Prevention programs, screenings, and other health information

Home Cooking: Sticking to Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

By Kristin Boza

The magical time of year when New Year’s resolutions are made is here. At the top of most lists is getting healthy, including eating better and working out more consistently. Jenny Harkins, BAPA business member and owner of Treadfit, 10458 S. Western, shares her tips on turning a New Year’s resolution into a lasting lifestyle change.

Track Calories Realistically
What you eat must be used by your body, otherwise those calories will end up as fat around your midsection. Harkins stays on track by using the MyFitnessPal app. “The app allows you to track your food and workouts throughout the day. I set realistic goals and program my macro percentages to 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fat, and 30 percent protein,” she said. “By setting realistic goals and eating a balanced diet, I am not depriving myself of a specific food group and am able to maintain my goal weight.”

Find an Accountability Team
While calorie tracking is a great way to hold yourself responsible for what you eat, let’s face it — it’s hard sometimes. That’s one reason why Treadfit started the Focus on You Challenge to urge participants to eat right, work out, and lean on one another when the healthy lifestyle change gets difficult.

The five-week challenge begins on Jan. 7. Participants commit to completing four to five Treadfit classes a week, plus following the Treadfit Focus Food List. “Everyone who joins will attend a pre- and post-assessment, plus a nutritional workshop. During our first Focus on You Challenge, participants lost an average of seven pounds and eight inches,” Harkins said. The fee for the challenge is $25, which does not include Treadfit classes.

Simplify Your Menu
Harkins finds it easy to stay on track by eating almost the same thing for breakfast and lunch each day. “I usually have an RXBAR for breakfast with a coffee, and Crunchmaster crackers with some type of nut butter for lunch,” she said. “I aim to make a healthy dinner five nights a week for my family, usually with a balance of healthy protein, like ground turkey or chicken, carbs and fat.”

Snack Smartly
Three p.m. is the time when even the healthiest eaters hit a slump. Plan ahead by making a quick and healthy snack to avoid the pitfall of chocolate and cookies. Harkins makes a smoothie bowl, which satisfies her sweet tooth and gives her a much-needed protein boost late in the day.

Smoothie Bowl Recipe

Place the ingredients in a blender:
A splash of skim milk
Greek yogurt
Frozen berries
Two scoops of collagen protein (available at Southtown Health Foods)

Blend.  Harkins tops off her smoothies with a sprinkle of granola, coconut and honey.

Cherished Angels Brings Solace to Grieving Parents

By Abby Johnson 

They are Angel Moms and Angel Dads. Once a month, they gather at Little Company of Mary Hospital’s (LCMH) Family Birth Center, 2800 W. 95th St., for the Cherished Angel monthly perinatal loss support group. This is a safe zone, a place where the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillborn or infant death can be felt- and grieved.  

Dr. Kathryn Gardner, a volunteer on the LCMH Perinatal Loss Committee, leads these sessions. She is a psychologist who helps women cope with fertility, pregnancy and perinatal loss. The grief and anger that follows a perinatal loss can be overwhelming, she said, adding that Cherished Angels provides a needed outlet. 

“People don’t know what to do when this kind of thing happens to them,” Gardner said. “They’re experiencing such turmoil that just taking the step to look for help can be too much.” 

Gardner believes every woman should receive specialized care. When LCMH contacted Gardner with their idea for the Cherished Angels program, she was thrilled and immediately hopped on board. It was the perfect opportunity to show parents that there is hope, and that peace can be found. 

This month is especially important for the Cherished Angels. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a good time for spreading the message that resources are available.  

“It’s common to feel lonely after experiencing something like this,” she said. “This group helps show the Angel Moms and Angel Dads that they’re not alone. Other people are going through the same thing. There are others who understand.” 

Even those who aren’t comfortable talking openly about their pain are welcome at the coping sessions, said Gardner.  

“If you’re someone who just wants to listen, that’s fine, too,” she said. “Everyone is welcome to speak as much or as little as they like.” 

This month’s Cherished Angels support group will take place on Thurs., Oct. 20, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the hospital’s West Pavilion. Guest speaker Rachael Sedor will discuss skills for coping with anxiety and anger, as well as her own experience with perinatal loss. 

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of Cherished Angels. Gardner’s main goal remains the same: To provide emotional support for parents during this difficult time. 

“I just want everyone to know that tranquility is within reach.”  

For more information, email cherishedangelsupport@lcmh.org. 

Allyship Across Identities

By Bonn Wade, LCSW 

“It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. I never know what to do or say.”  

I was sitting with a friend who had just shared a racist incident that had happened at work involving two people from different backgrounds. He felt badly that he froze up when witnessing a racist comment in the co-workers’ interaction. His awkwardness immobilized his ability to be of support to the person who experienced the harm or to check in with the person who inflicted said harm. He didn’t do or say anything. 

Like my friend, many of us struggle with what to do in situations that involve racism, sexism, homophobia, discrimination against people with disabilities, and other forms of unjust treatment. How can we become allies instead of bystanders? 

According to The Anti-Oppression Network,  “Allyshipis . . .  a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people.”  

What does it mean to truly be an ally to others across differences and identities? How does one actively interrupt oppression in our everyday lives when it is often unpopular to do so? Additionally, what happens once we have interrupted the oppressive behavior or incident? How do we bring about healing justice for all involved and create broader lasting change within communities, workplaces and schools? 

Being an ally isn’t only about acknowledging our unearned advantages and saying all the right things to avoid hurting others. At the core, allyship is aspiring to learn about privilege, power and what it means to build authentic relationships across differences. Ultimately, allyship is about amending oppressive structures or patterns in our lives. We all need to do this work. 

These ideas may prove helpful:
Start Learning! Don’t rely on others to educate you.  Read up on privilege, power and identities. You might start at the Organizing for Power, Organizing for Change website. 

Be Humble! You will make mistakes; others may call you out. Be reassured that trying is the important first step of being an ally. Remember, these issues are bigger than you. If we stay stuck in hurt feelings we only perpetuate oppressive behavior. 

Take Action! Find ways to plug yourself in. Join local groups that are working on the issues, such as the Southwest Chicago Diversity Collaborative 

On Sat., Nov. 9, 3 to 5 p.m., I will host Solidarity 101: Allyship Across Identities, a workshop exploring intersecting systems of power and privilege, at Beverly Therapists, 10725 S. Western Ave.  The interactive workshop will offer space to check our own assumptions and begin to unlearn dominant norms. We’ll begin to recognize ways we can work to identify and eliminate harmful power imbalances in our lives. There will be time for questions and discussion. Register at 773-330-2544 or www.beverlytherapists.com. 

(Bonn Wade has been a social worker and therapist for 23 years and actively trains on diversity and cultural humility topics.)

School Lunch Hacks for Busy Parents

By Kristin Boza 

There’s a certain pleasure in packing school lunches for your kids; it’s a simple way to show them you care during a long day apart. Well, at least that’s how it feels during the first week of school. The labor of love often turns into just another chore to churn out on hectic mornings.  

Moms of Beverly/Morgan Park came together to share some of their best tips, tricks and hacks to make school lunch packing easier than ever. 

Bento Boxes Provide Variety 

Bento boxes, which are usually found built into lunch boxes, contain several small compartments for packing food. They offer a great solution for picky eaters and give parents an opportunity to pack quite a few options. Consider cutting up half of a sandwich for the largest container, then include a sampling of fruit (grapes, cut-up strawberries, and blueberries fit perfectly in the small spaces), hummus, carrot sticks, and perhaps even a couple fruit snacks or chocolates for dessert.  

Post a Menu  

St. Barnabas School mom Moira Benton solved the “What’s for lunch?” question by developing a weekly menu for her four children. She created a simple Word template with spaces for two Post-It notes per day and hangs it on the fridge, so the kids always know what they are eating for breakfast and lunch.  

“I create menus for breakfast and lunch, and they are a life saver. Plus, I use Post-It notes so the menu is easily changeable,” she said. “We even use it during vacations and summer; it just makes life easier. The Post-Its are great for any unexpected changes, like if we’re out of something or it’s hot lunch day at school,” Benton said. 

Crustless Sandwiches  

Uncrustables are found in the freezer section at any grocery store, but often contain undesirable preservatives or additives. However, they are perfect for picky eaters who can’t stand the sight of a crust of bread. Lisa Forde, who has one daughter at Mother McAuley High School and another at St. Barnabas School, sometimes makes a batch of her own version of Uncrustables using a Pampered Chef sandwich cutter. The sandwiches can be made ahead of time and frozen (see recipe below). 

Think Outside the Sandwich 

Get as creative as the kid’s palette will allow and build out a lunch with a variety of healthy foods. Forde says her daughters will choose to pack hummus with pita chips or carrots, or even spinach salad topped with strawberries. She uses the Rubbermaid Brilliance salad set or sandwich set, which provide small individual containers to pack foods that can later be mixed together; one favorite lunch is a mix of yogurt, granola and berries all separated so they don’t get soggy by lunchtime.  

“Uncrustable” Sandwiches 

Bread 

Nut butter (soynut or sunflower butter can be used for children with allergies or attending a nut-free school) 

Jelly 

Instructions
Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as usual, but concentrate the filling on the center of the bread only. 

Take a sandwich sealer tool or even a large glass cup and place it over the sandwich, pressing down until the bread is cut through. Before removing the sandwich sealer or glass, gently remove the crust. 

Lay the prepared sandwiches on a baking sheet, uncovered, and freeze for two hours. 

Once frozen through, remove the sandwiches and place in individual baggies or wrap in plastic wrap. 

Keep frozen until ready to use. Either send the sandwich to school frozen (it will thaw by lunchtime) or microwave for 15 seconds if eating right away. 

 

Y-Me: Working and Playing for a Cure

By Laura Casey  

Most people know me as Ms. Laura from Graver Park, where I worked for 18 of my 30 years at the Chicago Park District. My favorite days were welcoming all the moms, dads and toddlers for morning programming and organizing youth volleyball leagues.  

While I have been a part of the community through my role at the Chicago Park District, for the past 15 years I have been playing in and volunteering for Ginger Rugai’s Y-Me Softball Tournament. Four years ago I took on the role of Board Chair. This volunteer role has been inspiring. The mission we declared, is “Together We Can Find a Cure.”  

Naturally, in the beginning I was concerned taking on this position would be too much of a commitment, but, deep down, I knew it was the right thing to do.  

These days it’s hard not to find someone not touched by breast cancer. Two of my dear friends, also sisters of our Board Secretary, were diagnosed with breast cancer, and although they had been in remission, unfortunately, the cancer metastasized and they lost their battle. This experience gave me renewed drive to volunteer my time, join the committee and eventually lead the board.   

Since 1994 our tournament has been growing and today we have over 60 teams with more than 1,200 women coming together in Mt. Greenwood for a day of competitive softball. But more than that, they come together to honor all those touched by breast cancer and especially the survivors of this terrible disease.  

This year’s Y-Me Softball Tournament will be held Sat., Aug. 25, St. Christina Fields and Mount Greenwood Park, 111th and Central Park. Team rosters and fees are due by Aug. 23. Players, volunteers and donors can find complete information at y-mesoftball.com.  

A highlight of the Y-Me Softball Tournament day is the three-inning survivor game. The survivors who are playing may be newly diagnosed or 25 years cancer-free. While this game is fun, it is more about courage, strength, hope and faith: by playing, the survivors give back to others and share the strength of their journey. 

It is with great pride that I stand among the board with such creative minds! They are always looking for ways to increase awareness and funding for Breast Cancer Research. This year, Open Outcry Brewing Company created a Y-Me craft beer and donated a portion of the proceeds directly to our cause. We are planning eat-and-earn fundraisers at Buona Beef and other local restaurants.  

I am so proud to say that ALL of the proceeds from our fundraising go to support the breast cancer research of Dr. Kay McLeod, Breast Cancer Researcher for the University of Chicago, Ben May Institute. Since 2015 our organization has raised over $200,000 and assisted in real progress to eradicate this terrible disease. Ginger Rugai’s Y-Me Softball Tournament is a 501©3.  

Thank you to my fellow board members for all their time and talents making this a great day working towards a common goal: a cure. 

Cooking with Summer Produce

By Kristin Boza 

With the 95th Street Farmer’s Market in full swing, there’s an abundance of delicious, fresh and local summer produce available. As you head to the market at 95th and Longwood Drive each Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., keep in mind these tips for choosing and preparing seasonal produce from local chef and Beverly/Morgan Park resident Alvin Green. 

Talk with the Farmers
Farmer’s markets are more than simply places to buy fresh food. They are an opportunity to speak directly to the people who are cultivating the food you are purchasing, so you can get a better understanding of where your food is coming from.  

“Find out what’s really in season by asking the farmers questions about their food,” Green said. “You can even find out about their ‘second harvest’, which may not be the perfect ‘supermarket ready’ foods we’re use to, but this produce is great for cooking now and freezing so you can have fresh and healthy food all winter.”  

Anything in-season will be cheaper and more flavorful, since it is in abundant supply locally and fresh from the vine without being packed and shipped from warmer climates. 

Choose Fresh Foods That You Will Actually Eat
Green advises farmer’s market shoppers to buy foods that they’ll actually eat. Gather up fruits and veggies that have imperfections, such as an odd shape or small size.  

“So much food in this country never makes it to market because of imperfections, which means it is ultimately wasted,” Green said. “I’ve found that a farmer’s ‘second tomatoes’ [the second harvest of the seasons, usually a smaller yield] make the best tomato soup or pasta sauce. Even food that is a little past its prime will still make flavorful smoothies or soup.” These imperfect foods usually are priced lower than produce without blemishes. 

Buy Now, Eat Later
“Use everything and go back to the way people used to eat. They didn’t throw anything away,” Green said. Normally cast-off ends, peels and odd sized pieces of produce can be saved to make a vegetable stock that will keep for months in the freezer.  

For example, buy corn on the cob at the market, but don’t discard the cobs. Instead, create a corn stock that will act as a base for soup or polenta. Put cobs in a pot, cover with water and simmer. You can also make vegetable stock with the ends of carrots and other vegetables from the scrap pile.  

“This cuts down on food waste and works with nearly any vegetable. There’s still a lot of flavor and nutrients in these parts of the vegetable. I freeze the stock in quart size bags and it’s great to pull out in the middle of winter to make soup that will taste a lot better than canned soup,” Green said. 

Adding produce to dishes that traditionally don’t contain them is another great way to use up the farmer’s market bounty while adding more vegetables to the diet. Green developed a recipe to use a zucchini surplus in a popular breakfast food; check out this recipe: 

Alvin Green’s Zucchini Pancakes 

Ingredients 

2 cups grated zucchini 

2 large eggs, slightly beaten 

2 Tbsp. chopped green onion 

1/2 cup all-purpose flour 

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 

1/2 tsp. baking powder 

1/2 tsp. salt 

1/2 tsp. garlic powder 

1 tsp. Italian herb seasoning blend 

1/4 cup olive oil, or as needed 

Directions 

Blot grated zucchini with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Stir zucchini, eggs and onion in a large bowl. Mix flour, Parmesan cheese, baking powder, salt, garlic powder and Italian herb seasoning blend in a separate bowl; stir flour mixture into zucchini until batter is just moistened. 

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop rounded spoonful of zucchini batter onto hot oiled pan; cook 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown. Set aside and keep warm. 

Add more oil to pan as needed and continue with remaining batter. 

The LAB Designs Nutrition and Fitness with Busy Moms in Mind

By Kristin Boza 

Live and Believe is a fresh nutrition and fitness concept that opened last month on 95th St. The LAB Nutrition, 2025 W. 95th St., and The LAB Fitness, a couple doors down at 2019 W. 95th St., offer “Smoothies with Soul” and flexible fitness classes. The family-owned business is determined to make it easy for busy women to take care of their overall health and well-being. 

Owned by Morgan Martin and her father, Mike Martin, the family’s mission is to help people transform mentally, physically and spiritually while helping them live a life they love. “We want people to believe that anything they see for themselves is possible. We want to bring a healthy and positive environment to the Beverly area,” Morgan Martin said.  

At The LAB Fitness, participants engage in a comprehensive fitness, nutrition and spiritual plan. “Through workouts, nutrition and a private online community, [our clients] will focus on wellness of the mind, body, and soul,” she said. “Portions of our class fees go to the Marcus Martin Foundation where we give college scholarships, free youth football camps and fitness for the community.” 

The LAB Nutrition will assist the fitness aspect of the company by encouraging customers to choose healthy foods. “We specialize in serving smoothies with soul; we want to provide healthy alternatives, like protein snacks, energy teas, good vibes, good music and, of course, our soul smoothies,” she said.  

The smoothies have fun names, like Blueberry Muffin or Apple Pie, but they’re actually really healthy. “All of our smoothies are under 220 calories with about 20 grams of protein and 24 vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients,” Martin said. “The smoothies are intended to be a meal replacement, not used as a typical protein drink after a workout.”  

LAB Nutrition also offers energy teas; the Beverly Brew is one of the most popular options and includes a B12 energy shot to help boost metabolism. “We sell a lot of tea during the day, all of which we make fresh onsite. The energy teas are a great pick-me-up to get through the day,” Martin said. 

“So many people often don’t have time to work out. Working in this area with so many moms who work 9 to 5, time is difficult to find. I’ve found that if you can improve your nutrition, working out five days a week isn’t necessary,” Martin said. “We wanted to bring in an accessible fitness program that fits into busy lifestyles.” 

The LAB Nutrition is open Mon. through Thurs., 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fri., 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sat., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and they are closed on Sundays. The LAB Fitness schedule runs Mon. through Thurs., and three Saturdays a month.  

BreakFit Circuit Training is at 5 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays; Cardio Drumming is offered on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; HITT The Floor is on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.; Candlelight Yoga is offered on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.; Dance Cardio takes place on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and finally, Circuit Training is Saturdays at 9 a.m. First time attendees pay a drop-in fee of $5; otherwise, the classes are $10 for drop-in, or purchased in a monthly package. 

Beginning on Jul. 15, The LAB Fitness offers a 90-day transformation program complete with online workouts, a grocery list, access to a private online page, mindset activities and a professional photo shoot and celebration after completion. To find out more, visit Facebook.com/LiveAndBelieveWellness. 

Calling All Men

By Eileen McNichols

The men in our lives can be so busy taking care of home and family that they may neglect their own health. Studies show that men make only two-thirds as many healthcare provider visits as women do. Some men who know (or at least strongly suspect) that they have a problem, may suffer in silence, afraid to find out something is wrong. Others may attribute changes in physical health to aging, and accept symptoms that could easily be relieved as a normal part of life. These behaviors can have a negative effect on quality of life.  

Take prostate health for example.  The prostate gland surrounds the male urethra. It becomes enlarged with advancing age leading to obstruction of the urinary system, a condition known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). More than 30 million men suffer from BPH. Symptoms include sleepless nights and urinary problems, loss of productivity, depression and decreased quality of life.  

There are a few lifestyle changes that can help manage mild symptoms of BPH.  Relax and allow plenty of time to urinate. Drink fluids throughout the day. During the night, if you awaken frequently to urinate, limit your fluid intake in the evening and empty your bladder before bedtime. Avoid drinking alcohol. It is a bladder irritant and can make you urinate more often. If possible, avoid medicines that can make urination difficult, such as nonprescription antihistamines, decongestants (including nasal sprays), and allergy pills. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about all of the medications you take. 

Many men fear that treatment for their urinary symptoms will lead to erectile dysfunction. The urologists at Little Company of Mary Hospital (LCMH) have treatment options that can preserve sexual function while at the same time relieve the urinary problems associated with BPH.    

Another concern that some men express is that the symptoms they experience are related to prostate cancer. Prostate cancer usually grows very slowly, often causing no symptoms until it is in an advanced stage. It can often be found before symptoms start by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in a man’s blood. Another way to screen for prostate cancer is the digital rectal exam in which the doctor actually feels the prostate gland.  Want more information about your personal risk factors for prostate cancer? Visit tests.lcmcancercare.org to take a free online test offered by LCMH. 

Top Programs in July 

Little Company of Mary Hospital, 2800 W. 95th St.  

Information/registration: Health Education Center at708 423 5774.  

Health Academy: Kidney Health with nephrologist Veeda Landeras., MD, Mon., July 9, 11 a.m.  Free. North Pavilion. Reservation required. 

Reflexology with certified reflexologist, Mon. and Wed., Health Education Center, West Pavilion. This healing modality stimulates sensitive sensory cells to specific points in areas on the feet, hands, or ears to send the brain that impact the muscles and internal organs. $50 per session. Call for appointment.  

Lung Cancer Screening, Sat., July 14, 8 a.m. to noon, Outpatient Care Center, 6700 W. 95th St. State of the art screening includes a low dose CT scan; must meet criteria from the American Lung Association. $125. No doctor’s order required.  

Orthopedic knee/hip screening, Thurs., July 19, 1 to 3 p.m., Health Education Center, West Pavilion. 10 minute screening for people considering joint replacement surgery. Free. Reservation required. 

 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is something that can strike fear in the hearts of parents.

By Eileen McNichols, Director of Community Health and Pastoral Care Services 

ASD is a developmental disorder that usually appears in early childhood. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual fifth edition (DSM-5) defines ASD as a disorder that includes communication difficulty, restricted behavior and interference with life activities. 

The severity of symptoms varies greatly.  

Although ASD is not something a child outgrows, it is treatable. The most important piece of information to know about ASD is that the earlier it is identified and intervention begins, the better the outcome for the child.  

There is no known cause of autism.  

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) identifies five behaviors that warrant further evaluation of young children: 

Child does not babble or coo by 12 months. 

Child does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months. 

Child does not say single words by 16 months. 

Child does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months. 

Child has any loss of any language or social skill at any age. 

If a child exhibits any of these behaviors it does not necessarily mean that child has ASD. Regular follow up with a primary care provider who can track a child’s development and help to identify any areas of concern is critical for a child’s wellbeing. If you have any concerns about the children in your life, talk to their primary care provider. Remember, the earlier ASD is identified and intervention begins, the better the outcome for the child.  

Little Company of Mary Hospital has a team of experienced pediatric providers along with the presence of University of Chicago pediatric subspecialists to monitor and address any health pediatric concerns you may have about the children in your life. For a full list of children’s health specialists visit LCMH.org/UCM.  

Top Programs in June 

Little Company of Mary Hospital, 2800 W. 95th St. Info/registration: 708-423-5774. 

In Balance: The Ups and Downs of Blood Pressure, presented by Charles Lawler, MD, Thurs., June 7, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., North Pavilion Link, Room N1703. Free. 

Health Academy: The Bottom Line on Women’s Health, presented by gynecologist Marjorie Michel, MD, Mon., June 11, 11 a.m. to noon, North Pavilion Link, Room N1703. Free.  

Family Fun Nights: music, activities, food and fun for young families at neighborhood Metra stations, Thursdays, 5:30 to 7 p.m., June 14, 91st Street Station/Maggie Cosme Park; June 21, 99th Street Station; and June 28, 111th Street Station/Bohn Park. Events are held weather-permitting. Bring chairs and blankets. Free admission. Look for details in this issue of The Villager.  

Wake Up Call Screening, Sat., June 23, 7:30 a.m. to noon, by appointment. Assess your risk for heart disease and stroke. Includes comprehensive labs, ultrasound screening of abdominal aorta and carotid arteries, peripheral vascular screening, heart rhythm screening for atrial fibrillation and more.  LCMH Cancer Center. $155 ($4,000 value). Appointments required.  

Your Health: The Emotional Impact of Stroke

By Eileen McNichols, Director of Community Health and Pastoral Care Services

Stroke is a devastating health challenge. An increased awareness of signs and symptoms of stroke and the importance of seeking treatment as soon as the first indication of stroke occurs has had a positive impact on the long-term effects of stroke. But many people are not familiar with the emotional effects of stroke.

Many stroke survivors experience fear, anxiety, frustration, sadness and a sense of loss for the functional changes that accompany a stroke. Some stroke survivors experience Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA), a medical condition that causes sudden and unpredictable episodes of crying or laughing in socially inappropriate situations. PBA is caused brain damage that occurred during the stroke.

The National Stroke Association performed a survey in 2010 about PBA and 53% of the stroke survivors who answered the survey reported symptoms of PBA. Only one in five stroke survivors surveyed were familiar with PBA. Those who experience PBA frequently report that the unpredictable episodes of crying or laughing interferes with their ability to enjoy social activities, even with their own family members and close friends.

The goal of treatment for PBA is to reduce the severity and frequency of emotional outbursts. Some medications may help, such as low doses of antidepressants. A medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration is designed specifically to treat PBA.

There are a few things that one can do to help cope with this difficult condition. First, it is important for family and friends to know about PBA so they are not surprised or confused when episodes occur. During an episode, it is best to take deep breaths, relax the body and change positions. Neurologists who care for stroke survivors are a wonderful resource.  On Mon., May 7, 11 a.m., neurologist Melissa Rooney, MD, will present a free seminar about PBA at Little Company of Mary Hospital (LCMH), 2800 W. 95th St. For information and to register, call 708-423-5774.

Support is key to managing recovery from a stroke for both the survivor and caregivers. LCMH has a free support group that focuses on the specific needs of community members who have experienced a stroke or stroke symptoms. The next meeting is Tues., June 19. For information, call 708-229-5412.

The Joint Commission, the independent not-for-profit organization that reviews healthcare performance standards, recently reaccredited and recertified LCMH as a Primary Stroke Center. After undergoing a vigorous certification process, involving an on-site evaluation and demonstration of compliance with nationally developed standards for stroke, LCMH’s Stroke Center earned the Gold Seal of Approval.

Top Four Programs at LCMH

Information and registration, 708-423-5774

Health Academy:  Pseudobulbar Affect after Stroke, presented by neurologist Melissa Rooney, MD, Mon., May 7, 11 a.m., Little Company of Mary Hospital Conference Room, 1st floor. Free.

C.H.E.E.R Body and Soul: The Importance of Caring for the Spirit, Wed., May 9, 11 a.m., Little Company of Mary Hospital Conference Room, 1st floor. Free.

Lung Cancer Screening, Sat., May 12, 8 a.m. to noon, includes a low dose CT scan of the chest; must meet certain criteria. Outpatient Care Center, 6700 W. 95th St. Registration required. Fee: $125.

Wake Up Call Screening, one-hour comprehensive screening for heart attack and stroke, Sat., May 19, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Includes labs, ultrasounds of abdominal aorta and carotid arteries, heart rhythm screening for A Fib and more. No doctor’s order needed. Registration required. Fee: $155. (Value $4,500).