Wellness programs: Howard County General Hospital will offer the following classes in October. Unless otherwise listed all classes will be held in the Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, Columbia. Information: or 410-740-7601.

•Advance directives. Understand what they are, who needs them, how to get them and how to complete them from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10.

•Self defense class for children ages 8 to 12. Learn the basic self defense techniques from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12. Cost $27.

•Prenatal class for early pregnancy. In the first trimester learn about the early stages of pregnancy including your body's physical changes, your baby's growth and easy ways to support your pregnancy from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 15.

•Smoke-free classes. This program provides support and education for those who want to quit as well as for those who have already quit from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 17 and Nov. 14. Attend one session or all sessions.

•Tired of being tired? Dr. Charlene Gamaldo Johns Hopkins neurology sleep specialist and director of the Sleep Center at HCGH will discuss common sleep problems like sleep changes that come from age, insomnia, especially in women and other disorders that get in the way of restful sleep, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 17.

•Maybe baby: A certified financial planner will discuss financial issues involved in starting a family. Also, learn how to protect your family should something happen to you and how employer benefits and government tax breaks can provide for your new family, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 21.

•Recurring back pain. A panel of speakers will discuss causes and treatment for back pain as well as solutions ranging from medical management and physical therapy to new pain management techniques and surgery. The panel will feature Dr. Mark Matsunaga, pain specialist, Dr. Oren Blam, orthopedic surgeon and Dr. John Collins, physiatrist from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 23.

•Preparing for total joint surgery. Toni Keller, P.A. will discuss what to expect and how to prepare for the best possible outcome from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 29.

Look good, feel better

This free program teaches beauty techniques to women with cancer to help them combat appearance-related side effects of treatment. Participants receive cosmetics donated by major manufacturers, as well as instruction and suggestions for wigs and head coverings. The class is taught by a licensed cosmetologist. Classes are held at 3:30 p.m. the third Monday of the month at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center in the Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Drive in Columbia. Information and registration: 888-535-4555.

VA outpatient clinic

The Department of Veterans Affairs operates a 13,300-square-foot facility to serve veterans in Anne Arundel and Howard counties. The clinic is at 2479 Fifth St., adjacent to the Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center at Fort Meade. Services include general outpatient medical care, preventive health and education services, various medical screenings, TeleHealth services and referrals to specialized programs and inpatient services available throughout the VA Medical Health Care System. Information: 410-305-5300.

Caregivers and seniors

Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland has received an 18-month, $500,000 challenge grant from the Maryland Home and Community Care Foundation, and additional funding from the Howard County Department of Citizen Services. A new program, SERVE (Services, Education and Resources for Vulnerable Elders), will work to improve the safety of seniors, enhance the quality of life for caregivers, help families find services, prevent premature institutionalization and reduce incidents of elder abuse and neglect. For information or to donate, go to

Blood donations

The Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross is requesting blood donations. Eligible donors can call 800-GIVE-LIFE to schedule an appointment. Platelet donors should call 800-272-2123.

Dance classes

Presented by Vantage House, a retirement community, classes are held from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays in the Vantage House auditorium, 5400 Vantage Point Road in Columbia. Dance has shown to improve balance, gait and mood in those with Parkinson's disease. Registration and information: Megan Wallnofer at 410-992-1691.