Monday, June 24, 2013


Making the best of a stay in the hospital

Having been a nurse for over 30 years, I was pretty comfortable in all areas of a hospital.  But recently I experienced what it is like on the other side of the hospital bed — when family members have been the patient, and I was not the nurse caring for them.

Fortunately, the care my loved ones received was excellent.  Here are some insights on how to make the best of a hospitalization — lessons learned from my experience on both sides of the hospital bed.

•  Ask questions.  It’s your body. You should understand everything about your illness, diagnosis, and treatment plan of care, so ask questions to clarify. Make sure it’s in understandable terms.

•  Collaborate with the hospital staff. They truly want to deliver the very best care possible, but you need to cooperate and not keep any secrets. If you haven’t been taking your insulin at home, your doctor needs to know so he or she can plan your treatment appropriately.

•  Think positive.  Studies have shown that a positive attitude enhances your recovery and even helps to minimize your pain.

•  Know your medications. For your safety you need to be aware of the names of your medications, what each one is for, the proper dosages, and any possible side effects or interactions to watch out for.

•  Designate a support person to advocate for you. If you feel too ill to participate in your medical care and directions, it helps to have another person listening to instructions.

•  Work closely with the discharge planner. If you anticipate needing services from nurses, health aides, occupational or physical therapists once your return home, the discharge planner will make these arrangements.

It’s everyone’s goal to have the best care possible, no matter which side of the bed you are on. 

Alice Facente is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

Monday, June 10, 2013


Stress-busting tips for better health

Woman’s Day magazine recently published a feature article entitled, “ 75 Easy Stress Busters.”  It was a compilation of tips gathered from columns on stress published over the past 75 years.   I thought some of them were pretty good. 

Number 5, printed in the April 2010 issue, advises us to “Sit up straight. When your shoulders are back, you open up your chest and breathe more freely.”  How many times have mothers of every generation admonished us to sit up straight?

Number 37 is “Clean out your medicine cabinet, purse or desk drawer. This will boost your sense of control, which alleviates stress.”  I did this one, and now I believe I have the cleanest medicine cabinet, purse, and desk drawers in the country — but need to do more than this to de-stress  these days. 

Number 34 was printed in the March 1990 issue: “Try thinking worst-case-scenario to see how unrealistic overreacting is. If you're in a traffic jam, take the thought, ‘I'm going to be late,’ to a ludicrous point, ‘I'm going to be fired,’ to an even more ludicrous point, ‘I'm going to have to sell pencils on the street!’ Feel your anxiety deflate.”  This one sounds a little foolish, but I tried it, and couldn’t help laughing. Studies do indicate that laughter decreases stress, so maybe this tip isn’t so foolish after all.

Excellent advice is number 49, a good reminder for all of us who are constantly multi-tasking. “Ask for help. Remember that you don't have to do everything by yourself.” Interestingly, this was printed in the May 1984 issue, and still holds true today. 

My personal favorite is number 60: “Go out to dinner just to have someone wait on you” published in the April 1971 issue.

Another oldie but goodie is number 70, printed in April 1956. “Connect with nature every day. Look at the sky as you open the blinds and forget yourself for one minute.”

In the January 1949 issue number 75 offers perhaps the best advice for 2013: “For five minutes each day, forget your plans and worries and live in the present, enjoying what's around you.”

To read all 75 stress-buster tips, visit Pick a few tips that pertain to you, and start the campaign to manage your stress today.

Alice Facente is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

Monday, June 03, 2013


Sustained weight loss can only be achieved through diet and exercise

My exercise friends and I work very hard at our hour-long Jazzercise workouts.  Recently, one of my exercise buddies confided that she was discouraged after reading a story on the internet that said you won’t lose weight from exercising. 

The truth of the matter is that weight loss is only accomplished by balancing food intake and exercise.  Simply put, exercise or diet alone will not result in weight loss. We have all heard the expression “move more, eat less.”  The formula is simple:  Increased exercise + decreased caloric intake = weight loss.    Insufficient exercise + excess calorie intake = weight gain. 

Regular physical activity is important for maintaining your physical and mental health. Exercising can help you reduce your risk for heart diseases and type 2 Diabetes, strengthen your bones, muscles and joints and improve your mood and mental well-being.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, physical activity is important for health and can help you control your weight by burning the excess calories that would otherwise be stored as fat. Physical activity raises your body's metabolic need, and the higher your metabolic need is, the more energy your body is using. The increased energy need forces your body to start burning fat for energy, which is why exercise makes you lose weight. Exercising is a way to lose weight, but it needs to be combined with healthy diet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to lose weight, you must use up more calories than you take in. Since one pound equals 3,500 calories, you need to reduce your caloric intake by 500-1,000 calories per day to lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week, the recommended safe weight loss rate. 

No doubt about it; a few weeks of intense exercising and dieting will only result in temporary results.   We can all attest to multiple attempts at this — the key to success is undeniably a lifestyle change.  

Once you've achieved a healthy weight, by relying on healthful eating and physical activity most days of the week (about 45-60 minutes, moderate intensity), you are more likely to be successful at keeping the weight off over the long term. 

Alice Facente is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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