Understanding the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia

The terms Alzheimer’s and dementia are often used interchangeably, when in fact “dementia” is an umbrella term for symptoms that cause a disruption in brain function, such as memory loss and changes in cognitive abilities. Alzheimer’s disease is just one type of dementia. As the Alzheimer’s Association further explains, dementia is a general term used to describe a “decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.” Alzheimer’s is a specific disease, (whereas dementia is not), and makes up 60 – 80% of dementia cases. 

According to Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), almost 50 million people globally are affected by some form of dementia, with a new case occurring somewhere in the world every three seconds. This statistic is incredible and underscores the importance of knowing the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia. Understanding the difference between the two terms will give you the tools and knowledge necessary to best care for your loved one.

Dementia

Although dementia typically involves memory loss, experiencing memory loss alone does not mean you have dementia. The symptoms an individual may experience will vary depending on the cause of dementia, but most common signs include, but are not limited to: 

  • Cognitive changes such as memory loss, difficulty communicating, confusion or feeling disoriented, or difficulty problem-solving or multi-tasking.
  • Psychological changes that may include depression, anxiety, inappropriate behavior, and personality changes.

It’s important to remember that individuals are not always affected the same or experience the same symptoms as others. The damage to the nerve cells and connectors to the brain will affect each person uniquely, thus presenting different symptoms at different times. 

Alzheimer’s Disease

This progressive neurological disorder causes a continuous decline in one’s independent functioning, affected by cognitive changes and skills such as social and behavioral. Scientists do not know the full extent of what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but they do see a small percent of patients that present mutations of certain genes, which would point to a genetic factor. Additionally, you may have heard the term plaques and tangles. Individuals with Alzheimer’s have these plaques and tangles in their brain and is one thing that leads to the impairment and brain cell disfunction. As the Mayo Clinic describes it, plaques are clumps of the beta-amyloid protein and tangles are fibrous tangles made up of the tau protein. Together the plaques and tangles disrupt and cause damage to the brain’s healthy neurons and the fibers that connect them. 

Alzheimer’s Whisperer

At HealthStar Home Health, we understand how overwhelming and difficult it can be to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other type of dementia. As a leading cause of death amongst seniors, it is a devastating diagnosis and one that truly affects the patient’s family members and caregivers alike. Knowing the difficulty in caring for a loved one with this disease, HealthStar developed a program, Becoming an Alzheimer’s Whisperer, which sets them apart from other home health care agencies.

This comprehensive and effective Alzheimer’s and dementia home care program is a unique approach to caring for individuals affected by dementia, whether the patient is living at home or in an assisted living community. Focusing on more than just nursing, this multi-disciplinary team of professionals come together to develop an understanding of how the disease is progressing at a personalized level, to then be able to provide friends and family with the tools necessary to support and care for their loved one. 

If you know someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, let the caregivers and Alzheimer’s Whisperers at HealthStar Home Health help. Call us today for more information on how to become an Alzheimer’s Whisperer or how this program can help you care for your senior loved one.

Ketamine Therapy Treatment

Since 2003, HealthStar Home Health has been committed to providing culturally-relevant healthcare services to traditionally under-served populations. We are constantly working to understand the communities we serve to ensure we are responding to their needs. Our clients benefit from the range of healthcare services that we provide, from Alzheimer’s and dementia care to behavioral nursing, home health care nursing, respite care and more. In an effort to expand our available services, we are thrilled to announce a new initiative with TRU Health and Wellness to offer Ketamine Therapy Treatment.

With an ability to safely anesthetize patients, quickly and with few side effects, Ketamine is most commonly used as a sedative medication for short procedures and induction of anesthesia during surgery. Ketamine has been used worldwide since the early 1970s on both humans and animals and is part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of essential medicines.

How it Works

Dating back to the 1990s, researchers began to notice that Ketamine produced a positive affect after receiving just one dose. As research expanded to intramuscular and intravenous injections, it was confirmed that the subjects showed improved symptoms of depression. And recently, further studies continue to show this trend, as well as other studies that are still in progress that point to the success in treating disorders such as chronic pain, addiction, bipolar disorder, migraine headaches and more. To learn more about how Ketamine works with the receptors and synapses of our brain, click here.

New Initiative

TRU Health and Wellness is located in Minnetonka, Minnesota and offers customized, state of the art treatments with an integrative approach to address acute and chronic pain, including mental health and substance use. Studies from leading institutions confirm the efficacy of IV Ketamine Infusion Therapy in treating a wide variety of mood disorders and various pain conditions. All Ketamine IV infusions are administered under the direct supervision of an anesthesia care professional and are significantly lower, at about 5-10%, than when used for sedation or induction of anesthesia.

HealthStar Home Health and TRU Health and Wellness both offer services that are aligned with each of their commitments and values. Community-based care is the hallmark of our work and the value-based cultural competence program, 24ECC, is still an important part of our daily engagement. To learn more about HealthStar’s 24ECC program, click here. Your health is our highest priority and with the addition of this initiative with TRU Health and Wellness, we are committed to helping you on your journey to physical and emotional wellness with dignity and compassion. If you or someone you love would benefit from Ketamine Therapy Treatment, begin your wellness journey by requesting a consultation today.

Why We Love Our Caregivers

As we continue to move into a new year after—following one that rocked us to our very core—we must take time to recognize those which we could not function without. These people, of course, are our caregivers. So, we want to take some time this month to extend a huge thank you to all that work to serve others every single day and let them know why they mean so much to us.

Keeping Things Interesting

Whether they’re helping to prepare dinner, assisting with daily activities, or providing advanced Alzheimer’s care, our caregivers & healthcare professionals truly do it all. They absolutely love getting that one-on-one time with everyone they work with, while also getting to care for them in a variety of ways. For example, our health care professionals find great joy in the respite services that we offer to those who also care for a loved one from day to day. This service helps support and maintain a healthy relationship and provides a positive experience for the person receiving care, all within the comfort of one’s own home!

Now, when the COVID-19 lockdowns began, services like this became challenging to continue giving with our sense of 100% assured safety. But, thanks to our wonderful team of healthcare professionals, we were able to continue safely providing care for all our wonderful clients. This included informing family members of things they could do to help on their own, regularly performing COVID-19 tests for our entire staff, or working with families to ask if moving to full time facility care was something that was right for them. They faced these challenges head on with a smile and did everything they could to continue working safely with our beloved clients. And for that, we don’t know what we’d do without them.

Care for All Ages

When most people think of long-term care, they probably imagine those well into their later years of life. But here at HealthStar, we have caregivers providing Children’s Therapeutic Supports and Services (CTSS). Now more than ever, children of young ages are experiencing a vastly shifting world from year to year and for some, that can be hard, confusing, and just too much sometimes. Luckily, our CTSS works to restore the basic functioning of children & youth experiencing emotional disturbance and mental health impairments. Along with everything else our caregivers do, there are few things more rewarding than seeing young children work to grow out their fears & anxieties into confident young adults with the help and care of our healthcare professionals.

We Can’t Thank You Enough

In summation—and to all our HealthStar Home Health caregivers—please know that we consider you all heroes. You have given the rest of us a reason to cultivate hope, because we have seen your unwavering dedication in the face of such uncertainty over the past year. You have looked after those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and have made it an absolute priority to keep our residents safe. Some have even done so at great personal sacrifice to them or their own families. A staggering amount of our care workers left their families to isolate with residents. From fiddling about with FaceTime to continually organizing safe and socially distant activities, HealthStar clients would have struggled without them. So with that we say thank you… Thank you times a million. It was an unprecedented year of events (to say the least!) but our team continued on. Again, we don’t even want to THINK about where we’d be without all of you.

Technology’s Role in Staying Connected

It’s no secret that technology is one of the most important tools in any job. But how far can that technology go to really serve us? Well as it turns out, pretty far, and especially as of late! Now obviously this includes the medical technology that we rely on to help keep our loved ones and clients safe, strong, and healthy, but it certainly doesn’t stop there. The emergence of new technology into the near one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to provide ease and comfort as we work to accommodate the world that awaits on the other side, and this tech comes in all shapes and sizes!

(Re)Connections

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has left us in a world where the ability to connect is challenging. Social distancing, mandatory lockdowns, and highly strict rules when it comes to visiting seniors—especially our clients in care facilities—have forced a reconsideration of how to stay present in each other’s lives. Luckily, this comes at a time when rapid advances in technology have helped immensely in overcoming these challenges. Now right away, you probably think of things like Zoom, Alexa, Google Nest, Apple products, etc. and you’re right! But there have been many more innovative (and almost certainly) less expensive methods taken by some creative and thoughtful minds that are helping to bring families closer together in a time of worldwide isolation.

As many have done in their own homes with members of their extended family, the implementation and use of virtual meeting technology for those who require quality care has been a saving grace for many. It’s also given reason to some of our older clients and those of similar ages in other locations to learn and utilize technology they otherwise may not have. It is truly a wonderful feeling the first moment a client of ours makes a successful call to their loved ones and discovers the joy and ease that technology has brought them in a time when they could have gone months (or at this point more than a year) without seeing them! In addition, simple tasks like asking about the weather, hearing their schedule, or playing someone’s favorite music have become so much easier with this boost in the use of everyday technology, and again… it’s so wonderful to see and be a part of.

Another HUGE impact of technology has been in contact tracing. With number restrictions on visitations, it’s very important that we know how many people are at a care facility at a given time. As such, this tool has been quite successful in allowing families some more (safe) visitation time as vaccines are distributed more rapidly and the world begins working towards a return to some form of the old normalcy.

Some Simpler Technology

On the other side of the same coin, a large price tag (often associated with the aforementioned tools) has not necessarily been the only contributing factor of innovation in the technology used for quality care thus far. We have seen very creative endeavors! For example, there has been a wide array of small shelter construction near ground floor window units for families to visit safely in the winter months, keeping them protected from the elements while safely allowing outside visitations! In addition, there has also been the implementation of a simple and highly user-friendly software system that allows visitors to sign up in an orderly manner. This not only ensure safety to their loved ones, but anyone in the given bubble that might cross paths. This also goes hand-in-hand with the contract tracing tools mentioned above, as the one could simply not work without the other.

To put it lightly, it has helped us TREMENDOUSLY over the past year and continues to provide ease on our staff and caregivers alike to make sure they are working in the safest conditions possible.

A Tool in the Right Hands

The bottom line is that we could not have made this last year work without the wonderful technology available to us and all its many forms. I know it can be hard to take such a positive stance on some of it in this day and age (due to the many issues that we see every day with things like social media or mass production/online sales companies) but the right technology tool in the right hands can have a huge impact on a person’s quality of life. And after the year we’ve had, we are very comfortable hanging out hat on that fact!

Find a Pandemic Care Partner With HealthStar Home Health

It has been almost a full calendar year since the “new normal” has taken precedence in our daily lives, and to say that things have changed would be a rather blunt understatement. Specifically in regard to HealthStar, we have had to fully invest in and revamp our beliefs in safety, inviolability, and sanctuary assurance when it comes to interacting and caring for our clients in the midst of COVID-19. As such, we understand how challenging these times can be when it comes to caring for a loved one—or someone close to you—when there are limitations on just how and when you can actually perform those acts of care. Luckily, HealthStar can provide you with some tips and helpful information to improve the way that you provide care for them. We also have the services that can provide relief, comfortability, and a trusting relationship if you are ready to take the next step into working with our healthcare professionals.

All The Small Things

Well… maybe not ALL, but at least two…

As a team of over 1,100 caregivers, there are two words that come up time and time again when it comes to the best in quality care: Consistency & Comfort.

Consistency is something that has definitely been hard to come by lately, oh boy do we know… “change is the only constant” has once again proven true for us even into 2021. With that said, we still understand that consistent care is the pinnacle of helping someone make improvements in their life through quality care. So, if you are struggling to find ways to be consistent, start small! Assisting them up at the same time each day and developing a regular morning routine that fits into both parties’ schedule is a great first step, helping to get the day off to a great start and set a structure for the rest of it. Consistency also aids in fostering a growing amount of trust overtime, with trust being the framework for any strong and healthy relationship. This is something that HealthStar always keeps in heavy consideration, as we understand the responsibilities we are tasked with when asked to provide quality care through the same trust that you—a fellow loved one—possesses. It is with this trust that we can move to our second crucial care factor: Comfort.

Comfort, as an extension of consistency, goes hand-in-hand. Routine provides a sense of familiarity and calm. If, however, routine is once again something that is increasingly more challenging to come by, we can help you develop them for you and your loved ones, and work together to achieve that desired level of comfort. But comfort is more than how someone feels physically. We also make sure our clients are supported emotionally, spatially, and mentally, whether this is through creating an extensive care plan with you to facilitate, or the in-person care options offered by HealthStar.

Now, while we can provide you with an encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge on improved aspects of at home caregiving like the ideas above, our extensive team of physical therapists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, social workers, and many more experienced professionals can provide the services you or your loved ones need right in your home, with full attention to detail to the CDC’s COVID-19 practices required. Therefore, we ensure a safe and clean interaction with any clients who choose to work with us.

Finding the Care that is Right for You

We know that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, finding quality care for a loved one seemed like a process too large to endure and even too frightening to imagine someone other than yourself providing your loved ones with care. We hear from new clients how hard it is to think about someone else doing their job quite often, but that’s exactly what caretaking is—A JOB—and it can be overwhelming. As such, we are here if you wish to advocate for working with the licensed professionals here at HealthStar, where we regularly update our methods and practice to stay in accordance with all COVID-19 health standards.

So, we ask that in a time when the task of at home caregiving is so important to the safety of those who need it, that you consider a licensed HealthStar professional not to take over your job, but to act as a partner to you and your loved ones. In accordance with our community-based approach, we want to work with you to find an option that is best, whether that be Home Health Aide (HHA), Skilled Nursing, ICLS, or a simple daily homemaking plan.

Happy 30th Birthday, ADA!

HealthStar proudly supports the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on its 30th Anniversary. This important civil rights law works to ensure all people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. On July 26th, the ADA officially turns 30! Celebrate with us by visiting: www.adaanniversary.org/ 

How has the ADA changed your life? Share your stories with #ADA30 and #ThanksToTheADA. Everyone can join in the celebration! Many changes have been instituted since the ADA was “born,” but the goal of equality in access and representation can’t rest yet. Want to know more? Visit https://www.ada.gov/ for more information about who and what the ADA represents. You’ll also find resources to help businesses with compliance, as well as resources for individuals who want to know more about covered rights under the act.

Join HealthStar in saying #ThanksToTheADA for working toward a more inclusive community! At HealthStar, we know that we are stronger when we embrace and celebrate the things that make us unique. Above all else, HealthStar appreciates and values the differences in all members of the community. We’re 24ECC strong – we have 24 “official” ways to share the “HealthStar Way” with our co-workers, caregivers, and Clients! If you or a loved one are in need of personal care, check us out. We’d love to show you how our 24ECCs can help us understand and attend to all of your unique needs!

What HealthStar did on our "COVID Staycation"

Hello there – long time, no blog! During the last… well several weeks, the phrase “change is the only constant” has proven true time and again. We’ve experienced shortages of food, supplies, and probably patience, on a scale that Millenials and Gen X’ers, as well as any younger whipper-snappers, have never imagined. Looking out over a sea of masked shoppers, I feel so far away from the “normal” of 2019. Those days were far from perfect, but I mostly knew what to expect, and despite watching the weather to decide what I should wear, I didn’t need to watch the news to decide whether I should leave the house.

Change is the only constant in life
Heraclitus of Ephesus (500 BC)

Fast forward to today – in the midst of Minnesota beginning its transition back to normalcy, the tragic death of George Floyd brings, in its turbulent wake, a collective expression of both outrage and grief. The recent unrest has led to historical and modern reflection surrounding issues of race and injustice on both national and individual levels, inviting us to learn and grow, and plain and simple, to do better.

So, what are each of us learning now? What have you seen, heard or felt that has changed you or created a long-term impact in your own life?  In true blog fashion, I will be sharing with you some of my own personal growth moments, and I’ll share about how other HealthStar-ians have been engaging in this uncertain, heavy and unprecedented period of change.

Mask Makers Unite (around the sewing machine)

Starting with the “small stuff” – I have seen my mom and a TON of other people like her go above and beyond in response to the community’s need for protective face coverings of all kinds. Quilters, dressmakers, and home-based crafters alike have come out of the woodwork to save us all from airborne particulate. With so much confusion initially about when or when not to wear a mask, I’m glad that we seem to have finally settled on wearing what you can, as often as you can in public. Or at least, for the moment, that’s what I think we’re doing. It’s like butter – one minute it’s good for you, and the next, you should really be eating margarine. (please don’t eat margarine.)

Luckily, I have a few masks at home from my mom (thanks, ma!). HealthStar staff don’t all have moms who quilt, so our offices have been pulling together to purchase and distribute PPE, starting in areas with the most risk. And we can’t forget the most fun changes – HealthStar policies have been updated and re-published (thanks, Susan!), offices have been disinfected over and over again, and hand sanitizer has become the new “fragrance” worn by all of our staff. Eau de Purell, it’s all the rage.

Compassion and Community

Along with the masks and the ever-present scent of household cleaning products, the last few months have brought a roller-coaster of emotion. During COVID shutdown, loneliness and isolation threatened us all. But then, bright colored cut-out hearts popped up in windows and storefronts, boosting spirits for passers-by. The hearts represented solidarity, even when we were all hunkering down, alone, in our sanitized bunkers. In time, the weather improved, and people started gardening and hanging out together outside. Once again, family and friends gathered together. We smiled at each other and laughed at the same time again! People returned to offices and restaurants. I had to fill the gas tank. Ah, life.

Coming back together in the office hasn’t been a full “back to normal,” though. It’s a strange feeling now that we always have the “social distance” in mind – 6 feet away feels like a brick wall in this office, where our “work family” has grown about as close to genetic family as you can get. My signature move, the hallway high five, now seems reckless and risky. We’re all playing a bit of Russian roulette with our health, just to be present and keep the HealthStar wheels turning.

Into the Spotlight

Despite the COVID-induced changes, life felt generally tolerable again, if only for a moment, right before George Floyd’s murder. Soul-searching, gut-wrenching days followed after his death. Shock, horror, anger, and sadness rolled over Minnesota and the entire country. Powerless doesn’t begin to describe how I felt. The stages of grief washed over us all while together we watched the city burn. For many of us, this marks the most active period of civil unrest we’ve experienced. For me, it has been a period of self-examination. I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life; what have I been missing?

History books and sociologists might call it social inequality. Today, we see and feel it as communities overflowing with both conflict and compassion. Minnesota, the “nice” state, has come into the spotlight as the nearly war-torn epicenter of a conversation that has been simmering for generations.

Minnesota Nice?

I personally feel ashamed that our state, My State, fell into the same unacceptable pattern of behavior that we’ve all seen in the news across history. I’m embarrassed that the country and the world are looking at Minnesota because of yet another inexcusable act. As a nation, we watched the actions of four Minneapolis police officers, and as a nation, we witnessed the tragic, unjustified death of George Floyd. These events have pushed Minnesota to the forefront of a larger collective conversation about racial justice.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

Maya Angelou

For many of us, Minnesota has been a safe and meaningful community that we are proud to call home. Sadly, that same security and comfort are not shared by everyone. As a community, our responsibility is to create peace and justice for all, and to help all Minnesota residents gain the same sense of pride that we know can be achieved in our home state. 

Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for many. Our “nice” state can, together, examine this deeper awareness of the inequality, intolerance, and prejudice that remain evident today. Today is the day that we all begin to participate in making our community and state a more equal and just home. How? We’ll have to figure that out together.

I Can’t Breathe

Identifying inequity is obviously not enough, because we’ve been down this road before. It feels like we have reached a crossroads as a nation. More and more groups are standing up and echoing the mantra, “I can’t breathe.” The truth is, for generations, our nation’s black community, as well as many other minority groups, have been struggling for breath. Some of us in “the majority” have been the knee on the neck. Some of us, though not as deliberately harmful, have been the “new officer,” too afraid to take action to stop what we know is wrong. And some of us have been standing in the wings, wishing that we could better understand the conflict, and passively hoping for a change that we just don’t know how to bring about ourselves.

Silence Speaks

The silence historically shared by our nation’s white majority is a great hurdle to overcome. The problem with silence is that, in the face of repeated unjustified acts by authority figures, silence sounds at best like tolerance, and at worst like agreement. We’ve all seen the openly brutal acts of law enforcement officers. What we can’t see is the history of invisible prejudice, the longstanding social and economic boundaries, and the silent consent of the many, which allows those in power to continue the pattern of behavior set in motion by our forefathers in a time that was so different from today. We can’t see the white privilege that keeps us quietly separated. We might be living in the same state, but Minnesota looks a lot different when we try to see it through George Floyd’s eyes.

Right now, we all have an opportunity to correct the silence. It’s time to step through the fear of “saying the wrong thing.” It’s time to examine our own thoughts, experiences, and history. Time to consider the meaning behind white privilege and racial inequality. It’s time for the majority to start a conversation and then listen instead of trying to find the right words ourselves. It’s time to stop worrying about saying the wrong thing, because silence is worse. Instead, together we can agree that we will no longer tolerate the status quo, and we can start to change by learning why the wrong thing to say might be wrong in the first place.

Where do we go from here?

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

Mahatma Gandhi

My positivity deserted me when George Floyd was killed. I had already neglected the blog for a while because of all the changes during COVID, and then while the city burned and protesters grieved, I couldn’t post because I just didn’t have the energy to say anything worth saying. That silence, too, speaks volumes. When the awkward extrovert goes quiet, we all know something is very wrong. My heart just wasn’t up to writing. To call it a great sadness is an understatement. Humanity is sometimes so ugly and terrible that I wish to be anything else.

But my hopelessness and helplessness are slowly lifting. Why? It started with a text message from a co-worker, after she attended a peaceful protest with her family. Then, an email from our Inver Grove Heights office shared photos of staff members helping with the cleanup in Minneapolis. Those bright and beautiful blaze orange Sagrado Corazón shirts, worn by the amazing IGH staff, looked like the sun peeking up over a dark horizon! More recently, HS offices in St. Paul, IGH, and Corporate assembled and delivered supply packages to help community members in Minneapolis who, due to the recent destruction, have lost access to most basic household items.

We’re doing something. Maybe these small acts don’t fix the issue at the heart of this longstanding imbalance. The long history of inequality and generations of misunderstanding and misinformation will take more than just a few people coming together to rebuild. But we’re doing what we can do today, and this was enough to restore a little of my positive outlook. Together, we can do something. We can start the wheels in motion.

24ECCs Swooping In

HealthStar loves to rally behind a cause, especially when that means we get to shop! But we’re doing more than just buying and distributing necessities. The 24ECC program also continues to offer a common language for understanding and compassion. The ECCs teach us how to learn about each other without judging, and we take that knowledge with us into the community. Each employee here has a unique background of his or her own, and HealthStar’s 24ECC program is an opportunity for us to come together and learn from each other.

Kristel Kubis, RN at our Cloquet Office, makes the news!

Our 24ECC program brings us together to create a greater sense of community throughout our offices. The ECC meetings are a safe space to talk about different experiences and about how to overcome our own hidden judgments and prejudices. We are very lucky to have this language, as cheesy as it may sound.

Plenty of places talk about tolerance and acceptance. Tolerance and acceptance are not enough. At HealthStar, we seek out and celebrate our differences, because we know they make us better together than we could ever be as individuals. Opening a conversation and actively listening to people from different walks of life makes us a stronger agency and helps us grow a healthier community. Conversation is a small way to start, but at HealthStar, we know that small steps today can lead to big changes tomorrow!

Let’s Talk!

HealthStar staff each have an opportunity to enrich the community where we serve and live, just by sharing these 24ECCs. With a common language, and an open mind, we can start to unravel some of the tangled history that has both built up and torn this country down. Moving past silence into open conversation will help us expose the things that we continue to get wrong, and working together, we can rebuild a united and 24ECC-friendly community!

As much as we use the 24ECCs to build up our team, we also put the 24ECCs to great use in learning about our Clients. HealthStar looks to the community, and to Cultural leadership as well as Elders, for direction in developing programs and practices that can support the needs of multiple generations of home-based care recipients. As an agency, we serve many communities, and with the 24ECC program, we bring attentiveness, respect, and a genuine desire to learn about each of those communities from the members themselves.

Learning about You

Cultural and community-based knowledge help HealthStar to value and better understand people from all walks of life, but health care is also a very individualized service, which is designed one Client at a time. We can teach staff about what is special or unique about a certain culture, but we can’t teach them what’s special and unique about you without your help. To really create the best plan for you, and achieve your best outcome, HealthStar needs to know what makes you tick.

What’s important to you in a caregiver? How can we meet your needs the way that you need most? What makes you the most comfortable, and how can we add that to our routine? How will you measure success? Whether your caregiver is a family member or is trained and provided by HealthStar, our goal is the same: support health, independence and community involvement in the way that works best for each Client. All of our service lines rest on the foundations of dignity as well as accountability – when we can’t sleep, it’s because we are thinking about how we can do better for you tomorrow.

We might not be able to “fix” everything, but we know how to start small and grow from there. Let us help you find a starting point to meet your healthcare needs! We’d be honored to join in your wellness journey, creating a plan that’s designed to achieve your unique goals and give you the best outcome for your specific situation.

Do you or a family member need home-based care with a special appreciation for individuality and/or cultural tradition? Contact HealthStar today, we’d love to learn more about your situation and how we can best meet your needs together!

Clean Hands are Just the Beginning

Here’s something basic that we’ve been doing all our lives, but some of us might still not be “doing it right.” Basic hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of most illnesses. That’s right, from the common cold to influenza to the most current COVID-19, all germs cower at the sight of soap suds and running water. Here’s the CDC-recommended handwashing technique to strike fear into the hearts of all those tricky germs.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

But What About all that Hand Sanitizer?

If you don’t have access to soap and water, you can also use “an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol… Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.” (https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html)

The CDC does clarify, though, that hand washing, when possible, is still considered more effective than using hand sanitizer.

20 seconds… aren’t there better options than Happy Birthday?

So, maybe your favorite song isn’t Happy Birthday… I mean, it’s a happy and generally upbeat song, but the simple tune may not be everyone’s thing. There are plenty of other songs with about 20 seconds spent on the chorus. I can’t list all the options, but my favorite choice is the chorus to “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.

During these uncertain times, when people are more concerned about health than ever before, it seems like an appropriate anthem. And if you need one more reason – the tempo is also said to be the right beat for performing CPR. The Bee Gees probably didn’t realize at the time they wrote the song that it would end up providing such a wonderful and critical public service!

Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother

You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive

Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’

And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive

Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive

Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive

Bee Gees – Stayin’ Alive

Hand Washing Break

All this talk about washing hands makes me want to wash my hands. Join me in a 20 second hand-washing break?

Aaaaaaaaand we’re back.

If you remember only one thing from this post, may it be this, a quote from my 6-year old daughter about hand-washing. “I only used my left hand, so I don’t need to wash my right.”

If only that were the way things work. But please wash them both, no matter which one you use the most. 🙂

Stick Together… Separately…?

Aside from basic hygiene – there is more that we can do to keep each other healthy. If you’re able to do so safely, please watch out for your neighbors. Not everyone has an easy time of getting supplies. You might offer to pick up prescriptions or grocery items for those near you who may be in need of assistance.

If you’re in a position to help others in the greater community during the coming days and weeks, there are plenty of opportunities to pitch in. For example, food pantries are experiencing difficulty in keeping up with supplies and volunteers. Here’s one news story with details, if you’re interested and live in the metro area. If we stick together (while still being cautious), we can all get through this as a community.

All of HealthStar sends you and your family wishes for good health during this trying time. Together, we can stay healthy and keep our community strong!

Thanks, From the Heart!

You may be familiar already with HealthStar’s 24ECC program. Each month, HealthStar’s offices get together and take a deeper look at one of HealthStar’s Expressions of Company Culture. We also do an activity each month – sometimes independent, and sometimes a group activity. We like to have fun with this time, but we also take these values really seriously.

For us, this is more than just a list of 24 values. This list is what makes us different than any other place. It’s how we communicate, it’s what makes us tick. All of these values keep us together as a team and make us a strong “work family.” The 24ECCs are a great way to find the good in each person, and to see how your good and your co-worker’s good can compliment each other. This transforms differences into “variety” and disagreements into “creative problem solving.” It’s not a utopia, but we are working toward that, one ECC at a time!

Gentleness and Kindness

This February, we thought we’d share a bit about what we just completed last month. Our focus for January was on Gentleness and Kindness. Corporate had a great time coming up with the activity ideas, and once the 24ECC committee decided on the final choice, we got down to business. For our activity, each office identified a few field staff members who they felt had shown great Gentleness or Kindness, and then recognized that contribution with a thank you card and a small gift card. We do have a budget for the activity, so we were not able to send a Thank You to each staff member. That’s where the blog comes in. 🙂

HealthStar’s 24ECC Blog task for February is to extend this Thank You to EVERYONE out there working for HealthStar Clients. More than just a Thank You – this is a Thanks from the Heart. Prepare for some mushy gushy stuff.

Most of us at the Corporate Office don’t get to talk with field staff very often. There may be an occasional phone call, or someone who drops off a timecard. But we don’t really get the opportunity to get to know you all like our branch office staff do. (ok, so maybe we’re a little jealous. We do like people here, too.)

A common thread?

Even though we might not see our awesome field staff every day, there are two things that I think we know about each of our caregivers. The first thing is that you guys are balancing a lot in your lives. You each have your own challenges. You’ve got your own families, your own responsibilities, and your own goals.

Here’s the second part, which is my favorite. You’ve also each chosen to use some of your time to help allow someone more freedom and independence. By giving a helping hand in a Client’s home, you’re a part of the team that keeps the Client healthy and empowered. As part of a home care agency, you’re giving direction back to the Client and helping to make the Client’s home part of their unique journey to health and wellness. And as an individual caregiver, you show gentleness and kindness when you provide for each Client’s needs. For all of this – we thank you!

Thank You!!!

So, from ALL of us at HealthStar, First Nations, and Circle of Life in AZ and NM – THANK YOU for all that you do! You’ve opened your hearts and minds to help our agency provide the hands-on care that keeps Clients healthy, comfortable, and safe at home – and we THANK YOU!

Know someone who could benefit from HealthStar’s amazing support team? Check out your local office. We all love visitors! We’re probably just sitting around, waiting to show you some hospitality. Stop by and we’ll tell you all about the 24ECC’s and everything else that makes HealthStar so awesome! 🙂

Windows 7 “end of support” – what does it mean?

Big news this week in the land of Microsoft Windows. Microsoft has officially discontinued support for Windows 7 as of January 14th. Do you still have a computer running Windows 7? Here’s a few things that you need to know:

Can’t I just keep using what I have?

Continuing to use a computer that operates on Windows 7 can present a security risk. Up until January 14th, Windows 7 received ongoing “touch-ups” from Microsoft, including bug fixes, patches, regular updates, and other magic things. All of this ongoing maintenance meant that Windows 7 was kept safe from people trying to exploit any issues with Windows.

Now, Microsoft has officially discontinued support and ongoing maintenance, so “bad guys” can continue to use whatever bug or loophole they might find. That’s bad news for us, generally the “good guys,” or at least the “morally neutral” guys. Continuing to use Windows 7 will expose you to more threats over time, because loopholes and bugs will continue to be found and put to use by the bad guys.

So… do I have to buy a new computer?

NO. You don’t need to run out and buy a whole computer, and in fact, you may be eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10. Before upgrading, you might want to do some or all of the following:

  1. check your hardware – you may be able to update some components on an older computer, such as adding RAM or upgrading the Hard Drive size, to improve performance and extend the useful life of what you’ve already got. You also will need to meet the minimum requirements for Windows 10 in order to update.
  2. back up your files – lots of people are using free backup sites, like Google Drive, box, dropbox, or OneDrive. Some paid subscriptions offer larger storage space, but most have a free option. You can also go with an external hard drive. Check out the options for yourself to choose the right backup method for you.
  3. If you’re using a laptop, make sure it’s plugged in, and when possible, plug the computer directly into a wired internet connection. Wi-Fi might take longer and sometimes fails to download, depending on your internet connection.

Even if you’re not eligible for the free upgrade, you can purchase a Windows 10 license and update only the operating system on your PC. There are a few different options, but Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro will work for pretty much everyone. Pro does offer some additional encryption options, so check out both options to see what’s right for you.

Price out all of the options, because at some point, it is a better idea to buy a new computer altogether. But if you can get through a couple more years on what you’ve already paid for, that’s money that stays in your wallet for just a bit longer!

I don’t wanna do this! You can’t make me! aaaaaaaaggggggghhhh!

OK, not everyone is comfortable doing an “Operating System Upgrade.” It sounds scary and complex. But I promise, it is important, and it is not as painful as it sounds.

There is another option. If you are struggling and feeling overwhelmed with this – there are a ton of shops that will help you manage this process for not a lot of money. Check around in your area. Some places will let you drop your computer off for a couple days, and BAM, pick it up refreshed and feeling better than ever. Feeling overwhelmed, or looking for a few referrals? Reach out to your HealthStar team – they know where to find me, and I am happy to help out with a few searches! Make sure to price out a few different places, and check the reviews before you trust anyone with your equipment!

And of course, if you’re running IT for a business – check out my BEST PALS IN THE UNIVERSE, Top Dog PC. They are basically computer superheroes, and they can help you with all kinds of things. Windows stuff is pretty much sleep walking for them. (It’s not bragging when I say it, because I don’t work there. I’m just a SUPER HAPPY CUSTOMER, telling you to check them out.) Top Dog is like a candy store of IT helpers. They do it all, from basic support to firewall maintenance, phone systems, and calming down frantic and overwhelmed IT staff. Not that I would know anything about that last bit.

I’ve never been frantic.

Have more questions?

More information about Windows 7 end of support: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-7-end-of-life-support-information#why-windows-drawer-FAQ

Find out if you might qualify for a free upgrade to Windows 10: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10 ( AFTER you back up your important files, choose “update now,” and then follow the prompts.)

Purchase Windows 10 if you don’t qualify for the free upgrade: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/b/windows?activetab=tab%3ashopwindows10

Man’s best friend in business IT: https://www.topdogpc.com/

More information about backing up your computer: https://www.howtogeek.com/242428/whats-the-best-way-to-back-up-my-computer/

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/17127/windows-back-up-restore