​Feature Story

 

February is Heart Awareness Month

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death among individuals with developmental disabilities just like it is in the general population – in 2014, 15 percent of all non-accidental deaths were caused by heard disease.* While the numbers are similar for people without developmental disabilities, people with developmental disabilities face some additional challenges when it comes to being heart healthy. According to the American Heart Association, people with disabilities are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease because they are more likely to:

  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have abnormal cholesterol and high triglycerides
  • Be overweight
  • Not get enough exercise

The good news is, it's never too late to lower your risk for heart disease, and changing your habits can help to begin reducing your risks right away.

  • Eat a heart healthy diet: Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Avoid fried foods, and foods with a lot of salt.
  • Get plenty of exercise:  The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week, or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week – or a combination of moderate-and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. You don't even need to go to the gym – walking is great exercise.
  • Don't smoke: Smoking is one of the most dangerous and unhealthy habits you can have. It offers no health benefits, and greatly increases your risk of lung cancer and autoimmune diseases as well as heart disease. Smoking is one of the most difficult habits to break, but it is worth it. Talk with your doctor about ways to quit.  

Be sure to talk with your doctor about your risk factors, and ways you can safely reduce and manage your risks.

Check out the resources below for more information about heart health, and tips on how you can get and stay heart healthy!

Learn more about heart health

Heart Health - February 24, 2016 1:00-2:00 p.m.

Join Sally Morgan, American Heart Association representative and President of the Ohio Nurses Association, who will present information about heart health. We will focus on why heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in the United States - nearly 1 in 3 deaths each year is caused by heart disease or stroke.

People with disabilities are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke as they are more likely to have high blood pressure and other associated risk factors. People with disabilities have greater difficulty in keeping a healthy weight and in getting enough exercise – both important to heart health. One hour of CPD is available.

Register online

Resources

 

*DODD MUI Unit Annual Report 2014

 

 

Pneumonia and the flu

As winter weather approaches, it's a good time to prepare for the illnesses that often accompany the cold weather, such as pneumonia and the flu.

It's important to know more about what pneumonia and the flu are, and how to prevent these illnesses. Pneumonia and the flu are a leading cause of death among individuals with developmental disabilities – in 2014, 16 percent of all deaths were attributed to pneumonia and the flu, according to data kept by DODD's MUI Registry Group.

What are pneumonia and the flu?

Pneumonia is a bacterial or viral respiratory infection. Symptoms include a cough and/or difficult breathing, fever, rapid breathing, and wheezing. It is usually spread from person to person by inhaling the viruses and bacteria, or via air-borne droplets from a cough or sneeze.

Seasonal influenza, also known as the flu, is a viral illness that causes fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. It is usually spread from person to person by coughing and sneezing.

What should I do if I think I have pneumonia or the flu?

If you have symptoms of the flu or pneumonia, it's important to stay home and take care of yourself until you are healthy. If your symptoms become more severe, you are pregnant, or you have an underlying chronic medical condition, seek medical attention immediately.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting [FK1] [MC2] [MC3] 

Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough What can I do to prevent pneumonia and the flu?

  1. Get a vaccine. Vaccines can help prevent pneumonia and the flu. According to 2013-2014 National Core Indicators data, only 30% of people age 18 to 64 and 49% of those age 65+ have been vaccinated for pneumonia. Remember that the pneumonia and flu vaccines are separate vaccinations. 
  2. Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too,
  3. Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  4. Cover your mouth and nose. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve to avoid spreading viruses by your hands and in the air.
  5. Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
  6. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. [FK4] 

Resources

 

 

 

 

Pneumonia and the flu

As winter weather approaches, it's a good time to prepare for the illnesses that often accompany the cold weather, such as pneumonia and the flu.

It's important to know more about what pneumonia and the flu are, and how to prevent these illnesses. Pneumonia and the flu are a leading cause of death among individuals with developmental disabilities – in 2014, 16 percent of all deaths were attributed to pneumonia and the flu, according to data kept by DODD's MUI Registry Group.

What are pneumonia and the flu?

Pneumonia is a bacterial or viral respiratory infection. Symptoms include a cough and/or difficult breathing, fever, rapid breathing, and wheezing. It is usually spread from person to person by inhaling the viruses and bacteria, or via air-borne droplets from a cough or sneeze.

Seasonal influenza, also known as the flu, is a viral illness that causes fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. It is usually spread from person to person by coughing and sneezing.

What should I do if I think I have pneumonia or the flu?

If you have symptoms of the flu or pneumonia, it's important to stay home and take care of yourself until you are healthy. If your symptoms become more severe, you are pregnant, or you have an underlying chronic medical condition, seek medical attention immediately.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting [FK1] [MC2] [MC3] 

Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough What can I do to prevent pneumonia and the flu?

  1. Get a vaccine. Vaccines can help prevent pneumonia and the flu. According to 2013-2014 National Core Indicators data, only 30% of people age 18 to 64 and 49% of those age 65+ have been vaccinated for pneumonia. Remember that the pneumonia and flu vaccines are separate vaccinations. 
  2. Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too,
  3. Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  4. Cover your mouth and nose. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve to avoid spreading viruses by your hands and in the air.
  5. Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
  6. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. [FK4] 

Resources

 

     

Shared.jpgHost homes, also referred to as foster care, offer day-to-day support in a community-based family home. When people think of foster care, children come to mind, but it's becoming a more common option for adults with developmental disabilities. In fact, it is estimated that more than 100,000 U.S. adults with developmental disabilities now are in need of a family home due to a variety of circumstances.

Adult Foster Care, also known as Shared Living, provides personal care and supportive services such as homemaker, chore, and medication oversight in a private home by an unrelated, principal care provider in the provider's primary residence.

While that is the official definition, the individuals and host families who take advantage of this option see it as much more – it's about living together as a family.

Debbie and Lori welcomed Susan into their home after her elderly parents decided they could no longer care for their 63 year-old daughter in their home.

"I'm 91," said Mary Lou, Susan's mother. "It's a hard thing to do in the beginning – a hard decision. I felt like I was letting her down. It took me a while to feel comfortable with it, but I knew it was the right thing to do."

Regina also lives in the home, and two dogs round out the household. The experience has been beneficial for everyone.

"We love caring for Susan and Regina, and they have added so much to our lives. The arrangement lets them be themselves, and lets us be us," observed Debbie and Lori.

"When you have the right people matched together in a community-based home setting, it's extremely gratifying," said Kathy Phillips, owner of Turn­ing Point Residential. "Knowing that a person who had been lonely, or who had been not properly cared for when living elsewhere, is now in a loving family home is a wonderful feeling. We've learned that everyone involved wins in that environment."

Identifying the right match

Ron and his wife, Gayle, had cared for several individuals in their home prior to Gayle's death a few years ago. Ron, who now is retired, noted that finding the right match takes thought and planning.

"You have to click with that person. You have to care about their needs and interests," he said.

Nine years ago, when Ron met Ed, they just clicked. Ron said Ed is like a brother to him, and is good company with his wife gone.

"When a good match has been made, there's no better testimonial than that individual and that family connect­ing with others who also could make this approach work for them," said Chris Kristanich of Care­giver Homes.

Research and reporting has shown that a good Home Sharing situation follows these guidelines:

  • Screening/matching between individuals and host families for compatibility
  • Requiring background checks for all adults who live in the home
  • Offering pre-home visitation – homes must be clean, plumbing and electrical systems must be modern, and homes must have smoke detectors and marked fire exitsProviding staff training that is individual-specific, and emphasizes community engagement
  • Ensuring that a system for oversight is in place, as well as back-up coverage for emergencies
  • Offering respite care for the Host Family

 

 

Increasing awareness

May is National Foster Care Month. The month spotlights the experiences of the thousands of adults and children in the national foster care system – many of whom have disabilities. The recognition aims to encourage people to get involved by being foster or adoptive parents, or mentors.

This year's theme, "Get to Know the Many Faces of Foster Care," draws attention to the importance of permanency. Permanency can mean kinship care, guardianship, or lifelong permanent connections.

Resources

     

April is a time to spread autism awareness and promote inclusion for all

April is Autism Awareness month. A month dedicated to educating the community about autism spectrum disorders (ASD), promoting inclusion, and striving to provide the highest possible quality of life to those living with autism spectrum disorders.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of ASD has been steadily increasing. About 1 in 68 children are now being identified with ASD compared to the 1 in 150 children reported in 2002. Among the 1 in 68 children identified, almost half of those children have average to above average intellectual ability. Many organizations throughout the world take part in Autism Awareness Month activities in order to educate individuals and communities on the facts of autism.

Autism Speaks, a leading autism advocacy organization, celebrates Autism Awareness with a global autism awareness campaign called Light it Up Blue. Businesses, individuals, schools, homes, and more across the world celebrate by wearing blue and shining bright blue lights to honor the individuals and families influenced by ASD. Ohio also has many organizations striving to raise autism awareness and improve the lives of those affected by autism spectrum disorders. Autism Society of Ohio hosts a plethora of events celebrating Autism Awareness Month, including a game day with the Blue Jackets, family support groups, free family events, and more.

In an ongoing manner there are many other ways that Ohio is responding to the needs of people with ASD and the need for autism education throughout the community. Ohio's Interagency Work Group on Autism (IWGA) brings together key partners in our state agencies that provide services to people with autism across the state to identify key issues and make recommendations to improve services. The Ohio Department of Disabilities (DODD) and the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI) have developed a website, www.autismcertificationcenter.org, in conjunction with the "ASD Strategies in Action", an online training program utilizing evidence based practices and a certificate program for families, professionals and community members who support individuals with autism. "ASD Strategies in Action" is scheduled for release in the fall of 2015. This free program for Ohioans provides a wide range of social-communication and behavioral interventions within three tracks: early intervention, school age, or transition/young adulthood. The Autism Diagnosis Education Project (ADEP) has provided early diagnosis and training services to 47 counties in Ohio and established an average age of diagnosis in the ADEP programs 29.9 months (national average is 4 years old). Efforts are ongoing in the ADEP project to reach more counties and engage more partners across the state.                                                           

Resources: 


         

Shared.jpgHost homes, also referred to as foster care, offer day-to-day support in a community-based family home. When people think of foster care, children come to mind, but it's becoming a more common option for adults with developmental disabilities. In fact, it is estimated that more than 100,000 U.S. adults with developmental disabilities now are in need of a family home due to a variety of circumstances.

Adult Foster Care, also known as Shared Living, provides personal care and supportive services such as homemaker, chore, and medication oversight in a private home by an unrelated, principal care provider in the provider's primary residence.

While that is the official definition, the individuals and host families who take advantage of this option see it as much more – it's about living together as a family.

Debbie and Lori welcomed Susan into their home after her elderly parents decided they could no longer care for their 63 year-old daughter in their home.

"I'm 91," said Mary Lou, Susan's mother. "It's a hard thing to do in the beginning – a hard decision. I felt like I was letting her down. It took me a while to feel comfortable with it, but I knew it was the right thing to do."

Regina also lives in the home, and two dogs round out the household. The experience has been beneficial for everyone.

"We love caring for Susan and Regina, and they have added so much to our lives. The arrangement lets them be themselves, and lets us be us," observed Debbie and Lori.

"When you have the right people matched together in a community-based home setting, it's extremely gratifying," said Kathy Phillips, owner of Turn­ing Point Residential. "Knowing that a person who had been lonely, or who had been not properly cared for when living elsewhere, is now in a loving family home is a wonderful feeling. We've learned that everyone involved wins in that environment."

Identifying the right match

Ron and his wife, Gayle, had cared for several individuals in their home prior to Gayle's death a few years ago. Ron, who now is retired, noted that finding the right match takes thought and planning.

"You have to click with that person. You have to care about their needs and interests," he said.

Nine years ago, when Ron met Ed, they just clicked. Ron said Ed is like a brother to him, and is good company with his wife gone.

"When a good match has been made, there's no better testimonial than that individual and that family connect­ing with others who also could make this approach work for them," said Chris Kristanich of Care­giver Homes.

Research and reporting has shown that a good Home Sharing situation follows these guidelines:

  • Screening/matching between individuals and host families for compatibility
  • Requiring background checks for all adults who live in the home
  • Offering pre-home visitation – homes must be clean, plumbing and electrical systems must be modern, and homes must have smoke detectors and marked fire exitsProviding staff training that is individual-specific, and emphasizes community engagement
  • Ensuring that a system for oversight is in place, as well as back-up coverage for emergencies
  • Offering respite care for the Host Family

 

 

Increasing awareness

May is National Foster Care Month. The month spotlights the experiences of the thousands of adults and children in the national foster care system – many of whom have disabilities. The recognition aims to encourage people to get involved by being foster or adoptive parents, or mentors.

This year's theme, "Get to Know the Many Faces of Foster Care," draws attention to the importance of permanency. Permanency can mean kinship care, guardianship, or lifelong permanent connections.

Resources


March celebrates the contributions and abilities of people with developmental disabilities

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to recognizing children and adults with developmental disabilities, and the integral role they play in the community through employment, volunteering, education, and social activities.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan designated March to spotlight national awareness and provide the necessary encouragement and equal opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to reach their full potential. This month highlights the strengths and accomplishments made by individuals with developmental disabilities. The proclamation of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month established the goal to provide more opportunities for individuals to lead self-directed lives, and to cast away misconceptions about people with developmental disabilities.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month also paved the way for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Many people with disabilities hold positions in various career fields. The ADA protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination and ensures equal employment opportunities. Obtaining employment is an influential step in achieving self-sufficiency.

To become a developmental disabilities advocate and participate in Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, get active in March and spread the word about the contributions of people with developmental disabilities. There are also numerous awareness events and celebrations around the state. Read more about DODD's celebration of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, which took place March 3 at the Ohio Statehouse.  

Resources