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 Stoneham Selectwoman Colarusso Addresses Issues Facing Elderly Minimize

Issues Facing Our Elderly About Long Term Care

By Caroline Colarusso
Stoneham Selectwoman

The fastest growing population in the nation is the elderly. According to Census Bureau data, by 2050 the elder population is expected to double from approximately 41 million to 87 million. Recently I visited Stoneham's Bear Hill Nursing Facility and the Arnold House to discuss with issues facing elder long term care.

Many of us find ourselves caring for aging parents as they need assistance. As a daughter caring for her mom with Alzheimer's, I understand these challenges first-hand.

My mom was a healthy, active, independent woman who suddenly began demonstrating signs of memory loss, confusion, and failing to recognize people she had known for years. Family members can sometimes dismiss these symptoms as signs of old age or dementia, but early diagnosis can be critical to seniors in battling this disease.

My mom was originally misdiagnosed. Many elders can function normally with early signs of Alzheimer's as they can get their shopping done, attend appointments, and take care of their basic living needs. It's the little things that should raise the red flag, like forgetting the date or misplacing keys.

Alzheimer's is progressive in nature and that's why it's important we recognize the signs and symptoms of the early onset of the disease. According to ALZ.ORG, as many as half of people with Alzheimer's and other dementias have not been diagnosed. Early detection improves access to medical and support services, provides an opportunity to make legal, financial, and care plans while the affected individual is still capable.

Save the date – November is ALZHEIMER'S AWARENESS MONTH. To increase awareness, I'll be hosting a community meeting on the importance of detecting the early warning signs of Alzheimer's. For those facing caring for elderly parents or spouses, I encourage you to attend stay tuned for the details on this event. My hope is that this event will help people will recognize the early warning signs of this disease and seek diagnosis and treatment. Early detection can prove the quality of life for those who are afflicted.

We are lucky to have quality facilities locally. Stoneham's Bear Hill Nursing Home provides a wide array of services which include skilled nursing services, subacute care program, short-term rehabilitation services, hospice, and long term care services. The Arnold House, a smaller facility, sits on a lovely landscaped property adjacent to the Golf Course on Williams Street. I hope that you will join me at 1:00 pm on November 16th for the informational meeting.

I will hold office hours next week on Tuesday, Oct. 13th, from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm at the Stoneham Town Hall Board of Selectman's Office located on the 2nd floor. Also, on Friday, Oct. 16th, I will hold office hours from 9:00 am to 10:30 am at the Stoneham Senior Center located at 136 Elm Street. That same morning, from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm I will hold office hours at Stoneham Town Hall in the Board of Selectmen's Office on the 2nd floor. Feel free to call me at 781-438-5720 or email me at if you need assistance.


 Money Raised for 'Wounded Warrior Project' Minimize

The Resident Council at Bear Hill Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Stoneham, Mass. held a raffle to raise money for The Wounded Warrior Project which benefits American veterans and their families. The prizes were a variety of spectacular baskets created by the staff of Bear Hill. Pictured above are (left to right) Bear Hill Activities Director Marie White, Resident Council President Nina Raia, resident Elinor Roden, and Director of Nursing Peg Archidiacono, RN.

 Valentine's Day Fundraiser Benefits Hallmark Hospice Minimize

Valentine's Day Raffle — The residents at Bear Hill Rehabilitation and Nursing Center held a "Buy a Sweet Treat" fundraiser on Valentine’s Day along with a raffle which was a great success. Proceeds of the event were donated to Hallmark Hospice. Top left to right: William Ring (Administrator), Marie White (Activities Director), Jan Gregory (Hospice Nurse), and Jean Bruno (Hospice Chaplain). Bottom left to right; Bear Hill residents Elinor Roden and Nina Raia (published in the Stoneham Independent newspaper)

 Bear Hill Rehab In The News Minimize

The Stoneham Independent 

Bear Hill Residents Hold Successful Bakesale Fundraiser for Domenic

JANET SOUSA OF THE BEAR HILL NURSING CENTER lent a hand at the Fall Festival Bake Sale and Raffle in an effort to raise funds for a local youth fighting cancer.

In support of a local boy in his battle with cancer, Barbara Kirk and Nina Rayia, Vice President and President (respectively) of the Residents Council, organized the bake sale event with help from Eleanor Roden, Director of Activities Carolyn Reid, and the late Edna Dorgan.


Nursing Home Residents Honor Administrator for Innovative Program

Residents at the Bear Hill Rehabilitation and Nursing Center awarded their own administrator, Bill Ring, for implementing a new program—"Two's Company"—at the rehabilitation and long term care facility in Stoneham, MA.

Ring conceived and developed the program to give higher-functioning residents a sense of purpose and satisfaction, and to provide less fortunate residents with peer socialization and support. All participants benefit from friendly interaction and caring exchanges of the program, implemented through the perseverance of the Activities Department of Carolyn DiBennedito, Heather Hill and social worker Jenny Ford. Family members and care givers alike praise the program for the positive impact it has made in the residents' lives.
In the foreground are Edith Howe, Grace Rufo and Marcia Hume, who presented the award to administrator Ring (standing).

The Stoneham Independent 


Bear Hill rehab is good to my family

Dear Editor: I consider Bear Hill Rehabilitation & Nursing Center to be one of the finest nursing facilities in the area. Both management and the administrative staff are very professional, kind, courteous, caring and compassionate to all of your needs and concerns.

Any situation is always handled with efficiency, diplomacy and their on-going efforts to always assist you with any help you may need. They always show respect and are very dedicated in all they do for the family members, and most importantly, for their loved ones residing at Bear Hill. This facility always maintains a bright, cheery, exceptionally clean and happy atmosphere, that always welcomes you whenever you visit your loved one.

My mom is very well cared for; safe and protected while living at Bear Hill. The nurses have always been extremely kind, professional and helpful in any way they can to care for my mother and her needs, as well as to always listen to any of my concerns and be of help to me.

The staff and the individuals that I have come to know deserve much praise and recognition for all the hard work and dedication they give. “Hats Off!” to all of those who contribute in making Bear Hill the great facility that it is. I am proud to say that Bear Hill is a place to call “Home” for my mother! 

-- Linda S.



 The Boston Herald

By Tom Walsh

Nursing budget back to health should not deprive the elderly

Imagine my surprise when a cute young nurse called my dad her "Clint Eastwood."

Dad was a skinny, bifocal-wearing, dentured, thin-haired 77-year-old living at Bear Hill Nursing Home in Stoneham. He used a cane and a walker but had a heck of a smile. So it caused quite a laugh when, the nurse told us at our father's wake, how she would play cops 'n' robbers with him as she made her rounds. She was the robber, he was Dirty Harry with Polident.

In the seven years he lived there, Bear Hill, like other facilities, placed a heavy emphasis on the "home" part of its name. So it's with no little outrage that I read about Gov. Mitt Romney's plan to change the rules covering a nursing home's ability to hold a bed for a resident who requires a hospital stay. A Romney official told a Herald reporter this week that there are between 3,500 and 4,000 beds held each day for nursing home residents who are in the hospital.

"It's a day of payment in which the facility provides no services to MassHealth," the spokesman said. "We simply shouldn't and can't pay for services we're not receiving."

That's a shortsighted point of view. What if the State House staff jettisoned all the governor's files and computers and furniture every time he was out of town for a few days, forcing him to find a new office when he came back? The notion that the state is not receiving a service from the nursing home on days a person is in the hospital is flat out wrong. The nursing home isn't just holding a bed; it's maintaining a room that has become a person's home.

The trouble is, our mothers, fathers and grandparents who need nursing home care are likely to require a spell in a hospital at some point. In many cases the thought of going back to a familiar environment is what helps elderly patients get through a hospital stay. My dad--no stranger to hospitals--was always comforted in the days after a surgery by the phrase, "Don't worry dad, you'll be going home soon."

Home was his room at Bear Hill, with his blue recliner, the pictures of friends and family on the wall, the Herald delivered to his bed each morning and his plants in the window. More than that, it was the staff, from kitchen helpers to janitors to nurses and administrators, who would stop by his room or talk to him in the library or the hallway that became an extended family, people who took the time to know and love him in the years he lived among them.

Why should an elder who has raised a family, paid his taxes and served his country be forced to adjust to a new setting in a time when he is most vulnerable? What if the room is given away and the home fills to capacity? Should a resident and family be put through the ordeal of finding another home? In January, my dad was forced back into the hospital again. This time, he was slipping away and we knew it was the end. We didn't want him to die in the hospital, so we took him home--back to Bear Hill, where his room was waiting.

From the time he was back inside until he passed away a day later, his nursing home family came by to visit with him and us. They cried with us, laughed with us and prayed with us for this man who wasn't just a patient to them.

The state budget may be a mess, but fixing it without taking into account the needs of vulnerable citizens is poorly thought out.

Tom Walsh is a Boston Herald reporter. As You Were Saying is a regular feature of the Boston Herald. We invite our readers to contribute pieces of no more than 600 words. Mail contributions to the Boston Herald, P.O. Box 2096, Boston, MA 02106-2096, fax them to 617-542-1315 or e-mail to oped@ All submissions are subject to editing and become the property of the Boston Herald.



The Stoneham Independent

In praise of Bear Hill Nursing Home

Dear Editor:

The family of the late Olga Guerrini wishes to acknowledge the excellent care provided to her at the Bear Hill Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Stoneham. Olga had been at the Nursing Center for the past five years until her recent passing in February. Olga enjoyed her stay and made many friends.

She especially enjoyed Saturday nights watching Lawrence Welk together with her friends while having refreshments. The staff of Bear Hill was always attentive and caring and provided a surrounding for Olga that was like home-away-from home. Early in her stay when she was more able, she attended many of the activities regularly planned by the nursing center for their residents.

They also provided space for us to hold parties for Olga. These parties were always a hit with the other residents and staff alike and brought great cheer to her. Over the past few months the staff were very supportive during difficult times and kept Olga as comfortable as possible.

We would like to extend our heartful thanks to all at Bear Hill Nursing Center for their great spirit of commitment and love for their residents.

-- the Family of Olga Guerrini



BOSTON, Ma. — Mass Senior Care members are continuing their focus on building relationships with legislators by attending meetings at the State House. The meetings are an essential component of Mass Senior Care's “Respect & Protect” Campaign, an ongoing effort to educate legislators on senior care issues and cultivate legislative support for funding quality care.

Discussions center around the importance of adequate Medicaid funding, with individual members speaking to the specific challenges they face providing care to residents.  Mass Senior Care thanks all of the Ambassadors and members for attending these important meetings, sharing their personal stories with legislators, and committing themselves to our advocacy goals.

State House meetings on the topic included a get-together (pictured above) with:

Senator Katherine Clark (center)

William Ring (far right), Bear Hill Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a long-time advocate for residents' rights
and currently the Massachusetts Senior Care Ambassador for the district

Rebecca Kix (far left), Wingate at Reading

Meghan Tarr (second from left), Apple Valley Center

Justin Quint (second from right), Wakefield Care and Rehabilitation Center



BOSTON, Ma. —  The Boston Herald reported in a story about nursing home performance that Bear Hill Rehabilitation and Nursing Center was one of the top-performing nursing homes in Massachusetts, based on its repeated history of top scores during evaluations by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The article wrote that "Administrator William E. Ring Jr. said one of the keys to running a successful nursing home is supportive ownership. Bear Hill is owned by Commonwealth Management."

In quoting Administrator Ring, the article said "'It really starts there and everything follows. You have to have ownership that gives you the tools to do the job,” he said. “We have a very liberal budget. The philosophy is to do what’s best for the people entrusted to us first and hopefully good things will happen.”

Bear Hill also has low staff turnover. Ring, who has 38 years experience as a Massachusetts nursing home administrator, and the director of nursing have worked at Bear Hill for over 20 years. Management heads are “out and about,” in the facility, which ensures quality care, he said.

“We have a management team that’s very much hands on with high visibility and high accessibility,” he said. “That’s one way you get in compliance. You have to be out there and paying attention to what’s going on. They prepare every day.”

In addition, Bear Hill does not employ temporary workers to augment the 220 full-time and part-time employees. However, the center does have a partnership with a local nursing college program.

By Rich Tenorio for The Stoneham Sun
Aug. 26, 2015

STONEHAM, Ma. — Three years ago this October, when Everett resident Doreen Odian's mother, Bette Dudley, began suffering from dementia, Odian made the tough decision to place her mother in a nursing home. After a brief stay in that facility, though, Dudley was unhappy.

"She cried for a week," Odian said. "She hated it. They put her in a severe Alzheimers unit."

Odian learned about the Bear Hill Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Stoneham.

"I researched and researched Bear Hill," she said. "I had to work. I had three kids in college. My husband must work. She wasn't reading my notes. She wasn't eating good... Wearing the same clothes. She needed people to oversee her."

She arranged a speedy transfer with Peg Archidiacono, the facilty director of nursing services. She called Archidiacono on a Monday afternoon at 4:30-4:45 p.m.

"They had one bed open," Odian said. "I asked to look at it. I said I would be there at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. She called the other facility said 'I would like to transfer her. Her daughter is goiong to bring her.'"

The move took place at 1:00 p.m. that afternoon. Since that time, Odian has nothing but praise for the facility.

"She has not cried nor asked once to go home," said Odian, a medical secretary for North Suburban Orthopedics in Malden.

With her daugher getting married in two months, Odian took a moment to reflect on the time her mother has been at Bear Hill and the difference the staff has made in the lives of their family.

"A nurse offered to take her to the wedding," Odian said. "I can't say enough good things."

Dudley lives on the first floor of the facility in the long-term care unit. She will turn 82 in September. She used to work in a school cafeteria. Her roommate is actually someone she knew years before from their hometown of Everett. The roommates each have their own TV, and Dudley has been placed by a window. Odian decorated her room with flowers. Odian and her husband, Jim Odian, take Dudley out once or twice a week.

"Part of our policy is to embrace family involvement," said administrator William E. Ring Jr. "The families know more about patients in residency than we'll ever know. We welcome family involvement. At a lot of functions, we invite families in."

Doreen Odian has gotten invited to Thanksgiving dinner at Bear Hill.

"They try to do a lot of activities," she said.

That includes group activities once a month, a New Year's singalong and a Christmas trip to a shrine.

At Bear Hill itself, there is a dining room with a pub and grill, featuring entertainment such as accordionists, country line dancing and bingo and movie nights. The Stoneham Coin Club makes monthly visits.

The facility straddles the Stoneham-Wakefield line and, Ring said, "if you have a good arm and you throw a golf ball north, it'll land in Reading."

He also said, "We try to prioritize the needs of folks from local communities, Stoneham, Wakefield."

The privately-owned facility is not part of a chain. Management admits about 500 people a year and sends about 80 percent of people home after short-term stays.

"We have a very friendly, upbeat, kind and compassionate staff," Ring said. "They're the ones that make it happen."

Odian agrees.

"(From) the janitorial staff, the CNA, the food people, to everbody, they're so pleasant, so sweet," she said. "They always say hello, 'Hi, Bette.'... They have gone above and beyond for her."

She also said, "Every single person in the place is unbelievable."

Odian said that while her mother cannot remember something that happened five minutes ago, she can remember events that took place years ago.

"We talk about the old days, the good times," Odian said.

Odian is her mother's health-care proxy and has power of attorney. She applied for MassHealth to help with caring for her moth. She has one brother, who lives in Ohio. Her father died at age 56.

She said that her children and husband have been "wonderful, and also praised her niece and nephew.

"My family is there to visit her," she said.

She also gave Bear Hill the ultimate compliment, through her mother.

"It's like my mother called it 'my home,'" Odian said. "Her home."



STONEHAM, MA — Bear Hill Rehabilitation and Nursing Center received the 2015 Post-acute Collaborative Participation Award from the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). The award recognizes post-acute facilities that participate in the Collaborative and have shown dedication in improving the care stroke patients receive in the post-hospital setting.

Collaborative participants have been collecting data on stroke patients, participating in regional meetings and learning session, and participating in quality improvement activities in their facilities.

“At Bear Hill we strive to provide exceptional care to all our patients. We are proud to be working on improving the post-acute care of stroke patients. Being honored by this award emphasizes the importance of our work,” said Peg Archidiacono, RN, Director of Nursing at Bear Hill.

Stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death in the Commonwealth, and a leading cause of adult disability. Immediate assessment and treatment is critical to help improve outcomes.

Knowing the key signs and symptoms of stroke and calling 9-1-1 immediately can save a life. The F.A.S.T. acronym is an easy way to remember:  

  • Face: Does the face look uneven? Ask the person to smile
  • Arm: Does one arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms
  • Speech: Does the speech sound strange? Ask the person to repeat a phrase
  • Time: If you observe these symptoms, call 9-1-1

For more information about the Massachusetts Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Registry, or about FAST and the DPH stroke awareness campaign, please visit:

Bear Hill Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has been providing outstanding health care in the Boston area since 1983. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health designated Bear Hill as a Coverdell Post-Hospital QI Collaborative member in 2014. For more information, please contact Peg Archidiacono, RN, Director of Nursing at 781-438-8515 or via email at



Our facility was the place to be when over 60 people gathered for breakfast and a discussion of senior care issues. Hosted by Bill Ring, Administrator of Bear Hill and a Mass Senior Care ambassador, the event was attended by several area nursing center administrators and associate members, as well as residents and staff of Bear Hill and honored guests Senator Jason Lewis and Chairman of the Stoneham Board of Selectman Paul Rotundi.

The event featured a facility tour, a full breakfast and a program with comments by Senator Lewis, host Bill Ring, and Tara Gregorio, Mass Senior Care Director of Government Relations. Representative Lewis, a frequent visitor to Mass Senior Care facilities in his district, shared his views on Massachusetts health care and his belief that health care is a basic human right.  Tara Gregorio outlined the Commonwealth’s plan to create Accountable Care Organizations and the need for a cooperative effort to reduce costs and improve quality of care by reducing unnecessary hospitalizations,

and also stressed the need for adequate funding for quality nursing home care in Massachusetts.  The Breakfast is one of many events hosted by Mass Senior Care members with a goal of educating and informing the public about critical senior care issues.

Pictured: Enjoying breakfast and conversation at Bear Hill’s political breakfast were Bear Hill resident Katie Jones, Senator Jason Lewis, Administrator Bill Ring, Tara Gregorio of Mass Senior Care, and resident Mary Pothier.



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