Michelle Gabrielle Centamore

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Long Island Elderly Claim Dignity and Independence at Home

Home healthcare aides are increasingly in demand (Shutterstock)

The so-called silver tsunami of aging Baby Boomers is creating a big spike in demand for home health aides to care for those who prefer to stay at home on Long Island.

Of 1.3 million Nassau County residents, more than 310,000 are older than 60 and the fastest-growing segment is those older than 85, who are expected to increase by 25 percent from 2015 to 2040. In 2015, Suffolk County had more than 320,000 residents age 60-plus and the population of 85-plus seniors is expected to more than double to 63,516 by 2040, according to the New York State Office for the Aging.

“Nassau County is getting older at a rapid pace,” says Jorge Martinez, deputy commissioner of the Nassau County Office for the Aging.  

In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor reported 2,927,600 home health aides and personal care aides employed in the United States. The BLS predicts a 41 percent increase in this industry by 2026 with 4,136,400 active employees.

“People want to age in their homes and in their communities as long as possible and not go to institutions for services,” says Bill Ferris, associate state director for advocacy for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). “Home care is one of the ways that keeps people who need services in their homes.”

WHAT IS HOME HEALTHCARE?

There are two different types of home care agencies: licensed and certified.

“The certified agency provides skilled services, such as physical therapists, to go into the home and are primarily reimbursed by Medicare,” explains Nancy Geiger, director of Gurwin Home Care Agency, Inc., a licensed agency that provides health aides and companions to Nassau and Suffolk counties. “Most people access this type of service upon being discharged from a rehabilitation facility or hospital.”

Agencies like Gurwin also provide such skilled services as nursing, speech therapy, occupational therapy and social work.

“The licensed agency provides paraprofessional services that are delivered by home health aides,” Geiger explains. “Specific services include showering, dressing, meal preparations, laundry, etc.”

They can also support services provided by a certified agency, for example, motivating patients to exercise according to a plan prescribed by a physical therapist. 

WHO QUALIFIES?

“Anyone qualifies for home health care, but those who are in the most need are the elderly and people with disabilities,” says Greg Massimi, chief operating officer of TLC Companions in Bethpage.

When considering home healthcare, Massimi says it’s important to recognize if the patient is able to live independently or not.

“Can the patient do all of their necessary tasks independently?” he asks. “If not, then home health care would certainly be able to provide the patient with a higher standard of life.”

 WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

“An aide can alleviate the feeling of having no one to talk to while also assisting with tasks around the house,” says Massimi. “An aide [also] allows for the family members of the patient to continue to live their lives uninterrupted while having the peace of mind that their loved one is being taken care of,” he adds.

But family members should do their due diligence.

“When you’re looking for an agency, you really have to do your homework,” says Amy Recco, co-owner with husband Michael of Friends for Life Homecare in Massapequa.

An assessment or consultation will help determine what is covered by Medicare or long-term healthcare insurance, what can be afforded out of pocket, time or supervision required from an aide, and specific needs of your loved one, she says.

Transitioning to home health care is not always easy. Both patients and their loved ones need compassion and support.

“It’s a big change for the patient because they have come from a place of living alone — being totally functional by themselves — to becoming more dependent,” says Geiger. “A lot of times, they feel like they are a burden to their family.”

Rocco notes that caregiver support groups offer much-needed solace.

“It’s very important that the caretaker gets as much support and help that they need, knowing that they are not alone,” she adds.

Long Island Medics Help Survivors Beat Breast Cancer

A doctor assists a woman undergoing a mammogram x-ray test. (Photo by Tyler Olson/Shutterstock)

The American Cancer Society says breast cancer is the most common newly diagnosed cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death of women in the U.S. But due to advanced research, treatment and therapies, the survival rate is increasing, and quality of life is improving for survivors.

And there are quite a few on Long Island. From 2011 to 2015, the average annual cases of female breast cancer were 1,295.2 in Nassau County and 1,316 in Suffolk County. The average annual deaths ranged from 191 in Nassau to to 201.8 in Suffolk, according to the New York State Department of Health.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here’s to giving hope for patients diagnosed with breast cancer:

EARLY DETECTION

A major advance in mammography has been the development of 3-D digital tomosynthesis, “which takes multiple images at different depths of the breast and has a greater ability to distinguish cancer from non-cancer,” says Dr. George Raptis, breast medical oncologist in the Don Monti Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology at Northwell Health Cancer Institute in Lake Success.

“New York has joined other states to add the requirement that if a patient has dense breasts, they should be informed [by their doctor] to consider a sonogram in addition to a mammogram,” which can further assist in detecting abnormalities, Dr. Raptis notes.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women age 40 to 44 who are at average risk should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms. Women age 45 to 54 should get yearly mammograms and women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every two years, or continue yearly screening.  Women who are at high risk for breast cancer should get an MRI and a mammogram every year, typically starting at age 30.

TARGETED SURGICAL TREATMENTS

“Oncoplastic techniques to treat breast cancer bring breast cancer surgery and plastic surgery together so patients now have a nicer outcome,” says Dr. Christine Hodyl, director of Breast Services at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside. For patients who have a mastectomy, immediate breast reconstruction now has better results, less pain and a quicker recovery, she adds.

Today, “giving dose-dense chemotherapy for patients [diagnosed] with early-stage breast cancer is dramatically improving outcomes,” says Dr. Raptis. Also, utilizing the Norton-Simon hypothesis — which states that the rate of cancer cell death in response to treatment is directly proportional to the tumor growth rate at the time of treatment — while treating HER2-positive breast cancer (a breast cancer that tests positive for the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 protein), has further reduced the risk of developing metastasis cancer, he explains.

“Genetic testing and counseling is a big field; we know more about the genes and can better identify those at risk,” adds Dr. Hodyl, referring to BRCA1 and BRCA2 [specific inherited mutations that can increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers] among others.

INCREASED AWARENESS

Patients are visiting their physicians sooner than later, which can lead to a better outcome, says Dr. Hodyl.

“People are also making good health choices overall, with or without a breast cancer diagnosis,” she adds. These include exercising, eating fewer processed foods and red meats, and consuming less alcohol. These healthy habits may help patients diagnosed with breast cancer respond better to traditional treatment, she says.

Dr. Hodyl advises women to bring anything suspicious — any change, lump or change on the skin, something that looks or feels different than before — to their physician’s attention.

RESOURCES

Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center
Stony Brook, 631-638-1000

CloSYS Oral Health Products
Relief for mouth sores associated with chemotherapy, closys.com

Good Samaritan Hospital
Breast Health Center, West Islip, 631-376-3000

Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition
Great Neck, 516-829-1139

Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition
Huntington, 631-547-1518

Natural Pain Solutions
Medical Marijuana, East Northport, 631-262-8505

Northwell Health Cancer Institute
Lake Success, 516-734-8778

Planned Parenthood
Hempstead, 516-750-2508; Smithtown.
631-361-7526, plannedparenthood.org

West Islip Breast Cancer Action Coalition
West Islip, 631-669-7770

Warning Signs of Ovarian Cancer: The Silent Killer

The teal awareness ribbon is a symbolic bow color for supporting patient with Ovarian Cancer, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Illness awareness.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, accounting for more fatalities than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

The ACS estimates that in 2018, about 22,240 women will be diagnosed with a new case and 14,070 will die from ovarian cancer. On Long Island, from 2012 to 2014, the ovarian cancer incidence rate was 718 per 100,000 — a regional incidence rate of 16.4 during that time period, according to the New York State Department of Health.

While a relatively uncommon disease, “Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of the gynecological cancers and one of the most lethal malignancies overall,” says Dr. Michael Pearl, the Director of Women’s Cancer Services and Medical Director of Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Stony Brook University Hospital. “Anything we can do to increase public awareness is really important.”

Because September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, here are some tips for what to watch for:

VAGUE SYMPTOMS

Of the four types of ovarian cancer — germ cell, stromal cell, small cell and epithelial — epithelial, which develops on the ovary’s surface, is most common, explains Dr. Pearl.

Early symptoms may include nausea, diarrhea, pelvic pain, and changes in appetite. As the disease advances, symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, bloating, vomiting, weight loss or gain, and difficulty with bladder or bowel functions.

RISK FACTORS

Women who have chosen not to have children or are infertile are at increased risk, says Dr. Eva Chalas, chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at NYU Winthrop Hospital. Obesity is linked to increased risk, as well as genetics and family history.

“On Long Island, we have a lot of women with the BRCA [BReast CAncer genes] mutation,” she says, noting the Ashkenazi Jewish population.

These genes typically suppress tumors, however, when they mutate, they can cause more harm. The ACS reports that women with a BRCA1 mutation have a 35 percent to 70 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer in their lifetime and women with BRCA2 mutations have a 10 percent to 30 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer by age 70.

“In the U.S., two-thirds of adult women are either overweight or obese, which has resulted in hazards to their health—cancer is one of them,” says Dr. Chalas. “Maintaining normal body weight and exercising regularly can minimize the risk of developing a number of cancers, including ovarian.”

There are no recommended screening tests to efficiently test for ovarian cancer, says Dr. Pearl.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against screening for ovarian cancer in asymptomatic women, determining that screening could result in harm, including false-positive test results and unnecessary surgical interventions. This applies to women with no symptoms who are not known to have a high-risk hereditary cancer syndrome.  

IMPROVING TREATMENT

“Chemotherapy agents have improved in effectiveness and tolerability,” Dr. Pearl notes. “Surgery has gotten better.”

PARP inhibitors, which help repair DNA, are available to patients with BRCA mutations.

“Most institutions are now doing molecular testing of tumor cells…there are ongoing trials looking at immunotherapies, vaccines and other targeted therapies,” Dr. Chalas says. “Survival for ovarian cancer has improved but we still have a ways to go.”

Additional funds for research and treatment are desperately needed, the doctors say.

Women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer must be treated by a gynecologic oncologist, asserts Drs. Pearl and Chalas. Comprehensive treatment by an expert will provide the best outcomes.   

SHOW SUPPORT

“When a woman hears that she has ovarian cancer, it’s not surprising she’s absolutely devastated and frightened,” says Sharon Lerman, LCSW-R, OSW-C, Manager, Social Work – Oncology, Monter Cancer Center, Northwell Health Cancer Institute in Lake Success. “It’s very important to become educated about the illness, advocate for yourself and work with your medical team,” which can include doctor(s), nurses, loved ones, social worker, nutritionists, etc.

Learn what resources — physical, emotional, psychological and financial — will best meet the individual needs of patient and family, she says.

 

Is Social Media Harming Our Youth?

It’s rare to see a teenager without a smartphone in hand.

Ninety five percent of teens ages 13 to 17 have access to a smartphone and 45 percent say they’re engaged in cyberspace almost constantly, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center study entitled Teens, Social Media & Technology. Many of those teenagers appear obsessed with social media apps such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, but at what cost?

With alarming rates of teenage depression and suicide, some relating to cyberbullying — a tragic local example being the 2010 suicide of West Islip teen Alexis Pilkington — parents are finding themselves in unchartered territory.

Worried about the negative effects of social media on teens? Here’s what to look out for:

CYBERBULLYING

In online interviews with 813 teens between the ages of 13 and 17, plus 809 parents of teens, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) found 23 percent reported experience with online harassment or bullying and 24 percent said they’ve felt pressure to participate.

“Cyberbullying has become a mental health challenge for a lot of young people,” says Laura Campbell, director of education at Bellmore-based Long Island Crisis Center and trustee on the board of the Long Island Coalition Against Bullying in Farmingdale. “It is a very threatening thing to be a youth today and know that in a second, someone could have that kind of power to post something you did wrong.”

Signs of bullying include increased frustration especially following phone use, lack of sleep, sloping grades, anxiety, depression, and decreased self-esteem. Parents who notice these behavior changes should “reassure your child that you’re there to help and will include them in the process,” Campbell says.

Listen. Validate. Help them to feel empowered.

FOMO: FEAR OF MISSING OUT

For many teens, their world exists in social media, says Campbell.

“They always want to be connected and fear they’re missing out on something when they’re not,” she says.

This is why most teens get anxious when their phones are taken away. Like adults, teenagers often post highlights of their day, neglecting to disclose unpleasant experiences.

“It therefore puts unrealistic pressure on impressionable adolescents to compete and be more concerned about appearance and social status, rather than more connected and nuanced relationships,” says Dr. Julian Herskowitz, Clinical Psychologist Director, TERRAP Anxiety and PhobiaCare, Huntington.

He notes that cyberspace can be a lonely place.

“Much emotion and context is lost if a person communicates more electronically than in person and [this] can add to feelings of isolation, being different, or lowered self esteem,” he says.

This may lead to “the emptiness that can motivate drug use or abuse.”

Social media makes teens question who their real friends are.

“Sometimes people will like their posts and be friendly on social media but then when they see them in person, they’ll walk right past them and not invite them to a party,” Campbell says.

Posted party photos only deepen the wound.

INCREASED DISCONNECT

Twenty-two percent of teens say they often butt heads with their parents about screen time while 26 percent of parents admit arguing with their children about it, the NCSA study says.

“It is up to parents to learn about social media and how it fits into our kids’ lives so they can learn to use it wisely [and safely],” says Shane G. Owens, Ph.D., ABPP, psychologist and president, Suffolk County Psychology Association, Commack.

Today’s teens interact differently, often more through social media than face to face.

“This can keep kids from learning important social cues and rules for behavior,” Owens says.

There has to be a balance. Social media doesn’t have to be negative. With education, it can help to rekindle old friendships, gain new ones and connect with the world.

North Fork Community Theatre Marks Milestone

The North Fork Community Theatre is gearing up for major renovations.

Since 1962, the North Fork Community Theatre has performed more than 200 high-quality shows in a quaint, circa-1830 space rented from the Mattituck Presbyterian Church.

Determined to make the beloved space their permanent home, the NFCT launched a fundraising campaign, “Building on Tradition,” aiming to raise $1,000,000 to purchase and renovate the structure. The community wholeheartedly embraced the endeavor and NFCT bought the building in 2012 for half their fundraising goal. It is now partially renovated, with major renovations to commence following NFCT’s Youth on Stage production of Seussical, running July 19 to Aug. 5.

“North Fork Community Theatre is an integral part of the community,” says Mary Motto Kalich, board president of NFCT. “The joy of working really hard on a project with like minded people…it is good for everyone, especially kids.”

The all-volunteer organization presents a fall and spring musical, two winter plays and a Youth on Stage performance in summer, providing an opportunity for individuals to use their talents, learn and have fun.

Seussical will showcase an “outrageous level of energy and talent in the kids [ranging in age from 14 to 22],” she says. Following Seussical, the NFCT will extend the stage by three feet on either side, build an orchestra pit and rehearsal room below the stage, and add new lighting.

“The main goal is to keep the local charm and feel of the theatre but also enhance outdated technology so our patrons can better see, hear and experience live theatre,” says Kalich.

North Fork Community Theatre is located at 12700 Old Sound Ave. in Mattituck. They can be reached at 631-298- 6328, 631-298-4500, or nfct.com Tickets cost $25.

Suicide Prevention: Talking Down Depression

The recent passings of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain left many asking, how could two successful people who brought others such joy be so unhappy?

Their tragic deaths raised awareness of suicide and depression, shedding light on startling statistics indicating a national uptick in people taking their own lives. If there is any silver lining, it is that the back-to-back celebrity suicides sparked a healthy, open dialogue about depression and suicide because, most importantly, while increasingly prevalent, it is also preventable.

“Spade and Bourdain were human beings struggling with a core human emotion — a profound sadness that caused them to lose all hope and take their lives,” says Eda Franco, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Nassau County. “It could happen to anyone.”

Rates of suicide have increased by 30 percent between 1999 and 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says that each year, nearly 45,000 Americans take their own lives. Locally, Nassau suicides declined from 100 in 2013 to 91 in 2015 and 141 to 137 in Suffolk for the same time period, according to the latest statistics available from the state health department.

Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, grandparents. Poor, wealthy, famous or not. All ages, any race, gender, ethnicity. Depression does not discriminate.

WIDE-RANGING FACTORS

Contributing factors to someone committing suicide may be unrelated to mental illness, experts say.

“A loss of a relationship on top of other losses, coupled with a lack of coping skills — for some individuals that could be a significant reason for them to consider their life worthless,” says Garra Lloyd-Lester, director of Community Initiatives for the Suicide Prevention Center of New York.

Feelings of deep shame, embarrassment, and being trapped could also cause someone to act irrationally in a desperate state, he notes.

Individuals with depression who are taking prescription medication for depression, anxiety, etc. must be consistently monitored, says Karen Boorshtein, CEO of the Huntington-based Family Service League.

“All medications have side effects,” she says.

Alcohol consumption in addition to drugs such as opioids can increase feelings of hopelessness, she adds.

KNOW THE SIGNS

“Look for changes in behavior,” says Franco.

Extreme exhaustion, irritability, sadness, distraction, aloofness, decrease in work productivity, lack of motivation.

“When you’re in a deep clinical depression, you may experience prolonged sadness,” she adds. “You don’t want to move.”

UNDERLYING MOTIVATIONS

“They don’t know how to go on living at that particular moment in time with the psychic and emotional pain they are feeling,” Lloyd-Lester says. “They’re not able to see clearly at the moment and everything leads in one direction [for them],” he adds.

Bring them to the present.

START WITH CONVERSATION

“It doesn’t have to be complicated,” Lloyd-Lester says. “It’s about being real and genuine and connecting with that person. So, if you ask someone directly and openly in a caring manner [if they are contemplating suicide] and they say ‘no’ and you don’t believe them, ask them if they ever did get to that point, what would they do or who would they tell?”

Most importantly, let them know they are not alone. Share resources. Trained professionals — counselors, therapists, psychologists, etc. — can help both the individual in crisis and their loved ones, too.

“People in the community can play a role in helping keep people safe,” Lloyd-Lester says.

It’s OK to talk more openly with kids, too, he notes: “How they understand it needs adult guidance.”

SUICIDE PREVENTION SOURCES

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
212-363-3500

Crisis Hotline and Services, Nassau County
516-227-TALK (8255)

Crisis Text Line
Text HOME to 741741

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
800-826-3632

Family Service League, Suffolk County
631-427-3700

Long Island Crisis Center
516-826-0244

Mental Health Association of Nassau County
516-489-2322

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
800-273-TALK

Response of Suffolk County Crisis Center
631-751-7500

Suicide Prevention Resource Center for New York
716-816-2249

The Trevor Project (For LGBTQ Youth)
866-488-7386

Lyme Disease Sufferer Fights For Patients’ Rights

Brad Schrwartz

After being bitten by a tick while hiking in Connecticut two decades ago, then-Wesleyan University student Brad Schwartz visited the college medical center, getting a clean bill of health.

After the bite and testing negative for Lyme disease, Schwartz began experiencing Lyme symptoms, several months later: lower back pain, joint pain and swelling, headaches, and trigeminal neuralgia on the side of his face. One year later, he developed a limp. Schwartz says that the lack of advanced and reliable testing, comprehensive treatment, and health insurance coverage to appropriately treat late-stage Lyme, wreaked havoc physically, mentally and emotionally and affected his family financially. He says his experience is not unique.

“Upon recovery, I became determined to stand up for patient rights and universal access to affordable healthcare,” says Schwartz, the Democratic challenger to New York State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill).

Schwartz says the odds were against him because the only test available when he was bitten was the ELISA test.

“The test is susceptible to false negatives, especially in earlier-stage Lyme where the body has yet to produce higher levels of antibodies, which is what the test looks for,” says Schwartz.

He sought answers and relief from rheumatologists, neurologists and orthopedists. One practitioner misdiagnosed him with a rare autoimmune condition and prescribed immunosuppressants.

“That likely further worsened my illness,” Schwartz says.

Despite his illness, Schwartz earned a master’s degree and pursued a career in film and television.

“By the time I turned 29 my body crashed,” he recalls. “I lost almost 60 pounds and could barely get out of bed. My family took me to the Mayo Clinic and Columbia Presbyterian, which has a Lyme Disease clinic.”

Doctors administered the new Western Blot test. Schwartz tested positive. While relieved to have answers, there was still much frustration.

“We ended up spending years and tens of thousands of dollars going down a rabbit hole while the illness decimated my body and finances,” he recalls.

But Schwartz wasn’t out of the woods. He learned that treating Lyme so late would take more than antibiotics.

“Without agreement among the medical community on how to treat late-stage Lyme, and insurance companies unwilling to cover most treatments, my family and I began another frustrating journey going from doctor to doctor and spending large amounts out-ofpocket,” he says.

Schwartz says that the protocol for treating late-stage Lyme needs to be changed.

“Unfortunately, there are many in the medical profession who still believe a two-week protocol of antibiotics cures late-stage Lyme,” he says. “Of course, the premise of treating any disease in a late or advanced stage with the exact same protocol as treating early onset is entirely faulty.”

“Lyme is expensive to treat,” he adds. “So, in addition to battling the disease, patients are subject to this battle with healthcare companies–left to choose between getting better or going broke.”

Schwartz says that creating awareness is critical, beginning with testing.

“Anyone suspected of having Lyme disease should receive both available tests—the ELISA and Western blot,” says Schwartz.

Physicians need to inform their patients that both tests are not reliable and false positives are possible.

“This is a law I would like to see passed here in New York State and which I would strongly fight for if elected to the state Senate.”

TICK PREVENTION TIPS 

Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected black-legged or “deer” tick. Between 2013 and 2015, 22,545 cases were reported in New York. Up to 10 percent go unreported, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Dr. Scott Campbell, director of Suffolk County’s Arthropod-Borne Disease Laboratory, offers some preventative tips:

Dress appropriately. When near tall grass, bushes, especially, cover skin with long pants or socks.

Apply tick repellent. It acts as a chemical barrier.

Do frequent tick checks. Lyme is transmitted between 24 and 48 hours.

Put clothes in dryer upon removal. Ten minutes will kill a tick.

Remove ticks carefully. Reach close to the skin and pull straight up. Avoid squishing. Put tick in rubbing alcohol; save it in a dated container if needed for testing.

Consult a physician following a bite or if you have symptoms. Symptoms could include a (bull’s-eye) rash, headaches, joint pain, swelling or stiffness, aches, and fatigue.

How To Achieve Feng Shui at Home

Feng shui includes comfy furnature and conversation-starting art in the living room.

Feng shui, the 3,000-year-old Chinese art of arranging surroundings to achieve a balanced “chi,” or energy, is increasingly being adopted to help people feel more at peace in their abodes.

The result is a healthier home or work environment and a more connected you, says Nadia Vee, award-winning designer, feng shui and staging expert, owner of Great Neck-based GNR Design, LTD., and faculty member of the Metropolitan Institute of Design.

Vee offers tips to get started with feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”) and embark on a wondrous path of opportunity

CLUTTER BE GONE

Sounds daunting, but by decluttering your space from nonessential “stuff,” you free your mind and almost instantly gain clarity, inviting opportunities for new, positive emotions and successes.

“Ask yourself, ‘Do I need it? Do I love it? Do I use it?’” Vee says.

If the answer is “No,” bid farewell.

OPENING TO PEACE

The path of opportunity begins at the front door.

“It is the transition between the outer and inner world,” says Vee.

This is where you make your first impression to others and set the tone for your day, your mood and your life. Make sure you can open the door to a 90-degree angle.

“If you can’t, it means you’re blocking opportunities,” she says.

Clear the entranceway of piles of shoes, magazines, newspapers or boxes. No squeaky door hinges. No overgrown greens.

Don’t take the easy way out by entering and exiting through side or garage doors, Vee says.

COOK UP PROSPERITY

It’s no secret that the kitchen is often the key gathering place for company and the life source of your home, where good, healthy food is prepared and enjoyed amongst family and friends.

The kitchen is symbolic of health, wellness and prosperity, says Vee. She suggests a round table with no sharp edges, a clean stove, and a decor that features earthy tones, not just on the walls and cabinetry but with displayable food — colorful fruits and vegetables and an herb garden, too.

FOSTER JOY, SERENITY

The living room or family room is where you entertain friends and enjoy quality time with family.

It’s where you socialize in the comfort of your home, regroup and reconnect. Earthy colors are [again] very important, says Vee.

“They enhance the mood,” she says.

Create a focal point — a fireplace, television or coffee table, in an area where everyone can gather together. Comfy seating is super important. This room needs to be warm and inviting.

Sentimental photos or children’s artwork are also a nice touch.

ART INSPIRES CONVERSATION

Art has information, a story. Nature has life. When both are strategically placed in the environment, energy radiates throughout.

Choose art — paintings, sculptures, photos, a special vase — that carries a positive message or triggers a fond memory. Welcome beauty, strength, prosperity and growth with lush, living plants, orchards or palm trees…a bouquet of homegrown flowers on the kitchen table, in the living room and hallway.

“If you have a small, dark bathroom, display a bamboo with rocks…you will be amazed how good it will do,” says Vee.

THE THREE S’S

“Sleep, sex and senses,” says Vee. “You’re spending so much of your life in the bedroom, replenishing your energy and connecting to your senses.”

The bed should be comfortable and always have fresh linens. Situate it against the wall with a clear view of the door and window(s) from the headboard. Represent an equal partnership by placing a nightstand on either side and assuring that there’s space for each partner to walk around the bed.

“The bedroom is a sacred place for you and your partner,” says Vee.

Decorate with soft, pastel colors. Avoid photos and memorabilia that are tied to negative memories.

When you initiate feng shui, you’re not just enhancing decor, you’re taking the next step toward a better you, Vee says.

Equal space for partners on either side of the bed is another tenant of feng shui.

Guys and Dolls a Hit at The New Argyle Theatre

Guys and Dolls is The Argyle at Babylon Village’s debut musical. Photo by Richard Termine.

The Argyle Theatre at Babylon Village made its Long Island theatre debut May 10 with the 1950 classic musical Guys and Dolls.

Father-and-son owners Mark and Dylan Perlman and artistic director Evan Pappas, along with their fantastic creative production team and cast, mounted an extraordinary production that put ear-to-ear smiles on a full house of excited theatregoers on opening night.

“It’s a very sweet show with great characters that you fall in love with,” Pappas says.

Guys and Dolls features brilliant choreography, lighting and a set that puts the audience right in the heart of New York City to experience gambling shenanigans, tall tales, broken promises and finally, unequivocal love.

Argyle’s beautifully renovated theatre boasts lots of legroom, new concession area, balcony and orchestra pit. The seats are quite nostalgic, too, as they’re right from New York City’s own Beacon Theatre.

The cast stars Elizabeth Broadhurst and Todd Buonopane as Miss Adelaide and Nathan Detroit, Spencer Plachy as Sky Masterson, Melissa Maricich as Miss Sarah Brown, and Robert Anthony Jones as Nicely-Nicely Johnson.

In addition to comedic flair, each actor portrays their character with so much heart and “honesty,” that “the audience is sure to go on their journey with them,” says Pappas.

With all-time favorites such as “A Bushel and a Peck,” “Luck, Be a Lady,” “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” and “Adelaide’s Lament,” Argyle’s Guys and Dolls is a toe tapping, hand-clapping, laugh-out-loud show, not to be missed.

Rounding out the cast are Piera Calabro, Connor Cook, Nancy Evans, David A. Ferguson, Tom Giron, Whitney Renne Hickman, Danielle Sue Jordan, Gerard Lanzerotti, Kyra Leeds, Cody Marcukaitis, Datus Puryear, Stephen Valenti, and Shelley Valfer.

“This production, while staying true to the story, music and lyrics, is so fresh and innovative,” Dylan Pearlman says. “The proof is in the pudding.”

Argyle Theatre, 34 West Main St., Babylon. argyletheater.com, 844-631-5483. Guys and Dolls tickets $74-$79. Through June 17.

Practice Sun-safe Skincare This Summer

Many Long Islanders are thrilled to shed their winter layers and spend warm, carefree days poolside, on the boat, or at the beach — but that’s what makes them so susceptible to skin cancer.

During that fun in the sun, remember to protect your skin — your body’s largest organ — from UV or ultraviolet exposure, experts warn.

Become better educated on skin cancer facts and prevention.

BEST DEFENSE

Consistent, daily sunscreen use reduces risk of melanoma by 50 percent, according to the New York-based Skin Cancer Foundation. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher that is labeled “broad-spectrum.” Apply to dry skin 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors; reapply .

BEWARE THE VARIATIONS

“Basal cell [carcinoma] is the most common and least serious; treatment is simple,” says Dr. Rajiv Datta, chair of the Department of Surgery, director of the Division of Surgical Oncology and Head and Neck Surgery, and medical director of Gertrude & Louis Feil Cancer Center at South Nassau Communities Hospital.

“Squamous cell is a little more serious,” he notes, but the outcome is typically positive. “Melanoma is very serious.”

It can spread to other organs, including the lymph nodes.

“All three skin cancers are related to sun exposure,” he says.

RISK FACTORS

“It is true that people with really light skin, freckles and light hair are more susceptible, as they have less of the skin pigment melanin in their skin cells,” Dr. Datta says.

AVOID TANNING BEDS

The New York State Department of Health bans the use of tanning beds for individuals under 18 years old.

Still, “the tanning bed remains a huge problem,” says, Dr. Abraham Abittan of Comprehensive Dermatology in Woodmere. “It induces a tan by utilizing UVA, which absorbs much deeper into the skin and has much more of a carcinogenic potential than UVB.”

LIMIT SUN EXPOSURE

“It breaks down the collagen and elastic layers of the skin and increases the rate of duplication of skin cells that can cause precancers of the skin,” explains Dr. Abittan. “Chronically sun-damaged skin will be atrophic, dry and more translucent than normal skin.”

GET SCREENED REGULARLY

“Unless you do a total body exam, there’s no way of knowing,” says Dr. Michael Dannenberg of Dermatology Associates of Huntington, PC in Huntington, who is affiliated with Huntington Hospital and other medical centers.

Adults should be seen annually, he says.

“If young children have a lot of moles, absolutely bring them in for a baseline exam,” he advises.

The qualities of the mole — size, color — should be recorded and monitored. Teenagers should also be seen for a baseline evaluation.

KNOW THE SIGNS

“Any single mole should be fairly homogeneous in color,” says Dr. Dannenberg. “If you have multiple colors within a single mole… if its diameter is greater than 6 millimeters or larger than a pencil, it absolutely needs to be evaluated.”

Any new spots, lingering sores, rough or scaly red patches that crust or bleed, and raised growths or lumps should be addressed, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

ABCS OF SUN-SAFE SKINCARE

Avoid direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. That’s when the sun’s rays are the most intense. Clouds do not block most UV rays. Keep extra sunblock in your purse, briefcase or backpack. Use it for quick application to the face and neck if you take a last minute walk or grab a bite outdoors.

Wear makeup with SPF. While it won’t replace sunscreen, added protection is always good, especially for morning errands.

Wear a wide-brimmed hat. Hats are fun, fashionable and more importantly, help protect your head, eyes, face, ears and neck from damaging rays. Choose one that is lightweight yet tightly woven.

Wear sunglasses. Damage from  the sun’s UV rays causes up to 20 percent of cataracts cases, according to the World Health Organization. Extended sun exposure can cause eye cancer. Achieve style and protection with close-fitting, wraparound frames.