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Did you know that arthritis is the leading cause of disability among adults in the United States? In fact, according to the Arthritis Foundation, about 54 million adults have doctor diagnosed arthritis. In addition, almost 300,000 babies and children have arthritis or a rheumatic condition.

Who gets arthritis? According to the Arthritis Foundation fact sheet at https://www.arthritis.org, “Doctor-diagnosed arthritis is more common in women (26 percent) than in men (18 percent). In some types, such as rheumatoid arthritis, women far outnumber men. Almost two-thirds of adults in the U.S. with arthritis are working age (18-64 years). Arthritis and other non-traumatic joint disorders are among the five most costly conditions among adults 18 and older.”

The Arthritis Foundation fact sheet also states that “Arthritis is much more common among people who have other chronic conditions. Forty-nine percent of people with heart disease have arthritis. Forty-seven percent of adults with diabetes have arthritis. Thirty-one percent of adults who are obese have arthritis.”

Did you know that Medicare will pay for certain individuals receiving physical therapy or other services at home? There are certain criteria that must be met, including the following:

  1. A physician must prescribe home care.
  2. The patient must be homebound. Brief, intermittent trips outside the house are permitted.
  3. The care must be skilled. Medicare will pay for a nurse or therapist, but not for a home health aide.
  4. The care must be necessary and reasonable.

The Arthritis Foundation sponsors events to raise funds. Walk to Cure Arthritis, the largest arthritis gathering in the world, raised $6,652,872. The Jingle Bell Run, a festive 5K race with a USA Track & Field certified course, raised $966,602.

Bone Bash, a Halloween themed event, includes spooky decorations, costume contests, a silent auction or live auction, and entertainment including music, games, etc. Bone Bashes can range from informal concerts to elegant sit-down dinners or masquerade balls.

Other fund-raising events range from black-tie galas and tribute dinners to wine tastings and themed parties that benefit the Arthritis Foundation.

If you have a family member who needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski


Imagine yourself with no hair. If you’re a man, you probably could adjust to being bald. After all, some men shave their heads as a fashion statement. Musicians and movie stars routinely appear bald. Remember Yul Brynner in the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I? How about Michael Jordan, the famous basketball player?

For a woman it’s a different story. Even in Biblical times, a woman’s long hair was considered her glory. It was not her clothing, not her jewelry, not her facial features. It was her long hair. According to an article at http://www.dailymail.co.uk, the average woman in the U.S. will spend over $55,000 on grooming and styling her hair in a lifetime. Hair is important to women.

What if you were a child and had no hair on your head? Would other children make fun of you? Would strangers stare at you?

In 1997, an organization called Locks of Love was founded to provide hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. According to www.locksoflove.org, “Most recipients suffer from an autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata, which causes hair follicles to shut down, causing hair loss on the scalp. Many also lose their eye lashes, eyebrows, and all body hair. The hair loss is permanent. Others are victims of severe burns or cancer survivors.”

To make these hairpieces for children, Locks of Love relies on individuals to donate their own hair. Donated hair must be at least ten inches long measured tip to tip. Colored or permed hair is accepted, but hair that has been bleached is not usable. Wigs, falls, hair extensions, or synthetic hair are not accepted.

Locks of Love encourages donors to have their hair cut at their regular beauty shop. Be sure to discuss this plan with your beautician in advance. Ask if the beautician has experience with donations to Locks of Love. Cutting ten inches off your hair is a big step. You want to be sure that you and the beautician follow the guidelines. For more information, go to http://www.locksoflove.org.

If your child has a serious medical condition and needs pediatric private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants(CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com.

—By Karen Centowski

To see a video of Army Captain Cara Manning donating 16 inches of her hair, go to Locks of Love You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TihjqArB8KE.


Chicago Union Station
Chicago Union Station

Picture yourself walking into the Great Hall at Union Station in Chicago. With its huge columns, arches, and skylights, the Great Hall is a spectacular interior space. Rays of light cascade from the skylight into this waiting area for passengers.

Built in 1925, Union Station was originally designed by Daniel Burnham, an American architect. Over the past ninety years, leaks had developed in the skylight, and plaster had degraded in the Great Hall. Construction is now underway to alleviate those problems. The $22 million project will refurbish the 219-foot long skylight and repair plaster throughout the Great Hall.

An article at https://archpaper.com, “Chicago Union Station Renovation Will Brighten the Great Hall,” describes the process:

“To address the skylight’s water problems, each of the 2,052 pieces of glass will be replaced and a new third layer of glass will be added above the entire opening. The new high-efficiency, fully transparent glass panes will replace the current wire-embedded glass, and the end result is expected to allow about 50 percent more light into the space. Once the significant water damage on the walls is repaired, the entire Great Hall will be repainted in its original color.”

This phase of Union Station’s renovation is being funded by Amtrak, which owns the building. The renovation is expected to be completed in late 2018.

More controversial is a proposal by Chicago-based architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) to construct a seven-story addition atop the current Union Station. The proposed glass rectangle would contain a hotel, apartments, an office complex, and retail. Reaction has been less than enthusiastic. One article appearing June 26, 2018 at https://archpaper.com compares this proposal to the disaster at Soldier Field. In “Will a proposed addition turn Chicago’s Union Station into the new Soldier Field?” Elizabeth Blasius writes, “In 2004, Chicago watched historic Soldier Field become a toilet bowl. In 2019, Union Station will become a self-inked address stamper.” Blasius feels that “the addition reads as out of scale and context for the existing building.”

Since Union Station was listed as a Chicago Landmark in 2002, the plans for the proposed seven-story addition would have to be reviewed by The Commission on Chicago Landmarks before a permit is issued. Using Chicago’s Landmark Ordinance as its guide, the commission would consider the appropriateness of the proposed addition on this Chicago Landmark. Blasius believes that “the plan as presented should be considered by the CCL as an adverse effect on a designated local landmark.”

—By Karen Centowski

To see a rendering of the proposed addition and to read the entire article, go to https://archpaper.com/2018/06/will-proposed-addition-turn-chicagos-union-station-into-new-soldier-field


Ever since the first enclosed shopping mall opened outside Minneapolis in 1956, shopping malls have dominated retail. The mix of anchor stores including Sears, JC Penney, Macy’s and hundreds of smaller shops proved a winning combination. Serious shoppers could purchase clothing, jewelry, toys, books, Halloween costumes, and even major appliances from a variety of stores. Teenagers could go to the mall to “hang out.” Mall walkers could use the indoor walkways as exercise areas. The mall was the place to be.

These new shopping malls ranged from the humongous Mall of America in Minneapolis to the upscale Watertower Place on Michigan Avenue in Chicago to the local malls outside large cities across America. At its peak, there were more than 3,000 malls in the United States. Only 1,100 currently exist.

Anchor stores such as Sears. JC Penney, Carson’s, and Macy’s were critical to the success of the malls. They drew a large number of customers within the malls. The smaller shops benefited from the increased foot traffic past their stores. In addition, retailers often signed co-tenancy agreements in their leases with malls. These agreements allowed them to reduce their rent or get out of a lease if a big store closed.

Major department stores such as Sears, JC Penney, Carson’s, and Macy’s are struggling to stay alive. According to an article “America’s Malls Are Rotting Away” published December 12, 2017, “Sears, which had operated nearly 3,800 stores as recently as a decade ago, is now down to 1,104 stores. Macy’s closed 68 stores this year, and JCPenney was set to shutter 128.” Carson’s has recently announced it is going out of business.

What caused these anchor stores to fail? A number of factors contributed to the failures. Too rapid expansion. Changing habits of shoppers. Online shopping. Competition from Amazon.

Each story is different. For example, consider the story of Sears. This company had started out in 1888 as a mail order business. Using its famous Sears Catalog, it was able to reach potential customers in big cities, in small towns, and on farms across the United States. Sears sold everything from clothing to musical instruments to houses. Sears opened stores in large cities. By the turn of the century, it was the nation’s largest employer.

In the 21st century, things changed. Sears faced increased competition from companies such as Walmart and Home Depot. To raise capital, it sold off its Craftsman tool line, DieHard batteries, and Kenmore appliances brands. It sold off real estate of underperforming stores. According to http://money.cnn.com/2017/11/30/news/companies/sears-losses/index.html, “Sears, which had operated nearly 3,800 stores as recently as a decade ago is now down to 1,104 stores.”

To see a video about the changing face of shopping malls, go to “American shopping malls struggle to survive You Tube.”

—By Karen Centowski


If you are the owner of a Chevrolet, you may have recently received a postcard from a manager at the Chevrolet dealership where you purchased the car. On this computer-generated postcard, the manager says that she is interested in buying your 2009 Chevrolet Impala. She says that the Chevrolet dealer has customers looking for these vehicles, but they don’t have any on their lot. She asks you to please call her ASAP, and she gives her phone number.

The postcard itself is a top-notch job in marketing. The name, address, phone number, and logo of the local dealership on the postcard gets your attention and keeps you from immediately throwing the postcard into the wastebasket. You have done business with this dealer in the past and have had a good experience. In fact, you probably continue to take your car to that dealer for routine maintenance. If you’ve ever needed a major repair, for sure you have taken the vehicle to a Chevrolet dealer. The “message” on the card is written in the handwriting style of a woman. It’s a personal touch to a business transaction. Finally, the writer appeals to the universal desire for a good deal by saying, “As a manager, I can offer you more!”

Is this a legitimate offer to buy your car, or it simply a trick to get you into the dealership so they can sell you a new car? Does the dealer actually have a potential customer who wants to buy a 2009 Chevrolet Impala? How much more in cash can the manager really offer? If she gives you $500 more than the Kelly Blue Book trade-in value of your car, is that really such a good deal? You would no longer have your car and would have to buy another one. You’d be standing there in the dealer’s showroom salivating over all the new cars. The dealer has you exactly where he wants you.

Ask yourself this question: Would a dealer send out thousands of postcards to find one 2009 Chevrolet Impala to sell? With all due respect to owners of 2009 Chevrolet Impalas, these are not high value collector cars. How much money would the dealer make by selling one 2009 Chevrolet Impala?

More likely, a computer at Chevrolet headquarters has generated thousands of postcards to Chevrolet owners like you. Each postcard is personalized with the owner’s name in the “handwritten note.” Each postcard names the correct make and model of the owner’s car. Each postcard is “signed” by a manager at the dealership. It is all a clever marketing tool to get you into the showroom.

If you really are interested in buying a new Chevrolet, do your research and go to your friendly Chevrolet dealer. You don’t need an invitation. They will be delighted to see you.

—By Karen Centowski



Mom always had a huge garden on the farm. She grew potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, peas, onions, green beans, sweet corn, pickles, cucumbers, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, and blackberries. There was a bed of asparagus along the fence, and rhubarb plants in another area. A peach tree and an apricot tree grew along the path to the chicken house. We used to say that if we couldn’t grow it, we didn’t eat it.

When Dad retired from farming in 1968, he and Mom moved to a house in Decatur. The house was on a quiet street, not far from a small shopping center. The property backed up to the baseball fields of a high school. The backyard was perfect for a garden. Dad trucked in a load of good, black dirt.

Mom and Dad lived in that house for many years. Then Mom’s mind began to fail. It was as if a computer in her brain had a short in it. Once she tried defrosting a frozen chicken by putting it in the bedroom closet instead of in the refrigerator. She was storing the object in an inappropriate place, an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Another time, Dad had driven Mom to the beauty shop just a few blocks away. He told her to call him when she was finished at the beauty shop, and he would pick her up. He was sitting in his big Lazy Boy chair next to the front window when he saw Mom walking past on the sidewalk. By the time he got up to go outside to get her, she had disappeared. Vanished. Dad called the police, and they came to help search for Mom. They found her around the corner about half a block. She was sitting in a Burger King! Getting lost in familiar places is another early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sometimes when they left the house to visit relatives, she would become frantic at dusk. She thought they needed to get home to put the screen in the door of the chicken house so the foxes would not eat the chickens. That was the routine we had when we lived on the farm, but that was years ago. This was another sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Mom could still dress herself. She could still cook. Since Dad was in good health and living in the house with her, Mom was able to continue living in their house. Without Dad, she would have needed in-home care or an assisted living facility. She died suddenly at age eighty-one.

If you have a family member who needs in-home services, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission.

For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski



When recent media stories focused on Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and his history of sexual harassment, the reader might have dismissed this as more Hollywood “trash.” Surely this type of behavior does not occur in other occupations such as nursing. Wrong! In fact, home health nurses often deal with sexual harassment by patients.

On December 20, 2017, Medscape conducted an online poll of nurses. According to an article entitled “Me, Too! For Home Care Providers,” “73% of nurses polled said that they had been sexually harassed by patients.” The harassment could have been anything from offensive jokes and sexual comments to inappropriate touching.

Why would this occur so frequently in home health? The article, “Me Too! For Home Care Providers,” says that the conditions are right for this to occur. Home health nurses provide care in the homes of the clients. The nurse is often alone with the client. The client is on his “home turf” and may feel emboldened to act inappropriately. Sometimes the client’s medical condition may impair his ability to behave appropriately. For example, the client may have suffered a stroke which has affected his behavior.

Both federal and state laws forbid sexual harassment. The article “It’s Not Just Hollywood: Sexual Harassment in Nursing” at https://nurse.org/articles/harvey-weinstein-and-harassment-against-nurses/ lists the following steps a nurse can take when a patient behaves inappropriately:

  • Set boundaries early. What can begin as a seemingly innocent joke can quickly escalate to an onslaught of sexual commentary.
  • Make it clear the attention is unwanted. Sometimes changing the subject or an unamused look isn’t enough to get your point across.
  • Report the harassment to your supervisor. They may be able to reassign the patient to another nurse.
  • Do not be alone with the patient. If you are unable to have the patient reassigned, bring in a coworker.

It is very important for nurses to document every instance of sexual harassment by a patient. The documentation must be very specific. “Me, Too! For Home Care Providers” gives the following example of documentation on the case of inappropriate touching: “The patient touched my left breast.”

After receiving a report of sexual harassment, the supervisor and upper management will investigate the situation and take necessary action. This may include reviewing clinical notes, interviewing other nurses on the case, and counseling clients and care-givers. Every part of the investigation must be documented.

If it is possible that the client’s behavior may be caused by a clinical condition such as a stroke, the supervisor and upper management need to contact the patient’s physician to seek assistance. It may be necessary for the provider to discontinue services to the client.

—By Karen Centowski