DEAR SUN SPOTS: Kudos to the Lewiston Public Works Department in introducing its new Sand for Seniors program this year for those living in their homes.

— No name, Lewiston

ANSWER: This program delivers buckets of sand to those 65 and older who live in an owner-occupied building of three units or less. Public Works employees deliver sand in buckets provided by Sam’s Italian Foods to be used on ice and snow covered sidewalks and steps for those who signed up for the program in November.

This is a good time to remind everyone that if you have an older neighbor, please be kind this winter by shoveling their walk and steps and checking on them.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I was wondering what happened to Cameron O’Brien, the news reporter and Mallory Brook, the meteorologist, on Channel 6. We haven’t seen them for a while.

— No name, Peru

ANSWER: According to Cameron’s LinkedIn page, she is residing in Long Beach, California, and is freelancing as “a seasoned storyteller looking for branded opportunities.” She has found her niche searching out and sharing stories that resonate with a larger community as she creates, shoots, writes, and edits content for air on digital and linear platforms. Her company is called Elias World Media.

As far as New Jersey native Mallory Brooke, the former on-air meteorologist is now a private forecaster with Nor’easter Weather Consulting (noreasterweathercom). NWC focuses on providing customized forecasts to weather-dependent businesses that hold outdoor events, weddings, and manage other recreational services.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I was concerned when I read your column Dec. 4 about giving sugar-free candy to residents at an assisted living facility. Sugar-free candy can be dangerous for the elderly. The sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, etc. are known to cause diarrhea and other serious side effects. I would appreciate it if you would inform your readers so that they are at least aware if they develop a problem.

— No name, no town

ANSWER: Thanks for writing in with your concern. Here at Sun Spots, when someone writes in requesting something, unless it really raises an alarm, like guns or bombs or drugs, I plunk it into the column and hope they have a great outcome.

Sorbitol, xylitol and mannitol are all sugar alcohols with slightly different chemical structures and are very similar to glucose. For instance, sorbitol is about 60% as sweet as sugar, but it doesn’t raise blood glucose like sugar does. Mannitol is the ingredient often used in gum and candies that makes these products taste “cool.”

And while these substances are considered safe and help manage diabetes, weight loss, tooth decay and more, they can sometimes irritate the digestive system, especially in people with sorbitol intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, or if they are ingesting too much of it. Used in moderation, most people can tolerate these sugar substitutes without problems, but of course, there are those who are sensitive to them.

Furthermore, assisted living facilities have licensed and certified caregivers on board to see to it that the residents stay as healthy and safe as possible so I’m going to assume that the staff will monitor these seniors so that they don’t binge on candy, with sugar or not.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name. We won’t use it if you ask us not to. Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected].

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