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February is national heart month and the American Heart Association has launched a multi-year national campaign to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of women in America.

The disease claims nearly a half million women’s lives every year. Stroke is the number three killer and a leading cause of serious disability. “Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases claim more women’s lives each year than the five causes of death combined, and nearly twice as many as all forms of cancer, including breast cancer,” said Alice Jacobs, M.D., former president of the American Heart Association.

Here are some more statistics—some surprising, all daunting—that were found on the American Heart Association’s website:

• Only 13% of women view heart disease as a health threat, even though it’s women’s number one killer.
• Cardiovascular disease (CVD) kills 480,000 women a year, about one per minute.
• One in three adult females and males in the United States suffers from a form of CVD.
• Sixty-four percent of women who died suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.
• One in 2.6 female deaths is from CVD, compared with one in 30 from breast cancer.
• Heart disease rates in post-menopausal women are two to three times higher than in pre-menopausal women of the same age.
• Stroke kills more women than men. In 2003, females represented 61 percent of stroke deaths.

You can reduce your risk of these health threats by taking control of your health.

Risk factors for heart disease that you can control:

• High blood pressure: This condition can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
• Smoking: If you smoke, your risk of developing coronary heart disease is two to four times that of nonsmokers. Smoking is also a major preventable cause of stroke.
• High Cholesterol: The higher your total blood cholesterol, the greater your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
• Physical Inactivity: Lack of physical activity increases your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
• Obesity or Overweight: If you have excess body fat—especially at the waist—you’re more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.
• Diabetes: Having diabetes increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, especially if your blood sugar is not controlled.

For more information on this subject visit


Posted in Cardiovascular Disease, Coronary Heart Disease, Heart Disease, Heart Health, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, National Heart Month, Stroke | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off



LIFE Celebrates Participant Jennie Katusin’s 100th Birthday

Posted on by Melanie Furlong

Jennie releases birthday balloons outside the LIFE Center at her 100th birthday party.

LIFE Lutheran Services hosted a surprise birthday party today to celebrate participant Jennie Katusin’s 100th birthday.   The party was held at the LIFE Center in Chambersburg where our staff, fellow participants and several elected officials gathered to celebrate this special occasion.  Representatives for Senator Rich Alloway and Representative Rob Kauffman were there to present proclamations.   Franklin County Commissioner Dave Keller was also present and Chambersburg’s Mayor, Pete Lagiovane, presented her with a proclamation declaring November 28th “Jennie Katusin Day”.

A participant in the Franklin County LIFE Lutheran Services program since 2009, Jennie turned 100 years old on November 25.   Jennie is known for her fun-loving nature, and when she turned 99 last year she decided to celebrate her 100th birthday all year long; and so she did, including travel to North Carolina and Colorado to visit her grown children and grandchildren and a large party in July with her family and friends.  “If you met Jennie today you’d never know she was 100 years old,” said Melanie Furlong, Community Relations Director for LIFE Lutheran Services.  “She is a very classy lady with a great outlook on life.  She’s a great success story of our program – helping older folks remain independent in their homes and the community, where they want to be.”

Jennie was born in downtown Pittsburgh, Pa, where she lived her early years with her family. Her father was a mechanic and her mother a loving housewife. When Jennie was in elementary school, her family made the decision to move across the United States to Seattle, Washington. Jennie’s heart remained in Pennsylvania and she moved back several years later to finish high school where her life began in Pittsburgh. She has never regretted this decision because when she moved back she met her future husband of 63 years, Nick. Together the couple had three children. Jennie has been a mother for 83 years! Jennie was a Girl Scout leader for many years while in Pittsburgh and also ran a candy shop, Fanny Farmer Candy Company, located on 5th Avenue. Over time, Jennie and her family moved to New Jersey and eventually settled in Chambersburg where she still lives independently in her own apartment, with the help and support of the LIFE program.

Jennie says that staying active is key to a long life and credits the LIFE program for helping her to keep active.  “I have been coming to the LIFE Center for three years and I like it very much.  I like the association with people.  I have the ability and have helped a lot of people in many ways while I have been here.  I have made a lot of friends at the LIFE Center.  I think it is very important to have friends and socialize.  I think it is good for you psychologically and physically.  I think you miss a lot if you are just shut away by yourself,” said Katusin. The LIFE program, Katusin says, also has helped her remain independent, even as she approaches her 100th birthday.  “I have my own apartment that I take care of. I do my own shopping and my own banking.  My son brings me to the LIFE Center every morning and the LIFE bus takes me home.  I think the people who run the LIFE Center are very fine people.  It is wonderful that they have built a place like this where people can come.  I think it extends their lives. I really do,” said Katusin.

Having lived for so many years, Jennie has gained much insight, and has good advice for those younger than her. She advises, “Live a good clean life, no drinking, smoking, and always do lots of hard work.” For those who are mothers, she says, “No matter how old you are, do a good job. Raise your children up in the Lord”. And being married to Nick, Jennie gained the insight of how to have a happy marriage, “Always agree to agree 50/50. Compromise is everything.” If you’d like to send Jennie a birthday card you may send it to our LIFE Center at:  LIFE Lutheran Services, Attn: Jennie Katusin, 840 Fifth Avenue, Chambersburg, PA 17201.


Posted in 100th birthday, birthday party, celebrations, Events, Health Services in Franklin County, Healthy Living at Home, independence, Independent Living, LIFE, LIFE Lutheran Services, Senior Living | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off



LIFE Makes Renovation Progress at Shaull Elementary School – to open February, 2013

Posted on by Melanie Furlong

The main activity room at LIFE Lutheran Services in Cumberland County, PA (former Shaull Elementary School)

Building on the success of our program in Franklin County, LIFE (Living Independently For the Elderly) Lutheran Services is expanding the program to Cumberland County. A new LIFE Center, to open in February 2013 at the former Shaull Elementary School, 1920 Good Hope Road, Enola, will have 30,000 square feet of space in which to provide a wide range of LIFE services to about 100 participants.

“We are excited about the opportunity to move into the area. We know that area of Cumberland County is not served by our particular modality of service. There is a great opportunity and need there for our kind of services,” says Bruce Ashbaugh, executive director – LIFE Lutheran Services. “We also have the potential for future interaction and partnerships with other health care providers in the area.”

The goal of the LIFE program is to provide seniors with the ability to live safely in their homes and their communities with dignity and independence by providing access to a full range of preventive, primary, acute and long-term care services, as well as an array of social, physical and mentally-stimulating activities. The program includes many elements of the traditional health care system and is coordinated by an interdisciplinary team.  The services will be provided primarily at the LIFE Center, supplemented by in-home and referral services according to participants’ needs. The center will have its own fleet of buses with trained drivers who will pick up LIFE participants, bring them to the LIFE Center and then take them home.

Ashbaugh says the impact of the LIFE program will be “tremendous” for participants and their families. “Families want to have the ability to keep their loved ones at home – where they want to be – for as long as possible. They want to avoid having them live in a nursing home, as long as they are living as safely as possible and their medical needs and well-being are being taken care of. LIFE Lutheran Services provides just that. We want to help keep people as well as possible, allowing them to reach their maximum emotional, spiritual and physical potential for as long as possible,” explained Ashbaugh.

Spearheading the transformation of the former elementary school into the new LIFE Center is Kim Conrad, who will be center manager when it opens.

Conrad says one of the unique features to be offered in the new LIFE Center is a dedicated dementia unit staffed by dementia-care specialists. An enclosed outdoor courtyard will complement a secure, spacious activity room.

“We have carved out a niche for individuals with dementia. It is so important to help their families maintain them in the community. We are going to be able to tailor programs and activities to meet the individual needs of people with dementia. This is something that you don’t typically see in a LIFE Center,” explained Conrad.

Other features of the LIFE Center will include: a large activity room; an eight-bed facilitative medical clinic staffed by a physician, nurse practitioner and registered nurses; plus a therapy department that will accommodate 15-20 participants, staffed by physical, occupational and speech therapists; physical and occupational therapy assistants, and personal care assistants who will be cross-trained as restorative aides.

Conrad is combining her vision and insight into how best to use the available space. She has a keen respect for the building’s heritage, an efficient use of financial resources and socially responsible building practices.

“We looked at the raw building and tried to see what things we could save and reuse. We did it for both economical purposes and because we are trying to keep the building intact as much as possible.
We want the community involved and to know that we’re not going to just come in and knock down the old building and put up a new one,” said Conrad.

The new Center will incorporate all existing light fixtures, use as many of the existing walls as possible and keep the basic layout of the building. Other freestanding pieces such as a unique, wooden card catalog from the former school will be used in the activity room for storage of personal items. Some one-of-a-kind, colorful ceramic tiles created by children at the former school will be used as artwork on the walls throughout the center. An open house is planned for early spring 2013 and the community will be invited to see the renovations and the new Center.

“I want the community surrounding our new LIFE Center to see us as a support system for them. We want to help them and their loved ones remain independent in their homes while knowing they have our support available when they need it. We hope to become part of their family,” says Conrad.

For more information about LIFE Lutheran Services, visit or call


Posted in Caregiving, cumberland county, Elderly, Healthy Living at Home, Help at Home, home care, Independent Living, LIFE, LIFE Lutheran Services, long term care, managed care, nursing home, PACE, Senior Living | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off



LIFE Is Expanding to Cumberland County!

Posted on by Melanie Furlong

LIFE is expanding the program to serve Cumberland County.  We recently purchased the former Shaull Elementary School at 1920 Good Hope Road, Hampden Township, from Cumberland Valley School District.  Renovations have begun to retrofit the former elementary school to be our new Cumberland County LIFE Center as well as office space.

Located in Enola, the Center will be much like our Franklin County LIFE Center, featuring a primary care clinic, rehabilitation area, therapeutic tub, personal care areas, a large area for meals and activities as well as quiet areas.  The program will serve eligible participants who live in Cumberland County which includes Carlisle, Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg, Enola, Mount Holly Springs, Lemoyne, New Cumberland, Boiling Springs and Newville.  The maximium enrollment is approximately 130 participants. 

Started in Franklin County, LIFE Lutheran Services has served 135 participants since opening there in November of 2008 with a current census of 77.  The program has helped many individuals stay safe and independent in their homes and communities.

We expect to have participants enjoying the benefits of the Cumberland County LIFE Center by the beginning of February 1, 2013.  For information about the expansion or enrollment in the LIFE program, please call 1-800-840-9081 or check out our website.


Posted in Caregiving, cumberland county, Disability, Elderly, health, Health Services in Franklin County, Healthy Living at Home, Help at Home, home care, independence, Independent Living, LIFE, LIFE Lutheran Services, long term care, managed care, nursing home, PACE, psychological well-being, Senior Living, Wellness | Comments Off



Water Aerobics…How To Beat The Heat and Look Good Doing It!

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Many people think of the hot summer weather as a great time to relax in the air conditioning and become a couch potato.  While relaxing in the a/c can be nice on occasion, another way to spend your summer is by doing water aerobics.  Not only will being in the pool keep you cool on those hot summer days, the health benefits of water aerobics are amazing!

According to, some of the benefits of water aerobics include minimized stress on joints and back, reduced impact while jumping, increased lung endurance and strengthening of the heart.  Some additional benefits that are more medically focused include reduced arthritis, lower risk of cancer, improved mental health, and lower risk of heart disease.

Another article at provides suggestions and ideas for what acitivies to do once you’ve actually jumped in the pool.  Some of their suggestions include water walking, cross country “skiing”, and upper and lower body exercises.  While most exercises do not require additional equipment, some do suggest floatation devices or water weights (which are actually just pieces of foam that provide resistance when submerged in the water).  These supplies are usually provided on loan when you enroll in a course, otherwise they can be purchased separately. 

While water aerobics will cool you down, it is still important to stay hydrated, know your abilities and limits, and take some time to rest so you do not overexert yourself.  This summer, instead of staying indoors, make a splash and try out water aerobics!


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My Hospice Story

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My father died on June 16, Father’s Day weekend.  A weekend meant for celebration and showing gratitude now takes on a whole new meaning for me.  Because my dad had been enrolled in hospice he was able to die at home where he wanted to be and my family was able to get the care and support we needed to make his last request a reality.  As the marketing director for Lutheran Home Care & Hospice I promote those benefits day in and day out, relaying real stories and testimonials of real clients and families to legitimize my claims, but until now I was only a storyteller. 

Two months ago when Dad got his diagnosis, I was thrust from hospice marketer to hospice client, and advocate and caregiver for my father.  Given his prognosis then, we thought we had more time and Dad wondered why he should enroll in hospice so soon, when he was feeling fine at the time.  I told him what I preach all the time about how hospice can be so much more helpful when we get to know the client and family early on in the process.

Just like all of the stories I’ve relayed about our clients’ and families’ experiences with hospice, we could not have done it without them.  The nurses, social worker, bereavement coordinator and aides who came in the early stages became like family.  They were gentle with him, they joked with him.  They answered his questions and gave him encouragement.  My dad could be stubborn at times but his case manager Angie handled him well, and he began calling her “the boss”.  They spoke candidly with my mother, and gave her advice, support and encouragement as well.   

The night before he died Dad’s conditioned went from “not too good” to “it could be just hours” very quickly and our family was thrown into crisis caregiving mode, shocked and not yet prepared for this. The hospice nurse, Lynn, arrived and took charge, giving us direction and encouragement.  Lynn was on call that night and because my dad had deteriorated so much in a matter of a few hours, she stayed until he became stable and comfortable and that didn’t happen until the wee hours of the morning.  We were all exhausted, scared and still in shock about the speed with which this all happened, yet Lynn kept us going, explaining what was happening, ensuring us that he was not suffering, all the while holding his hand and speaking to him with such compassion as if she was his own daughter, when in fact she had not met him before that night.  Another nurse, Pat, arrived in the morning and was there when Dad took his last breath.  She was such a comfort to all of us. She made all of the necessary calls for the funeral home to come and the hospital bed to be removed.

Now I can tell my own hospice story and say with even more conviction: we are all going to die, and no one should die without the loving, compassionate care of hospice. 

Melanie Furlong is the Director, Community Relations for Lutheran Home Care & Hospice and LIFE Lutheran Services, both ministries of Lutheran Social Services.  Visit our blog at, LIKE us on Facebook!  Call 800-840-9081 for more information about how we can help you.    


Posted in advocate, assist, bereavement, Caregiving, coping with grief, encouragement, end-of-life, end-of-life decisions, grief, Help at Home, home care, Hospice Services | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off



Avoiding the Emergency Room

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Emergency rooms can be a scary and chaotic place, especially for those who are within weeks of dying.  Most emergency rooms are not set up to deal with end of life care.  Staff members are trained to diagnose and treat symptoms rather than provide comfort.

An  article by Paula Span in The New York Times shows that although most people wish to spend their last days in the comfort of their own homes, they end up being hospitalized after a trip to the emergency room.  The article shows that “more than three-quarters of the patients visiting an emergency room in their final month were admitted to the hospital (where 39 percent spent time in an intensive care unit); 68 percent of those admitted to a hospital died there.”

Not only do trips to the emergency room and the subsequent hospitalizations affect individuals’ quality of life, it is also very costly.  Trips to the emergency room can be very expensive and hospitalizations and I.C.U. use can cost even more.

A way to avoid emergency room visits and hospitalizations at the end of life is through hospice care.  According to Span, only 10 percent of individuals who had enrolled in hospice care one month before they died went to the emergency room, compared with 56 percent of those who weren’t enrolled.

Although hospice can be a tough subject for some and it can be difficult to discuss end of life decisions, having the conversation with your doctor can make all the difference.

If you think that hospice services may be of value to you or a loved one or if you would like more information contact Lutheran Home Care & Hospice at 1-800-840-9081.


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Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon

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Pictured Left to Right:  Vol. Joanne Miller, Vol. Linda Frey, Vol. GladysMull, Vol. John Brake, Robert L. Rundle, President & CEO, Vol. Donna Greifzu 

Volunteers from Lutheran Home Care & Hospice, Inc., LIFE Lutheran Services and Lutheran Social Services were honored at the Annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon at the Orchards Restaurant in Chambersburg, PAon May 10th, 2012.   In addition to a delicious lunch at the Orchards, local businesses provided door prizes to add to the enjoyment of the volunteer event.  Approximately 150 Volunteers and several staff attended the luncheon.  Each year Lutheran Home Care & Hospice, LIFE Lutheran Services and Lutheran Social Services attempts to thank all of our volunteers for the valuable service they give to our various agency programs.  Volunteers play a vital role in assuring that our programs continue to grow and have roots deep in the community.  If you would like information about volunteering for any of our programs, please visit our website at


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How to Stop Junk Mail

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Vicki Thompson, Regional Gift Officer, shared an article from the LSS newsletter:  Most legitimate mail-order businesses will be happy to remove you from their mailing list. Start with the Direct Marketing Association which offers a consumer opt-out service at This won’t eliminate all your junk mail, but it will reduce it.                      

To put a stop to the credit card and insurance offers you receive, call the consumer credit reporting industry opt-out service at 888-567-8688 and follow the automated prompts to opt you out for either five years or permanently. You can also do this online at  If you choose the permanent opt-out, you’ll have to send a form in the mail.

Some other resources that can help are the National Do Not Call Registry (, 888-382-1222) which will cut down on telemarketing calls. And is a free service that lets you opt out of unwanted catalogs.

This helpful article came from our weekly eNewsletter and is a sample of the valuable information available.  To subscribe, simply go to our website at  and click on “eNewsletter.”


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Mail Fraud Alert

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While junk mail comes in many different forms, the most troublesome type is mail fraud that comes from con-artists who are only trying to take your money.

Mail fraud can be tricky to detect because there are many different types of schemes out there that may seem legitimate. Some of the most common mail scams today are fake checks (see ), phony sweepstakes, foreign lotteries, free prizes or vacation scams, government agencies that don’t exist, get-rich chain letters, work-at-home schemes, inheritance and investment scams and many more. If you are getting any type of junk mail that is asking for money in exchange for free gifts or winnings, or if you’re receiving checks that require you to wire money, you need to call the U.S. Postal Inspector Service at 877-876-2455 and report it, and then throw it away.

Unfortunately, scam artists and criminals are never going to remove your name from a mailing list, even if you request it.  The Postal Inspection Service offers tips on how to protect yourself from mail fraud at:


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