Health and Wellness

Summit April 20 to address the abuse and financial exploitation of older people

CONCORD — A national survey has revealed alarming statistics about the financial exploitation of the elderly:

• One in nine seniors reported being abused, neglected or exploited in the past 12 months; the rate of financial exploitation is extremely high, with one in 20 older adults indicating some form of perceived financial mistreatment occurring in the recent past.

• Elder abuse is vastly under-reported; only one in 44 cases of financial abuse is ever reported.

• Abused seniors are three times more likely to die, and elder abuse victims are four times more likely to go into a nursing home.

• 90 percent of abusers are family members or trusted others.

• Almost one in 10 financial abuse victims will turn to Medicaid as a direct result of their own money being stolen from them.

• Cognitive impairment and the need for help with activities of daily living make victims more vulnerable to financial abuse.

Leaders from the criminal justice, financial services, legal services and community-based supports fields will gather at the Grappone Conference Center on April 20 in Concord to share perspectives and ideas for improving our state's response to elder financial exploitation in a collaborative, coordinated way.

New Hampshire is experiencing a rapid increase in the number residents who are 60 years of age or older, who can be vulnerable to exploitation due to isolation, health issues including dementia, and reliance on caregivers. This combination creates a perfect storm and the need for a comprehensive plan for responding to the financial abuse of older adults.

The Coalition Against Later Life Abuse and coalition member New Hampshire Legal Assistance have organized Combating Elder Financial Exploitation in New Hampshire: A Leadership Summit. Major funding support for the summit is provided by Endowment for Health and Bank of New Hampshire.

"Elder financial exploitation not only hurts the victim, but also negatively impacts their families and the community at large. It is a problem that needs a civil and criminal legal response, a health care response, and a local and state government response. We're so grateful our partners and sponsors recognize the dire need for a multi-disciplinary plan to address this crisis," said Cheryl Steinberg, director of the Senior Law Project at New Hampshire Legal Assistance.

The summit will feature Paul Greenwood, deputy district attorney in San Diego, California, as the keynote speaker.  Greenwood, a nationally recognized speaker and trainer, is a strong proponent of multi-sector approaches to address the issues of elder abuse – including financial exploitation. Ideas and recommendations generated at the summit will frame the agenda for continued discussion at regional follow-up meetings to engage additional leaders at the local level in the planning process.

Pyareo Home announces staff appointments

SANBORNTON — Amelya Colby, administrator of the Pyareo Home assisted living in Sanbornton has announced the appointment of two registered nurses to the staff of the home. The two, Serena Clairmont and Kelly Dow, support a staff of six licensed nursing assistants as well as providing direct care for residents.

Clairmont comes to Pyareo with 14 years of nursing experience and is a resident of Sanbornton. She earned her bachelor of science in nursing degree from Drexel University, Philadelphia. Clairmont has worked at Concord Hospital and is currently also affiliated with Memorial Hospital in North Conway. In commenting on her position at Pyareo Home she said, "I truly enjoy the environment here and the opportunities to know residents and their families one on one."

Dow has six years of nursing experience and is a resident of Laconia. She obtained her bachelor's degree in nursing from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in Manchester. She has worked at Concord Hospital and currently also serves as school nurse at the Elm Street School in Laconia. Dow said she fell in love with Pyareo Home the moment she walked through the door. "It so peaceful and welcoming. Each of the residents has their own private patio to enjoy nature. I wish I had known about this place when my grandfather needed assistance."

Pyareo Home is a small, nonprofit assisted-living facility in Sanbornton. It was conceived, designed and built by members of the community who were concerned about care for people without family options. Pyareo Home is a tobacco- and alcohol-free facility where residents enjoy healthy vegetarian living. For more information, see, or call 934-2300.

03-01 Kelly DowKelly Dow

03-01 Serena Clairmont 1Serena Clairmont





For retired wrestler "Big" Dan Vinal, the comeback is about his health


Dan Vinal

TILTON — Dan Vinal was born to be big. By the time he graduated from Winnisquam Regional High School, he was 300 pounds, and athletic, claiming the state wrestling championship in 1985. His success attracted the attention of Walter "Killer" Kowalski, who recruited him to train at his wrestling academy in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, he also started a restaurant, Big Dan's Family Pizza, in his hometown.

His wrestling career took off. And so did his weight.

"I owned a restaurant," he said. "I just got bigger and bigger."

His size was part of his cultivated identity in the professional wrestling marketplace. He traveled the world "like a rock star," earning several titles along the way, such as International Wrestling Federation's heavyweight champion. After 25 years, though, his body had had enough of jumping off of ladders and crashing through tables, so he retired from wrestling and found equal success selling cars.

And he kept eating. Now, he looks back on something his dad had told him many years ago.

"My father used to tell me, Danny, you don't eat to live. You live to eat. I took me years to understand what he meant."

His eating habits were unchecked. He said he was drinking a gallon of Mountain Dew every day. The result was inevitable, he grew to 700 pounds and was diagnosed with diabetes. He gave the disease little heed, though.

"I had the attitude that it wouldn't happen to me because I was a super hero," he said. But, several years ago, he came face to face with his own mortality.

"All of a sudden, parts of me started to fail."

He could no longer keep up with his kids, was getting tired earlier in the evening, and his eyesight was starting to go. He's since had three surgeries to correct detached retinas, a side effect of diabetes, but his vision remains compromised.

So, there he was, his body battered by a quarter-century of professional wrestling and in the throes of diabetes. And with his 50th birthday coming up on Feb. 17, he knew his youth was well in his past. But, Vinal has a phrase he keeps in mind.

"The comeback is stronger than the setback." And he started to change. Now, he doesn't drink anything but water, he is careful about what he eats, and he makes a point to eat his meals slowly and deliberately. "I'm actually tasting food differently now," he said.

The scale started to move in the other direction.

Around the beginning of the year, he decided to take his weight loss game to a new level. He started a program where he replaces two meals a day with nutrition shakes, he partnered with a coach, and he has added walking to his daily routine. He is now down to 355 pounds, "and it's coming off," he said. His blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol statistics have also seen a dramatic improvement.

His first walk was 200 yards, and it wasn't easy. But, he made it back to his home on East Main Street. His second walk was longer, and now he has the confidence to head out for two miles. Sometimes he walks downtown, but if he can get a ride, he prefers to walk at the Tanger Outlet Mall.

One of his tools, he has found, is his social network. He often posts on Facebook about his ups and downs, and he enjoys having people walk with him. He thinks he can help others, too, by his example. He said his weight loss journey has simultaneously been one of the easiest and most difficult things he's done. It's hard to make the first step, but the next one is easy, and the benefits start soon thereafter. It took him decades to get to 700 pounds, but just a few short years to lose half of that weight.

"It's one step at a time," he said. "The main thing is, I've been able to do all these great things in a very short amount of time."

Vinal invited anyone who wants to join him, just for a walk or to help him for the rest of his journey, to "like" him on Facebook or call him at 293-3007.

"I'm not starving. It's easy to do. It starts with getting off the couch and taking one step," he said. "If I can do it, after the abuse my body has taken ... Why can't I take some people with me, and walk."


What's Your Number?

By Carolyn Muller
Community Health Improvement Specialist

When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? High blood pressure is a common but dangerous condition. It means that that the pressure of the blood in your blood vessels is higher than it should be. Since February is National Heart Health Month, what a great opportunity to have your blood pressure checked, and if it's too high, make better control your goal.
About one of three U.S. adults, about 70 million people, have high blood pressure. Only about half of these people have their high blood pressure under control. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. People with high blood pressure are four times more likely to die from a stroke and three times more likely to die from heart disease, compared to those with normal blood pressure.
High blood pressure is called the "silent killer" because it often has no warning signs or symptoms and many people do not know they have it. That's why it is important to check your blood pressure regularly.

To keep your blood pressure in a healthy range and lower your risk for heart disease and stroke:
• Eat a healthy diet
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Get enough physical activity
• Do not smoke
• Limit alcohol use

If your blood pressure is high, there are steps you can take to get it under control:
• Talk to your doctor and ask what your blood pressure should be. Set a goal to lower your blood pressure and talk about how you can reach your goal. Track your blood pressure over time.
• Take your blood pressure medication as directed. Set a timer on your phone to remember to take your medication at the same time each day. If you are having trouble remembering to take your medications or if you are having side effects, ask your doctor for help.
• Quit smoking—and if you don't smoke, don't start.
• Reduce your sodium intake. Most Americans consume too much sodium, which can raise your blood pressure.

To improve your overall health, LRGHealthcare can help! Contact the Community Education Department at 527-7120 or for a listing of all upcoming classes.

Flint-style water crisis not likely to occur in Laconia


LACONIA — The ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan is as troubling to Laconia Water Works Superintendent Seth Nuttelman as it is to everyone else observing it. To the people who depend on water delivered by his department, he has a simple message.

"The chance of something like that happening in this area is very remote."

Levels of lead and copper in Laconia's water are so low that the Department of Environmental Science allows Laconia Water Works to test only once every three years. Lead, the culprit that has contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, is more than 300 times below the allowable limit in Laconia water. Nuttelman said that the maximum level for lead is 15 milligrams per liter, and the city's tap water tests show levels of .045. Copper is similarly scarce, with only .002 milligrams per liter in Laconia's water, while the limit is 1.3 milligrams.

The Flint, Michigan disaster began about two years ago, when city officials decided to draw their drinking water from the highly corrosive Flint River, instead of paying the city of Detroit for access to their water, which originates from Lake Huron. Despite the water's lower quality, the state Department of Environmental Quality didn't add an anti-corrosive agent, a decision which allowed the water to corrode the iron water mains and lead service pipes.

In October of last year, after months of insisting that the water was safe to drink, officials went back to using water from Lake Huron. However, the pipes are still leeching lead into the drinking water. Health experts fear that children who drank the water will suffer life-long neurological disabilities.

Laconia Water Works, which uses Paugus Bay as a water source, takes several steps to treat and filter the water before it comes out of residents' taps. Part of that treatment includes the addition of zinc orthophosphate, which prevents the transfer of metals from pipes entering the water. Nuttelman said that, even without the use of the anti-corrosion chemical, there's little opportunity for lead to enter the drinking water.

"I'm not aware of any lead pipes within our system," he said. Nearly all of the water delivery system is comprised of pipes made from copper and ductile iron. There are very few iron service pipes, and those might be joined with short lead components.

"Our system has been very well maintained," he said. That's a far different case than is seen in Flint, where long-term budget crises have resulted in old systems in need of repair and modernization.

"We're watching it very closely," Nuttelman said of the Flint situation. "It's disheartening, because it looks to me like various people dropped the ball at many levels along the way."

"It's obviously a great concern for health, especially for children. It doesn't speak well for the purveyance of drinking water. It looks to me like a lot of people weren't paying attention."