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The care giving role may be something you’ve done most of your life or it may be a new experience. Regardless of your experience, providing care for a loved one can be highly stressful, whether your family member lives with you, next door or thousands of miles away. In this guide, you’ll find advice and expertise that will help you improve the care you provide for a loved one – and provide direction in finding the most appropriate care for them.
Call us if someone you love needs help at home. 1.800.244.0568


Rehab in the Home Setting

Changes in health often mean changes in abilities, daily routine and comfort level at home.  People are anxious to return to the life they enjoyed before being impacted by illness, injury or surgery.

Physical, occupational and speech therapists from the Rutland Area VNA (RAVNAH) take care of people in their homes by helping them regain mobility and restore the strength and confidence they need to return to independence.  Therapists work with patients to improve movement, restore skills needed for daily living and recover from deficits in speech and learning. RAVNAH therapists also treat and instruct patients and their families on home safety, balance and fall prevention.

RAVNAH provides in-home therapy services to patients following joint replacement, surgery, cardiac/pulmonary episodes and problems with decreased mobility.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy pertains to more than just being able to sit, stand and walk on one’s own. While helping patients regain or improve their abilities to do these tasks, therapists also perform assessments and provide treatments that assist patients of all ages with mobility, strength and coordination. Our physical therapy program helps patients maximize their independence with stair climbing, negotiating environmental obstacles and the safe use of assistive devices.

Occupational Therapy

The goal of occupational therapy is to provide patients the skills they need to reach their optimal levels of independence by managing the activities of daily living. Our occupational therapy program teaches patients how to safely use appropriate techniques and/or adaptive equipment to perform any number of activities, including grooming, hygiene, dressing, meal preparation, housekeeping, shopping, financial management, and medication management.

Speech-Language Therapy

As well as assisting patients to regain the fundamentals of speaking, RAVNAH’s speech-language pathologists help patients and family members cope with speech and language disorders. Our speech therapy program helps people needing assistance with long-term and short-term memory, the ability to complete sequenced tasks, problem-solving and voice conditions. In addition, our speech therapists can evaluate patients with swallowing problems and help implement diet modifications to improve swallowing safety.

Fall Prevention

Therapists teach patients, families and caregivers the best methods of preventing falls and injuries that may result from a fall. During home visits, our healthcare professionals provide a comprehensive clinical assessment to identify risk factors.  They then develop a comprehensive plan of care and set appropriate goals unique to each person. The plan of care may include an in-home exercise program to increase balance and strength, education on medication management, assistance with vision correction and recommendations to reduce home hazards. The goal is to offer a solution to reduce hospitalizations and avoid lengthy nursing home stays due to the result of falls.

For more information about rehab services in the home setting, contact RAVNAH at
775-0568 or visit our website at


Keep the Flu Away

We’ve been fortunate to have enjoyed some of the best summer weather on record.  But these beautiful, warm days will soon fade, as we enter the cool, crisp weather of fall.  And who knows what this winter will bring? One thing we do know is that we want to stay healthy during the winter months. And one of the best ways to do just that is to get your annual flu shot. It’s the single best way to prevent the flu.

You can get your flu shot at one of the public flu clinics held at convenient locations in communities throughout Rutland County and in Dorset and Rupert. Rutland Area Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice (RAVNAH) has scheduled a number of community flu clinics for peoples age 18 and older, starting September 21.RAVNAH offers regular strength flu and pneumonia vaccines and a high dose flu vaccine especially developed for people age 65 and older.  Ask your doctor if the high dose vaccine is right for you.

When should I get a flu shot?

Here in Vermont flu activity most commonly peaks in January or February. Getting vaccinated any time between September and November can ensure you have immunity to protect yourself through the flu season.

Who should get a flu shot?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends flu shots for:

  • Anyone 6 months of age and older.
  • People with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or asthma.
  • People with weakened immune systems.
  • People who live with, or provide care for, children and adults.
  • Women who will be pregnant during the flu season.

Who should get a pneumonia vaccine?

The Centers for disease Control (CDC) recommends pneumonia vaccinations for:

  •  All adults 65 years of age and older
  • Anyone 2 through 64 years of age with a chronic illness
  • Anyone 19 through 64 years of age who is a smoker or has asthma
  • Women who smoke or have asthma, have a chronic illness or compromised immune system should be immunized before becoming pregnant.

 Preventing the Flu

The first and most important step is to get a flu shot, but practicing good health habits can also help. Here are some tips to keep the aches, pains, sneezes and sniffles at bay:

    • Wash your hands well and often throughout the day or use sanitizing hand rub.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose.
    • Avoid close contact with those who are ill and stay home if you are sick.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, not your hands.
    • Get plenty of sleep, drink lots of fluids and eat nutritious foods, stay physically active and manage your stress.

 If you get sick with the flu

Unlike the common cold, flu symptoms are usually more severe and can come on suddenly. Call your health care provider if your flu symptoms are very serious or if you have chronic health conditions. Common flu symptoms include:

  • fever (usually high)
  • headache, muscle aches, chills
  • runny or stuffy nose, sore throat , dry cough
  • extreme tiredness
  • vomiting and sometimes diarrhea (more often in children)

For a full listing of RAVNAH’s public flu clinics, visit or call RAVNAH’s flu hotline at 770-1574.


“Breathe Easy” Helps Patients Breathe Easier

Improved Quality of Life from those Suffering from COPD

RAVNAH, in partnership with Wilcox Bioscrip, offers a new pulmonary rehabilitation program to help improve the quality of life for those living with pulmonary disease.

Breathe Easy is a clinically integrated, in-home program designed to mirror the level of care you would receive in a setting such as a nursing home.

Patients in the program receive physical and occupational therapies, nursing, and social work services in an effort to improve their functional status.  Patients are educated about their disease and equipment use, such as oxygen CPAP/BIPAP machines. They learn how to manage their medication and about techniques to conserve their energy and are guided through exercises and breathing strategies for them to use on a daily basis.

The goals of the Breathe Easy program are to reduce preventable hospitalizations and emergency room visits, educate patients about their disease, promote self-management, help family members and caregivers to provide better care and keep patients at home.

Each patient’s needs are different. An individualized plan is developed for the patient depending on what the patient’s personal goals are – then the team works together with the patient to figure out what needs to be done to reach those goals.

Signing up for the program is easy.  A referral can be made by the patient, family, friend, nursing facility or doctor.

We can help you sooner than you think.  Call us today at 802.770.1555.

The Importance of Adult Immunizations

Vaccines may be the greatest technological development of the 20th Century. Immunizations are so effective at preventing and eradicating disease that many Americans have never seen a single case of mass epidemics, such as smallpox and polio. Despite the many advances in modern medicine, each year, thousands of people in the U.S. die from diseases that are easily prevented by safe and effective vaccines.

Although most adults realize that immunizations play an important role in keeping infants and children healthy, many are unaware that readily available vaccines offer a safe and cost-effective way to prevent serious illnesses and death among adults.


From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

  • As we age, we may become more susceptible to serious diseases caused by common infections, such as influenza and pneumococcus.
  • More than 46,000 American adults die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases or their complications.
  • Almost one million Americans get shingles every year. About half of them are 60 years of age or older.
  • Seasonal influenza causes more than 100,000 hospitalizations and an average of 36,000 deaths each year in the U.S.
  • Young adults have an increase incidence of meningococcal meningitis; Approximately 50 percent of all cases occur in persons 15 years and older. However, about 80 percent of cases in this age group are vaccine-preventable.
  • Adults are much more likely to develop complications and die from chickenpox than are children.
  • Vaccines are among the safest medicines available.
  • Individuals with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease are particularly at risk of influenza infection, as are people in nursing, convalescent, or other institutional settings.


  • 12,000 additional lives could be saved each year if 90 percent of adults age 50 received an annual flu immunization.  Today, less than 40% of adults have had an annual flu vaccination.
  • Vaccines can protect people from potentially life-threatening diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella and chickenpox.
  • Pertussis can be a serious disease in babies. Unimmunized parents and grandparents can pass the infection on to babies too young to be vaccinated. Adults who receive the Tdap vaccine are protected against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. The td vaccine is given to adults as a booster shot every 10 years or after exposure to tetanus. The pertussis vaccine need only be given once in a lifetime.
  • Influenza immunization can reduce physician visits and lost work days, and reduce antibiotic use.
  • By preventing illness, vaccinations save many healthcare dollars by keeping people healthy and avoiding the expensive therapies and hospitalizations needed to treat illnesses like influenza and pneumococcal disease.
  • Higher immunization rates and a stronger immunization infrastructure could help prepare the U.S. to respond to major disease outbreaks by improving our capacity for wide-scale rapid vaccine delivery to adults.
  • The costs of both the influenza and pneumococcal vaccines are covered under Medicare Part B.


  • Consumers are often unaware that they need to get vaccinated or do not know when they should be vaccinated.
  • Public concern about the side effects, safety, and efficacy of immunizations.
  • Due to time restraints and competing priorities, health care providers may not recommend patients receive vaccinations.
  • Research suggests that financial barriers reduce vaccination rates among underinsured and uninsured adults.
  • Remember to consult your healthcare provider to determine your risk for vaccine-preventable diseases and the need for immunization.

For more information on adult immunization, contact Community Health at Bennington Area Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice at 442.5502.

Important News for Internatinal Travelers


Planning a trip to relax and recharge your batteries? Or to seize an opportunity in the global marketplace?  Go for it!  Overseas travel can provide opportunities to volunteer, work, or relax – but it is important to make sure you and your loved ones are protected with vaccines against serious diseases.

Plan Ahead

Planning a trip abroad will become a lot easier with a call to the RAVNAH Travel Health Clinic. The Travel Health Clinic provides comprehensive and safe travel health services including vaccines and individualized disease prevention plans to international travelers.

The World Health Organization advises travelers “to consult a travel medicine clinic or personal physician 4-6 weeks before departure if the travel destination is one where exposure to any vaccine-preventable diseases may occur.” RAVNAH’s Travel Health Clinic will be able to assist travelers in providing this invaluable service.

People who benefit from our services would include those traveling abroad on business, student trips, vacationers, church groups, adventure clubs and service organizations.

The pre-travel visit with a RAVNAH travel health nurse includes:

  • Pre-travel consultation and assessment
  • Trip research and risk identification
  • Vaccines  (i.e. yellow fever, rabies and other necessary medications)
  • Health education, vehicular safety, and prevention of air travel hazards

RAVNAH’s staff is able to instantly link to ever-changing health requirements, CDC updates and travel recommendations.  Education is an essential part of RAVNAH’s travel clinic services. Many international travelers are unaware of the latent health threats awaiting them at their destinations.

While it is certainly important to receive the appropriate vaccinations prior to commencing travel, education plays just as vital a role. For example, certain foods overseas may be dangerous to consume; certain marine hazards (such as jellyfish) may be present during your chosen time of travel, and risk of traveler’s diarrhea may be prevalent in certain destinations.

These are all examples of risks that cannot be prevented, but if properly educated, can be avoided. RAVNAH is pleased to be the area’s resource for this vital, potentially lifesaving service to our community’s international travelers.

For more information about RAVNAH’s Travel Health Clinic, please call 802-770-1536 or email

travel health2

Foot Care Tips for Happy Feet

Most of us neglect our feet.  But it’s important to take care of our feet if we want to stay active and comfortable throughout our lives.  For people with diabetes, careful, frequent foot care is even more critical. Diabetes can reduce blood flow to your feet, depriving feet of oxygen which makes it harder for blisters, sores and cuts to heal. If neuropathy sets in, it can cause numbness. When you can’t feel those cuts and blisters, you’re more likely to get sores and infections.

Here are a few simple foot care tips that will keep your feet healthy and reduce the risk of complications and infections.

 Inspect Your Feet

Make sure to inspect your feet daily. Check between your toes. Use a mirror to help you see all areas on the bottoms of your feet. Any signs of redness or blisters, cuts, cracks, swelling or color changes should be reported to your healthcare provider immediately.

Does The Shoe Fit?

Protect your feet by wearing shoes that are comfortable and fit well with room to wiggle your toes. Don’t buy shoes that feel too tight and hope they will stretch. Wear thicker socks to pad your feet and cushion any calluses or sore spots.

Toe the Line

Wash your feet daily in lukewarm soapy water and make sure that you dry them thoroughly. If neuropathy is present, you may not be able to feel if the water is too hot, and burns could result. Protect your feet from temperatures that are too cold, as well. Prolonged cold can decrease circulation even more.

 Nail Care

Always cut nails straight across and then smooth the edges with an emery board. To make cutting easier, trim them after your bath or shower.

 Do Not Self-Treat

See a podiatrist for corns, calluses or ingrown toenails. Do not attempt to self-treat these conditions.

 Prevent Cracking

If your skin is dry, apply cream or petroleum jelly to feet and heels, but avoid the area between your toes. If cream sits in the crevices it can make it more susceptible to infection.

 Keep Circulation Flowing

Put your feet up when you’re sitting down and don’t cross your legs. This helps keep the blood moving to your feet. You want good blood flow to your feet because this helps prevent infection. Don’t smoke. Smoking decreases blood flow down to your toes.

 Get Moving

Ask your healthcare professional about an exercise program that’s right for you. Regular exercise improves circulation to all your extremities.

 Practice preventative care like the tips listed here, every day. Make sure your healthcare professional assesses your feet at every routine visit. If you notice anything that does not look normal, follow up with your healthcare professional immediately. The Bennington Area VNA & Hospice offers public foot clinics in the region. Check for dates and locations at  and in local newspapers.

Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Did you know most Americans don’t get enough sleep? But those who do get a full night of quality sleep are more likely to have more energy, have less stress and a clearer mind as they navigate their day.  However, if you’re one of the millions of adult Americans who often suffer sleepless nights, you may end up the next day feeling sluggish, irritable and even more susceptible to illness.  A good night’s sleep affects both our mental and physical health and it’s vital to our overall well-being.


  1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.  Even on weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
  2. Avoid napping, especially in the afternoon.
  3. Get enough exercise each day. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise can help.
  4. Maintain a bedtime ritual to relax and wind down your day.
  5. Keep your bedroom cool – between 62-67 degrees.  Eliminate noise disturbances. Consider black-out shades, eye mask, ear plugs or even a fan or background sounds.
  6. Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and support you.  If your mattress is more than 10 years old, it’s time to replace it. Improved immune system

All About Blood Pressure


These are the categories in updated Blood Pressure guidelines from the National Institutes of Health.  What category are YOU in?
  Systolic (top number)   Diastolic (bottom number) What you should do
Normal Less than 120

Used to be <130

and Less than 80

Used to be <85

Keep up the good work!

Blood pressure in this category used to be considered high-normal.

120-139 or 80-89 Change health habits. If you’re heavy, lose weight. Reduce salt in your diet. Eat more fruits and vegetables and get more exercise. Moderate alcohol consumption might help, too. Medications are not recommended at this stage.
Stage 1 hypertension 140-159 or 90-99 Change health habits and take a blood pressure medication, probably starting with a diuretic. If you have another health problem (diabetes, angina, kidney disease, etc.) then a different drug (beta blocker, ACE inhibitor, etc.) is probably necessary.
Stage 2 hypertension

The Stage 3 hypertension category has been eliminated.

160 and higher

Used to be


or 100 and higher

Used to be 100-109

Change health habits and take two blood pressure medications, usually a diuretic and something else.


Hot Weather Safety Tips

The hot summer  weather and high temperatures are here and for some that could mean serious health problems. People of all ages are sensitive to extremes in temperature, but as you age, your body may become less able to respond to extremely hot or cold temperatures. In normal weather, the body’s internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body.  However, in extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain normal temperature, which may lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  In addition, taking certain types of medications can affect how your body responds to heat.

Be aware of days when extreme heat conditions are predicted by paying attention to your local weather forecasts. If you believe you, or anyone you are with, is experiencing a heat-related medical emergency, promptly call 911, and if possible, move to a cooler place.

A few common sense measures can reduce heat-related problems, especially for the elderly, the very young and people with respiratory ailments, who are more susceptible to the effects of high temperatures. Here are some tips to follow to stay safe during hot and humid summer weather.

  • Slow down, avoid strenuous activity.
  • Do not try to do too much on a hot day.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly and often, even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the mall or public library—even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers.  This can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80%.
  • Wear light-colored, light weight, loose fitting clothes
  • Wear a hat or other head covering when out in the sun
  • Go to a place where you can get relief from the heat, such as air conditioned schools, libraries, theaters and other community facilities that may offer refuge during the warmest times of the day.
  • Limit your intake of alcoholic beverages. They can dehydrate your body.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, regular meals.
  • Reschedule activities for cooler times of the day
  • Use sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels) 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors.
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