives

Colorectal Cancer: Skip the Excuses and Schedule a Screening Today

I’m too young. I dread the prep. I have no family history.

Whatever your reason for avoiding getting screened for colorectal cancer (CRC), it’s not good enough. CRC is one of the most preventable and curable types of cancer. And that’s a big deal when you consider it’s the number two cancer killer in this country.

A cancer we can catch – and cure

Colorectal cancer, found in the large intestine or colon and/or rectum, is more common than you might think. Risk is highest among those age 50 and up, and as you age, your risk climbs. In 2015, 263 people in Maine and 195 people in New Hampshire died of CRC. That year, 1,263 new cases were diagnosed in these two states alone, say statistics kept by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Data shows the needle is slowly moving as medical providers urge more Americans to get screened. From 2014 to 2016, 3.3 million more people were screened for colorectal cancer – a 1.1% increase over prior years. Trouble is, in the 50- to 75-year-old crowd, more than 25% have never been screened, and another 7% are behind schedule. All in all, that means about one-third of adults in the target age group are vulnerable.

How does screening save lives?

Screening stacks the deck in your favor two ways. One, it allows doctors to identify and remove polyps – growths that shouldn’t be there and may become cancerous – before they do any harm. Two, if cancer is found, doctors can treat it right away. That’s important because the sooner cancer is treated, the better the chance for a cure.

“When patients say they’ll wait to have a screening until they have symptoms, I let them know that it’s usually too late to prevent a treatable cancer,” says David Stressler, M.D., a family physician at the Martin’s Point Health Center in Biddeford. “I’m here to answer questions and offer reassurance. My goal is to perform a thorough screening and make their experience with safe and comfortable.”

Testing and timing: Key if you’re age 50 to 75

Health care providers also point out that there are many types of screening, and some are less invasive than you might think. Some tests can even be done at home by taking a stool sample and then sending it to a lab for testing. Others need to be done in a doctor’s office. This includes a flexible sigmoidoscopy, where doctors use a wand to see the inside of the rectum and lower part of the colon. A colonoscopy works the same way, but allows a view of the entire colon. Doctors also sometimes use virtual colonoscopies to capture and review the images they need.

If you’re approaching or over age 50, talk with your doctor about the right screening test for your situation. “I’m here to answer questions and offer reassurance,” adds Dr. Strassler. “My goal is to perform a thorough screening and make your experience safe and comfortable.”

Keep in mind that although these tests are important for everyone between the ages of 50 and 75, some people have an elevated risk and may need testing earlier or more often. This can apply if you have:

  • Already had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer – or one of your close relatives has.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • Genetic conditions like familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that without a family history, you don’t have to worry about CRC. Most cases happen in people with no history of this cancer in their family.

Learn more, schedule a screening

Now that you’re out of excuses, why not call right now? Find the number for the Martin’s Point Health Care Center nearest you here. Or, learn more by visiting The Centers for Disease Control or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636); TTY, 1-888-232-6348.

It’s Maple Time: Get to a Sugarhouse Near You This Weekend

March is flying by – and that means it’s time for Maine Maple Sunday and New Hampshire Maple Weekend, on March 23 and 24. Whether you have a sweet tooth or you just need a reason to celebrate the end of winter, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

Maple syrup producers all over the northeast – like the Lloy family of Balsam Ridge in Raymond, Maine – are getting ready to share the taste of spring and all they know about this famous New England confection.

Michelle Mulcahy has been welcoming Balsam Ridge visitors in a bright red maple leaf costume on Maple Sunday for six years. As Martin Point’s manager of member services, she knows a thing or two about treating people right.

Martin’s Point employee Michelle Mulcahy ready to greet visitors at Balsam Ridge

“Balsam Ridge is family-owned and run,” explains Michelle. “We all look forward to maple Sunday all year long.”

The farm is owned and operated by Dewey and Sharon Lloy, whose daughter Nicole works at the Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Portland. Her husband, Steven Brooks, also works at Martin’s Point as a sales associate. Both will be helping out this weekend. While Michelle, does the meet and greet, Nicole and Steven will be at the griddle, flipping pancakes.

If pancakes don’t tempt you, never fear: “The maple whoopie pies and other snacks are out of this world,” says Michelle.

Find a sugarhouse near you!

Ready to get out this weekend and celebrate this sweet tradition? Use these links to find locations, directions, and more:

>in Maine

>in New Hampshire

Martin’s Point In the Community | Milestone Recovery (VIDEO)

Homelessness and addiction are problems that are all too real in Maine. Milestone Recovery’s mission is to provide the best quality of services to empower individuals with substance use and behavioral health disorders to attain stability, dignity, recovery and an enhanced quality of life. Martin’s Point employee, Ryan Ciriello, shares what being able to support Milestone Recovery through board service means to him.

Caring by Calling: Employees Reach Out to Local Seniors

Employees Lend Support and Companionship by Phone

Erica True is making life a little less lonely for a housebound Maine senior – right from her desk at Martin’s Point Health Care in Portland. As part of a volunteering program called Phone Pals, the administrative coordinator sets aside work for 30 minutes twice a week to chat by phone, helping a 79-year-old woman stay linked to her community.

Phone Pals – an offshoot of the Meals on Wheels program operated by the Southern Maine Agency on Aging (SMAA) – began providing deeply needed social interaction and companionship to housebound seniors served by Meals on Wheels in 2018.

“Phone Pals allows seniors to stay independent and stay in their home for as long as possible,” says SMAA Phone Pal Volunteer Coordinator Deb Baginski. “Many of our clients rely on this interaction to engage about family, health, wellness, world events and more.”

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For volunteers, it’s a convenient way to contribute from work or home. “Phone Pals fits my schedule perfectly,” says Erica. “It’s easy to find 30 minutes on the phone versus driving somewhere to participate and coordinating work and family life around that.” Jordan agrees: “I can use my break time or volunteer time to connect with Carol with very little effort.”

Eleven of the 46 Phone Pal volunteers are Martin’s Point employees. “We’re in constant contact with Martin’s Point, connecting them to Meals on Wheels clients and discussing how to grow and develop these new relationships,” says Adam Seigal, SMAA Volunteer Services Supervisor. “The Martin’s Point staff is great at keeping communication open. They send us new people, and check in to see how current staff are doing. It’s obvious they care not only about their employees, but also how they engage with community members.”

Can a phone call make a difference?

“There’s a lot of loneliness out there,” notes Jordan Ouellette, a Martin’s Point recruiter who has been volunteering with Phone Pals since last November. Jordan talks with Carol, 71, for about 45 minutes every Friday. Carol is largely stuck at home while her husband is in a nearby care facility.

“I do a lot of listening,” says Jordan, who helped deliver meals to seniors during college, and wanted to keep contributing in a similar way. “Carol has a great memory, following up on events we’ve talked about the week before.”

“I like to hear what she’s lived through, and even though we’re at different stages in life, we find surprising things in common – places we’ve been, experiences we’ve both had.”

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A boost for senior and volunteer alike

“I love my time with Carolyn and making a difference in her day,” reflects Erica, who says the pair talks about everything from pets to how much their babies weighed at birth. “When I learned she grew up on a farm in Orrington, I asked if I could send her photos of our horse, dog, and the calf we’re raising,” That got them off and running.

Erica also keeps a journal to help her keep track of what they discuss from week to week. “I know I get as much joy out of my time with Carolyn as she does,” she says. “I’m incredibly fortunate to work for an amazing organization that offers its employees paid time off for volunteering in the community, supports growth development and enhances the lives of its employees.”

“Seniors have great stories to share,” adds Jordan. “I’m thankful for what they’ve done in their lives – and they aren’t always reminded of that. It’s nice to be there for someone and be reminded each week how important the little things are.”

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Connecting with Phone Pals

Volunteers are well prepared for their roles, with a comprehensive four-hour training provided by SMAA. “You get a heads up about anything you might encounter, from dementia to politics,” says Erica. Volunteers are matched with seniors on the SMAA list, and then the two agree on a mutually convenient time to chat.

Ready to make the call? Learn more about Phone Pals and Meals on Wheels here, and if you’re interested in volunteering, please send an email to volunteer@smaaa.org or call SMAA’s volunteer coordinator at 207-396-6595.

Five Reasons You Should Choose a Primary Care Provider Today

When it comes to your health, getting the right level of care—where and when you need it—is key to keeping you AND your budget in tip-top shape. Having your own Primary Care Provider, or PCP, to guide your care is the most important step you can take to make sure you’re well-connected to all the health resources available in your community.

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If you don’t already have a PCP, now is the time to get one. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Having a PCP takes away worry. It’s no fun searching for a doctor when you’re convinced you have strep throat at 2 a.m. Or wondering who to call when you wrench your ankle playing ultimate frisbee. With your own PCP, you’re always ready to get the care you need, with one call. And as you get to know your PCP, you’ll also appreciate the comfort talking to someone you know – and who knows you – about personal matters you may feel awkward discussing with a doctor you’ve just met.

 

  1. Your PCP is trained to be your medical quarterback. PCPs are specially prepared to care for you with broad knowledge in internal or family medicine that covers a range of situations. It’s your PCP’s job to get to know you, your medical history and your family medical history, so he or she can provide proper preventive care and screenings, and care for you when you’re ill or injured.

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  1. Your PCP connects you to care. From a nagging cough to a swollen knee to concern about a heart condition that runs in your family, your PCP is the place to start. If you need more specialized care, your PCP can provide referrals to cardiologists, podiatrists, allergists and other specialists.

 

  1. Your PCP can help translate complex information. If you need specialized care, it can be challenging to understand test results and other information about your diagnosis and medications. You can count on your PCP to answer your questions and direct you to additional resources.

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  1. Your PCP helps you stay healthy. PCPs keep you on top of important screenings like blood pressure and cholesterol checks that help check serious illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Regular conversations about your weight, whether you use tobacco or alcohol, and how you cope with stress also play a role. And if you develop a chronic condition, check-ins with your PCP can help you manage symptoms and live the life you want to lead.

Martin’s Point Challenges University of Southern Maine Students to ‘Pay it Forward’

The Husky Grads of 2019 Class Gift Campaign will raise funds for the Student Emergency Fund to unlock a $20,000 matching donation from Martin’s Point Health Care.

The USM Foundation’s first student-focused fundraising campaign kicks off March 1 with a challenge to this year’s graduating class: Raise at least $2,019 to support the Student Emergency Fund by May 8 and Martin’s Point Health Care will make a $20,000 matching gift to the fund. The Student Emergency Fund is a new USM initiative designed to help students who face sudden, unanticipated expenses that threaten to derail their ability to stay in school and finish their degrees.

Martin’s Point Health Care, a long-time partner with the University, views access to higher education as a necessary component of a healthy community. According to Steve Amendo, vice president for marketing and community engagement at Martin’s Point, “The Student Emergency Fund is a smart and effective way to help financially vulnerable students persist in their studies. We’re excited to support future USM students and energize student engagement for the class of 2019 with this challenge.”

“We’ve seen students who are so close to finishing their programs drop out because their brakes fail and they can’t make it to class,” said Nancy Griffin, USM’s vice president for enrollment management and chief operating officer. “A small grant from this fund can make an enormous impact if it enables the student to remain in school.”

USM student Gabrielle Lenotte exemplifies the urgent need for the Student Emergency Fund. She recently faced a financial emergency when the government shutdown forced her dad into an unpaid furlough just as she was preparing to purchase textbooks for her spring classes. “After receiving my final list of classes for the spring, I realized how expensive my books were going to be. I knew my parents were under financial strain because of the shutdown so I reached out to one of my professors because I wouldn’t have my books in time for class.” Lenotte received a Student Emergency Fund grant and was able to start her classes — with books — on time.

The University of Southern Maine Foundation is working with members of the senior class to conduct the 2019 Husky Grads Class Gift campaign, which uses crowdfunding to make it easy for anyone to participate. Students may donate or raise money for the Student Emergency Fund on their own or enlist friends, family and other supporters to help raise funds.

Donations of $2.19 or more to the Student Emergency Fund will earn students a Class of 2019 pin; donations of $20.19 or more earn students a pin and a USM Foundation philanthropy cord to wear at Commencement. Even faculty planning to attend graduation can help support the cause and earn a USM Foundation philanthropy cord.

Josephine Elder ’19, USM student member of the Class of 2019 campaign planning committee, said, “This campaign matters to us because it’s a way to help students who are coming up behind us. The more we can raise, the more students will be helped in the years to come. It’s a legacy the Class of 2019 can be proud of — plus, it’s a challenge so you know we will more than meet our goal!”

The 2019 Husky Grands Class Gift campaign runs from March 1 through May 8. On May 9, during the President’s Senior Class Champagne Reception, Martin’s Point and USM President Glenn Cummings will announce the results of the campaign.

University of Southern Maine
Situated in Maine’s economic and cultural center, the University of Southern Maine (USM) is a public university with 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students taking courses online and at campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn. Known for its academic excellence, student focus and engagement with the community, USM provides students with hands-on experience that complements classroom learning and leads to employment opportunities in one of the nation’s most desirable places to live.

 

Social Links Prove Critical for Seniors – and You Can Help

When you stop to chat with an elderly neighbor as you pass her house, you’re doing much more than being friendly. You’re boosting her health. How? It turns out that social connections with neighbors, friends and family play a significant part in overall health. But seniors generally have fewer opportunities for these nurturing exchanges than most adults – with dire consequences.

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The startling impact on health and well-being

It might surprise you to learn that social isolation can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. In fact, researchers have found links between isolation and all sorts of health problems, including dementia and Alzheimer’s, and chronic conditions like heart disease. Adults who are socially isolated are two-thirds more likely to undergo further physical decline; and nearly twice as likely to die2 than those who stay linked to others.

Experts call the situation an epidemic for American seniors. With more citizens over age 65 than any other state but Florida1, Maine’s situation is especially severe. But there’s good news, too. Because each one of us has the power to make a difference. And the best way to start is with a little background information.

What’s behind the isolation epidemic?

Seniors get cut off for a number of reasons – and there’s often more than one factor at play for each situation.

  • Transportation challenges. Many seniors can no longer drive, and/or face limited or no options for getting out and about.
  • Poor health. A myriad of issues from hearing loss to arthritis to injury from falling to depression keep many seniors cooped up.
  • Major life transitions or losses. Retiring from work, the death of a spouse, and caring for a sick or aging spouse can all remove or severely limit socialization and connections for seniors.
  • Lots of rural areas. Eleven of Maine’s 16 counties are considered rural.3 The populations here have higher percentages of seniors, who also face the additional challenges of poverty and poorer health than Mainers living in more populated areas.4

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“Senior loneliness is something that we are concerned about year round, but particularly during the cold, dark winter months of New England.  Often, the discomfort of the cold and fear of walking or driving on ice and snow limits the mobility of the elderly population.  This leads to further isolation, which is already a concern for many.  This often leads to feelings of depression and anxiety and can manifest in so many ways, both physically and mentally.  This time of isolation also results in limited activity or exercise and can lead to falls and pain from arthritis.  Many seniors often have limited funds for food and heat and can have to deal with cold homes with little to eat.  We should all take the time to think what we could do for those less fortunate than ourselves.”

– Brad Huot, Martin’s Point Practice Medical Director, Portland Health Care Center

Here’s where you come in

Social isolation is complicated. But small steps can make a big difference in the lives of seniors near you and benefit your community as a whole, too.

 In your neighborhood:

Start by simply being aware of your senior neighbors and looking for ways to connect. When you meet on the street, say hello and introduce yourself.

_ Ask a neighbor to go for a walk or have coffee.

_ Offer to deliver groceries, take trash to the curb, or shovel snow.

_Host a simple neighborhood coffee or potluck.

_Keep your radar up for elderly neighbors who may become vulnerable after losing a spouse or partner.

_Check on vulnerable neighbors during bad weather, power outages, and the like. In big neighborhoods, you might join other neighbors and set up a system so no one’s left out.

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In your community:

_Volunteer at your local senior center.

_Ask nearby assisted living facilities about opportunities to socialize or share a meal or a game with residents.

_Help seniors learn about cell phones, social media, Skype, and other technology that can help them stay in touch through your local library, school, or community center.

_Ask staff at your church about providing transportation, meals or companionship to seniors in your area.

_Search for opportunities online: Southern Maine Agency on Aging, United Way, AARP.

Do you have a suggestion for helping seniors or do you have a volunteering opportunity you’d like to share? Share your comments below!

 

Sources

1. https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF

2. AARP Connect2Affect – Isolation

3/4. Maine Rural Health Profiles, 2016, p. 5, 8

 

 

Medication FAQs

Make sure the medicines you take can do the job they’re meant to do, with answers to the questions we frequently hear about managing prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, supplements and vitamins.

Q. Three people in my house take medication regularly. My mother visits a lot, and she takes five medicines. How can we keep them straight?
A. Start by keeping a master list of medications for each person in your household. Each list should include all medications, vitamins and supplements each person takes, along with the following:

• The name of the medicine or supplement
• What the medicine is for
• The name and phone number of the healthcare provider who prescribed the medicine
• How much to take and how often
• A brief description the medication, including color, shape and markings
• Side effects to watch for
• What to do if a dose is missed
• Who to call if there’s a problem.

Keep these lists up-to-date and make sure a family member has copies.

Q. How do I know it’s safe to take my medicine with another medicine?
A. “Medications can be complicated. Understanding how your medicines work with other medicines and your body is important for safety and effectiveness,” says Rebekah Dube, Vice President of Health Plan Clinical Programs at Martin’s Point.

Always ask your healthcare provider and/or pharmacist before you take any new medication, and make sure he or she is aware of other medications you’re currently taking, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as vitamins and supplements. Also, make your healthcare provider or pharmacist is aware of all of your medical conditions.

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Q. How can I remember to take my medicine?
A. If you’re taking multiple medicines on different schedules, it can be hard to keep track. Providers offer these tips:
• Use a calendar or planner. Record each dose as an appointment, then check it off as you go.
• Set an alarm to remind you when to take medications.
• Post reminder notes in obvious places – by your coffee maker or on your nightstand, TV, laptop or refrigerator.
• Use a pillbox with multiple compartments for different days of the week.

Q. How should I store medications safely with children in the house?
A. More than 60,000 young children a year need emergency care for poisoning after taking medicine intended for a parent or grandparent. Take these critical steps to protect children:
• Store all medicine up high, out of reach and out of sight of children. Remember kids are climbers – a locked cabinet may be the safest option.
• Return medicines, vitamins and supplements to their safe storage places immediately after taking or administering it – even if it’s a medication you or someone in your home takes multiple times a day.
• Ask for child-resistant caps for medicine containers whenever possible.
• Think of all the other places kids could find medicines – like a backpack, purse or coat pocket, or in the room or pocket of a visiting relative – and store them safely.
• Post the number for Poison Help Line – 800-222-1222 – in an easy-to-find place and add it to the favorites on your cell phone.

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Q. My cabinet is full of old medicine bottles and jars. How should I get rid of the ones I don’t need anymore?
A. The best way to dispose of medicines is through a take-back program. You can find out about these events and collection sites through your police station or pharmacy, or by searching the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration website (just enter your ZIP code). If this isn’t an option, some medications can be thrown out with trash after they are mixed with cat litter, dirt or coffee grounds and sealed in a plastic bag. Note that the Food and Drug Administration recommends that medicines on this list be flushed down a toilet instead of thrown out – a practice that also raises concerns about contamination and environmental impact.

Q. Does Martin’s Point have pharmacies? Where are they?
A. Yes! We have two pharmacies open for all – one at our health care center in Portland, Maine, and one at our center in Portsmouth, N.H. Stop by for competitive pricing on the highest-quality, most effective brand-name and generic drugs. We also stock many popular over-the-counter medications.

Call with questions or refill a prescription 24-hours a day:
• Portland pharmacy: 1-888-408-8281
• Portsmouth pharmacy: 1-800-603-0562

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Q. Who should I call if I have a question about medication?

A. “Understanding your medications is an important part of staying educated about your healthcare and managing your health,” says Dube. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call or visit your healthcare provider or pharmacist and get the information you need.

Partners for the Future: Martin’s Point IT Staffers Volunteer their time with local ESOL to IT Program

Martin’s Point Health Care– like many enterprises nationwide– faces some hard truths as they look at the information technology (IT) landscape. Finding qualified candidates to fill open IT positions can be a challenge and building an IT team that can leverage the benefits of diverse perspectives can be even more difficult. In response, efforts to promote diversity in IT training and hiring are gaining ground across the country—and employees at Martin’s Point are working hard to push that effort along in Southern Maine.

Over the past year, a group of Martin’s Point IT staffers has teamed up with a Southern Maine Community College program called ESOL to IT. The program’s goal is to help immigrants find gainful employment in their chosen field– information technology – here in Maine while feeding qualified candidates to Maine businesses that need IT support.

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ESOL to IT students at PeletonLabs in Portland, Maine

Jim Vernier, Manager of IT Service Operations at Martin’s Point, had been in conversation with SMCC about the ESOL to IT program just as his department’s team was looking for a new project.

“We had already started a talent pipeline with SMCC to help manage our Help Desk, so we had that experience to build on. Plus, I knew the IT department was passionate about increasing team diversity. It seemed like the perfect fit.”

Bridging cultures, creating opportunities

Along with Vernier, Charlie Chandler, business intelligence reporting analyst; and Molly McKechnie, clinical informatics analyst are key players from Martin’s Point, supported by a team of ten other IT staffers. Chandler and McKechnie prepare and present lessons to the ESOL to IT learners, demystifying the American workplace, explaining what to expect in the hiring process, and conducting mock phone screens and interviews.

Most SMCC participants in the ESOL to IT program are asylum seekers between age 30 and 45—with extensive education and work experience—though some are younger. They devote three hours of training, four evenings a week to English-language learning, job-readiness training, plus professional networking, job shadowing and IT education.

The SMCC learners come from across the globe, from Afghanistan to Burundi to Haiti. All have either a strong IT background or high aptitude for IT work. The program received 105 applications for the first 20 spots, with future candidates lined up and eager to start.

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ESOL to IT students at Sanford Regional Technical Center

“Most every learner I’ve met has the quality, skills, and passion I’d want to see to hire them, but they have huge gaps in verbal communication, which is critical,” says Vernier.

“Some of these people know every coding language you can think of and speak as many as five languages,” adds McKechnie. “Communicating in English and learning our culture are their biggest barriers.”

Beyond building technical and communication skills, simply interacting with American volunteers adds an intangible that’s equally valuable in putting the newcomers more at ease. “Sometimes learners get isolated in their own communities,” explains David Zahn, ESOL and Global Language Chair at SMCC. “Work-readiness lessons and experiences help them understand the people they might work with, relieving a lot of apprehension.”

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Martin’s Point’s Jim Vernier and Charlie Chandler with  SMCC’s Valerie Green

New perspectives, new solutions

With the long-term goal of reaping the benefits of a more diverse IT workforce—not just for Martin’s Point, but for the state—McKechnie and Chandler realize change won’t happen overnight. “Our results might be 10 or 15 years out, but it’s worth the time and effort,” says McKechnie. She and Chandler have experienced working in different parts of the country—McKechnie in Atlanta, Chandler in Chicago—and they’ve experienced the value of bringing a variety of views to the table.

“Considering different perspectives makes everybody stronger,” says Chandler, noting that a diverse group is more likely to present solutions that don’t all look the same. “It’s hard to put a value on it,” he adds, “but it changes the way you think and solve problems.”

During a mock phone screen, Chandler asked one learner to tell him about his least favorite job. The answer surprised him: “I don’t have a least favorite because every job offers something to learn from and makes you better.”

“That’s the kind of new perspective diversity can bring,” says Chandler. “And it leads to new approaches and solutions.”

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ESOL to IT students at SMCC

Keeping the IT pipeline primed

Unemployment in Maine is low, and our workforce is aging. Nearly half of Maine’s private workers are age 45 or older. Fast forward 20 years and at least 40% will be at or past retirement age. “We simply have to grow this pool [of workers] to keep business running,” says Charlie.

It’s no small thing to have a hand in shaping the future of your team and your company. “We’re really engaged with the SMCC program, and we want to keep it that way,” notes Jim. “We get to add our vision and guide the future by shaping the programs.”

Chandler sums it up best. “It’s a feel-good story, it’s the right thing to do, and it solves a business problem.” Who could ask for more?

Martin’s Point in the Community | Honor Flight Maine (VIDEO)


Martin’s Point physician, Dr. Roy Nakamura, reflects on his experience as a volunteer guardian and chaperone during a recent Honor Flight Maine trip to Washington, DC.

Honor Flight Maine is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s Veterans for all their service and sacrifices. Transportation is provided to Washington, D.C. to tour, experience and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to our most frail veterans – terminally ill veterans of all conflicts and World War II survivors.

 

Get a Taste of Winter at Your Local Farmers Market

It’s cold and the ground is rock-hard, but it’s still easy to find fresh local vegetables to make winter meals tasty and nutritious. Popular in summer, farmers markets are now thriving through the colder months, too.

They’re stocked with plenty of produce, like cranberries, beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celeriac, garlic, kohlrabi, onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, squashes and sweet potatoes. Some vendors even deftly outfox winter by growing fresh local greens indoors.

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In addition to bounty from the garden, many markets also feature live music, tasty baked goods, and wares from local artisans – all in warm, dry spaces out the elements. Check our listings and get to a winter market near you!

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MAINE

1) Berwick Winter Farmers’ Market

Includes fresh greens and produce from eight local farmers and much more.

Every third Sunday through April 15, 10 am to 1:30 pm

Berwick Town Hall, 11 Sullivan Square

Learn more.

2) Brunswick Winter Market

Produce from six vendors, plus coffees, teas, baked goods and local wares.

Saturdays through April, 9 am to 12:30 pm

Fort Andross Mill Complex, 14 Maine St.

Learn more.

3) Greater Gorham Winter Farmers’ Market

Look for produce from Findview Farm, Oscar’s Farm and The Preservation Farm.

The first and third Saturdays of each month, 9 am to 1 pm

Gorham Rec Department Activity Room, 75 South St., Gorham

Learn more.

4) Midcoast Winter Farmers’ Market

Vegetables from three vendors, plus music and cooking demos like making jam or wood-fired pizza.

Fridays through April, 11 am to 4 pm

Topsham Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall, 54 Elm St., Topsham

Learn more.

5) Portland Winter Farmers’ Market

Shop produce from more than 20 Maine farms that includes greenhouse greens, tomatoes and cucumbers. SNAP/EBT shoppers are welcome.

Saturdays through April 20, 9 am to 1 pm

At the former Maine Girls’ Academy, 631 Stevens Ave.

Learn more.

6) Saco River Market

Lively music and a range of local vendors. SNAP/EBT cards welcome.

Saturdays, 9 am to 12:30 pm.

Pepperell Center, 40 Main St., Biddeford

Learn more.

7) South Portland Farmers’ Market
Vegetables from Alewive’s Brook Farm plus local dairy products, meats, and more.

Sundays through April, 10 am to 2 pm

496 Ocean St. (City Planning and Development Offices/old Hamlin School)

Learn more.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

8) Rolling Green Nursery’s Winter Farmers Market

Look for carrots, radishes, greens, microgreens, squash and more from Shagbark Farm, and more from Andy’s Edible Gardens and M & R Harvest.

First and third Saturdays in January and February, 10 am to 2 pm

64 Breakfast Hill Rd., Greenland

Learn more.

9) Seacoast Eat Local Winter Farmers Markets

With more than 60 vendors, you’ll find plenty of fresh choices. See below for locations and dates/times:

Wentworth Greenhouse
141 Rollins Rd., Rollinsford
Dec. 15, Jan. 26, Feb. 23 and March 23, 10 am to 2 pm

Exeter High School
1 Blue Hawk Dr., Exeter
Jan. 12, Feb. 9, March 9 and April 6, 10 am to 2 pm

Teens and Vaping: What Parents Should Know

Vaping is one of the most significant threats to the health of today’s teens. That’s even more troubling when you consider its growing popularity. Nationally, vaping rates among high-schoolers jumped by 78% from 2017 to 2018, and by 48% among middle-schoolers, according to USDA reports.

As of late November, more than 15% of Maine high school students had used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. The true percentage is almost certainly significantly higher, reports Becky Smith of the Portland American Heart Association chapter. That’s because many teens don’t count using the popular devices called JUULs (pronounced “jewels”) as e-cigarettes.

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What is vaping?

Vaping is using an e-cigarette or other battery-powered device to heat a liquid. E-cigarette liquids – or e-liquids – typically contain nicotine, glycol, flavors and sometimes more or different ingredients. Heating this liquid creates an aerosol or vapor instead of smoke, which the user inhales and exhales.

Most popular among teens, JUULs are closed-system devices that include attaching a cartridge or pod filled with e-liquid. There are also open-system e-cigarettes, which are filled with e-liquid by hand with a squeeze dropper.

Why teens vape

Not only do teens misunderstand the risks of e-cigarettes, they are notoriously curious. Many are drawn to try vaping by friends or family members. Others are lured by enticing flavors. One study found more than 80% of first-time e-cigarette users started out with a flavored product. And with options like mint, blueberry pie and pink balloon – plus advertising on the social media sites frequented by this age group – there’s no doubt marketers are targeting teens.

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The trouble with vaping

Vaping devices were originally designed to help smokers wean themselves off cigarettes. Ironically, they come with an entire new and equally troubling set of risks.

  1. More nicotine, more addictive risk. A single JUUL pod has as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes, which means it doesn’t take long to become addicted to vaping.
  2. Teen brains are especially vulnerable, because their brains are still developing.
  3. Academic impact. Experts like Sarper Taskiran, M.D., from the Child Mind Institute report that teens who vape have more difficulty focusing, and get easily distracted by cravings.
  4. Health impact. Recent studies flip the misconception of vaping as safe, reporting that it damages lungs and immune system cells – just like smoking tobacco. Others note vaping also increases heart and blood pressure.
  5. Gateway to tobacco. Studies show teens that vape tend to move on to smoking cigarettes. One study of non-smoking high school seniors who had recently begun vaping found that one year later, students were four times more likely to say they’d smoked cigarettes that seniors who had not tried vaping.
  6. Hard to spot. With small, colorful, slick devices and virtually no telltale odor, vaping can easily escape adult detection – even in the classroom.

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What parents can do

Education is your first line of defense. When you have your information straight, your child is more likely to listen and respect your concerns and expectations. “Know that the language varies by product for vaping, dabbing and juuling,” notes Torah Tomasi, M.D., a Martin’s Point Health Care pediatrician.

“I often start by asking whether a child or teen knows someone at home or school that has used e-cigarettes,” says Tomasi, who makes it a point to ask the question during office visits. “Ask your child what he or she would do if someone asked them to try vaping. This can lead to conversation about whether the teen has experimented or is using regularly, and creates opportunity to offer care and guidance.”

Listen to your child’s point of view to build trust and signal you value his or her input. From here, it’s tempting to think you’ve covered it. But substance use is a topic to revisit on a regular basis. Tell your child to expect check-ins and more conversations and remind her you’re willing to listen to talk anytime.

If you notice shifts in your child’s mood or the peers he spends time with, check in right away. Don’t hesitate to talk with your pediatrician if you have concerns. Nicotine addiction is a serious issue that can become a lifelong problem, but there are health professionals who can help teens overcome it.

Martin’s Point Military Health Plan Among Highest Rated in US

Martin’s Point Health Care has announced that its US Family Health Plan has been named one of the highest-rated health insurance plans in the nation. The plan is a TRICARE Prime® option that covers over 46,000 active-duty and retired military families throughout the Northeast.

The National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) has awarded the health plan a 4.5-out-of-5 overall rating for Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont as part of its Private Health Insurance Plan Ratings for 2018-2019. The plan also earned an “Excellent” (ME) and “Commendable” (NH, VT, NY, PA) accreditation status from NCQA.

NCQA uses measures of clinical quality (HEDIS®) and patient experience (CAHPS®) and standards from the NCQA Accreditation process to annually rate over 1,000 health plans (over 90%) across the country. Measures include:

  • Management of chronic disease
  • Prevention and wellness efforts, including recommended screenings and immunizations
  • Access to quality primary and specialty care
  • Quality of member experience

“This recognition from NCQA underscores our commitment to providing the highest-quality care for our US Family Health Plan members,” said Dr. David Howes, Martin’s Point Health Care President and CEO. “We are especially proud of our 5-out-of-5 rating for the “Consumer Satisfaction” measure, as it reflects the dedication of our service team, as well as our network providers and hospitals, to deliver an excellent health care experience for our military families.”

ABOUT MARTIN’S POINT HEALTH CARE

Martin’s Point Health Care is a not-for-profit organization, based in Portland, Maine, providing primary care and health insurance plans. It operates seven Health Care Centers in Maine and New Hampshire and offers Medicare Advantage insurance plans in Maine and New Hampshire and TRICARE® insurance plans in northern New England, New York and Pennsylvania. More information is available at MartinsPoint.org.

ABOUT NCQA

National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations and recognizes clinicians in key clinical areas. NCQA’s HEDIS® is the most widely used performance measurement tool in health care. NCQA’s Web site (www.ncqa.org) contains information to help consumers, employers and others make more informed health care choices.

CAHPS is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Back to School Part 2: Sleep and Back to School

Make Back-to-School Better with A+ Sleep Habits

During July and August, it’s easy to let summer fun and late sunsets push your child’s bedtime. But with school back in session, sleep should be a bigger priority. Well-rested kids tend to do better at school. Their memories work better. They behave better. Their mental health is sounder. And their bodies are more prepared to fend off colds, flus and more.

Back to school is a great time to reboot sleep routines,” says Alyssa Goodwin, M.D., a pediatrician at the Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Brunswick at Baribeau Drive. “Kids and teens need a good night’s sleep to tackle their busy days. Plus, sleep is important for focus, behavior and school performance.”

How much sleep do kids need? Children in grade school – 6- to 12-year-olds – need 9 to 12 hours a night, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Teens too need a substantial amount of sleep – 8 to 10 hours through age 18.

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For better sleep at any age

Whether your student is 6 or 16, getting enough sleep comes down to routine.

  • Stick to the same bedtime and wake up time – every day.
  • Establish pre-sleep rituals that prepare kids to go to bed and fall asleep.
  • Manage the transition time. At least 60 minutes before bedtime, turn off and put away all electronic devices. Help younger children transition to quieter, less stimulating activities, like drawing, doing a puzzle, or yoga.

For grade school children

The bedtime routine. The routine you may have relied on for your toddler and preschooler is still your best friend, with a little tweaking. Start 15 to 30 minutes ahead of lights out. After teeth are brushed and the rest of the bathroom routine is done, read together, or snuggle up and listen to mellow music or an audiobook together. Then say goodnight and turn out the lights. Same thing, same order, every night.

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A bedroom that says “sleep.” Close the shades. Keep lights dim, minimize noise and keep the temperature cool. Keep devices with screens – TVs, computers, tablets, gaming devices, phones, etc. – out. Put away toys that encourage activity or noise.

 “The brain needs screen-free space to wind down and be ready for sleep,” explains Goodwin. “Consider using a quiet noisemaker or soft music and a gentle night light for kids who are afraid of the dark or have a hard time settling.”

For teens

Sleep is a particular challenge for teens. Their bodies work against them by moving the time they naturally feel sleepy about two hours later. On top of that, they’re busy. Homework, sports, play practice – they can all take away valuable sleep – and excess screen time only makes this worse.

Set the scene for success. Make the bedroom sleep-friendly. Save the bed for sleep – find another place to do homework. Keep the room cool, dark and quiet toward bedtime. Collect electronics 60 minutes before bedtime, and be consistent about removing them.

Make time for key conversations. Talk about consistent wake up/go to bed times and why they’re important. Help teens be smart about caffeine. Remind your child where it lurks – soda, coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks and more – and suggest avoiding it after 3 p.m. Talk about waking up in the morning. Some teens may want you to make sure the alarm went off or open the shades in the morning to help nudge them into the day.

Compromise. If your teen resists a radical shift in bedtime, take it in steps. Over a week, try having your teen go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night, until you reach the ideal time. Give it another week, and talk about the effects he or she feels.

No matter what your child’s age, keep in mind that it takes several weeks to establish any new routine or habit. Be patient. Know that helping your child get even 15 to 20 minutes more sleep makes a difference. If you get stuck or have a question, reach out to your pediatrician. The Martin’s Point Health Care pediatric team is here to help – learn more at our website.

Summer Vacationland Festivals for the Whole Family

Maine festivals always have a bit of something for everyone and these five unique festivals are great examples. From blues shows and antique showings to local town festivals—each one offers a snapshot of the natural Maine lifestyle that will have you back in touch with your northern roots in no time. Come, enjoy these festivals and embrace Vacationland…the way life should be!

Art in The Park, (August 11, 9 am–4 pm)
Mill Creek Park at 185 Ocean Street in South Portland

This free outdoor art show offers everything from paintings to wood carvings for sale, and also features artwork by local high school students. There will be something for everyone, including your children—from 10 am–2 pm the “Kids in the Park” area will be available for kids to make their own artistic creations! The park venue also provides a wide selection of food and live music, making it a fun option for the whole family.  Learn More    

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First Friday Art Walk, (First Friday of every month 10 am–10 pm).
Portland–Downtown and Old Port areas

This free monthly event opens the doors of Portland’s visual arts community to the public with art on display in galleries, museums, and on the streets. It’s a family-friendly,  quintessential Portland experience. With vendors lining the streets and the smell of good food and live music in the air, you can bet there is something for everyone. Learn More

York County Blues Fest, (July 28, 12–6 pm)
Waterboro Friendship Park, Old Alfred Road

This Saturday, the Grammy-award-winning Paul Nelson Band headlines an afternoon of great blues acts including Nathan Michaud, Andy Schoenfeld, and more.  Admission charged and gates open at 11:30. Learn more  

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Maine Lobster Festival, (August 1–5, 12 pm–11 pm)
Oceanside East High School, Rockland

Children’s races, art shows, cooking contests, beauty pageant, live music, parades, and most importantly, a lobster tent! This classic Maine festival has it all! The first day of the festival has a $1 entrance fee for adults and kids are free. The following days are $8 adults/$2 kids. Come enjoy an authentic Maine experience. Learn More   

Portsmouth Antiques Fest, (August 25, 8 am–2 pm)
Swasey Parkway, Portsmouth (NH)

For our neighbors to the south, think Portsmouth Farmers Market, but with unique furniture and collectibles. This market is more than a big yard sale. Swag On Swasey features some of your favorite dealers including; Todd Farm, the Dover Indoor Antique Market and the Arundel Flea Market. More than 25 dealers in one location. No admission and plenty of free parking. Swasey Parkway has easy access from route 101, 125 and Interstate 95. Learn More

Protect Yourself from Lyme Disease

Here in the northeast, summer means it’s time to keep ticks on your radar. Deer ticks may be infected with a bacteria that causes Lyme disease, and spread it to humans and animals through their bite. Most people who are bitten by ticks do not get Lyme disease, but incidence of Lyme is rising. In 2016, the state recorded 1,769 cases of Lyme disease in Maine, up from 1,395 in 2014 – and experts suspect many cases go unreported.

 Protect yourself.

  • Take precautions when you go outside. Before you enter wooded or grassy areas, apply bug repellent with 10% DEET or Picaridin and wear light-colored long pants, long-sleeves and a hat.
  • Do a thorough check when you come in. After your outing, thoroughly check your body and clothing for ticks as soon as possible. Be sure to check your scalp, armpit, and groin areas, as well as pets, which can carry ticks inside.
  • Remove ticks immediately. Grasp the tick with tweezers as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with even pressure. Clean the bite area and your hands with soap and water. Most infected ticks do not spread the disease until they have been attached for at least 36 hours.
  • If you get a round, red rash at the site of the bite or flu-like symptoms within several weeks of a tick bite, see your doctor immediately and tell him or her you’ve been bitten by a tick. Deer ticks can be very small and hard to find. Even if you have not found a tick on your body, if you develop this rash and/or other symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.

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If Lyme disease is suspected, doctors typically prescribe an antibiotic, which normally cures the disease, if treated in the early stages. Left untreated, Lyme can spread to joints, heart and nervous system.

To learn more about Lyme disease, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Farm To Blanket: 5 Farmers’ Markets with Nearby Picnic Spots

Farmers’ markets are a healthy alternative, so you can justify that ice cream later in the day. These markets are the best place to support local farmers while enjoying fresh, organic produce and more. The markets are full of wonderful, healthy fare for your summer picnics. So, throw out the woven wooden basket, grab the GPS, and head for these top five farmers markets and picnic locations in southern Maine!

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Portland Farmers’ Market – Portland: Deering Oaks Park, (Saturday 7am-1pm). This market has a huge variety of local fresh options for you to choose from, check out Old Ocean House Farms for fruits, plants, and smoothies before you stretch out on the well-shaded lawn.

Scarborough Farmer’s Market – Scarborough: 259 US-1, (Sunday 9am-1pm). There’s a delicious selection of healthy foods to choose from, try Clover Hill Breads on your way to the warm sands of Scarborough Beach State Park for a seaside picnic. Learn more

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Kittery Community Market -Kittery: 10 Shapleigh Rd, (Sunday 10am-2pm). Like the town itself, Kittery’s farmers market is gorgeous, and boasts live music, fresh local food choices, and a special arts and craft section just for kids. Continue the adventure with a stop at Fort Foster. The fort offers three small, sandy beaches, an extensive trail system, restroom facilities in season, picnic areas, and old military fortifications to explore. The park features an excellent view of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor, including Whaleback Light, Portsmouth Harbor Light, and Fort Constitution. Learn more

Greater Gorham Farmers’ Market – Gorham: 71 South St, (Saturday 8:30am-12:30pm). Gorham’s Baxter Memorial Lawn teams with farmers and artisans offering seedlings and plants, beautiful local produce from Oscars Farm, baked goods, meats, cheeses, honey, gorgeous fiber arts, handcrafted bath products, and artisan wares. The location itself is a great family friendly picnic location, or head just down the road to Shaw Park, where there are gorgeous trails, swings, and canoe and kayak rentals. Learn more

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Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Farmers’ Market – Brunswick: 277 Pleasant Hill Road, (Saturday 8:30am-12:30pm). The Brunswick/Topsham Land Trust’s Farmer’s Market was established in 1999, making it one of the oldest farmers markets in the state with 40 artisans selling an exceptional array of products, like Wildflour’s amazing gluten-free baked goods. The market is a part of theYou can find more information about the market and the Land Trusts events on their website. Learn more

Diabetes: Living Well and Staying Healthy

In the final part of our three-part series, you’ll learn key strategies for managing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes cannot be reversed and can eventually trigger serious health problems ranging from eye damage to cardiovascular disease. That’s why the preventive information outlined in parts 1 and 2 of this series is so critical.

“If you’re diagnosed with this chronic disease, don’t give up hope. There’s a lot you can do to manage diabetes, so you can feel your best and live fully,” says Janet Pachta, M.D., adult medicine provider at Martin’s Point Health Care.

The following strategies and steps all focus on one goal: Controlling your blood sugar levels so they stay in your target range.

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Start a lifestyle revolution.

Take it from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – the following changes can truly help fend off the health problems that typically come with diabetes:

  • Eat smart. You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. Add fruits and vegetables. Cut sugar and salt. Drink more water and fewer sugary drinks (soda, lemonade, sweet tea, hot chocolate).
    • Swap calorie-dense foods like French fries, burgers and doughnuts with healthier choices like roasted sweet potatoes, turkey or tuna sandwiches on whole wheat bread or wraps and berries.
    • Cut back on or eliminate alcohol. It’s also important to spread your intake of refined carbohydrates out over the day to keep blood sugar low. Learn more about healthy eating here.
  • Be active. There’s nothing like icy sidewalks, driving rain, or bone-chilling winds to challenge your good intentions to get and stay moving. So be ready. First, find one – better yet several – things you’ll look forward to. Walking, hiking, cycling, yoga, swimming, cross-country skiing, tennis, ultimate frisbee, golf (no cart!), dance and fitness classes are all great choices.

Second, have a plan for bad weather. Get clothing and footwear that keeps you comfortable in all conditions or be ready with indoor options at home or a local YMCA or gym.

“Over the phone, we’ll teach you exercises you can do in a chair for your arms and legs,” says You can also walk inside using your hallways, and use soup cans or water bottles for weights,” add Elaine Blackwood, RN, Chronic Care Case Manager at Martin’s Point.

  • Stop (or don’t start) smoking. This is an important way to slash your risk of heart disease and stroke.

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Monitor readings and keep in touch with your health care team.

  • Test your blood sugar regularly. Knowing what’s normal for you from day to day helps you keep blood sugar levels in hand. According to the American Diabetes Association, the goals are:
    • Before meals: 80 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) to 130 mg/dL.*
    • After meals: Less than 180 mg/dL 1 to 2 hours later.*
  • Take medications your doctor has prescribed according to his or her instructions.
  • Schedule medical appointments as recommended – and keep them. Monitoring your health is a team effort.
  • Talk with your doctor about your goal for A1C tests. This blood test provides a snapshot of your average blood sugar levels over the previous three months. Your target? Under 7%, says the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease.
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Keep a close eye on skin and feet. Diabetes can cause nerve damage the makes it hard to feel problems or minor injuries. Untreated, these issues can escalate into troubling infections. Your defense: Daily foot checks and wearing shoes and socks that fit right. More foot care tips.

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Don’t go it alone

If you’re frustrated or overwhelmed by the efforts of diabetes self-care, getting support can help keep you on track. Lean on friends, family, leaders from your church or faith, support groups – whatever works for you.

“Taking care of yourself is even more challenging if the stress of managing diabetes gets you down,” adds Dr. Pachta. “If you’re feeling depressed or struggling, talk with your health care provider and ask for help.”

“If you’re ready to make healthier choices and set goals, we can help,” says Blackwood, who leads a team that supports any member who would assistance managing a chronic disease like diabetes. “We’re here to listen and offer suggestions without judgement. We help you decrease complications and take steps toward feeling better.”

You can also sign up for the American Diabetes Association’s FREE one-year program, designed to help people adjust to and live well with diabetes. The program includes information packets, e-newsletters, Diabetes Forecast magazine and more.

Adding so many new components to your routine can be overwhelming. In that case, focus on the most important steps – most agree these are controlling your blood sugar and adding physical activity. With these key habits in place, you can work on adding the rest gradually. Every step you take counts!

*Pregnant women, please check with your doctor for recommended target levels.