Good Samaritan Society-Specialty Care Community

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by Sharon St. Mary, Executive Director, Good Samaritan Society – Specialty Care Community At the new Good Samaritan Society -- Specialty Care Community in Robbinsdale, Minn., there is a Snoezelen® therapy room designed to help individuals manage Huntington’s disease behavioral or pain side effects. But what is a Snoezelen room?? (more...)
May 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Rob Dalton, guest blogger 

I had never met anyone with Huntington’s disease, so I was a little anxious walking through the doors of the Good Samaritan’s Society Specialty Care Community in Robbinsdale, Minn. My mission was to meet residents Donna and Krystal, both amazing young women who were caught in the grip of this debilitating disease. I was creating a brochure and video for Huntington’s Hope, a non-profit organization that awards scholarships to children of parents living with Huntington’s disease, and these women had volunteered to be featured.

On my drive over, I imagined a very quiet and dimly lit, hospice-like setting. But within my first steps into the lobby, the Specialty Care Community proved to be quite the opposite. 

Sophie, the dog, is an integral part of the Good Samaritan Society - Specialty Care Community.

Sophie, the dog, is an integral part of the Good Samaritan Society - Specialty Care Community.

Sophie ran up to greet me with “I’ve-been-waiting-for-you-all-morning” enthusiasm. That happy dog helped me relax immediately and feel at home. Within another minute, Chris Kline, Customer Experience Director, entered the scene. Chris and Sophie gave me a tour of the facility and introduced me to Donna, Krystal and other Huntington’s disease residents. While Chris pointed out features of the building, Sophie expertly traversed among the Huntington’s disease residents – making sure she gave lots of love and attention to everyone. Wherever Sophie went, a sense of happiness and home filled the room.It turns out, a growing number of psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists and physicians use dogs in their practices to help calm patients down or cheer them up. A Wall Street Journal article explains how a few minutes with a pet actually decreases stress hormones and increases hormones that govern nurturing and security.

Good Samaritan Society-Specialty Care Community has a mission which is to “share God’s love in word and deed.” One way to accomplish this and create a sense of home is to share a dog’s love.

May 8, 2013 | 0 Comments

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the discovery of the gene that causes Huntington’s disease. Today, Huntington’s disease genetic testing is relatively simple, involving a small blood sample. The test looks for the number of CAG repetitions on chromosome number four.

According to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, “Each of us carries the huntingtin gene - in fact we carry two copies of it: one from mom, and one from dad. The huntingtin gene has a section that varies naturally from person to person - a region made up of repeating 'CAG' triplets. (C, A, G and T are letters used to represent the four chemical building blocks strung together to form the DNA from which genes are made). Most people have about 15-25 CAG repeats in each copy of the gene. However, if a person has a huntingtin gene with more than 36 repeats, they will develop Huntington's disease at some point in their life. That's because large CAG repeats tell our cells to make a version of the huntingtin protein that's harmful. It's possible to find out exactly how many repeats an individual has in each of their huntingtin genes - and this is the basis for genetic testing.”

For a list of Huntington disease genetics testing centers, visit the Huntington's Disease Society of America.

Because Huntington’s disease affects the entire family, Huntington’s Hope raises post-secondary education scholarship money for the children of parents with Huntington’s disease. The organization hopes to raise $1 million in 2013 with 100 percent of Huntington’s disease donations going directly into an endowment fund to create these scholarships.

To help, please DONATE NOW.

Good Samaritan Society – Specialty Care Community in Robbinsdale, Minn., owned and operated by the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, is one of only eight long-term skilled care centers in the United States with a dedicated program for individuals with Huntington’s disease.

 

 

 

By Martha Nance, MD, Director, Huntington’s Disease Center of Excellence at Hennepin County Medical Center

 A Huntington’s disease diagnosis can often be difficult. Behavior changes may mimic symptoms of other diseases. Behavior changes in people with Huntington’s disease can include anxiety, moodiness, irritability, paranoia and psychosis. Mild involuntary movements may be noticed only by others or may be thought just to represent a nervous tic or twitch. Unsteady gait or changes in balance are common. Other common early Huntington’s disease symptoms include subtle changes in thinking and memory, sleep disturbance, and changes in personality or speech.

 A Huntington’s disease diagnosis starts with a careful description of the symptoms that are bothering the at-risk person and his or her family, as well as a family history. The doctor will then perform a physical exam, focusing on the neurologic and psychiatric aspects of the exam.  The results of the Huntington’s disease diagnosis exam can be measured using the Unified Huntington’s Disease Rating Scale, based on motor, behavioral, cognitive and functional assessments. 

A Huntington’s disease diagnosis includes neurological and psychiatric exams. During a neurological exam, a neurologist will conduct a variety of tests to study a patient’s reflexes, muscle strength and tone, vision and eye coordination, hearing, general coordination and balance, mental status and mood. A psychiatric exam will focus on his or her emotional state, general behavior, judgment ability, coping skills and indications of disordered thinking. The psychiatrist will also look for signs of substance abuse.

 Brain-imaging tests, such as an MRI scan, can aid in a Huntington’s disease diagnosis by uncovering structural changes at various locations in the brain that are affected by Huntington’s disease. Unfortunately, changes often are not noticeable until Huntington’s disease has progressed. The MRI scan, however, can also rule out other diseases that may be causing symptoms. A physician seeking a Huntington’s disease diagnosis for his or her patient may also order a neuropsychology consult, or neuropsychometric testing, to look carefully for the cognitive changes that are typical of Huntington’s disease, which may not be obvious during an office examination of thinking and memory.

Because Huntington’s disease affects the entire family, Huntington’s Hope raises post-secondary education scholarship money for the children of parents with Huntington’s disease. The organization hopes to raise $1 million in 2013 with 100 percent of Huntington’s disease donations going directly into an endowment fund to create these scholarships.

To help, please DONATE NOW

Good Samaritan Society – Specialty Care Community in Robbinsdale, Minn., owned and operated by the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, is one of only eight long-term skilled care centers in the United States with a dedicated program for individuals with Huntington’s disease.

 

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