HealthStar Home Health to Attend the Annual Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota (ARRM) Conference

Just like our clients and their families, we at HealthStar Home Health cannot function in a silo. Resources, education and interaction from outside agencies makes us stronger and more knowledgeable about the issues seniors and those with disabilities face and how to problem solve. That is why each year representatives from HealthStar attend a conference hosted by The Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota (ARRM). This 2-day conference is loaded with education hours, networking opportunities, innovative ideas and practical solutions intended to support the more than 600 participants expected to attend. The participants include direct support professionals (DSPs), mid-to-executive level management from agencies, as well as others from related industries.

What’s Trending? #ARRM2K16 is this year’s conference theme and it will be held May 11-12, 2016 in Duluth, Minnesota. The conference will include a large trade show, the ARRM annual meeting, training opportunities, as well as 2 keynote speakers and over 40 breakout sessions to choose from. A highlight of the event will be the ARRM Cares Awards ceremony which honors outstanding DSPs from across Minnesota. Visit www.arrm.org/ for more information.

The Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota (AARRM) is dedicated to leading the advancement of community-based services that support people living with disabilities as well as advocating towards positive industry reform to help make a difference in their everyday lives. This private, non-profit association was founded in 1970 and is made up of over 225 advocates, providers, agencies, and businesses who continue to support Minnesotans with disabilities.

We look forward to the opportunity to share with the attendees some of the services we offer, such as medical social work, skilled nursing, home & community services, and mental health services. From routine household chores such as light housekeeping, transportation arrangement or meal preparation included in our homemaking program to providing planned short-term and time-limited breaks for caregivers through our respite care offerings, we ensure support is available to those that need it with our Home and Community Services program. This program is available to all persons covered under the Medical Assistance Waiver Programs or as private pay.

Throughout our Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS) and our Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) we feature cultural sensitivity and provide a wide variety of mental health services with empathy to the underserved people of all ages in our communities. Our goal is to make communities strong by providing skills that can help with independent living and social situations.

HealthStar Home Health has values and a mission that closely align with those of the Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota. At HealthStar Home Health we offer a diverse set of care, chores, transportation, and social companionship services through our Home and Community Services program. If you or a loved one is suffering from mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder, major depression or schizophrenia, the HealthStar Home Health professionals work together with the individuals and their families toward positive outcomes. These services are customized to your needs and are provided by our caring, skilled professionals who are dedicated to ensuring that men and women in the Duluth and Minneapolis, Minnesota metro area living with disabilities receive the help they need in a dignified way.

Our employee representatives look forward to attending the What’s Trending? #ARRM2K16 conference knowing the education and insight they will take away from it can directly enrich the people with disabilities we proudly serve. Contact HealthStar Home Health today for more information on these, and other services we provide. Call us at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.

Feeling a Little Anxious?

We all feel anxious at times. In fact, occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. People may feel anxious when dealing with a problem at work or home; students feel anxious when preparing for a big test or interacting in a new social situation, and when important life decisions need to be made the anxiety level can grow for just about anyone. But for people who suffer from an anxiety disorder, their extreme feelings are not temporary and cause such distress that daily activities and the ability to lead a normal life is difficult to manage. This level of anxiety disorder is a serious mental illness. The constant and overwhelming worry and fear is disabling, but with proper treatment, people who struggle with this learn to manage their feelings and live a fulfilling life.

There are many different types of anxiety disorders, including the following:

Panic Disorder: recurrent, unexpected panic attacks including sudden feelings of terror. Common symptoms of a panic attack are heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, and a feeling of choking or difficulty breathing. Symptoms usually strike suddenly and without warning.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: a person with this type of disorder will display excessive anxiety or worry for long periods of time and face symptoms such as muscle tension, problems sleeping (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless sleep), and constant restlessness or being on edge. This excessive, unrealistic worry and tension can go on for months, even if there is nothing to provoke the anxiety.

Social Anxiety Disorder: this worry centers around a fear of being judged by others and social situations where you may be embarrassed, rejected or ridiculed. Also known as social phobia, common symptoms include feeling highly anxious and self-conscious, feeling nauseous or sick to the stomach, blushing and sweating when around other people. This type of anxiety disorder involves extreme worry about everyday social situations and tends to make the person stay home instead of go in public.

Specific Phobias: these are extreme, intense fears of a particular thing or situation. Typically, the fear level is not proportionate to the situation and will cause a person to completely avoid everyday situations. Depending on the specific phobia, the symptoms will be similar to previously listed symptoms, such as heart palpitations, sweating, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.

If you or a loved one have a mental health condition, such as anxiety disorder, you are not alone. 1 in 5 Americans experience a form of mental illness in any given year, and world-wide 1 in every 20 adults is living with a serious mental health condition. Mental illness is not your fault, but there is still a widespread stigma surrounding mental illness largely due to misunderstandings or lack of education. Unfortunately, many people suffering from mental illness do not get help or seek treatment, but there is help available!

HealthStar Home Health offers therapeutic services to young people through our Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS) program. We also have a program focused on adults and their needs with our Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) program. HealthStar Home Health is sensitive to the cultural needs of each person in our care and we offer culturally-relevant services to those suffering from mental health issues and teach a variety of skills that will help with independent living and social situations. We serve individuals and health care professionals in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, as well as Duluth, Minnesota, Arizona and New Mexico.

At HealthStar Home Health, we believe if we join together as a society, people living with mental illnesses will be treated with respect and acceptance. We are here to help – contact us today!

Mental Health and Depression

With the holiday season fast approaching, the first thing that comes to mind are the joys the holidays bring. Time with friends, family traditions and the wonders of the season all bring great joy to many. But for an estimated 16 million American adults that had at least one major depressive episode last year, the holidays are not so joyous. The added stress and expectations at this time of year can throw anyone into a funk, but when you also consider a variety of factors including the fact that there is less daylight causing a decrease in the body’s ability to produce vitamin D, it really opens up the doors for a flood of emotions.

According the the Mayo Clinic website, depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Depression is more than just the blues or a rough patch in life. It is a serious mental health condition requiring treatment, a recovery plan and most of all, understanding and support from those around you.

If you or your senior loved one is feeling symptoms such as feelings of sadness or emptiness, loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, or feelings of failure, worthlessness or guilt most of the day, nearly everyday, then it may be time to seek help.

Since many people think that it is a normal part of the aging process and a natural reaction to illness or social transition, depression often goes untreated in seniors. Symptoms to watch for might be vague complaints of pain, memory problems and can also be a side effect of commonly prescribed medications.

Depression may show itself in different ways with different age groups. Children and teenagers are experiencing life’s emotional ups and downs as a part of growing up, but for those with depression the downs are more severe. Children and teens with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are at a higher risk for depression, as well as someone who has experienced considerable stress or trauma.

Depression is a devastating and debilitating mental health disorder for the millions of Americans who suffer from it. With an early detection, diagnosis and treatment plan, many people can get better and have good control of their depression. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) lists several options for treatment plans on their website, here is a sampling:

  • Medications including antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotic medications
  • Psychotherapy which includes cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy and interpersonal therapy
  • Light therapy, using a light box to expose a person to full spectrum light and regulate their melatonin levels
  • Mind, body and spiritual approaches such as prayer, faith, and meditation

HealthStar Home Health offers support to families dealing with mental health disorders, whether it is an adult in the family, a senior loved one you are caring for, or children and teenagers, we have a program to help you. Our Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) offers assistance and support to adults 18 years of age and older who have a qualifying mental illness and are eligible for medical assistance who want to improve their life. Our ARMHS program is not case management or traditional therapy, but instead is mental health services aimed at teaching you skills for managing your mental health symptoms and can get you through the busy, unpredictable holiday season.

We also offer mental health services to children through our Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS) which features cultural sensitivity and empathy to the underserved people in our communities and regions.

Don’t let the Minnesota winter or upcoming holiday season get you down. If you need support, get it! Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help. If we all do our part to help remove the stigma associated with depression and mental health illnesses, it will go a long way for those who suffer daily. Spending quality time with family, friends and being active in your community is helpful in staying healthy, but sometimes you need a little more support. Contact HealthStar Home Health directly by calling 612-871-3700 and ask for a professional in the Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) department or the Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS) department.

Facts about ADHD

A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) in the United States have been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as of 2011. In this same survey, parents were asked whether their child received an ADHD diagnosis from a health care provider and the results show that:

  • Boys (13.2%) were more likely than girls (5.6%) to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD.
  • The average age of ADHD diagnosis was 7 years old, but children reported by their parents as having more severe ADHD were diagnosed at an earlier age.
  • The rates are on the rise with ADHD diagnosis increasing an average of 3% per year from 1997-2006 and an average increase of 5% per year from 2003-2011.
  • The percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis has increased from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 to 11.0% in 2011.

Several reliable sources, including healthline.com, state that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common childhood disorders and as you can see from the information from the CDC, it continues to be on the rise. Our HealthStar Home Health caregivers recognize this rise in diagnosis and offer services to help the families and children with ADHD through our Mental Health and Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports programs (CTSS). The condition has been known as attention-deficit disorder (ADD) in the past, though ADHD is now the preferred term as it describes both of the primary features of this condition: inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behavior.

So what exactly is ADHD and how do you know if your child may have this condition?

The Mayo Clinic defines Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder as a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three different types or categories of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder the individual may fall under:

Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: It is difficult for the individual to organize or complete a task, pay attention to details, or to follow instructions or a conversation. This person is also easily distracted and forgets details of daily routines.

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: This person will fidget and talk a lot. It is very hard to sit still for long periods of time, even for a meal or to complete homework. Younger children may constantly run, jump or climb and often feels restless and struggles with impulsivity. Someone who is impulsive will interrupt others often, grab things from people, or speak out of turn and at inappropriate times. More accidents or injuries may occur with an impulsive person also.

Combined Presentation: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.

It is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving during the early childhood years. However, children with ADHD typically do not grow out of these behaviors. The symptoms continue and can cause difficulty at school, at home, work, or with friends.

A child with ADHD will show some or all of the following symptoms, even as early as 2-3 years of age:

  • Frequently daydreaming
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Often has trouble following through with instructions or listening
  • Unable to organize tasks or activities
  • Forgetful and often loses items such as books, pencils or toys
  • Easily distracted
  • Struggles to complete homework, chores or other tasks
  • Often fidgets or squirms
  • Excessively talkative and frequently interrupts or intrudes on others’ conversations or activities
  • Difficulty waiting his/her turn and is often impatient

If you are concerned and your child is showing these symptoms, discuss it with your family doctor. It is important to start with a medical evaluation first to rule out other possible causes of your child’s troubles. There may also be help available thru local Twin Cities public services and the Minnesota public school system in your area.

Since many healthy young children are inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive and it is normal for preschoolers to have a short attention span, it may be difficult to pick up on these symptoms early in their development. It also may be difficult to know the difference between a naturally energetic child and hyperactivity for example, and you don’t want to classify a child as having ADHD just because they are different from their siblings or other friends. It is important to get a doctor involved if you are concerned. In most cases ADHD is best treated with a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. For preschoolers (4-5 years of age), behavioral therapy is the recommended first-line of treatment.

HealthStar Home Health invites you to contact us for more information on the mental health services we offer to children and adults in Minnesota. Call us at 651-633-7300 to learn more.

Mental Health – How Can We Remove The Stigma?

The numbers are staggering. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in every 5 adults in America live with a mental health condition. Approximately 13.6 million adults in America live with a serious mental illness, and one-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14; three-quarters by the age of 24. Recently, Yahoo News reported a study from 2014 by the American College Health Association finding there is an epidemic of depression and anxiety among college students. Almost 30% of college students reported feeling depressed at some point over the past year and 54% of students reported feeling overwhelming anxiety.

For those who live with mental illnesses, their conditions have been kept secret and often go untreated for fear of embarrassment. There is a stigma associated with mental illness that is furthered when one takes medication to treat the illness. Whether it is depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or another form of mental illness, it can be debilitating and should not go untreated. Help those suffering by learning what a mental illness is, the causes, and what you can do to ease the stigma surrounding this.

HealthStar posed this question on Facebook: “What do you think is the most misunderstood thing about mental illness?” Here are some of the top answers from our followers:

  • that it affects everyone differently and it comes in all forms and begins at any age
  • people don’t realize it can be treated
  • mentally ill people are potentially violent
  • society’s lack of information and education on mental illnesses cause the stigma to grow
  • talking about mental illness and being available to listen goes a long way – remove the awkward silence

“Make it OK” is a local campaign created to reduce the stigma of mental illness. Their mission is to get people to stop the silence, share stories, and dispel the myths surrounding mental illness. The people behind makeitok.org are changing the hearts and minds about the misconceptions of mental illness by encouraging open conversations and education on the topic, along with encouraging people to seek support when needed. Treatments for mental illnesses are available. The more everyone knows about mental illness, the more understanding and supportive we, as a society, can be.

The Make it OK website offers good, basic, information like what a mental illness is and is not, and what a mental illness can be caused by. They also offer great tips for talking to someone who struggles with mental illness. If a loved-one has told you they are suffering, ask questions, show concern, and most importantly, listen. Mental illnesses are treatable health conditions but people are still afraid to talk about it due to shame, misunderstanding and negativity, amongst other reasons. Help remove the stigma surrounding mental illness and its treatment by learning, listening and keeping the conversation moving.

At HealthStar Home Health, we recognize the alarming numbers of adolescent and young adult depression and offer Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS) that focuses on cultural sensitivity and we provide these services with empathy to the underserved people in the communities and regions we serve. Some of the services we offer through this program are:

  • Individual, family and group psychotherapy
  • Specialized skills training
  • Crisis assistance
  • Behavioral aide services

For the adult years, we offer services through our Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) program. The clients we support are dealing with these and other issues and disorders:

  • Major depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Agoraphobia

HealthStar looks at how the individual’s mental illness affects their functioning in various aspects of their lives. They may have depressive symptoms that interfere with independent living, self-care, school, housing and even transportation. The services we provide are community based. This allows our caregivers to go out into the community and meet the individual where they are so they can be as independent and functional as possible within their communities. HealthStar strives to remove the stigma by teaching those living with mental illnesses and their family members a variety of skills that can help with independent living and social situations.

Getting educated and helping to raise awareness of mental health conditions can break down obstacles and improve the recovery for the millions of Americans who suffer from a mental illness. If we join together as a society, people living with mental illnesses will be treated with respect and acceptance.

A Day in the Life of a Psychiatric Field Nurse

7:00 am: Amelia Muir, psychiatric home care nurse begins her day by logging into her laptop. After checking e-mails and confirming appointment times with patients, Amelia is ready to enter the field for her four scheduled home visits in Queens, New York. Queens, a borough of New York City, is home to more than 2 million residents and is considered one of the most diverse areas in the country.

8:00 am: Amelia’s first visit is to see Ms. A., a 62-year-old woman who has been living with HIV for the past 25 years. Ms. A. was referred to Amelia by her caseworker, who noticed signs of depression and anxiety following a recent hospital admission. For the first 30 minutes of the visit, Amelia provides counseling to Ms. A. using cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, which aim to help her reframe negative thought patterns and begin to change ineffective coping mechanisms. After her patient has had the opportunity to express her feelings openly, Amelia shifts the visit to focus on specific symptoms she and Ms. A’s doctors have been closely monitoring. The home care visit is a vital way to keep doctors updated on a patient’s condition as many patients feel certain symptoms are either not important enough to call their doctors or nurses about.

The last 15 minutes of Amelia’s visit with her patient focuses on goal setting and educating the patient about her recommendations for whatever issue they had been discussing. In addition to patient-centered goal setting, Amelia also adds her own suggestions, such as taking a walk around the neighborhood with the home health aide for exercise and stress relief, calling an old friend, or taking time to sit down with a good book. “Many of my depressed patients are in need of more joy in their lives. It may seem overly simple but with the right frame of mind, escaping into a novel or a hobby can have noticeable effect on someone’s mood.” To close the visit, Amelia reviews a list of important symptoms to report to her nurse or doctor with Ms. A. Establishing good communication between patient, nurse, and doctor helps prevent hospitalizations by addressing issues at the earliest appearance. Ms. A. tearfully hugs Amelia at the end of most visits and thanks her for her support. The authentic relationship established between clinician and patient after weeks or months of working together cannot be understated.

Back in her car and mobile office, Amelia checks voicemails and e-mails from other clinicians and patients. Between every visit, arise that require careful coordination. It is often said in the office that being in the patient’s home is the easy part, meaning the real work is often done by clinicians behind the scenes. The case management aspect of home care nursing can drive the stress level up in this specialty.

10:00 am: Amelia’s next patient is Ms. G., a 74-year-old who is experiencing a high level of anxiety because of her progressing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease. Amelia has been coming for several weeks after Ms. G.’s daughter begged her to accept psychiatric treatment when she noticed her mother’s motivation to care for herself significantly declined. The first half of the visit is again focused on allowing the patient to have time to express her feelings openly to her nurse. Ms. G. describes how her breathing has become more difficult. One of the interventions Amelia teaches her is how to preform deep abdominal breathing exercises to decrease anxiety and improve lung expansion. She also recommends that Ms. G. play classical music during this exercise to give an added stress-relieving quality. After reviewing goals for the week and target symptoms to report, Amelia begins a short relaxation exercise with the help of aromatherapy oils and acupressure. “I love home care because I have more flexibility to try different strategies with my patients.” Using a simple acupressure technique on both hands creates a calming sensation for Ms. G. She teachers her how to use this technique on her own.

Technology is also an important part of Amelia’s teaching strategies for patients who have access to computers or tablets. Ms. G. was an accountant before she retired 3 years ago and is part of a growing group of tech-savvy seniors. On and earlier visit, Amelia helped Ms. G. explore Web sites, such as YouTube, that provide free instructional videos on topics relevant to the wellness teaching she provides including guided meditation, chair yoga for seniors, and breathing exercises. Ms. G. is also learning to use her tablet for recreation, “I love the videos of the New York City Ballet. It brings me back to when I could move like that!”

1:00 pm: At a nearby apartment complex, Amelia greets her next patient’s wife, who is the primary caregiver for her husband. Mr. C. is in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease and has been experiencing many behavioral changes that have caused great stress for his wife. Amelia sits down with the couple in their brightly lit kitchen and reviews symptoms over the past week. During her visits, Amelia explains the different stages of his illness, communication techniques, safety precautions, tips for managing insomnia, and encourages Ms. C. to keep her husband’s mind stimulated with structured activities and recreation. Another important topic Amelia covers is caregiver burnout and she encourages Ms. C. to take time for herself whenever possible.

3:00 pm: For her last visit, Amelia visits Mr. B., a man in his late 50s who is now homebound as a result of Parkinson’s disease. Despite increasing physical challenges, Mr. B. is determined to stay as independent as possible and spends 3 days per week doing intensive treatments with a physical therapist. Amelia visits this patient every 2 weeks to fill his medication box as muscle weakness in his hands prevents him from doing this for himself. Mr. B. updates Amelia on symptoms over the past week and excitedly discusses his progress with his rehabilitation program. Amelia finishes the visit with a quick check on his vital signs.

At the end of her visit, Amelia returns back to her car to make the trek back to her home where she will complete her visit notes and make some final calls to doctors. After another emotion-filled day, Amelia tries a breathing exercise of her own. “Helping patients with depression and anxiety can take an emotional toll on clinicians and it’s vital for me to have self-care rituals so that I don’t become burned out,” adding “I want to do this work for the rest of my career and my goal is to take good care of myself along the way.”

Written by Amelia Muir, BSN, RN-BC

Amelia Muir is a Psychiatric Field Nurse, Behavioral Helath, Visiting Nurse Service of New York, New York City, New York.

Psychiatric Home Care: A bridge to the community and an anchor to remain there

Written by Dr. Verna Benner Carson, PMH/CNS

Over the last few weeks there has been significant information in the news about Alzheimer’s disease. On March 5th, 2014 in USA Today and many other Psychiatric home care is focused on “making better” the patient who has been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

The most common diagnosis is depression but it is not the only diagnosis that can benefit from in-home psychiatric care. Patients who have been recently discharged from an inpatient facility but who are still profoundly depressed benefit from home health nursing visits not only to ensure medication and follow up adherence, but to put in place other resources such as Social Work services and Occupational Therapy. These home care visits ensure that whatever improvements have resulted from the hospitalization will be reinforced and extended. Likewise patients with psychiatric diagnoses who reside in the community, but who are beginning to exacerbate, perhaps because of medication noncompliance, can benefit from psychiatric home care to get them back on the “treatment track” thus preventing another expensive hospitalization. This service is fully funded by Medicare in the same way all home health services are funded. Medicare elucidates specific criteria for psychiatric home care. This specialty is holistic in its approach, assessing for and addressing the total needs of the patient – physical and emotional. Not only does the patient benefit, the family also benefits by learning new skills to help their loved one remain stable. The health care system benefits by maintaining the patient who struggles with persistent psychiatric issues in the least restrictive (and least expensive) setting, the home. Psychiatric issues may include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

HealthStar Home Health offers Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) for adults 18 years and older who have a qualifying mental illness and are eligible for medical assistance that want to improve their life. ARMHS is not case management or traditional therapy, but instead is mental health services aimed at teaching you skills for managing your mental health symptoms. HealthStar also offers support for those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia through our Alzheimer’s Whisperer program.

For more information, contact HealthStar Home Heatlth directly by calling 651-633-7300.

Managing Holiday Stress

For some, the holiday season is “the most wonderful time of the year” but for those with mental health issues, seniors and caregivers, it’s also a time that manifests hopelessness and loss. People often get caught up in the commotion the holidays bring with all the extra commitments, emotions and expectations, making it easy to lose focus. Before you know it, stress and depression have taken over and it’s tough to dig yourself out, especially for those already dealing with mental health issues. It may sound simple, but what can help is to remember what matters most in life.

Here are some reminders to keep you focused on what’s important this holiday season in order to stay healthy both mentally and physically.

Keep it Real. As much as you may want the holidays to be perfect for you and your family, let’s be realistic… they aren’t. And that is ok! When life throws you a curve ball in the way of travel delays from the icy Minnesota roads, poor health or an unfortunate accident, try to adjust and go with the flow. Even your long-standing holiday traditions over the years may need to adjust to accommodate changes that come your way. Who knows, you just may find a new favorite tradition!

Plan ahead. Schedule time to do your shopping, baking and extra activities. If you don’t plan out your day, it will easily get away from you and then you’ll be rushing to get things done or end up forgetting something important. If you’re unable to leave a senior or someone with mental health issues that you’re caring for, consider respite.

It’s ok to say no. Decide in advance what is important to you, your family and the seniors in your life, then stick to your plan. You are not a superhero with more hours in your day as your secret weapon so instead, attend the events that are important to you. Spend time with the people you love most and who feed your soul, paying careful attention to avoid those that bring negativity into your life. Your spirit will thank you.

Be Healthy. Daily exercise, good sleep and healthy eating habits will keep you feeling your best this holiday season. It’s ok to treat yourself to the cookies and indulgent meals, but don’t over do it. Weight gain will lead to depression and low self-esteem, which in turn will prevent you from feeling your best. Don’t forget to carve out some time for yourself – take care of yourself first.

Set a Budget and Stick to It. The joy of gift giving will fade quickly if you know you will be buried in debt when the holidays end. Instead, determine a budget that works for you and stick to it. If money is tight, be creative with your gift giving. You can make a donation or volunteer your time to a charity in someone’s name, give the gift of spending time together or give homemade gifts. Your loved ones will appreciate this too, especially homebound seniors.

Volunteer. Volunteering your time is a great way to help those who are less fortunate. There are so many great non-profit organizations in Minnesota that need a little extra help during the holiday season. Volunteering teaches your children the invaluable lesson to give back to their church and Minnesota community. It makes you feel good inside and keeps the holiday spirit alive.

Seek Support If You Need It. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help if you need it. Spending time with family, friends and your community is helpful in staying healthy, but sometimes you need a little more support. At Healthstar Home Health, we offer Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) for adults 18 years and older who have a qualifying mental illness and are eligible for medical assistance that want to improve their life. ARMHS is not case management or traditional therapy, but instead is mental health services aimed at teaching you skills for managing your mental health symptoms and can get your through the busy, unpredictable holiday season. Contact HealthStar directly by calling 651-633-7300 and ask to speak to a professional in the ARMHS department.