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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.

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



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