Spotlight: Jessica Downs, Clinical Operations

HealthStar’s Corporate team is a very diverse mix of all walks of life. Today, we are nurses (like Jessica), medical billers, and office support staff. But many winding paths have converged to bring this team together. With history in auto maintenance, real estate, finance, marketing, teaching, and even some folks who moved to the continental US from abroad, we really keep things interesting!

We are all problem solvers in one way or another, but the thing that really brings us together is our love of caring for others. We may not be direct, hands-on care staff, but we show our helping hands in other ways. There are lots of treats and shared meals, plenty of “feelings Friday” discussions where we show our support for each other, and lots of inside jokes. There are no cliques – we all get along. No, seriously! It’s not always easy, but because we truly care about each other, we give each other grace and try to understand where others are in their own unique battles.

As awesome as Corporate is, if you really want to see what makes HealthStar shine, what sets us apart, and what we are all working for every day – you’ll need to look outside our colorful and multi-angled Corporate walls. Look out into “the field,” where the rubber meets the road. Can you see our clinicians, our practitioners, and our front-line caregiving staff? Maybe you also see our service office locations and some of our Clients – they’re the reason Corporate exists! We work to serve, and we work hard to make sure that we serve well!

Who else do you see?

While you’re looking out there, do you see a blonde? Not just any blonde, but a blonde who really OWNS IT? Maybe you see her climbing out of a big pickup truck with her hair flowing in the wind. Her broad, radiant, feel-good smile touches everyone she walks past. That blonde hair is a statement, and the shoes and smile are the exclamation point. Her red shoes reflect her true passion – love for all people, and a strong desire to take care of those who need it. Watch out, now – she’s a hugger, but her hug melts your worries away and leaves you feeling lighter. Just who is this happy, high-heeled hugger, you ask? I’m proud to say, this bright and bubbly blonde is Jessica “Jess” Downs, HealthStar’s Director of Clinical Operations.

Talk about winding roads to HealthStar Corporate – prior to her decision to become an RN, Jessica had worked as a CNA in HealthStar’s Duluth office. Jess even once considered becoming an attorney! We’re sure glad she didn’t go that route. Instead, while working as a CNA in a nursing home, Jess was encouraged by a mentor to pursue a career in nursing and decided to give it a try.

What a great fit for her caring personality! After getting her degree, Jessica’s career in nursing kicked off in her home town of Duluth, MN, working in a surgical center and hospital. She later worked in Wisconsin, Nevada, California, and Arizona, in a variety of clinical roles including corrections nurse, hospice case manager, and Director of Nursing. Then, in 2014, Jessica’s winding road led her full-circle right back to HealthStar. Some things are just meant to be! Because we are in the “month of love,” we thought it would be a great time to tell you a little more about Jessica and her big-hearted ways. Jessica Downs, the HealthStar spotlight is on you!

Happiness is contagious

One of the first things that I noticed about Jessica is that she always seems So Happy. It’s an overwhelming happiness, like I imagine it would be if everyone’s Facebook self was real. She projects positivity and happiness into the world in front of her, like a blinding pink tractor beam, daring sadness to cross its path. If ethereal auras were visible, Jessica’s would be pink and fuzzy, and it would probably sparkle in the sunlight.

Cass Lake 2018 Holiday Party.
Left to Right: Barb J, Michelle C, Julie S, Jessica D, Jean B.

Her happiness is wonderful in meetings, which are otherwise often dull and boring. Jess has a great laugh, bursting straight out of her heart; it is the glorious sound of freedom, a bird’s song of warm sunshine and wind ruffling his feathers as he soars through the open sky. Try to be stressed and frustrated in front of Jessica, I dare you. When you start to explain your problems, they suddenly won’t seem so bad any more. She’ll tell you “it’s OK, we’ll get through it.” And, poof – she’s right. It’s that simple. We will get through it.

Shine on, Jessica!

It’s easy to understand Jessica’s success in hospice, and as a nurse in general. A ray of sunshine in a cloudy and often difficult time, she’s exactly the type of personality to lift everyone’s spirits. Picture her sweet-talking her patients and showing them there’s nothing else that matters in the world. To Jessica, that’s the truth! She loves our HealthStar clients and pours her heart and soul into making sure that our team has the tools to deliver the best possible care!

While similar care is provided in both hospice and home care, there is a much more personal aspect to home care, because of the need for service to be provided in the Client’s living space. Jess has a great understanding of what this means to Clients. She expresses gratitude and compassion toward HealthStar’s Clients and says that she is honored to be invited into their homes. Her humility and friendliness help set Clients at ease.

Flexibility, much?

Some things are critical to a successful career at HealthStar. A sense of humor, I say. A love of food? Probably. The gift of patience? Can’t hurt. How about the ability to roll with the punches, to re-prioritize when a target shifts, or to “be the willow,” as our long-time employee Cathy Rivas-Carballo says. In my opinion, this is critical. HealthStar staff have an informal motto: “Give it a minute, things will change!”

Cass Lake 2018 Holiday Party.
Left to Right: Michelle C, Karen M, Jean B, Jessica D, Julie S.

Why is flexibility important? Take Jessica’s HealthStar history as an example. In her RN role, she started at HealthStar shortly after our transition from PCA/HMK agency to Medicare-certified agency. In the time Jess has been with us, the layout, structure, and focus of HealthStar’s branch offices, the organizational chart, and even our office addresses have changed. We have added and subtracted service offerings, and we have changed software programs many, many times. Staff have come and gone, sometimes more than once. (We joke about a revolving door. In a good way!) Throughout all these changes, Jess and the rest of our Corporate staff have flexed and sometimes flailed in the wind, but with flexibility on our side, we haven’t broken. We almost never make jokes about having a new priority. Instead, we come together as a team, again and again, and figure out how to continue.

But wait, there’s more…

Jess has also ridden the wave of change in her personal journey at HealthStar. Not including her time as CNA, Jessica first worked at Corporate, transferred to Duluth, transferred back to Corporate, and now lives in the Duluth/Cloquet area but still represents the Corporate office. Wait, what? Don’t worry about the details; the moral of the story is, she’s plenty flexible, and she goes with the flow. Jessica’s humility and “true to your roots” attitude make her approachable, and she always talks us down off the branches when things get a little too windy in that willow tree.

Open heart, open mind

Something that not everyone may know about Jessica is that, in addition to being an RN, she embraces a very unique skill set of healing. She is a Certified Level II Reiki Practitioner and says that blending western medicine and alternative medicine helps her to treat people holistically. Reiki has been around for thousands of years and is sometimes called “the laying of hands.” In practice, Reiki focuses on the transfer of healing energy from practitioner to patient, to revitalize the healing energy in the patient.

Maybe this explains why Jess has such grace and love for all of us – by sensing the energy around her, she sees more than just a single facet of a person, giving her a greater understanding of what makes us all tick. By keeping an open mind, and trying something different, Jessica is bringing a new perspective to HealthStar. There is something different about Jessica, and maybe this explains a little bit of that difference. There’s a lot that we can’t fully understand, but instead of dismissing those things, Jessica has embraced possibility and puts healing energy to great use.

But what about those shoes?

Yes, Jessica has some of the cutest shoes that I’ve ever seen. With my big clompers, I won’t be wearing anything like her shoe wardrobe. She’s not shoe crazy, she just has good taste. I know, this is four things, and usually I only do three, but this one is short. Great shoes. Hardly counts as a fourth.

By the way, Jess – how do you drive that big pickup truck with those fashion forward shoes on? And do you still wear heels when you go ice fishing?

Thanks for the positivity!

Corporate is lucky to have Jessica’s happiness, positivity, flexibility, and open mind on our side. Her love of HealthStar’s Clients shines through in every meeting. She is absolutely a strong advocate and spokesperson for the Client’s perspective and needs in receiving care. Jessica has brought a wonderful attitude of love and acceptance to HealthStar Corporate, and she has extended that attitude to the branch offices and to all of our Clients. We can’t wait to show you the benefits of this sense of love and caring!

Do You Want to Make a Difference in a Senior’s Life? Join Our Team!

A caregiver is someone who helps another individual with activities of daily living (ALDs). ALDs are considered daily basic self-care tasks, such as getting dressed, grooming, eating, and transferring. Working as a caregiver can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Do you have a caring touch and a loving personality with a passion for health and wellness? If so, you just might be a perfect fit for the HealthStar Home Health team!

Watch this short video and hear what some of our employees have to say about working in the caregiving field and for HealthStar Home Health.

Some caregivers may also assist with meal preparation, shopping/errands, medication management, social support or light housekeeping. Common types of caregivers include:

    • Personal Care Assistants (PCA)
    • Home Health Aides (HHA)
    • Homemakers (HMK)

HealthStar Home Health recognizes that as the senior population ages, an increasing number of Minnesota families will be tasked with caring for their aging parents as well as caring for their own family and working a full-time job. This age group is commonly referred to as the “sandwich” generation, and will feel overwhelmed when their daily job, family commitments, and the duties of caring for their aging loved ones are all factored in. This type of situation is creating the fast-growing need for various healthcare jobs, including personal care assistants.

Recent reporting from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that healthcare jobs and industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and will add the most jobs to the workforce between 2016 and 2026. We are currently in the heart of that decade growth period.

The culture and training offered by HealthStar Home Health contributes to the success and satisfaction of our employees. If you’re interested in being part of the fastest growing employment industry, then consider becoming a caregiver with HealthStar Home Health. We offer paid training for individuals interested in becoming a PCA, HHA or HMK. You must be able to pass a background check, and have a reliable source of transportation. This career offers flexibility to set your own schedule and number of hours, while meeting the client’s needs.

Community-based care is the hallmark of our work. Our community-based approach to reducing health disparities is based on the premise that the causes of poor health include factors related to the social, economic and physical environment of a community. HealthStar proudly serves clients in a number of cities in Minnesota, including the Duluth, Bemidji, and Twin Cities area, as well as New Mexico and Arizona.

HealthStar Home Health understands how overwhelming and challenging it can be to care for a loved one at home and offers a variety of home health care services to help support your loved one to live a more independent and fulfilling life at home. One unique care program we offer, the Alzheimer’s Whisperer program, takes an effective approach to support those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and their family. To learn more about the skilled nursing and therapies, and mental health services available, as well as the cultural initiatives we offer, visit our website.

Choosing home health care services shouldn’t involve settling for care that doesn’t support the needs of the individual. With HealthStar Home Health you will always be in control of your care (or that of your loved one), and allow you to receive the services you need in conjunction with the attentiveness to cultural background that defines superior home health care. Call us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.

Spotlight: Holly Eide, AZ/NM

It’s that time of year again. I sit at my desk, surrounded by white noise and plagued by static cling. My humidifier is straining to compete with the drying effect of my space heater, and I’m caught in the middle, coated in a thick layer of chap-stick and hand lotion, like an electrically-charged paper maché statue of myself. Yes, there are great things about winter. Sledding, holiday decorations, warm apple cider, and a cozy fire in the fireplace are all wonderful at times. But this is also the time of year when a few sneaky jealous thoughts might creep in toward Holly Eide, Area Manager of our HealthStar/Circle of Life Home Care offices to the south (WAY south) in Gallup, New Mexico and in Casa Grande, Arizona. Our Circle of Life Home Care snowbird manager is lucky to find herself in the land where weather-wise Northland retirees find gentler temperatures for their winter months.

Holly knows what the weather is like up north and down south. She started with HealthStar in MN in 2010, and then transplanted down to AZ in fall of 2016. This holiday season, as we celebrate Holly’s 8th year with HealthStar, we thought it would be a great time to learn a little bit more about her!

A little history

Holly has seen so many changes at HealthStar since she first started, and her background is as full of changes as her time with HealthStar has been. From court reporter, to stock market, to owner of an indoor park – which do you think gave Holly the most applicable experience for HealthStar? If you’ve guessed indoor park, you are correct! HealthStar is a lot like an indoor park some days, which is why we must remember to slow down in the corners and keep our chins tucked – we don’t want any bonked heads!

Holly Eide and Daniel Roebuck at the His Neighbor Phil premier party

After testing the waters in the billing department, Holly sprang into action mode when HealthStar needed a manager for its second Minneapolis office. From there, Holly made a bold and daring move to Arizona, where she is currently watching another new office take flight. She is our official HealthStar/AZ Circle of Life snow bird, although she is much younger than the traditional snow bird, and she rarely returns to the land of 10,000 lakes these days. Holly also watches over the Gallup Circle of Life office, so between those two warm states, she keeps plenty busy! Let’s find out more about what makes Holly tick – here are three things that I’d love to share about Holly. Holly, the HealthStar spotlight’s on you!

Sense of humor

Holly has been known to pull a prank now and then. Her signature move is the “gift of condiment” where she’ll sneak a salt or pepper shaker into your purse when you’re not looking. Really, I think she’s just being considerate – who couldn’t use a little extra spice? There’s less opportunity for these “gifts” with Holly several states south of Corporate, but she knows how to use the mail! Every package has a special item to give Corporate a laugh. Corporate knows how to use the mail, too – sometimes Holly gets a package full of glitter, or a box of 500 stress balls when things get really tough.

Holly Eide presenting Normal Aging vs. Dementia

Holly has been around long enough to have a bunch of tales to tell about “the old days” at HealthStar – if you ask her, you’re sure to have a chuckle! Ask her about the “just fired” car wrapped in saran wrap, or the Motel 8 ice bucket shipped lovingly to Katie Wagner at Corporate. She can tell you about the HealthStar Harlem Shake, ripped pants, eating doughnuts off strings, and the great 24ECC glitterbomb of 2017. Together, we took the Corporate office by storm during the office Olympics in 2012, and we witnessed the yoga planking craze later that year. Even from afar, Holly continues to make things a little lighter in our offices, helping us remember not to take things too seriously, and giving us plenty of memories to smile about.

Positivity

Ever need someone to help you look at the bright side of things when you’re feeling down? Holly is the one for the job! She sees the best in people and isn’t afraid to say it. Her optimism is contagious and helps to keep everyone around her moving! Holly doesn’t get bogged down when things are frustrating – she keeps on pushing toward the goal and has the vision of success in mind. Determination is key for Holly! Knowing it will be tough just makes her drive even harder for success. Competitive? You bet, but it’s all for a good cause. Well, I suppose for fun, too. Can’t forget about fun.

Holly Eide, Connie Stone, and Shannon Mackenzie at the MN State Fair one year later after discovering a lemon-sized brain tumor

One of the highlights that Holly has had with HealthStar was the time she spent working on HealthStar’s MN State Fair memory screenings. It was a huge undertaking, planning a booth and getting everything in place to complete memory screenings there. But Holly’s determination, and her belief in the project, got the team on board. The high point of the screenings was in 2016, with a very special visit from a woman who had failed a screen in 2015. It turned out that she had a lemon-sized brain tumor! Luckily, after the failed screen, she was instructed to see her doctor and followed through on that advice! Holly is still driven by this story today – she knows that this is the difference HealthStar can make in the lives of those we touch.

A Rolling Stone

If there’s one absolute truth I have learned about Holly over these years, it is that she Never. Stops. Moving. She is a true rolling stone, and she has gathered no moss. She thrives in an ever-changing environment, and she doesn’t back down from a challenge. Remember all the twists and turns from her business-life? Well, she doesn’t just take those corners at work – she’s also a wild and crazy careening force in her home life. She’s got 2 kiddos, both busy in sports (ask her about her hockey daughter and the Olympics!). At 34, she decided to take up BMX biking. She once competed in a bodybuilding event with her husband (remember the tan?).

What will Holly do next?

After 8 years of wild and crazy HealthStar adventures, Holly is still going strong in Arizona. During the winter months, she gets to watch the great migration of the northern SnowBird! How many retirees spend winter in Arizona each year? Thousands, and Holly wants to know how HealthStar can help! A busy Holly is a happy Holly, so let her know what she can do for your better health if you’re visiting the southern states during these cold winter months. You might just inspire the next great Holly Eide adventure!

It’s That Time of Year Again!

Now that you’ve decided what new foods on a stick you want to try, be sure to plan out the rest of your time at the 2016 Great Minnesota Get-Together! HealthStar Home Health is returning to the Minnesota State Fair again this year on a mission to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias by providing FREE memory screenings to anyone who stops at our booth. We will be located in the Health Fair 11 building at the intersection of Dan Patch and Cooper streets. Our booth will be open from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm with FREE memory screenings taking place until 6:00 pm each day of the fair, which runs August 25th – September 5th, 2016.

Alzheimer’s is not just a disease affecting older people. Early-onset Alzheimer’s can affect people who are younger than 65 years of age and close to 5% of the more than 5 million Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease have younger-onset. HealthStar Home Health and the Alzheimer’s Association understand that early detection is key and encourage those who may be experiencing confusion or difficulty in these areas to stop by for a FREE, confidential memory screening:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or at leisure
  • Challenges in solving problems or planning
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Changes in mood or personality

Although many of these symptoms may sound familiar, that does not mean a person is experiencing early-onset Alzheimer’s. There is typical age-related changes and functions we all experience as we age, but proper early detection and treatment is important so stop by our booth for a face-to-face memory screening. The FREE, confidential memory screening will only take a few minutes and consists of a series of questions and tasks that will access memory. Knowing that as many as 70% of families are opting to care for their aging loved ones at home, HealthStar offers a program called Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care which offers support both in and out of the home to the caregivers and families dealing with the stress and challenging behaviors associated with this disease. HealthStar Home Health feels strongly that memory loss screenings are the first step toward the detection and treatment of early-onset Alzheimer’s.

HealthStar will also be hosting a “Ask the Expert” session at the MN State Fair on August, 29th from 10:00 am – 11:00 am. Dr. Sonia Mosch, PhD., Clinical Neuropsychologist for the MN Wild (NHL Concussion Program), will be the guest expert. Dr. Mosch performs neuropsychological assessments for individuals concerned about the onset of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. If you have questions concerning the brain, now is your opportunity to “Ask the Expert”. Dr. Mosch will also be discussing:

  • The purpose for assessments, general methods, and uses in diagnoses of dementia versus normal aging
  • What to expect if you are referred for a neuropsychological assessment due to dementia concerns or symptoms
  • Recommendations that may arise from a neuropsychological assessment
  • Answer questions fairgoers may have regarding Alzheimer’s and dementia

Plan to join HealthStar and our guest expert Dr. Sonia Mosch in the East Crossroads Auditorium in the Health Fair 11 building on August 29th at 10:00 am for a very informative “Ask the Expert” session!

HealthStar Home Health proudly serves our Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota metro communities by not only offering FREE memory screenings at the Minnesota State Fair, but we are also sponsoring the 4th Annual Alzheimer’s Blondes vs Brunettes Twin Cities fundraiser. This fundraiser is a volunteer-driven event that brings young professionals together to support the Alzheimer’s Association and will be held on September 10th, 2016 at Sea Foam Stadium, Concordia University. The event is organized around a flag football game in which the two participating teams are divided based on the age-old rivalry between blondes and brunettes. Funds raised this year at the Blondes vs Brunettes Twin Cities will benefit the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association, Minnesota-North Dakota chapter. Blondes vs Brunettes Twin Cities is a strategic initiative of the Chapter’s Young Champions. To learn more about this fun event, including how you can volunteer or participate, visit their website:  http://bvbtwincities.org/index.html

If you or a loved one are concerned about symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, plan to stop for a visit at our booth in the Health Fair 11 building at the intersection of Dan Patch and Cooper at the MN State Fair and participate in a FREE, confidential memory screening.  Our booth will be open from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm with HealthStar Home Health professionals conducting memory screenings until 7:00 pm each day of the fair.

See you at the fair!

The Role of Therapy in Dementia Care

Undergoing some form of dementia is hard, but it is also hard to understand what needs should be met. A caregiver must understand the complexities of the illness and what to expect. Not many have this ability, which is why therapy is such a valuable tool for dealing with dementia. Dementia care already takes place in the home, in long term acute centers, and in skilled nursing facilities. Patients who undergo therapy have the advantage of working with a professional who understands the effects it can have on a person’s wellness.

Types of Dementia Care

In many cases, a patient undergoes therapy across a wide spectrum of treatments. Because dementia is so varied, the therapy is also varied, but it usually spans across 3 separate forms of therapy.

Occupational Therapy

This is a form of therapy that addresses the patient’s ability to deal with everyday tasks. The patient must be able to perform basic daily tasks in order to have some form of independence. Occupational therapists teach the patient new ways to bathe themselves, to dress, to manage their medication, and perform very light housekeeping duties. It’s often these small actions that helps a patient feel like they’ve regained some form of control in their life; a vital part to their recovery.

Physical Therapy

Although not often the case, some physical therapy could be required for a patient to undergo. This form of therapy helps to regain motor skills that were lost. Victims of a stroke might need to regain the ability to use their limbs as well as dealing with dementia from the attack. A physical therapist also provides exercises and routines to build strength and balance.

Speech therapy

Patients with dementia often lose their ability to properly communicate. A therapist who specializes in the disease has the ability work with patients of dementia to build up new compensation techniques to communicate with the world around them. They rebuild their words and vocabulary so they can communicate feelings, needs, and thoughts.

Positive Aspects of Dementia Therapy

Dementia, in its many faces, can be hard on the sufferer and the caregiver. It can be difficult to deal with someone who once had full understanding to being entirely reliant on someone else. This burdens both the patient and the caregiver. Therapy addresses a wellness of the patient that goes beyond motor skills and communication techniques. Therapy looks at the patient as a whole from the physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and intellectual conditions.

Those in dementia care have the benefit of working with someone who is specialized and skilled in this form of treatment. They have the knowledge and experience to effectively treat all the symptoms better than a family member ever could. It’s only through therapy that full recovery or treatment can be had.

Memory Care – Early Detection is Key!

Alzheimer’s is not just a disease that affects older people. Early-onset Alzheimer’s can affect people who are younger than 65 years of age and close to 5% of the more than 5 million Americans who have Alzheimer’s disease have younger-onset. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, many Americans with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease are in their 40s and 50s. These alarming statistics and others related to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are what drive HealthStar Home Health to spread the word about the importance of early detection.

The brain is a powerful and complex organ with just three main parts that make up the brain itself. Alzheimer’s disease is present when the activity of neurotransmitters and electrical charges in our brain’s function is disrupted. A person with Alzheimer’s will experience nerve cell death and tissue loss in the brain and over time the brain will shrink dramatically, which in turn affects nearly all brain function.

In the very early stages of Alzheimer’s, before testing can even detect the symptoms, a person may notice slight issues in the learning and memory as well as the thinking and planning functioning of the brain. Early symptoms may include confusion or difficulty in these areas:

  • Time and place
  • Completing routine tasks at work or home
  • Finding the right words to use or joining a conversation
  • Misplacing items
  • Judgement or decision-making
  • Mood and personality changes
  • Avoiding work or social activities

Many of these symptoms may sound familiar, but that doesn’t mean a person experiencing some of these has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. There is typical age-related changes and functions we all experience as we age. The changes experienced by a person with Alzheimer’s are much more extreme, advanced and happen more often than a typical ‘forgetful moment’.

Early detection is key, so if you or a loved one are noticing changes and symptoms don’t ignore them! There may be treatment available as well as clinical studies, so make an appointment with your primary physician right away to discuss health options.

HealthStar Home Health is proud to serve our Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota metro communities by offering FREE memory screenings. HealthStar is returning to the 2016 Minnesota State Fair beginning in August with a mission to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias by, once again, providing FREE memory screenings to anyone who stops by our booth. HealthStar Home Health understands the importance of proper early detection and treatment of dementia or Alzheimer’s and is offering face-to-face memory screenings which will only take a few minutes to complete and consist of a series of questions and tasks that will access memory. Knowing that as many as 70% of families are opting to care for their aging loved ones at home, HealthStar offers a program called Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care which offers support both in and out of the home to the caregivers and families dealing with the stress and challenging behaviors associated with this disease. HealthStar feels strongly that memory loss screenings are the first step toward the detection and treatment of early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Another way HealthStar provides support and care for those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is to be an official sponsor of a film about Alzheimer’s titled His Neighbor Phil. This film tells the story of Harvey, a man whose wife Mary has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. This touching film not only shows the effects of this disease on Mary, but also their entire family and the community they live in. Although the film deals with the honest realities, it mainly focuses its attention on the tireless work of the caregivers and how their lives are also affected by the disease. Take a moment to watch a trailer about the moving film His Neighbor Phil.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/110466802

If you or a loved one are concerned about symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, remember you are not alone. Early detection is important so plan to visit HealthStar Home Health at our booth in the HealthFair 11 building at the corner of Dan Patch & Cooper at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair to participate in a FREE, confidential memory screening. HealthStar Home Health will be conducting memory screenings August 25 – September 5 from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm each day. See you at the fair!

Coping With An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

It can be hard to deal with someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a debilitating disease that robs the victims of their normal brain abilities. They lose words, pictures, memories, and people from their slowly deteriorating mind. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the patient feels helpless and frustrated from the knowledge that they are undergoing this change. Later on, however, it’s the care-giver who deals with the brunt of the frustration of caring for someone with extreme helplessness. As a caregiver, there are better ways to understand and care for a relative with Alzheimer’s, no matter what the stage of the illness. Here are a few of the recommended techniques as frequently talked about by those who’ve undergone the process before.

Using Humor to Soften the Impact

A famous phrase in the world of improve comedy is to use “Yes, and?” This is the principle that many caregivers are using with their relatives. Alzheimer’s patients can be disoriented and confused. They can see or say some bizarre things, and it can be frustrating for both the caregiver and the patient if there is no communication. By playing along and agreeing with the patient, the caregiver can inject humor into the situation and both parties can have some fun despite the circumstances of the disease.

Dealing with the Disease, Not the Person

Alzheimer’s disease patients often have behavioral changes that can affect their relationships and daily routines. Caregivers must understand that these are not the result of the patient, but rather the disease that causes these changes. It causes a loss of words, increased rummaging, outbursts of anger, aggressive hitting, or wandering away from home. It’s important to remember that this is the result of a loss of brain cells, not a willful change in the person.

Maintaining Simple Routines for Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease

As the brain begins to shrink and deteriorate, simple routines and patterns aid with the new transition. The caregiver can begin to offer fewer choices and begin to make more decisions on behalf of the patient. They can ask yes or no questions rather than asking opinions. Maintaining a daily routine helps patients feel some semblance of stability in their life. Restlessness is a big symptom of Alzheimer’s, so it helps to have a constant routine.

Understanding the Limits

As the disease progresses, there are limits to what the caregiver can do and the patient as well. It could be soon time to consider places for advanced care. Knowing these limits ahead of time and preparing for them helps the caregiver with their own loss of loved ones. By understanding their limitations in providing a nurturing home, they can avoid any fallout between family members or friends.

Although it’s never easy, it’s reassuring to know that even though someone is going through Alzheimer’s disease, there are people all across the world who have dealt with it before. Understanding their successes is the first step to getting through this difficult time with kindness and understanding.

For more information on how HealthStar Home Health can help you and your loved one cope with Alzheimer’s disease, please call 612-871-3700.

Delaying the Progression of Alzheimer’s

In spite of the development of so many new types of drugs and products that drive change and innovation in the healthcare industry, researchers are yet to find an effective method to reverse the cognitive alterations and memory loss linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

4 Key Factors That Help Patients Slow down the Progress of Alzheimer’s

Even in this context, the good news is that there are several ways in which one could delay the progress of this health concern in the short term by following a series of basic steps. Here are the most important aspects that the best providers of home healthcare services focus on when it comes to improving the quality of life of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Sustained Mental Activity
A recent study published by the Rush Memory and Aging Project reveals that there is a solid connection between a sustained cognitive activity during one’s lifetime, and a delayed cognitive decline. In other words, those who go the extra mile to stimulate their brain on a regular basis will be more able to delay the evolution of Alzheimer’s, especially during the earliest stages of this type of dementia.

To encourage a constituent mental stimulation, home healthcare providers encourage patients to make the most of pleasurable activities designed to engage one’s mind, such as reading, playing cards or chess, writing or learning a new language.

Daily Lifestyle Changes
A healthcare provider can offer the tools that a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s required to maintain his or her independence for a longer while, in his or her own environment, preventing stress, frustration and further decline. For instance, by ensuring electronic bill paying, taking care of basic household chores, and minimizing or taking over any task that the patient could worry about, a reputable provider of homecare will help delay the evolution of Alzheimer’s without making any dramatic changes that could throw the elderly out of their comfort zone and cause more confusion and chaos.

A Beneficial Routine
While minor changes can contribute to an improved level of comfort and security, those who are affected by Alzheimer’s will inevitably cling to old habits that keep them connected to their memories. Professionals offering in-home care for Alzheimer’s patients keep this fact in mind and act accordingly, by establishing and maintaining a beneficial routine involving a regular rhythm with outings, sleep, bathing and meals, without disrupting the patient’s balance.

Medication and Diet
Researchers indicate that there is a solid link between a healthy diet based on certain key elements, and a successful attempt to delay the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, seniors suffering from dementia should consume a great variety of fresh, nutritious foods that are rich in antioxidants.

A diet rich in vitamin E can delay mental impairment by protecting brain cells against irreparable damages. Those who benefit from the best in-home healthcare services tailored to their needs and current health condition can experience the advantages of a personalized diet rich in vitamins B, E and C extracted from fresh vegetables and fruits.

Medication is another key factor that could slow down the progress of Alzheimer’s. Patients diagnosed with this disease may have to take cholinesterase inhibitors to prevent changes that may affect muscle control and mental capabilities.

Patients and their families should talk to a doctor and get a prescription before following a treatment plan. In some cases, medical supervision ensured by a provider of in-home healthcare services may be required, especially when the people affected by Alzheimer’s disease in Minnesota are unable to take their meds on their own, following their doctor’s recommendations. Such services can help Alzheimer’s patients live a more comfortable, safe and secure life and preserve their independence in their own environment.

At HealthStar Home Health, our home health professionals provide unparalleled public health care services through stewardship, honor-driven values, and a genuine desire to serve. Our Minnesota clients benefit from the range of healthcare services we provide, from Alzheimer’s and dementia care, to behavioral nursing, home health care nursing, respite care and more. HealthStar Home Health has a team of nurses dedicated to Alzheimer’s and Dementia care.

At HealthStar Home Health, we help make strong communities and families in the Twin Cities metro area by enabling individuals of all ages to live more independent and fulfilling lives. Contact us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a consultation at no charge.

Understanding Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s contributes up to 80% of dementia cases nationwide, and is a terrifying diagnosis. When faced with the possibility of total memory loss and death, it’s understandable to be worried about this degenerative illness. After receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, recognizing the first signs and symptoms, as well as understanding all available treatment options, can help the care process moving forward quicker and easier.

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, and is not just a part of getting old. Some memory loss can be contributed to the eventual aging-process, but Alzheimer’s is a much bigger problem. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, meaning that individuals who are affected will have worsening symptoms with no chance of recovery. Because there is currently no cure, the best option available is to slow the symptoms and continue to improve quality of life for those affected. Most families look to qualified, compassionate, and trained caregivers to assist in the day-to-day tasks of an Alzheimer’s patient. Having an understanding and efficient home aid, or transferring a patient in to an assisted living facility can greatly increase their quality of life by allowing them autonomy over their daily living with increased assistance. Getting the help needed for Alzheimer’s disease in Minnesota is easy—and finding the right assistance can be a life-saver.

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

  1. Forgetting important dates, asking for information again and again, or not remembering family members’ names.
  2. Sudden inability to solve problems, like balancing a checkbook, or cooking a family recipe. They may also take much longer to complete tasks that were previously easy.
  3. Cannot complete or remember how to do daily tasks that they frequently did previously, like working the television remote, or the rules of a game.
  4. Can no longer understand times and dates, as well as seasons. They may forget a planned outing altogether, or not comprehend when it is happening. They may also suddenly realize they can’t remember how or when they arrived somewhere.
  5. Difficulty reading or understanding visual information. This includes lack of depth perception, or loss of contrast in vision.
  6. Loss of words or their meaning. An affected individual may call things by the wrong name, or make up a word. They often lose their place in conversations, and repeat themselves several times.
  7. Often, they will misplace things and be unable to remember where they put them, or even when they had the item last. This may lead to accusations of stealing and frustration.
  8. Poor judgment is another warning sign—if the person makes poor choices when handling money, and struggles to remember to bathe regularly.
  9. Suddenly become withdrawn from work or social activities, or no longer enjoy hobbies, projects, or sports that they once loved.
  10. Changes in mood and personality are warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. If the patient appears depressed, anxious, or more easily frustrated than usual, it may be time to talk to a doctor who specializes in Alzheimer’s disease in Duluth.

If you have a loved one showing any of the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s, know that HealthStar can help! We offer free in-home consultations to help find the right care for your loved one. For more information, please call 612-871-3700.

Creating a Dementia Care Plan

When faced with elderly relatives and dementia, the idea of taking care of them in-house can be overwhelming. Normal daily life and familiar routines don’t have to change completely, though; it’s important that they maintain as much autonomy over their daily lives as possible. It’s also imperative to think of the future, and discuss a time when either outside help will be required or the patient will need to be transferred to an assisted living facility.

Dealing with dementia is terrifying, and that’s why it’s important to create a schedule that everyone agrees to and can follow easily. When things get overwhelming or fear sets in, help with dementia care in Duluth is just a phone call away. Qualified, licensed professionals can reduce rifts that arise between families when this cognitive degeneration is in the mix, Getting much-needed help can reduce stress and tensions. Home care is a highly viable option that can be used right away or after a period of family time, when everyone has had a chance to adjust to both the diagnosis and the changes it brings.

Creating a Dementia Care Plan

The first step to creating a schedule is to create structured and appropriate divisions in the day and include activities that are pleasant, easy to accomplish, and low stress. Keep in mind that this isn’t a permanent plan and that constant adjustments will make home life and daily tasks enjoyable for everyone involved. Before creating a plan, be mindful of the person’s interests, likes and dislikes, and abilities. Creating a daily plan full of activities that the patient doesn’t enjoy will create a stressful, disjointed environment. Also keep in mind how they previously structured their day, however loosely their schedule was kept. If they always read the paper before breakfast, include that as part of the new schedule and try to keep other transitions easy and smooth.

Whether they’re a night owl or an early bird, everyone has a time of day that they’re more productive and happiest. Try to tackle bigger projects, like chores and social or intellectual activities during this time. Be sure to schedule large stretches of time for more complicated or difficult tasks like personal care, eating, or physical activities. Not scheduling enough time can make a patient nervous or feel embarrassed if they can’t complete the task before the next scheduled activity. When questions, or for those moments of insecurity, there are always professionals that are available to offer guidance and help create the best dementia care plan in Duluth.

Create a consistent schedule that is easy to follow. Often, individuals suffering from dementia have a hard time falling asleep or waking up, and having consistent times and activities daily will help them understand their new world. When writing a plan, keep in mind that it can include time for spontaneous, easy tasks for added fun, but that structure and routine allows a patient suffering from dementia to feel in control.