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Understand, Prevent and Treat Dizziness

July 12, 2018

At some point in our lives, most of us will experience dizziness. Such episodes can last for varying durations and have many different acute or chronic causes. But being dizzy is not a normal part of aging and can quickly become a safety issue, especially among older adults who are more prone to accidental injury and death when they fall. Dizziness may also indicate a range of underlying problems, so it’s important to seek a correct medical diagnosis and treatment.

What is Dizziness?

The term dizziness can mean different things to different people. Dr. Jonathan D. Shenk, Founder of Valley Family & Elder Care, defines the symptoms of dizziness below. Sufferers may experience one or more symptoms:

  • Vertigo
  • Feeling faint
  • Unsteadiness
  • Room spinning
  • Loss of balance
  • Visual disturbances
  • Sick to stomach
  • Heart palpitations
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Low blood pressure

Many people are confused about the terms dizziness and vertigo. “Vertigo is the feeling that you or the environment around you is moving when it’s not,” says Dr. Shenk. “It’s a sensation of movement when you’re not actually moving. It can be a feeling of swaying, rocking, spinning or tilting. It’s a symptom of dizziness and not a diagnosis in itself.”

What to do if you feel dizzy

“If you experience vertigo specifically or dizziness generally, stop moving and focus your gaze on something,” suggests Rosemary Good, Physical Therapist for Vertigo and Dizziness at VMRC. “If you are standing, hold on to something, then sit down or lie down so that you reduce your risk of falling while the episode is occuring.” Moving slowly when changing positions also helps minimize symptoms of dizziness because it allows your blood pressure to adjust more gradually. If you experience chronic dizziness, consider consistently using assistive devices to reduce the risk of falling, and be sure to get checked by your physician.

Causes of dizziness

Dizziness can be caused by something as simple and straightforward to fix as dehydration or as serious as a defective heart valve. Other causes are an arrhythmia, hyperventilation, orthostatic hypotension, stress tension fatigue, vasovagal syndrome, vestibular dysfunction, inner ear infection, Meniere’s disease, cervical spinal issues, stroke, tumor and disruption of blood flow. Dizziness is a common side effect of many medications or combinations of medications.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (or BPPV) is the most common cause of vertigo. It comes in sudden, brief spells, but fortunately is not life-threatening. It’s triggered by certain head positions or movements, but can commonly be addressed through physical therapy.

Your inner ear is always sending messages to your brain about the position of your head and neck in space, telling you where you are in relation to the earth. The vestibular system in each of your ears is about the size of a dime and is composed of three semicircular canals connected to the utricle and the saccule in the center. The movement of calcium carbonate crystals in the utricle and saccule detects linear acceleration, and movement of the fluid in the semicircular canals detects angular and rotational movement. But sometimes the calcium crystals migrate away from the normal position and float into the semicircular canals, sending inaccurate info that does not match the other ear, thus causing BPPV.


Dizziness frequently can be treated by physical therapy and head maneuvers. Reduced stress, healthier eating and staying hydrated are other ways to reduce or cure some causes of dizziness.

If your doctor prescribes physical therapy, your therapist will ask you about your dizziness episodes and what triggers them. You may be subject to balance tests, gait tests and coordination tests such as blood pressure checks in different positions and tracking your eye movements. Your therapist may treat you with habituation exercises known as Cawthorne-Cooksey; teach you self-repositioning techniques; suggest strengthening, postural, proprioception and range of motion exercises; or direct you to do balance and vestibular training with eyes open and closed while on variable surfaces.

Practicing simple activities such as walking with head turns, walking at variable speeds, walking while reading, walking around obstacles, navigating inclines and steps and walking in low light or with eyes closed can also have a positive effect on reducing the frequency of episodes of dizziness.

Meet VMRC's New Sous Chef, Parks Dekle

June 26, 2018

Parks Dekle joined VMRC in April 2018 as Sous Chef and brings a great amount of knowledge and passion for cuisine to the VMRC dining team. Read on to learn more about Parks and his role at VMRC.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Augusta County. I learned to cook from my parents at an early age and discovered I had a passion for cuisine. I am mostly self-taught and have worked in a couple of different restaurants, and as the deli manager at Friendly City Food Coop in downtown Harrisonburg. I love fusion style food, but also love cooking authentic dishes with a creative twist on them. In my down time, I love to experiment with different ingredients and try recipes in new and inventive ways. When I’m not in the kitchen, I spend my time mostly creating art either on my computer, tablet or with good old-fashioned pencil and paper. I am currently a student studying Graphic Design with hopes to pursue that career in the future.

What does a typical day look like for you as a Sous Chef?

A typical day as Sous Chef here at VMRC starts with my morning meeting with the kitchen staff to communicate any concerns or questions the kitchen may have about the day’s menu as well as any catering needs. You’ll see me out in the Café several times checking in and communicating any needs to the kitchen staff. I oversee food production for Park Place which means residents can catch me down in the kitchen or dining room checking on lunch service there. I also oversee food production and presentation for Park Gables for dinner service as well as monitoring Catering to make sure both have everything on their menus in a timely fashion.

How do you see The Farm at Willow Run changing the dining experience here at VMRC?

Having worked at a local co-op here in town, I dealt directly with small and large local vendors and gained insight into how important local business is. I think The Farm at Willow Run is a major asset for VMRC, seeing as we are able to have a steady influx of great, local produce that, yes, saves us money when purchasing ingredients, but also gives us access to healthy ingredients for the residents. I plan on working closely with Tom in the future to grow some various crops that will give us an excellent variety in flavor and nutrition for residents here at VMRC.

Parks Dekle, Sous Chef

What drew you to VMRC and what excites you most about being here?

After years of mediocre jobs and experiences with food service, I decided it was time to look for a position with a company with values. I definitely think that I have found that place. I have been treated with so much respect in my short time here and have enjoyed every day that I am here. The dining staff is full of people from all walks of life and each person has their own skill set that I can’t wait to hone and make a big difference for the residents, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.

A fun one now…What’s your favorite vacation spot?

I love to travel and see new places and experience new and exciting things. One of my favorite places to visit has definitely been San Francisco, California. Seeing the diversity in the people and food was one of the best experiences for me to date. I also enjoy spending time at the Outer Banks in North Carolina where my family and I have been going every summer since I have been born. The relaxed atmosphere by the beach is truly refreshing and the food is outstanding every time.








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15th Annual Juried Art Exhibition Draws Artists from Across the Country

June 8, 2018

Art and art appreciation have a strong presence at VMRC, with the annual Juried Art Exhibition being a shining example. Now in its 15th year, the Exhibit showcases original watercolors, oil paintings, photographs and sculpture from artists across the United States. Over the course of the Exhibit’s history, 44 states and the District of Columbia have been represented with just Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North and South Dakota missing from the list. The Exhibit is currently on display in the Park Gables Gallery and will run through June 29.

Anne Pauley, Director of the Exhibit for more than a decade, leads the planning committee comprised entirely of VMRC residents. With more than 555 entries submitted from 201 artists across 20 states, it is no small task. A mathematician by trade, Pauley says, “I don’t come from an art background, so I had a lot to learn, but the artists needed someone like me who can help organize.”

 “We issue a call to artists on four different websites and to individual prospects with whom we have corresponded over the past five years.  Many artists hear about our exhibit by word of mouth as well,” says Pauley. All works submitted to the Exhibit must have been made within the past two years. Three jurors – all from academic communities in Virginia – review digital images of the submissions. They receive a ballot scoresheet on which they rate each item as ‘definitely’, ‘maybe’, or ‘not this year’. Out of the first round, more than half of the show’s works are selected. The second round of review, in which the jurors work collaboratively discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each piece, follows until all the spots are decided. Of the more than 500 works submitted, 89 pieces make up the final selections for this year’s exhibit.

As with anything else, the Exhibit has evolved over time. A new element incorporated this year includes organizing the works into three divisions: Drawing/Painting/Printmaking, Photography/Digital Art, and 3-D/Multimedia/Other. No predetermined quotas were established, however, for either works selected or awards given. Both are selected on merit.  

More than just bragging rights are on the line: 10 awards are given to outstanding works of art as well as a People’s Choice Award and new for 2018, Juror’s Choice Award. The Juror’s Choice is a new award this year that allows each juror to select a favorite that speaks to him/her on an emotional level as opposed to the intellectual selection for the collaborative awards.

All three jurors meet at the show to select one Best in Show winner, who receives a $1,000 prize. Four Excellence Award winners get $500 each, and Five Honorable Mentions earn $250 each.

The Juried Art Exhibition is open daily from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. through June 29.


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