By ARLENE LEWIS
Borough President Claire Shulman has teamed up with the American Lung
Association to provide free flu shots around the borough, especially for senior citizens.
Queens Borough President Claire Shulman receives a flu
shot on Nov. 2 after urging vulnerable older adults to prevent the winter disease.
Tribune Photo by Dominick Totino
What began as a Queens project last
year has expanded into the Five Boro Flu Shot Program this year and will help residents
around the city get easy access to a flu shot.
Shulman commented at the Oct. 16 Borough
Cabinet meeting, "Now more than ever, it is important for vulnerable populations to
get flu shots."
She added, "I want to thank the
American Lung Association, the participating hospitals, and all those who are working so
hard to make this important program a success."
Amy Tan, of the American Lung Association,
outlined the Five Boro Flu Shot Program, and explained it is an extension of a highly
successful program conducted in Queens last year in conjunction with the City Department
Under the program, flu shots will be
administered to adults, especially those over 65.
However, individuals allergic to eggs or
having a fever should not receive a flu shot.
The American Lung Association is expected
to soon publish full page ads in local newspapers showing a list of locations where free
flu shots are available, including senior citizen centers. Currently, only childrens
immunization sites have been announced, and those are at the Corona H.C. (34-33 Junction
Blvd.) Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Jamaica H.C. (90-37 Parson
Blvd.) Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
For more information on adult site or free
flu shot sites being operated by the City Department of Health (DOH), call the
immunization hotline at 1(866) Fluline or 1(866) 358-5463. For additional information, log
on to the DOH site www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/imm/immclin.html.
FLU FACTS: FREQUENTLY ASKED Qs,
The City Department of Health offers
the following Flu Q&A:
What is influenza?
Influenza is a viral infection of the nose,
throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. There are two main types of virus: influenza A and
influenza B. Each type includes many different strains, which tend to change each year.
Influenza is not a reportable disease in New York City.
When does influenza occur?
Influenza occurs most often in the fall and
winter months. In the United States, seasonal flu activity can begin to increase in the
early winter but in past years has not reached peak levels until late December through
early March. Illnesses resembling influenza may occur in the summer months but they are
usually due to other viruses.
Who gets influenza?
Anyone can get influenza, but it is most
serious in the elderly, in people with chronic underlying illnesses (such as cancer,
emphysema or diabetes), or those with weak immune systems.
How is influenza spread?
Influenza is highly contagious and is
easily transmitted through contact with droplets from the nose and throat of an infected
person during coughing and sneezing.
What are the symptoms of influenza?
Typical symptoms include headache, fever,
chills, cough, sore throat and body aches. Intestinal symptoms, such as vomiting or
diarrhea, are uncommon. Although most people are ill for only a few days, some people have
a much more serious illness, such as pneumonia and may need to be hospitalized. Thousands
of people die each year in the United States from influenza or related complications.
How soon after infection do symptoms
Influenza generally occurs within 1 to 5
days after exposure.
When and for how long is a person able
to spread influenza?
The contagious period varies, but probably
begins the day before symptoms appear and lasts up to a week.
How is influenza diagnosed?
Usually, a doctor will diagnose influenza
based on typical symptoms of fever, chills, headache, cough, and body aches. Specific lab
tests to confirm the diagnosis are costly and time consuming and are usually limited to
outbreaks or disease surveillance efforts.
Does past infection with influenza make
a person immune?
Generally, no. The viruses that cause
influenza frequently change, so people who have been infected or given an influenza shot
in previous years may become infected with a new strain. Because of this, and because any
immunity produced by the shot decreases in the year after vaccination, people need to be
vaccinated every year.
Who Needs The Flu Shot?
It is recommended that Queens
residents 65 and older get the influenza vaccine. It is shown to reduce hospitalization by
70 percent, and also produces a decline in respiratory illness death rates of 85 percent,
according to the American Lung Association. It eliminates the risk of bacterial pneumonia,
the most common complication of the flu.
People with chronic diseases,
diabetes, asthma and other respiratory ailments, heart disease, kidney troubles, anemia or
Children over six months of age (especially those
By ANGELA MONTEFINSE
According to a survey by doctors from Hillside Hospital, Queens
residents who lived through the stresses and trauma of World War II or the Holocaust are
not at a greater risk from the trauma of Sept. 11, but they still need to find ways to
Older Queens residents are coping "extremely well" with the
attack on the World Trade Center, despite their potential vulnerability to psychological
stress and trauma, according to Dr. Gregory Hinrichsen, a member of the Division of
Geriatric Psychiatry and Psychological Services at the Glen Oaks hospital.
The survey was conducted in response to Hinrichsens concern that
people who lived through the disorder of World War II, the Holocaust, the Depression, or a
natural disaster might be at greater risk of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from
the events of Sept. 11.
He feared that those who have experienced psychological trauma
previously might be more susceptible to it a second time.
"Many members of what Tom Brokaw calls the greatest
generation know first-hand the reality of war and its radiating effects on civilian
populations," Hinrichsen said.
"Prior exposure to trauma is a risk factor for the development of
In addition, Hinrichsen said that PTSD would be more potent in seniors
than in others because old psychological wounds would return to the surface with the new
To study the effects of the Twin Towers collapse on seniors, Hinrichsen
conducted a poll of approximately 30 geriatric psychiatrists, psychologists and social
workers to determine whether psychiatric symptoms amongst Queens patients were exacerbated
in seniors after Sept. 11.
The survey found that seniors with a range of psychological disorders
are expressing "levels of concern or upset similar to those expressed by other
Americans," Hinrichsen said.
In addition, the few seniors who were experiencing acute symptoms of
trauma were those directly affected by the tragedy, through a death or direct loss.
These results were the same whether the seniors were independent,
living with family, or living in a nursing home.
The conclusion of the survey, according to Hinrichsen, was that "Seniors are
coping adequately. Still, clinics need to be vigilant about assessing their needs,
especially if they experienced past stress or trauma, because they are particularly
vulnerable to problems. The re-emergence of old symptoms and old trauma could happen at
By KAREN COLLINS, MS, RD
American Institute for Cancer Research
As the winter weather looms and the days grow shorter, many people
begin to feel more anxious and depressed. For some, these mood changes are so severe that
they interfere with life activities and enjoyment.
Unfortunately, people affected by the syndrome "seasonal affective
disorder" (SAD) often dont realize that it can be treated through several
different light and lifestyle approaches.
Symptoms of SAD include sadness and sluggishness, particularly in the
afternoon and evening.
There may also be increased need for sleep, increased appetite and
carbohydrate cravings which often lead to weight gain. These symptoms occur in
winter and fade in spring and summer.
Treatment with bright light is now documented in medical journals to
cause remission of symptoms in about 50 percent of people who suffer from the syndrome.
Researchers are also looking at the impact of diet and lifestyle on
SAD. Reduced sunlight causes our bides to produce less vitamin D, which some suggest could
lead to reduced levels of serotonin.
More research is needed, but a study in the journal Psychopharmacology
suggests that 400 IU of vitamin D daily might improve mood. This amount is recommended for
general good health for adults aged 51 to 70.
Higher doses offered no further mood improvement.
The Good News About Aging...
From Commissioner Stupp
The following question
and answer column was submitted by Department for the Aging Commissioner and Queens
resident Herbert Stupp.
Dear 50+ Queensites:
I have good news about the MTA Reduced-Fare Metro-Card program for
those of you who ride buses and for those who dont like to stand in line. Since
Reduced-Fare MetroCards were introduced, the Department for the Aging has received
complaints from New Yorkers who said it was difficult for them to add money to their
MetroCards because they had to keep going up and down subway stairs. Well, we have passed
along your concerns to the MTA and they have responded with a new plan called the
"Mail&Ride MetroCard" that allows you to pay for your rides automatically
with a credit/debit card, electronic debit, or by mail with a check or money order. Once
you sign-up, your MetroCard is refilled without ever leaving your hands.
With "Mail&Ride MetroCard," you can choose between the
Pay-Per-Ride Plan or the Unlimited-Ride Monthly Plan. You receive a savings over and above
the normal half price you pay for MTA buses and subways, and of course, you can still make
one transfer at no additional charge.
Depending on how you decide to pay your account, the
"Mail&Ride MetroCard" program will mail you a detailed statement. The type
of statement you receive will depend on the type of account you open Pay-Per-Ride
or Unlimited Monthly.
In order to qualify for "Mail&Ride MetroCard," you must
be at least 65 years old and have applied for Reduced-Fare MetroCard privileges.
Applications and complete information for "Reduced-Fare MetroCards" and for
"Mail&Ride MetroCards" are available at the MetroCard Customer Service
Center, 370 Jay St., Brooklyn (open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday) or at the St.
George Ferry Terminal, Staten Island (open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday) or by
calling (212) 638-7622. You can also download information and applications from the
internet at www.mta.nyc.ny.us.
Dear Commissioner Stupp:
Im a 72-year-old widow living in my own home and Id like to
be connected with another older woman who might want to come and be a roommate. Although I
do have social security and a pension, making ends meet is a little difficult sometimes,
so sharing expenses would be a big help. The companionship would be nice, too. Is there an
organization that matches older roommates?
The New York Foundation for Senior Citizens is an excellent resource
for New Yorkers who are looking to share housing.
The Foundations "Home Sharing Program" (funded by the
New York City Department for the Aging), will match "hosts" age 60 and older,
with "guests" age 18 and older throughout the five boroughs. Matches are made
based on the expectations of both host and guest.
In some cases, hosts are looking for more of a companion/housekeeper
where the rent is either free or very little, while others are looking for someone who
will share expenses. The Foundation screens all perspective hosts and guests and makes
matches based on personality, likes, dislikes and expectations of each. References are
required from all parties. Potential guests and hosts can call the Foundation for complete
information at (212) 962-7559.
Meets & Greets Information Sessions
not-for-profit social HMO is sponsoring a free and informal series of "Meets
& Greets" at various locations in Queens to familiarize seniors with Elderplan
and the coverage it provides.
Elderplan was created in 1985 as one of the
first four social HMO demonstration projects nationwide. Originally launched in Brooklyn,
the plan recently expanded its coverage area to include Queens, Manhattan and Staten
The plan provides a comprehensive and
coordinated program of preventive, acute and long-term care coverage, and is available to
seniors who maintain Medicare Parts A and B, at no additional charge.
In addition, Elderplan offers members
social support, volunteer services and wellness initiatives such as fitness classes, safe
driving courses, and workshops on conditions like arthritis and diabetes.
The informal "Meets & Greets"
offers valuable information about how Medicare-eligible seniors can improve their lives
through the benefits of Elderplan. Refreshments are served. The schedule for November and
December is as follows:
Waterview Diner, 163-30 Crossbay
Blvd. in Howard Beach on Mondays from 9 to 11 a.m.
Palace Diner, 60-15 Main St.,
Flushing on Tuesdays from 9 to 11 a.m.
Glendale Restaurant and Diner, 71-08
Myrtle Ave. in Glendale on Wednesdays from 9 to 11 a.m.
Mark Twain Diner, 72-12 Northern
Blvd., Jackson Heights, on Thursdays from 9 to 11 a.m.
Bayside Diner, 207-07 Northern Blvd.
in Bayside on Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m.
Belaire Diner, 31-91 21st St. in
Astoria on Wednesdays from 3 to 4 p.m.
City Coffee Diner, 77-17 37th St. in
Jackson Heights on Fridays from 3 to 4 p.m.
Shalimar Diner, 63-68 Austin St. in
Rego Park on Thursdays from 3 to 4 p.m.
For further information, call 921-7898.
To Prevent Drug Reaction...
Read The Label And Eat Well
By JoANN PROPHET, MS, RD
American Institute for Cancer Research
Time to take your medicine? Before you
down those pills, be sure you know how best to take that medicine
with food, before
food, after food, with no food or with extra fluids.
Todays pharmaceuticals consist of
complex compounds that interact with both your body components and the contents of your
stomach. Not knowing when you should or shouldnt mix medications with food can
reduce the effectiveness of the drug and, with certain combinations, can even be
Most medicines are absorbed more
efficiently by the body when taken with food. Food can help the medicine more quickly
reach the site in the body where it is needed. In some instances, however, the natural
chemicals found in foods can react with certain drugs to either make them essentially
useless or even more potent.
Your pharmacist is the best source of
information about the recommended way to take your medicines. Pharmaceutical companies
provide pharmacists with detailed instructions based on their research. Dont
hesitate to ask whether or not it is recommended that the product be taken with food, and
if certain foods should be avoided. Also be sure to read any accompanying printed
information about the product and how to take it properly.
Grapefruit has been in the news recently
because it enhances the effect of certain medications such as the antihypertensive
Plendil, the antidepressant Xanax, the immunosuppressant Cycolosporine and the
antihistamine Tefenadine. Patients on these medications do not need to give up their
grapefruit or juice, but need to establish a regular volume of intake and advise their
doctor of this so that the amount of medication can be adjusted accordingly. Grapefruit
also increases the absorption of across-the-counter medicines such as Sine-off and Maximum
The calcium in dairy foods and in
calcium supplements binds with the antibiotic tetracycline so that it passes
through the body without being absorbed, making it ineffective. By not eating high calcium
foods, specifically milk products (or supplements) within two hours of taking the
medication, this problem is minimized.
People on blood-thinning drugs or
anticoagulants such as Coumadin and Warfarin are usually strongly advised to limit foods
high in Vitamin K because it can substantially reduce the drugs effectiveness. Foods
containing Vitamin K include liver, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, green tea and broccoli.
Some foods such as eggs, milk and wheat bran cereal contain lesser amounts of Vitamin K,
but it can add up when these foods are eaten together. Garlic supplements also appear to
thin the blood and should not be combined with other blood-thinning medication without a
Taking drugs with carbonated sodas and acid
fruit juices is usually not recommended. Be careful with herbal teas and herbal
supplements as well. Many of these contain components which can interact with your
Some drugs will adversely affect your
bodys ability to use the nutrients in food, making it important not to take the drug
at mealtime. When an individual is in good nutritional status and eating well, short-term
effects of these medications on nutrient absorption may not be significant. However,
long-term use for anyone can be a critical factor in maintaining good nutritional health.
The main message here is to read the directions for taking
your medications carefully, and talk to your pharmacist if you have any questions.
Nearly 300 grandparents and
professional experts gathered at the Fordham University Lincoln Center campus for the
"Building A Partnership For Success: Grandparents And Systems United"
conference, presented by the New York City Department for the Aging and the New York City
Kincare Task Force. The conference addressed the problems faced by older New Yorkers who
have assumed the responsibility of raising their childrens children.
Commissioner Herbert Stupp of the
Department for the Aging said, "We can not ignore the concerns of
who are raising their grandchildren. These older people, who thought their
parenting days were over, are now caring for their childrens children many of
whom, because of the parents absence, have enormous problems and social needs. Many
grandparents take on their new responsibilities under emergency conditions, without advice
to guide them through a maze of complex decisions about legal custody, guardianship,
foster care and kinshp foster care alternatives."
The conference featured a panel of
grandparents who addressed issues to professional experts from New York City agencies and
organizations to develop creative solutions to the problems that grandparents face while
trying to provide for their grandchildren.
Keynote speaker Joseph Crumbley, Ph.D., a
kinship care expert and author, focused on streamlining service provider response to the
unique situations faced by grandparents who head "skipped generation"
Sixteen workshops provided education and
information on a wide array of topics, including legal and financial issues, policy and
advocacy issues, and developmental and system issues.
Stupp pointed out that, following the
tragic events of Sept. 11, there is every indication that many additional children were
left parentless, leaving grandparents or other relatives to raise them. He urged all older
New Yorkers who know of these situations to call the Grandparent Resource Center for
assistance in these difficult times. The center can be reached at 212-442-1192 during
business hours. All information is confidential.