Whoa, where did summer go?

If you’re anything like me, you’re sitting there, looking at a long list of to-do’s, feeling like summer really ended fast. We’re in week 2 of school for most of MN, but it already feels like October! This cooler weather, along with the back-to-school schedule, has me really feeling the need to check off my list. I know I can’t make more hours in a day, so I have been looking for some tricks to get the most out of each hour that I’ve got!

Here is a list of tips and tricks to getting the most out of your day, whether you’re working at an office, at home, or just trying to squeeze in some enjoyment!

Be Present; Be Mindful

One way to make the most of every moment is to take the time to re-center, and to really experience each moment as it happens. I have found this to be far more difficult than it sounds. I’m always thinking about something, and the harder I try to clear my mind, the more somethings there seem to be! But I am finding that just by being aware, I am able to slow things down, and it helps me to better appreciate the things that I already have.

Magan Olson, Lead Clinical Supervisor, has mentioned before how mindfulness has helped her in her own live. Nissa Fougner, Director of Rehabilitative Therapies, has also discussed how focusing on mindfulness gives value to her daily life. I think they’re onto something! Being present in the moment can help all of us reach our full potential, instead of spending our time thinking about the shoulds, the coulds, the maybes, and the woulds. It’s so much more productive to make the most of what we already have and what we can already do!

Set Goals & Check Off that List!

Did you set a New Year’s resolution? Here’s the hard-hitting question – did you MAKE it? If not, you’re in good company, but you’ve also still got time to make some progress! Here’s another idea – don’t wait until New Year’s to make those goals. Looking at changes that I might want to make right now could be just the head-start that I need to feel a bit more confident by New Year’s Day.

Here’s a little gem from Mark Twain – finish the thing that you like the least, and the rest of your list doesn’t look so bad! Think about what your frogs are – maybe you need to eat them tomorrow morning, so that you can move on to something a little more tasty.

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

Mark Twain

Have you had enough of lists, goals, and calendar items at work? Maybe you don’t want your home life to be quite so scheduled. That’s OK – you can still have some informal goals to work toward, in areas where you feel you need a bit more control. Maybe you need help with menu planning, or budgeting, or just need a reminder to set aside some time for yourself. Carving out a little bit of time each day for something that’s important to you can be a good reminder to take care of you, too!

And of course, if you or a loved one need help with some physical or mental health-related goals, contact your local HealthStar office to find out how we can help you get started and stay on track to meet them!

Re-think your schedule

Do you dread getting out of bed each morning, or do you greet the day with bright eyes and a bushy tail? Deep down, we all love to hate those bright eyes, but wouldn’t you also love to be more like that, instead of bleary eyed and bristle headed? I know this might sound super boring (#adulting), but it applies to all of us, from childhood to mid-life (with or without the crisis) to elder status: going to bed and waking up on the same schedule each day will help you feel more alert, along with offering many other health benefits.

Your body learns its expected rhythm, and your bodily functions follow that rhythm. Digestion slows when you’re on “sleep time,” and your organs know that they won’t be called into high gear until the next morning’s feast. Your mind can start to wind down when you see 30-minutes left until bedtime. Blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing can all ease into “night mode” when it’s time to rest.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you; snore, and you sleep alone.

Anthony Burgess

Yes, this means giving up on your old College Boy “up until dawn” routine. This might also mean no more binge-watching entire seasons on Netflix. But this definitely means that you will have better quality of sleep, better digestive patterns, more alert waking hours, and hopefully no more baggy saggy dark circles under those beautiful eyeballs. It’s a win-win, even though you might take a few days (instead of just one night) to watch that season of Game of Thrones.

Get Active!

Yes, we are a health-related company, but not everyone here is always the most physically healthy. I’m sure we could all do a bit more to get or keep ourselves in the shape we really want to be. And I know that around 2 pm every day, the desk jockeys among us are starting to doze off. I’ve seen it happen. The worst is when we’re all in a meeting together at that time – don’t go to those meetings.

Maybe you add a walk in the morning, or after lunch. Maybe some old-school sit-ups under your desk, or lunges in the hallway when no one’s looking. How about a few chair stretches, or a couple toe-touches? Or, if you have the ambition to add a full workout, more power to you; it’ll keep you fueled and help you squeeze a little more out of your day!

Are you wondering if HealthStar staff can help you or your loved ones with a plan to get more active? You bet we can! The folks who don’t sit at desks all day – the clinicians, the therapists, and the aides – those folks are MUCH better at getting active, and they have plenty of ideas to share!

What’s In Your Diet?

A better quality diet can help you focus. The right diet can give you the energy you need so that you can power through your day, instead of spending time in food coma-land. So what is the right diet? This one’s touchy – there’s science to say that eating snacks is better, or eating no snacks is better, or that you should intermittently fast, or maybe that you should eat more small meals, or eat more protein, or eat more fiber… the list goes on and on. But one thing that’s unanimous – more vegetables can’t hurt, but too much sugar can.

Check your shelves – do you have a bunch of crackers, cookies, and processed food in your pantry? If so, it might be time for a fresh start. Whole vegetables are on the “do” list of all the diets, whether you listen to the “don’t” side or not. And sugars should be used sparingly, so consider those packaged items a treat and not a staple. Other than this very basic advice: I am the pot, and anyone else that I talk to might be just another kettle, so I try not to say too much at all. Especially because my mouth is often full of the “don’t” list.

Do you have specialized dietary restrictions? Need some help figuring out what works for your specific needs? Contact HealthStar for some ideas – I promise you won’t get any feedback from me, it will be from our clinical staff. They might not write the blog posts, but they sure do know how to write specialized diets!

Start Something Small

Maybe you can’t finish the whole quilt, but you can sew a single square. Sometimes, just finding a place to start can mean you’ll get to the finish line. Little changes are much easier to implement than broad, sweeping changes. Maybe you’ll just go to bed 15-minutes earlier tonight, or get up 15-minutes earlier to do some deep breathing in the morning. Maybe you’ll add a vegetable at dinner, or skip dessert. Take a short walk, write down some of your thoughts, fears, and hopes. All of these things can help you re-focus on what matters the most to you, and filter out the stuff that doesn’t, so that you can really make the best use of the little time that you’ve got each day.

Have questions about mindfulness? Want to know more about modified diet and exercise for your health conditions? Need a few ideas on how you can get things moving on the right track? Check HealthStar out and see how we can work with you to get the most out of every day!

We can’t take all the credit. A special “thank you” to these pages for giving us a little extra help with this blog post:

https://psychcentral.com/lib/my-11-tips-on-how-to-make-the-most-of-each-day/

https://www.sleep.org/articles/sleep-and-productivity-at-work/

https://www.tuck.com/productivity-and-sleep

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffboss/2017/01/19/5-reasons-why-goal-setting-will-improve-your-focus/#7332866c534a

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25080035

https://hbr.org/2014/10/what-you-eat-affects-your-productivity

Fun and Free – Budget Friendly Activities for the Dog Days of Summer

It’s hot. It’s humid. My body craves two things:

  1. Cold water, everywhere
  2. Shade

Sometimes, on the weekend, I’m lucky enough to stand in the kiddie pool. Mostly, though, my kids run around the yard like they can’t feel it’s So. Hot. Outside. And guess who has to chase them. Hot or not, I’m running flat out because my 2-year-old is freaky fast when he gets going. He’s basically the road runner of humans.

Are you in the same rut? Body begging for something cool and relaxing, but you just can’t quite make it work? Don’t despair – here are a few budget-friendly ideas to help you beat the heat in these last few weeks of summer!

Hit the splash pad!

Adults and kids alike can enjoy a splash pad. It’s safer than the beach, because there’s no deep water. It’s also much easier to get around, because most of them are cement or playground foam instead of sand – much friendlier to those with mobility challenges! But it’s just as cool as the pool! Splash pads are popping up all over the place – do a quick Google search for one near your zip code. Or, if you can’t find a community splash pad, check out these splash mats for your yard. Yes, you will end up using a bit of extra water, but it feels amazing to walk through that cool mist!

Beat the dog days of summer this year by visiting your local splash pad

And for those who want a trip to the actual beach but haven’t hit it yet because of those mobility challenges – check out the Sand Pad. This is a relatively cheap replacement for the small caps on the end of assistive devices like walkers or canes. It might just be your ticket to fun in the sand, after all! And hey, most beaches are free – bring a snack and a blanket and you can stay all day!

Jazz up that Kiddie Pool!

For my yard, the kiddie pool is easily the most underrated method for cooling off. Cold water from the hose, into the pool it goes! (Boy, is that cold on my toes!) Standing in that cold water cools me off for hours, and makes the rest of the day tolerable. And truth be told, I may have sat in the kiddie pool without any kids around, with an adult beverage, after the actual kiddies are sleeping. Shhh, it’s our little secret. For these reasons, I urge you to invest in your own kiddie pool, whether you have actual kiddos or not. It’s the cheapest way to cool down – I think ours under $10 at Fleet Farm.

Who said Kiddie Pools are just for kids?

To make this option a bit more attractive, you can add some dollar store pizzaz – get yourself a few leis, some fancy drink cups, and some water toys, and you can create a poolside oasis that the whole family can enjoy. Even the older kids enjoy water gun target practice! You’ll be the envy of all who spy you enjoying your tiny paradise island.

Mall Walking – remember those days?

According to Google, Mall Walking is still very much a thing. For those of us who have a little trouble getting out in the neighborhood, this can offer a fabulous alternative – air conditioned, accessible, and hey, you can also get a little window shopping in. Better yet, our ICLS Services can even get you there (and back)! Get your walking shoes on, or get yourself ready and into whatever gets you moving if you’ve got mobility concerns.

Air conditioning AND pretzels? What more could you ask for?

The mall has ramps, elevators, escalators, and stairs, so whatever your level of mobility, there’s something for you. Just check out “Mall Walking Near Me,” and you can find somewhere to get out and get moving in an indoor neighborhood! Some areas even have mall walking groups, so you can turn it into a social outing.

And hey, no one will judge you if you have a pretzel or a Cinnabon while you’re there…

Bug Out, Under Budget

I’d love to get out of town, but we can’t afford much. Between visiting out-of-state family members and taking time off for sick self or sick kids, my time off and my vacation budget are both pretty low. But even I can afford a couple days at a camp site, and let me tell you, camping is NOT what it used to be.

Creating life long memories with your family doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg

I have many camping memories from my childhood; some great and some I’d like to repress. Bonfires, s’mores, swimming in beautiful and clear water, fishing, hiking, and the joy of piggybacking on my dad’s shoulders when my little legs got tired – those are the good times, and they were really good. Wet and soggy tent bottoms after being rained out, wind that whipped our tent almost off the side of a cliff, BUGS, and Fear. Of. Bears… those are some of my unsuccessfully repressed memories. Like all of life, camping is unpredictable, but that’s part of the awesome adventure!

Camping or Glamping? It’s your call!

These days, lots of camp sites have pools, actual bathrooms, and even units to rent indoors if you get tired of “roughing it.” You can decide how much glam you want in your camping trip – go old school, or pool swim instead of lake swimming if that’s more your speed. It’s still a better deal than a hotel, and no one has to know that you glamped instead of camped.

You can sleep in a real bed and still go hiking in the morning, or enjoy a bonfire and then catch a movie and some air conditioning in a cozy cabin. Or sleep under the stars like a champion, there’s really nothing quite like that feeling – you’ll see SO many more stars than what you ever will see within the lights of a city. Check out “Camp Sites Near Me,” there’s something for every budget, ability, and experience level!

County Fair, State Fair, See You There?

The State Fair can be a fabulous adventure, but it is also humongous and difficult to get through, even on a “slow day.” There are also tons of County fairs around MN, each of them with a little bit of that State Fair glory, but on a tighter budget and a more friendly scale.

Nothing says “summer” like your local county fair!

County fairs generally are easier to navigate, have cheaper food and drink, and offer a great way to visit with some of your neighbors. Yeah, the weather might be hot, but you probably don’t have to pay to get in, and you’re not going to break the bank on your first corn dog! Put on your tank top and flip flops, bring plenty of water, and get out there to meet the neighborhood!

Summer Library Schedule

Here’s three things to love about libraries – they’re free, there’s air conditioning, and they’re usually quiet and peaceful. It’s practically paradise in there. And during summer, there are tons of events to keep the kiddos busy. Magicians, yoga, and story time are just the beginning. Borrow up a few books, get the kids out of the house, and all without breaking a sweat? Yes, please! Throw together a picnic lunch, and you’ve got yourself a free day of fun. Chances are, there’s a local library near you.

Your local library isn’t what it used to be!

There are also a ton of workshops, if you’re looking for a reason to get yourself out and about. My local library has had great success with a “trash to treasure” type event, where community members share their super handy skills by helping people restore, repair, or just figure out what makes their stuff work. I’ve seen broken lamps, sewing machines, and all kinds of half-finished projects on those days. There are plenty of speakers, and even sometimes live music or other entertainment. Trust me, the library isn’t just a place to sit in a corner with a novel – but that sounds amazing, too!

What are you waiting for? GO!

These are just a few ideas – I’m sure you have some that are even better. Just get out there and get active before summer ends. All good Minnesotans know that our warm days are numbered, so let’s enjoy summer down to the last drop! We don’t need to mention the W-word for motivation, do we? (Hey, Arizona and New Mexico offices – keep it down, we hear you snickering.)

OK, I know fall is basically the best Minnesota season ever because you can still enjoy the beautiful outdoors without all the heat and humidity, but I still always have a little moment of panic when I see the calendar getting closer to September. I’m going to panic-cram some fun in, like I always do. How about you – do you need a little inspiration or motivation? Get in touch with one of our offices to find out how we can help you get the most out of these last few weeks of summer!

Independence – what does it mean to you?

This month, the US celebrates its independence as a nation. But when do you celebrate your independence as an individual? We all have different levels of independence, whether we look at physical, mental, emotional, financial, or age-related dependencies. But there’s no special day to celebrate our own personal successes in independence! Why not? We should all be celebrating the things that we can do on our own!

I remember the first time I was able to take my mom and dad out to dinner with money that I had earned. That feeling of accomplishment sticks with me today, although maybe it’s not so fun to pay the bill these days! I also feel grateful for all the things that I can do on my own every day, like getting out of the house or driving myself around where I need to go. Working in home care has shown me that health and independence are too important to take for granted!

Celebrate small victories!

We’ve all had various successes, from small to monumental; moments when we gain the strength and the ability to take care of things on our own. Some things come easy, but sometimes we really put a lot of work in before we really feel that independence! The good thing is that all that hard work makes the accomplishment feel So. Much. Greater!

One tip that we’ve discussed before comes from Nissa Fougner, director of Rehab Therapies. She reminds us that it’s important to celebrate the small victories, so that you can see the progress as it’s being achieved. When you are able to recognize those small steps that you’ve cleared on your way to the big hurdles, it gives you more energy to keep going toward the end goal!

New service, same team!

At HealthStar, we believe that this great feeling of accomplishment should be experienced by everyone! We’re excited to help our Clients achieve independence in whatever form makes the most sense for their unique goals. This is why HealthStar is expanding into a new line of service, designed to improve and foster independence for those we serve. We’re pleased to announce HealthStar’s new ICLS initiative (short for Individual Community Living Supports)! Adding ICLS service to HealthStar’s service offerings provides a new opportunity to help our Clients achieve greater independence in their own lives.

Adding ICLS still means working with the same great office staff that our Clients already know and love. We’re lucky to have such an amazing team – they are all excited to add this new tool to our home care toolbelt! We think the new ICLS initiative makes HealthStar one service stronger in the fight for our Clients’ independence. Whether we’re helping with mobility, rehabilitation, home safety, or just providing basic homemaking services, we want our Clients to learn and grow with us!

How can we help you with your independence goals?

Take a look at all of the various support services that HealthStar has to offer – maybe we’re a fit for you or for a family member who needs a little extra help gaining greater independence. The best part is, that when you invite HealthStar into your care circle, you also get our billing team and all of the services that we can cover for you! Our awesome billing department is great at digging into the specifics of what your insurance will cover. Insurance can be very confusing, but with a few experts on your side, you can be sure you’re getting the most out of your insurance coverage. Give us the chance, and we’ll be thrilled to discuss your situation – we’d love to work with you toward a more independent future!

Better Health through Kindness

To me, May is a reminder of kindness. My favorite part of May has always been “May Day,” celebrated on May 1st. To celebrate, my family would create a little basket of goodies for each of our neighbors. Then, the fun: ding the neighbor’s doorbell, leave the basket, and RUN. This always felt amazing! Not only was I doing something fun with my mom and my sister, I also loved to imagine my surprised neighbors, overjoyed by finding a surprise of flowers, fruit, or cookies in a lovely basket on their doorstep. (I’m sure they knew it was us, but it felt like such a secret to me as a kid.)

To this day, I get excited about May Day, because it represents something wholesome, kind, and caring. I’m no Martha Stewart, but I still yearn for those happy little things that make my heart feel full to bursting, and this memory is one of those things.

As it turns out, that “heart full of joy” feeling you get from kind and generous activities does more than just make you happy – it’s also great for your health! (I’m sure you knew I’d get around to this eventually.) Check out these benefits of sharing a bit of kindness, and stick around for a few simple ideas to spread the warm, fuzzy feelings around! At the end of this post, you’ll also find a bunch of links that support the positive impact a little kindness can have on your health and well-being.

A kind heart is a healthy heart!

Studies have shown that when we complete an act of kindness, we receive a boost in the hormone Oxytocin. According to Dr. David Hamilton, “Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates (expands) the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and therefore oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure).”

Is it enough of a reduction to negate the extra salt in my diet? Well, I’m no doctor, but I am an expert in wishful thinking. Maybe if I share those French fries, the kindness boost might just evaporate some of the “bad stuff” about the fries themselves. Plus, by sharing, I’m only eating half as many as I would have if I’d been selfish. That’s a win, win situation!


Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

Albert Schweitzer

Oxytocin has also been called a “love hormone” because it is produced by nursing moms and helps them bond (and fall absolutely in love) with their new babies. It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that this same hormone helps us bond with others in social situations as well! It can help reduce anxiety and keep depression at bay. When you couple this benefit with the next, the cumulative effect is a great mood boost!

More endorphins? Yes, please!

Acts of kindness can also repay you in the form of serotonin release and endorphin production. Most of us have heard that serotonin “makes you feel good.” It is commonly believed that low serotonin levels can lead to depression, anxiety disorder, and other mood disorders. On the flip side, a little boost in serotonin supports feelings of happiness and enhances the “good mood” feeling.

Add the endorphin release, and you’ve really got a good thing going! Endorphins increase the feeling of well-being, help relieve stress, and even decrease pain in a similar way to opioid drugs, but without any of those nasty side-effects! Together, the increases in oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins create an unstoppable mood-and-body-boosting trio. The kindness effect combats everything from depression and anxiety to aches and pains. Speaking of aches and pains, that brings us to…

What about inflammation?

Chronic inflammation is of great interest to researchers as a potential underlying contributor to many illnesses. According to this study, “Regularly engaging in volunteering has a special way of getting ‘under the skin,’ resulting in what appears as a younger biological profile for inflammation.” Volunteering gave a greater health benefit, in terms of reduced overall inflammation, than other types of “productive activity,” possibly because of the health boost received based on the generosity and kindness involved in the act of volunteering.

Reducing inflammation may help the body avoid many kinds of health issues, including Alzheimer’s disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, cancer – and these are just the big names. Everyday ailments like joint pain and arthritis can also seem lighter after an act of kindness. If we thought of kindness as medicine, how much more of it could we create?

Wow, kindness is strong stuff!

But wait – there’s more! In addition to all the benefits we’ve already discussed, let me throw in one more tidbit. This one is my favorite. Kindness begets kindness. It’s the ripple effect – an act of kindness can spread from one person to many, and it happens with so little effort!

Put kindness in action:

Maybe you buy a coffee for the guy behind you in the drive-through today. The person working the window gets to be a part of your kindness, which benefits him or her. The guy getting the free coffee doesn’t know you to thank you, so hopefully he’ll pass on the kindness to another stranger, or maybe even two. Each of those people, in turn, commit their own acts of kindness, spreading your single act to a positive health impact on a whole bunch of people, all for the cost of a single cup of coffee.


I like to pay for the coffee of the other folks behind me in line. It typically costs me less than $10, and makes the other people feel good, but more importantly, it makes me feel so good, and random acts of kindness change the world one person at a time.

Robert Kraft

It’s easy for me to see the benefit of a single act, but really, who does only one kind thing in a day? How many kindnesses can you spread around today? If we all take a few minutes to plan something generous and selfless, just imagine the impact we can have! Here are some ideas to get you started:

Our first day being kind

Everyone is new at something, some time. The good news is, it doesn’t take long to get the hang of dishing out kindness. A smile at a stranger, a compliment or a helping hand – these are all free. Here’s one of my secrets, and I don’t mind sharing it with you: lots of times, when I see someone is having a tough day, I will go out of my way to find something nice to say about that person.

Look at what he or she is wearing, the hairstyle or the accessories. There’s always something that took a little extra time to do, or something that maybe he’s insecure about or she wasn’t so sure if she could pull off that day. What if you’re the one to say “hey, I really like your scarf, where did you get it?” or “you look great today, what did you do differently?” Such a simple thing can really go a long way to making someone feel noticed.

A few more freebies

Donate your unwanted stuff to a women’s shelter or volunteer for an outreach organization in your area. These are fabulous causes, and of course, you’ll get the health benefit from the act of generosity. Help load someone’s groceries, open the door for a stranger, or help your neighbor with yard work if you happen to be outside at the same time.

And, of course, there’s that “pay for the guy behind me” trick in the drive-through. It’s a game of chance – he or she might be buying for the whole office! It sure does feel good though, when you can surprise someone with a free order; even though you don’t see the reaction, you know what you’d feel like if it happened to you!

We’re not done yet!

I’m lucky to work at HealthStar, because we have whole offices full of kindness. There is something to be said for working with people who truly care about people. I feel it every day, surrounded by nurses and support staff who would drop everything to help a person in need. But even for those who find it easy to spread kindness, a reminder might be needed. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own little world sometimes! Here are some of my favorite workplace examples of sharing kindness – maybe you can start small in your office today!

Share your lunch with someone who doesn’t have much that day – I know I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of this one, and both are amazing. Give a few minutes of your time to a co-worker who needs a listening ear. Leave a “love note” to tell your co-workers what you admire most about them. Bring a treat to share, or if you’re on a health kick, bring some fruit or veggies and hummus. Recognize the contribution of a team member, or just send a little email to tell someone you’re thinking of her. And don’t forget the May Day basket – I’d love to see this tradition revitalized, in or out of the office setting!

Go forth and be kind!

I challenge you to come up with your own creative ways to spread kindness, and I promise you’ll enjoy these wonderful benefits to your own health and wellness in return. I think this is nature’s way of telling us that this is how we should be doing things – give to someone else, and in return, you get something that maybe even money can’t buy. A heart full of joy, and a body full of health!

And as always, contact HealthStar if you’re looking for staff who know how to put kindness into action to help you reach your health and wellness goals!

Please check out these links for more information:

Understanding Inflammation

The Science of Kindness

6 Science-Backed Ways Being Kind is Good for Your Health

How Sharing Kindness Can Make You Healthier, Happier

Why Random Acts of Kindness Matter

Let’s go OUTSIDE!

I love it when I start looking for blog ideas and I hit something that has millions of articles published. It tells me that I am on to something. When I went looking for “health benefits of time outdoors,” Google blew up with so many articles explaining what I already know from personal experience – being outdoors is fabulous for our health, and most of us aren’t spending nearly enough time out there!

The following is a collection of my personal top 5 reasons to get outside. Now that this long, snowy, and ridiculous winter has finally come to a close (you heard me, winter – COME TO A CLOSE), I hope you’ll join me in getting back out into nature! (yes, you can still go outside in winter. But it’s so much easier to get outside in spring!!)

1. Pure Joy

I feel a special something when I walk outside – smelling the fresh air, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face, and looking up into the skyline. It’s a feeling of freedom, hope, and happiness. Even just thinking about a warm summer breeze can bring a smile to my face. I’m guessing you have the same feeling, at least sometimes, when you step outside!

We spend so much time indoors. Some studies estimate as much as 90% of our time is spent inside. Whether you’re in your house, in the office, in your car, or even in a shopping center, there is a feeling of being enclosed that you may not realize is there until you step out into the wide-open spaces. Stepping outside on a day with great weather, I am like Maria in the Sound of Music (Julie Andrews), singing in the grassy meadows, arms outstretched, surrounded by beautiful, gently rolling hills covered by soft greens and framed by a clear blue sky.

Even what some would consider mediocre weather has its moments – the wonderful pitter patter and that amazing smell when it rains; the beauty of a fresh snowfall; the crisp chill of a fall day – I appreciate the joy in all of the seasons, and I know I need to be better at finding ways to get outside no matter the perfection of the skies! What’s your favorite season? Think about how you feel when you’re outside on your perfect day. Pretty great, right? You can’t buy that joy, it’s free just for stepping outside!

2. Burn off Stress

No, we’re not just talking about the angry walk around the block, but maybe this helps explain even that. Walking it off is a great way to burn off anger and frustration, but why? Well, the exercise helps burn off some of those pesky “fight or flight” endorphins, but also, I think the time outside helps put things in perspective. I am one person in one home on one street, surrounded by a town, a State, a Country, and all that before we even get to the size of the whole planet. Walking outside, I see my neighbors and their families. I have even walked outside to find that a neighbor is also “rage walking.” Talk about solidarity – none of us is alone in our experience, whether it’s a celebration or a challenge!

We are also connected with each other by nature. We use the same water, absorb the same sun, and smell the same fresh air. Getting outside is important, because it reminds us that there is something greater than ourselves – something that has been here far longer than we have, and will continue to be here after we are gone. It reminds us that we are not permanent, and neither are the things that can cause us stress and frustration. Even when you don’t feel stress building up, it’s still great to get outside and enjoy the peace and calm that comes from being in nature. It helps you re-center and tackle your responsibilities and challenges with new energy!

3. Oh, the health benefits!

Folks who struggle with mobility, mental health, and other barriers which make it more difficult to enjoy time outside – we are working for you! Many HealthStar clients already have help with improving outdoor mobility, whether it be a PCA who accompanies Clients on walks or nature outings, the Mental Health team helping get Clients motivated and setting goals for time or activities outdoors (we’re looking at you, Magan!), or the Physical Therapy team working on skills that make it easier to get outside independently (and with Nissa in charge, you know you’re in good hands), there are plenty of ways that HealthStar builds additional time outside into your plans for better health! We want to make sure that everyone can enjoy the health benefits that can be gained from spending time outdoors.

The potential health benefits from getting outside are numerous enough to fill several individual top 5’s all on their own. Here, in rapid fire, are just some of the health conditions that can be treated by spending time in the great outdoors – maybe it’s not a full cure, but for these diseases or disorders, at least a reduction in symptoms, severity, or a decrease in prevalence has been linked to more outdoor time.

Addiction, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, common cold, dementia, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation, insomnia, mental health disorders, mobility, nearsightedness, obesity, osteoporosis, pain, preterm birth, restless legs.

Phew. That’s quite the list, and just scratches the surface of how healthy it is to get outside. Please look into the links provided below, or Google for yourself for more information about all these health benefits. I would love to go into each, but this is only a 5-item blog post, not a dissertation. If I start getting even longer-winded than I already am, no one will read my posts!

4. Build outdoor skills with your kids

This one is my personal favorite. I love the look on the kids’ faces when we get outside for a nature walk. Maybe there is a nature preserve near you? We live near Tamarack Nature Center, which is a fabulous (and free) preserve in White Bear Lake. There are walking and hiking trails, there is a nature center for kids to explore, and there is even a sand and water area for the warm weather months. It is awesome to see the kids’ joyful faces when they get to run in the field and play in the mud. Playing outside is also a great time to learn survival skills, like which berries are toxic and what poison ivy or poison oak look like. Fishing, hunting, camping and hiking are all inexpensive ways to spend more outdoor time with your kiddos, and each presents a unique learning experience!

5. Screen-free time!

There are different viewpoints about screen time. Some people say “it’s no big deal,” and others believe that any TV is bad TV. As with most things, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle. For me, personally, it is important to disconnect from the screen at times. As a mom, I also think that it is important for my kids to have plenty of “hands-on” interests. Getting out in “the wilderness” is an awesome way for our family to forget all about phones, tablets, TV, and computers. As long as I remember to put my phone on silent. 😊

My kids love being outside. I have never had them ask “can I go inside and watch TV?” We often go for a “family walk” after dinner, with the little one in the wagon and the 5-year-old on her bike. There are so many good things about this time. It is a true family connection for us – time that we spend actively together, not just staring at a device while we’re in the same room. It’s time that we exercise together without thinking of it as exercise. And it’s time when we can look at the world around us – learn about trees, grass, birds, and all kinds of other wildlife, just by being exposed to it together.

Can’t you Google that?

Yes, you can learn about these things by looking them up on Google (and sometimes we do, when we get home). But the hands-on experience of touching a leaf and feeling its bumpy veins, running your hands over the rough bark of a tree, or watching a bunny speed through a field, its little white tail just peeking over the tall grass, until it hears you and poof becomes still, blending into the scenery except for its shiny eyes and its soft and twitchy little nose – Google, even in 4k, just can’t compete.

A little wisdom from Grandma Alma

I’ll close with a tribute to my grandma. Grandma Alma is a wise woman – she says “the more often kids eat dirt, the healthier they’ll be.” She still lives on the farm where my dad was born and raised, on the same dirt that I’m sure he ate as a child. She spends plenty of time getting outside, whether it’s mowing the grass, checking the garden, or just enjoying the warm sun. She’s in her nineties now, and still going strong, so I know she’s onto something… not that I’m going to eat a fistful of dirt now, but I hope you’ll agree, there is plenty of immune-boosting power in the outdoors. Maybe we just don’t all have to do the dirt eating part, OK, grandma?

March! I thought you’d never come!

I know I can’t be alone in wishing for spring. The vernal equinox is around the corner, and with it, days that finally stretch longer than nights. The arrival of March signals the first breath of beautiful and snow-melting spring, when we can finally begin the long thaw. Winter has taken a toll on both my physical and mental health, so as part of my “spring cleaning,” I have been looking for ways to energize and refresh myself, inside and out. While the weather slowly warms February’s heaping snow piles, I’ll be taking baby steps toward a happier, healthier me. I’d love to share some of the ideas I’ve found – maybe we can work together on a few small changes. Here are 4 areas that I’m working on, and plenty of little tips to work them into both of our schedules:

1. Shake up mealtime!

There is a lot of bang in the buck when it comes to changing your eating habits. But you don’t have to make drastic changes to see positive results. I love the idea of just adding an extra fruit or vegetable to every meal – sneaking in a smoothie here and there is an easy way that I’ve found to trick myself into eating more spinach. Even my kids love the smoothies! Including a probiotic in or out of your smoothie, like yogurt, kefir, or kombucha, can also improve digestive health and restore some of the important gut flora to help keep your system moving.

Add a little “good fat” to your diet for a big health boost!

Also, think about this – are you including “good fats” in your diet? Found in avocado, nuts, eggs, and other sources, these fats can help you feel satisfied and help to lower LDL cholesterol. You’re looking for unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. The extra fat is the good news, but now I’m getting to the tough stuff – limiting added sugar and refined white flour is a great way to cut out “empty” calories. Yes, sugar and white flour like the stuff found in brownies, cookies, ice cream, and most of the other things that I dream of when I start trying to “eat healthier.” But don’t stress about this – if you’re working in the other tips here, you’ll feel less cravings, and a little indulgence here or there isn’t all bad.

Speaking of “do as I say, not as I do” advice… here’s my favorite tip. Pack your own lunch every day. It’s really tough to get a healthy meal if you’re eating out! Even a salad can be loaded with calories depending on the dressing and toppings. You’ll be much more likely to eat healthy if you only pack healthy foods. You’ve had time to think about the ingredients, the portions, and the balance of the meal. And maybe a little snack once in a while wouldn’t hurt, either.

If you’re struggling for lunch ideas, here’s a fabulous one – work with a buddy to create lunches together! It keeps a little mystery in your lunch, and together, you can stay motivated and healthy. Two lunch eaters are much more creative than one! For example, at HealthStar, we’ve had a salad club in the past. It’s easier in summer, when produce is cheaper, but the idea can be modified for any season. You don’t have to do salads – you can get creative with different recipes. With a partner or two, sandwiches, wraps, or any number of side dishes can be converted to a delicious, nutritious, and surprisingly crave-able lunch menu!

2. Get moving!

Keep it moving!

For those of us who sit a lot (HealthStar office staff, this one’s for you!), hip openers can be done when you wake up and right before bed, to help keep your hips and waist refreshed. Yoga and Pilates are a couple of great low-impact workout types that can be done by all different ability levels. Even just a few simple stretches a day can help get you moving easier and give you a serotonin boost!

This can be a really tough one for so many of us. I sit at a desk all day, so for me, a reminder to get up and move around every so often is really helpful. I’ve known friends who swear by doing squats every time they go to the bathroom. 5 minutes of fast walking per hour can get you near the recommended weekly exercise recommendations, if you add a bit of workout time on the weekends (mayo clinic recommends 75 to 150-minutes per week). When I’m stuck on a project, just taking a walk around the office can help clear my mind and give me a spark of energy to finish strong.

The point is, you don’t have to do a P90x workout to see health and wellness benefits – any of these ideas can get your blood moving, boost your energy level, and lift your mood! Just pick a realistic goal that you can feel successful at, and stick with it. Once you’ve incorporated some simple exercise in your daily routine, maybe it won’t seem so daunting to add something more vigorous!

3. A smile a day keeps the doctor away!

There is plenty of research to show that our interpersonal relationships have a great impact in our physical and mental well-being. When you connect with someone, you both benefit! So in this very early spring, take some time out and spend it with an old friend, or maybe even make a new friend. You might also do something active together, like taking a nice walk through the Como Conservatory (it’s free!). Exercising with a buddy can be great for motivation!

Smile! It’s contagious 🙂

Another great way to add some warm, fuzzy feelings, is to get involved in your community. HealthStar’s caregivers are already part of something greater than themselves, becoming a part of a Client’s life and working together towards the Client’s health-related goals.

The joy that comes from helping others can be very rewarding. There are lots of ways to get involved at all levels of commitment. Maybe you want to start a book club, volunteer at an animal shelter, or plan a game night with your neighbors – anything you can do to connect with others on a meaningful level will give you plenty of “feel-good” energy!

4. zzzzzzzz (shh, I’m “health” sleeping)

This one speaks to me on a very deep level. I am not myself if I don’t get enough sleep! It’s harder to concentrate, I’m irritable, my body aches, and all I can think about is crawling back into bed. Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep is critical for all of these reasons. (For me, it’s more toward the 9 hour mark.)

If you were looking for an excuse to take a nap today…

Sleep alone isn’t going to bring all of your body and mind to perfect health. Quality of sleep is also important. Taking a few minutes before bed to meditate, do deep breathing, or go through a relaxation technique can help you to fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep. Mindfulness activities can also help you reduce stress and re-center yourself throughout the day – if you find a technique that works, try adding it at lunch time. A short mental break might be just what you need to keep going through the afternoon slump!

Put it all together

It’s not realistic to think that we can do all of these things. But we can do a little bit today, and see what feels right. Adding little bits of change over a long time will slowly ease us into bigger changes. If you need some ideas built just for you, HealthStar’s mental health department and therapies department are great places to start! Between those two departments, you can find great experience to put the pep back in your step. Anything from help with mental health struggles to post-surgical range of motion exercises.

And what will I be doing different, you ask? Little things, for sure! For example, today, I have split pea soup for lunch. (Yes, I brought it from home) Tomorrow, maybe I’ll remember to do the 5 minutes of walking per hour. And that brings us to Wednesday… maybe I can work in a breathing exercise that day for my mental health. Little by little, I’ll work my way up to P90x.

Or, maybe not…

https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/changes-health-reduce-diabetes-risk/

https://chuzefitness.com/2018/01/small-changes-make-big-impact-health/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/7-ways-to-jumpstart-healthy-change-in-your-life

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diet-nutrition/changing-habits-better-health

https://www.rd.com/health/diet-weight-loss/how-to-sneak-in-fitness/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201504/4-lifestyle-changes-will-boost-your-mental-health

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-your-adult-child-breaks-your-heart/201410/9-lifestyle-factors-can-affect-your-mental

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140509074114.htm

https://consumer.healthday.com/mental-health-information-25/anxiety-news-33/quitting-smoking-linked-to-better-mental-health-in-study-684786.html

https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/02/18/lifestyle-changes-as-treatment-for-mental-health-concerns-depression-anxiety/23670.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20057916

https://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20477647,00.html

https://yurielkaim.com/yoga-hip-openers/

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!

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!

Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation

HealthStar Home Health provides culturally-relevant healthcare services to traditionally under-served populations. Our healthcare team serves clients in a number of communities, who benefit from the wide range of healthcare services that we provide, including skilled therapies, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Wanting to provide a glimpse into the skilled therapies we offer, today we take a look at physical therapy and rehabilitation and recently caught up with Nissa Fougner, PT, DPT, COS-C, and Director of Rehabilitation at HealthStar, where she is currently working to grow our team of in-house physical therapists.

Skilled therapy visits are often ordered by a physician to assist in the recovery of an illness, injury, surgery or other disabling event. HealthStar Home Health offers in-home therapies through our own team of therapists as well as partnering with outside contract therapists. We work with each client to help keep them safe and active in their own home while creating individualized goals to get you back on the road to recovery.

Physical therapy (PT) is care which is focused on easing pain and helping the individual move independently, perform daily living functions and overall, live an active and fulfilling life in the home. People of all ages may require physical therapy to treat various health conditions or needs, not limited to:

  • Pain relief
  • Improve mobility
  • Recovery from a sports injury
  • Rehabilitation after a stroke, accident or surgery
  • Improve balance to prevent falls
  • Bowel and bladder control
  • Using assistive medical equipment, such as a walker or cane

When a patient has received a referral from a physician for skilled therapy services, HealthStar Home Health works with the patient and knows what discipline is required. A nurse, home health aide or skilled therapist will then visit the patient and create a care calendar depending on the services needed and extent. Each situation is unique and some patients may require different professionals to tend to the patient at different times of the rehabilitation and treatment.

When invited into the home of a patient to provide care, HeathStar Home Health and our professionals understand the need to be respectful of their wishes and environment. This allows us the opportunity to create a positive relationship with our patients. As Fougner says, “Seeing a client in their own home environment allows us to make a positive impact in their care and rehabilitation. The focus of homecare is to improve the client’s quality of life and being able to provide care in the individual’s home allows us to assess the real time picture of the setting so we can offer the best care for each environment.”

The relationship built with each client is an important piece of the care and rehabilitation process. There are some clients who are not able to leave their home due to physical, emotional and mental limitations. Nissa and her team of physical therapy assistants (PTAs), as well as the other skilled therapists who may be involved, are sensitive to each individual’s situation and possible limitations and work with each and every patient with care and respect to ensure a positive impact. Our professionals listen to the patient, gently guide and motivate, and encourage the individual to reach goals throughout their treatment.

HealthStar Home Health understands how overwhelming and challenging it can be to care for a loved one at home and also offer a variety of home health care services to help support your loved one to live a more independent and fulfilling life at home. To learn more about the various skilled nursing, skilled therapies, and mental health services available, visit our website.

With cultural care values as the foundation, our caregivers are able to provide quality service, delivering it with increased awareness and perspective. As we serve our clients and communities, we are motivated by our desire to bring services to everyone in need. Call us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.

HHH Nissa Fogner2
Nissa Fougner, PT, DPT, COS-C, and Director of Rehabilitation at HealthStar Home Health. She has a certification in Oasis, a comprehensive assessment Medicare data collection tool used for data collection management.

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Understanding Glaucoma

Occurring at any age but tends to be more common in older adults and often presenting itself with no warning signs, glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. The Mayo Clinic defines glaucoma as a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which is vital to good vision, and deteriorates more over time. Often, the damage is caused by an abnormally high pressure in your eye with symptoms so gradual individuals may not realize a change in vision until the condition has reached an advanced stage.

The fluid that normally flows throughout the eye may either over produce or not drain properly which leads to build up. This build up causes increased pressure and cause the optic nerve to gradually deteriorate. Glaucoma is also hereditary. Scientists have identified certain genes in some individuals related to this high pressure and optic nerve damage. There are different types of glaucoma:

  • Open-angle glaucoma:most common form of the disease, the drainage angle remains open, but partially blocked causing a gradual pressure buildup.
  • Angle-closure glaucoma:occurs when full or near full blockage forms and the fluid cannot circulate throughout the eye causing increased pressure.
  • Normal-tension glaucoma:although the eye pressure is within the normal range, the optic nerve still becomes damaged, possibly due to optic nerve sensitivity or a lower blood supply to this area.
  • Adolescent glaucoma:with some, glaucoma may be present at birth or developed early in life, typically caused by drainage issues or other medical condition.
  • Pigmentary glaucoma:with this type of glaucoma, pigment particles from the iris build up in the drainage area which causes the fluid to not drain properly and leads to increased pressure.

Glaucoma, if left untreated, will eventually lead to blindness. But, even with treatment, approximately 15 percent of individuals with glaucoma will become blind in one or both eyes. Depending on the stage of your condition, the signs and symptoms of the different types of glaucoma will vary. For example:

Open-angle glaucoma

  • You will experience blind spots in your peripheral or central vision, typically in both eyes.
  • You will experience tunnel vision with advanced stages.

Acute angle-closure glaucoma

  • You will experience blurred vision.
  • You will experience nausea and vomiting.
  • You will experience severe headaches.
  • You will experience halos around lights.
  • You will experience eye pain and redness.

Annual eye exams are key to early detection but contact an ophthalmologist immediately if experiencing symptoms such as severe headaches, blurred vision and eye pain. Glaucoma may not be preventable, but following these steps may allow for early detection, limited vision loss or even slowing the progress of the disease:

  • Regular eye care
  • Knowing the family’s health history
  • Exercise moderately
  • Use prescribed eye drops
  • Wear eye protection

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 more independently in their own home. With services such as life and health management, mental health, home health and home help, we at HealthStar Home Health help make families and communities strong by enabling individuals of all ages to live longer, more independent and fulfilling lives. To learn more about the various mental health and behavioral health services we offer, visit our website.

With cultural care values as the foundation, our caregivers are able to provide quality service, delivering it with increased awareness and perspective. As we serve our clients and communities, we are motivated by our desire to bring services to everyone in need. Call us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.