Mind Body Spirit – Nov-Dec 2019


Mind, Body, Spirit: Linking Lives for Health and Wholeness
The Wellness Ministries of the UCC Newsletter
(formerly The Faith Community Nurse Health Ministry Newsletter)

November – December 2019, Vol. 4 Issue 7


“You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy.”
– Psalm 65:11-12 (NRSV).

Ah, autumn. . .  fields of bright orange pumpkins;  mountain ridges bursting in brilliant colors of autumn;  harvest wheat rolls gathered in farm fields; falling leaves beginning nature’s composting for next spring’s blossoms.  Let us celebrate the season . . . with thanksgiving for health, family and friends and move into Advent and Christmastide with a sense of anticipation and childlike wonder. 




American Diabetes Month.  
Diabetes is a nationwide epidemic.  Approximately 30 million children and adults have diabetes in the United States.   1.5 million Americans are newly diagnosed with diabetes every year.  Approximately 1.25 million American children and adults have type 1 diabetes.   Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2015.  The effects of diabetes on the  cardiovascular system, renal function, and vision are well known.  A recent study found that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don’t have the disease. Of the 84 million adults in the U.S. who have prediabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than in those with normal blood glucose.  The relationship is not yet defined but it may the small blood vessels of the ear are affected similarly as those affecting the kidneys and eyes.  The American Diabetes Association has information on Type I and Type II Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes.  https://www.diabetes.org/

You can take the association’s 60 second Type 2 risk test.   https://www.diabetes.org/risk-test

National Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Awareness Month.   
16 million people have been diagnosed with COPD and millions of others do not realize they may have it. While smoking is the number one cause of COPD in the United States, genetic factors can also contribute to its development.   Twenty five percent of those diagnosed are not associated with direct tobacco smoking.   The National Institutes of Health has developed a COPD National Action Plan.  This booklet starts with a section on “What to Know About COPD” and then discusses the five goals set by the NIH

Empower people with COPD, their families, and caregivers to recognize and reduce the burden of COPD.

Improve the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of COPD by improving the quality of care delivered across the health care continuum.

Collect, analyze, report, and disseminate COPD-related public health data that drive change and track progress.

Increase and sustain research to better understand the prevention, pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and management of COPD.

Translate national policy, educational, and program recommendations into research and public health care actions.

A copy can be downloaded from the NIH website:  https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/sites/default/files/media/docs/COPD%20National%20Action%20Plan%20508_0.pdf

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. 

Many people think of dementia as a disease. In fact, Dementia is a set of symptoms involving memory and cognitive function that indicate disease of the brain. November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Although Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common disease of this type, there are many other diseases that may be responsible for the symptoms including Lewy Body Dementia, Frontotemporal and Vascular dementia. People with diseases of dementia need understanding and compassionate care. This is greatly facilitated when those who care for them and live in community with them are educated about the symptoms and behaviors associated with dementing diseases.  Using the most effective communication strategies with affected individuals promotes good care in communities and allows individuals with the disease to be well-supported.

DEMENTIA FRIENDS is a global movement developed by the Alzheimer’s Society in the United Kingdom and is now underway in the United States. The goal is to help everyone in a community understand five key messages about dementia, how it affects people and how we can make a difference in the lives of people living with the disease.  The training is about 1 hour 15 minutes long and works well for a Sunday morning church seminar. Information on offering Dementia Friend Training or on Becoming a Dementia Friend can be found at:




02_Caregiving_Clock.jpgNational Family Caregivers Month.
November is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. This year’s theme is “Caregiving Around the Clock.”  

According to The Family Caregiver Alliance, National Center on Caregiving, “About 44 million Americans provide 37 billion hours of unpaid, “informal” care each year for adult family members and friends with chronic illnesses or conditions that prevent them from handling daily activities such as bathing, managing medications or preparing meals on their own.” Churches are uniquely positioned to support caregivers.  Faith Community Nurses and Pastors might provide such support by offering a Caregiver Support Group, providing respite volunteers or connecting members with caregiving resources. Our inclination is to ask caregivers how the family member they care for is doing but to forget to ask of the caregiver, “How are you doing?” Simply being intentional about asking how the caregiver is doing is an easy way to support them. Below are some websites and books that can provide useful information and support to caregivers.

  • Resources on Caregiving:




  • Put Your Mask 0n First: The Caregiver’s Guide to Self-Care by Dr. Gary Bradt and Scott Silknitter

How to Care for Aging Parents, 3rd Edition: A One-Stop Resource for All Your Medical, Financial, Housing, and Emotional Issues by Virginia Morris (Author), Jennie Chin Hansen (Foreword)

  • Resource on Mental Health Caregiving:

In 2016 a study, On Pins and Needles: Caregivers of Adults with Mental Illness, was conducted with the assistance of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America.  This was the first national survey of mental health caregivers conducted in the United States and identified numerous challenges faced by these caregivers. The Caregiving Organization provides a resource to address the challenges identified in this study: Circle of Care: A Guidebook for Mental Health Caregivers.  It includes 12 fact sheets with useful information. 


National Hospice and Palliative Care Month:
CaringInfo, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, provides free resources to help people make decisions about end-of-life care and services before a crisis.   Resources related to hospice care, palliative care, advance care planning, caregiving, and grief and loss are included in the Patients and Caregivers section of the website: https://www.nhpco.org/patients-and-caregivers/

Check the Resources section for downloadable resources related to Advance Directives, Planning Ahead, Caregiving, End of Life Care, Grief, Pain, Pediatric, Professional Resources, Serious Illness, and  Spanish/English Bilingual Resources: https://www.nhpco.org/patients-and-caregivers/resources/



World AIDS Day:   
Around the world, about 37 million people are living with HIV. In the United States, about 38,500 people get infected with HIV every year.  World AIDS Day takes place on 1 December each year.  It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.

World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.    https://www.worldaidsday.org/

The red ribbon is the universal symbol of awareness and support for people living with HIV. Wearing a ribbon is a great way to raise awareness on and during the run up to World AIDS Day.  You may consider hosting a forum with a local public health official to discuss HIV prevention and the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, include an article in your next newsletter to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS, and encourage your members to find an HIV testing location.

03_Toys.pngSafe Toys and Gifts Month: 
Choosing safe toys is important at this time of holidays and gift giving.  According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year hospital emergency rooms treat an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries throughout the United States. Most of the injuries affect children under the age of 15.  Each year, thousands of children age 14 and younger suffered serious eye injuries, even blindness, from toys.  Prevent Blindness offers a Safe Toy Checklist  https://www.preventblindness.org/safe-toy-checklist

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) closely monitors and regulates toys. Any toys made in or imported into the United States after 1995 must follow CPSC standards.   The CPSC website is currently undergoing maintenance and is unavailable.  In this interim, you can check this other site for tips on safe toy selections for various ages, how to keep toys safe in the home, and how to report unsafe toys.  https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/safe-toys.html

04_Handwashing.jpgNational Handwashing Awareness Week December 1–7:

Scrubby Bear Says. . .

 By Deb Stankiewicz, Faith Community Nurse

“Wash up quick, don’t get sick”. At the First Congregational Church of Western Springs I make monthly visits to the children in the church preschool to teach them about taking care of their health. Introducing them to the Scrubby Bear method of handwashing is by far my favorite lesson to teach! It is scheduled before the flu season starts each year, so they get lots of practice before the fall viruses hit. The method teaches the five critical steps of effective handwashing: wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry. It assures that there is a 20 second handwashing as recommended by the CDC by using counting or singing of a song such as Happy Birthday while washing. The final step in my lesson is to give the children a picture of Scrubby Bear to color with the recommendation to hang it in the bathroom at home as a reminder to wash their hands. I also charge them with the homework of going home and teaching the process to their family members.

December 1-7 is Handwashing Awareness Week.
Imagine that!  A whole week dedicated to the importance of proper handwashing! I was surprised to see such a mundane task highlighted as an event. It makes sense to me for a few reasons.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls hand washing “a do-it-yourself vaccine”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related illnesses and 1 in 5 infections, including the flu.

The CDC also reports that only 31 percent of men and 65 percent of women washed their hands after using a public restroom.

I have personally observed that many adults, especially in restrooms, do not follow the five critical steps of effective handwashing if they wash at all. So, use the “do-it-yourself vaccine” and wash the Scrubby Bear way!


https://chicagoredcrossstories.wordpress.com/2010/  Note:  enter “Scrubby Bear” in Search window.

Influenza Vaccination Week December 1–7:


Flu season is here.  Local flu activity is already being reported in several states.  Here are some key points from the Centers for Disease Control:

Remind people that even though the holiday season has begun, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine.  

As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination should continue throughout flu season in order to protect as many people as possible against flu.

Vaccination efforts should continue through the holiday season and beyond. It’s not too late to vaccinate.

While vaccination is recommended before the end of October, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial during most seasons for people who have put it off.

The Center for Disease Control is promoting information about seasonal flu and encouraging increased vaccination rates.  This main webpage gives information on preventing flu, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and maps indicating flu activity and surveillance: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/     Near the right bottom corner of the page is the link for the Flu Vaccine Finder which uses zip code to locate flu vaccine clinics near you. Simply enter your zip code or city and state to find locations of flu vaccine clinics.

The CDC website has several graphics in English and Spanish that you can use on your websites, bulletin boards and printed materials: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/nivw/webtools.htm

This section of the CDC website identifies people at high risk from flu, health and age factors that are known to increase a person’s risk of getting serious complications from the flu, and information for specific high risk groups: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/index.htm

National Older Driver Safety Awareness Week December 2–6:  
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3 (ESV).  When should I stop driving? When should my parent stop driving? Having a driver’s license is not only a lifelong symbol of independence but somewhat of a necessity for independence for most of us. So, when these questions arise, there is often a great deal of stress and unhappiness. The answer rests in another question; am I or is my parent safe while driving? Some people have an inherent knowing about when they are no longer safe driving. If there is doubt however, there are Driver Safety Classes and Safe Driver Evaluations beyond a DMV test that can support decision-making. Check out the following resources for help with Driving Safety for Older Adults.






Advent and Longest Night Worship:
Amidst the joy, anticipation, and celebration of the Advent season and Christmas, many people are coping with loss, pain, suffering, loneliness, grief, and sadness.  A worship service of consolation and hope offered on the evening of the longest night (on or about December 21st – the winter solstice) can provide a quiet, prayerful time for remembrance, consolation, and comfort.   While the term “Blue Christmas worship service” has been used to identify these services, using the term, “The Longest Night worship service”, emphasizes God’s abiding presence and light that dwells within the darkness.  Features of the service may include lighting the Advent candles,  participative litanies and prayers, and opportunity for individuals to light a votive candle in honor of a loved one or as part of their own prayers for healing and hope.  Examples of hymns and scripture may include a solo of In the Bleak Midwinter, readings from Isaiah 40:1-5: “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God” and John 1:1-5: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”   The poem Blessing for the Longest Night, by Jan Richardson, may be included as a reflection in the program. There are examples of Longest Night services searchable on the internet. 


The Dignity in Aging Act of 2019, H.R. 4334, has been passed by the US House of Representatives. 
The bill reauthorizes the Older Americans Act.  The bill maintains funding for the work of the long-term care ombudsman program and continued authority for the National Center on Elder Abuse and National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC).   The bill was received in the  Senate 10/29/2019.  It was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under Read the First Time.  A fact sheet on the bill is available: https://files.constantcontact.com/59aae830301/daa92449-d886-4920-885a-a1dff29c5319.pdf

Palliative Care webinar:
The National Coalition offers a free webinar titled “Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 4th edition”.   https://www.nationalcoalitionhpc.org/ncp-webinar/

This webinar includes a webinar recording and a handout.  It discusses: the definition of palliative care and key concepts; how the 4th edition was developed, eight domains of palliative care, including changes from the 3rd edition: practical applications of the guidelines across care settings, and strategies to implement the guidelines within your practice setting. 

Trust for America’s Health has produced a report titled Addressing a Crisis:
Cross-Sector Strategies to Prevent Adolescent Substance Use and Suicide.  It is part of their Pain in the Nation series.  John Auerbach, President and CEO of Trust for America’s Health  notes that “Adolescence is a challenging time when the impact of poverty, discrimination, bullying and isolation can be intense. Fortunately, there are policies and programs that can reduce some of these circumstances and the risks associated with them by strengthening teens’ coping and emotional-skills – skills that can improve their health and led to their succeeding in schools.”  You can access the report here: https://www.tfah.org/report-details/adsandadolescents/

06_PutThisOnYourCalendar.gifUpcoming Conferences:

2020 Westberg Institute Annual Conference at the Caring for the Human Spirit Conference
April 20-22, 2020 Santa Fe, New Mexico 

Save the Date! Health Ministries Association Annual Conference,
September 13-15, 2020

One Voice, One Vision: Wisdom for Healthier Communities,
Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center, Techny, IL (Chicagoland)


An article, Sacred Space to Talk About Drug Use, in UCC’s Keeping You Posted (KYP) eblast of August 27, 2019, is about Harm Reduction.  Mike Schuenemeyer, Executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy Ministries oversees this new effort in the national UCC setting to center on the voices of those with lived experience related to opioid and other substance use disorders.  Kudos to Peggy Matteson of the Wellness Ministries Leadership Team for her commentary in the article’s interview.  Peggy represents Wellness Ministries on the UCC task force that is developing tools and resources for congregations’ responses to the opioid crisis. 

Visit our FaceBook and Linked-In pages:
Post comments or share information about your health ministries; join in conversations. 

Contact us: Have something you want to share with your colleagues in the next issue of the newsletter? Are you looking for a resource to assist you in your ministry?  We’d enjoy hearing from you!

Previous issues of the newsletter
Use previous year’s monthly newsletters to aid your search for links to resources on health ministries and wellness topics:

Contact us:

  • Have something you want to share with your colleagues?
  • Are you looking for something to assist you in your ministry? 
  • Interested in joining the Leadership Team for the Wellness Ministries of the UCC?

Let us hear from you.

Alyson Breisch and/or Deb Stankiewicz