The Benefits of a Personal Care Attendant

Personal care services provide assistance and support for people with disabilities, living independently in communities such as Duluth, Minnesota and the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. This includes the elderly as well as others with special health care needs. HealthStar Home Health aims to make communities and families strong by enabling individuals of all ages to live a more independent and fulfilling life. To achieve this, HealthStar Home Health offers Personal Care Assistant (PCA) services.

A personal care assistant may help individuals with daily living activities, such as:

  • Eating
  • Toileting
  • Dressing
  • Grooming
  • Bathing
  • Transferring and positioning
  • Mobility

A PCA will also provide assistance with daily living tasks such as meal planning and preparation, shopping, managing finances, communication via telephone or other avenues, and transportation within your community. A HealthStar personal care assistant will also provide hands-on assistance with various health related functions, including mental or behavioral illnesses.

According to a recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare jobs and industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and will add the most jobs between 2014 and 2024. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the slowdown of labor force due to the increase in the proportion of the population entering prime retirement age. This slowdown of labor force growth is expected, in turn, to affect the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annual growth, which is then projected to generate a 6.5% increase in new healthcare jobs between 2014 and 2024.

HealthStar Home Health recognizes that as the senior population ages, more and more Minnesota families are tasked with caring for their parents as well caring for their own family. This age group is commonly referred to as the “sandwich” generation and is quickly becoming overwhelmed when their daily job, family commitments and additional duties when caring for aging parents are all factored in. This type of situation is creating the fast-growing need for various healthcare jobs, including personal care assistants.

It is our hope you will consider HealthStar Home Health and the personal care assistance services we offer when helping a loved one retain independence and quality of life in their northern Minnesota or Minneapolis-St. Paul area home. HealthStar is proud to offer culturally sensitive healthcare services to individuals who are traditionally underserved. We offer personal care services as well as Home Health Care Services, Mental Health Services, and Home and Community Based Services. Under these mentioned services, you will find a range of additional support such as:

Home Health Care Services:

Home and Community Based Services:

Mental Health Services:

HealthStar Home Health will consult with our clients’ physicians, social workers, hospitals, family, and other providers to develop a customized plan for each individual’s home health care needs. Included in this will be managing the necessary paperwork and communicating with providers, insurers, and government agencies as needed. We are confident the services offered by HealthStar will alleviate the stress of caring for your senior loved ones. Contact us today if you have more questions or would like to schedule a no-obligation consultation.

In an effort to meet the demands of the growing healthcare industry, HealthStar Home Health offers employment opportunities which include competitive compensation packages in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, northern Minnesota communities, including Duluth and Bemidji, Wisconsin and New Mexico. HealthStar operates on a genuine desire to serve the culturally diverse clientele through stewardship and honor-driven values. If you are the special type of person who enjoys caring for seniors and will ensure they receive it in a dignified and caring way, contact us to learn more about our current open positions. Call us today at 651-633-7300 or visit our website to learn more about our company and apply.

Home Safety and Alzheimer’s

Many people experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s are still able to live in the comfort of their own home. However, as the person’s symptoms progress, it is necessary to make some safety updates and changes to the home. This ensures the safety of the person and helps adapt the environment to their medical needs.

Inspect the home
Before determining what needs to be done to add safety measures to the home, it is important to first inspect it. This includes going from room to room looking for things that many pose a risk to the person with Alzheimer’s.

Hide hazards
Disguise any area of the home where the person should not be going without close supervision. This includes hanging murals over doorways to forbidden rooms or using folding doors to hide stairs, kitchen entrances and storage areas.

Install new locks
Another effective method to prevent access to a room is to install locks out of sight. This means putting them high up on the door, making it difficult for the person to find it. This should also be done to all exterior doors to the house to help prevent the person from getting out.

Check safety devices
Conduct an inspection of fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detector to ensure they are in working condition. Also, verify that all emergency phone numbers, such as police, fire departments, hospitals and poison control are kept visible and are easy to find when needed.

Install new lighting
Make sure that the home is well lit. This includes all walkways and rooms to help reduce the chances of becoming disoriented or tripping.

Remove weapons
Having a weapon in a home where a person with Alzheimer’s resides can be a dangerous thing. The person can injure themselves by playing with the gun or they may mistake a caregiver as an intruder.

Lock up medications
Place all medications in a drawer or cabinet that can be locked up. This will prevent the person from taking more medication than necessary because he or she forget they already took it.

With a little work, the home can be adapted to fit the needs of a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Even as their disease progresses, affecting their mind and physical abilities, these safety precautions can make it possible to still live in the comfort of their own home.

Learn more about how HealthStar Home Health can help care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia by calling us at 844-633-7344.

Caring For A Loved One With Dementia: It’s Okay To Ask For Help!

As anyone who cares for a person with dementia knows, trying to do it without help can be overwhelming. That’s why HealthStar Home Health offers dementia care across Minnesota, including Duluth, Bemidji and Minneapolis. Our care allows patients to get all of the help they need and lets relatives have the peace of mind of knowing that their loved ones are being fully taken care of.

In some cases, the need for help stems from the physical needs of the patient. Most people with dementia are elderly, and this can mean that they have trouble moving around or handling things that require dexterity. This becomes a problem when a non-professional caregiver has to do something like get the person out of bed or help lower him or her to the toilet. A professional nurse or similar caregiver will be able to take care of these things in ways that don’t endanger either themselves or the patient.

For many people, help is needed simply because the overall job is too much for one person. Keeping an eye on an adult 24/7 is tiring, and when that adult needs care for all or most things he or she does, the problem is even worse. There is no failing in asking for professionals to come in to take the load off and ensure that everything is being done. It’s also important for the patient’s well-being. Caregiver burnout isn’t like getting a cold or a virus, the symptoms of caregiver burnout can begin slowly, and gradually get worse overtime. Common symptoms include feelings of depression, fatigue, and a decreasing interest in work or other hobbies. HealthStar’s professional team of caregivers can help relieve some of the stress for family caregivers, so they can take care of themselves.

One of the important tasks performed by a professional dementia caregiver is administering medicine. It’s very easy for someone to forget a dose or accidentally give a double one if she is exhausted. A nurse or other practitioner will consider this an essential part of the job duties and therefore make it a top-of-mind priority. The same goes for other demanding aspects of dementia care, such as bathing and feeding.

Even after the nurse leaves for the day, the benefits will continue. This is because the relative who does the care during these times will be much better rested and more alert. The end result is that the patient will remain in better condition than otherwise possible while nobody ends up too exhausted to function properly.

To learn more about dementia care HealthStar Home Health offers, call your local HealthStar branch office.

Managing Alzheimer’s Behaviors

Whether you have cared for someone with Alzheimer’s in their Minnesota home for many years or have just learned that a loved one has been diagnosed with the disease, managing their behavior and personality changes can be very challenging. You may have already figured out that, as a caregiver, you cannot change the person with Alzheimer’s, or any type of dementia, but you can develop strategies to help you better manage any problem behaviors. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

It’s important to know that the patient is not trying to be difficult. Instead their behavior is often a reaction to stress or frustration in an attempt to communicate. Creating a calming routine and environment for the patient at home along with the way you communicate with them will make a huge difference. The Alzheimer’s Association offers their top five tips that can help you manage your loved one’s behaviors.

  1. Try not to take behaviors personally.
  2. Remain patient and calm.
  3. Explore pain as a trigger.
  4. Don’t argue or try to convince.
  5. Accept behaviors as a reality of the disease and try to work through it.

Keeping these tips in mind when caring for a loved one or patient with Alzheimer’s is important. At HealthStar Home Health, we offer many services and programs to assist with the care of those struggling with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. One service we offer is 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 from psychiatric home care by maintaining the patient who struggles with persistent psychiatric issues in the least restrictive (and least expensive) setting, which is the home.

HealthStar also offers support for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia through our Alzheimer’s Whisperer program. We understand how overwhelming and difficult it can be to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Confusion, exhaustion and frustration are all common when trying to manage challenging behaviors associated with these illnesses. HealthStar Home Health developed a comprehensive and effective Alzheimer’s and dementia home care program, and is proud to offer this program to assist the caregivers and patients alike. Becoming an Alzheimer’s Whisperer is a unique approach to help support those affected by dementia that live in a home or assisted living setting. The Alzheimer’s Whisperer program is based on the understanding of how the disease affects the brain allowing caregivers to modify interventions so they are appropriate for the person’s cognitive ability. Services are provided by a multidisciplinary team consisting of registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, medical social workers, speech pathologists and home health aides, who work together to improve the quality of life for the caregiver and their loved one.

Other care services we at HealthStar Home Health offer are:

  • Individualized assessment, evaluating cognitive and functional levels
  • Treatment planning
  • Care for patients in a compassionate, empathetic and gentle manner
  • Teach families and caregivers strategies for managing the care needs of their loved one
  • Effectively respond to challenging behaviors such as aggression, agitation, and repetition
  • Address physical health needs
  • Medication management and education
  • Reduce utilization of psychotropic medication
  • Strength development and fall risk reduction
  • Promote independence in dressing, bathing and toileting
  • Assistance with memory, communication and swallowing difficulties

Although your loved one’s sense of what is real may be different than yours, it is still very real to them. By learning to manage the behavior changes you will find yourself reaching some pretty significant goals in the care of your patient. You may notice decreased hospitalizations or use of emergency services, improved functional ability and patient knowledge about their medications, treatment compliance and staying well. All of which can increase your loved one’s quality of life and overall health management.

As a caregiver, even being able to maintain your sense of humor will go a long way in managing the changing behavior of a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s. When that isn’t doing the trick, we at HealthStar Home Health are here for you with expert services and programs available to help you through the stages of progressing Alzheimer’s.

For more information contact HealthStar Home Health 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.

MPR Asked, HealthStar Answered.

MPR asked the question: who is making your community better?

This year at the State Fair, we provided 2,200 free memory screenings this year at the Minnesota State Fair. People have mixed feelings about taking a memory screen. Fifty percent of the public told us they didn’t want to know even if they do have memory loss related to dementia. The other half, people who have been affected in some way by Alzheimer’s or dementia, said they wished they would have known to get checked sooner, and thanked us for being at the fair.

One family in particular that had a memory screening during the fair decided to take our advice and have follow up with their physician after their mother scored poorly on the memory screen. Two days later, the daughter returned to our booth to thank us for being at the fair. She said, had we not been there, she never would have known her mother was having difficulties as it was not something that was discussed openly nor something she had detected on her own. This is very common among children with aging parents. During the two days after the screening, the daughter took her mother to the doctor and the doctor agreed that further testing and screening was recommended. Both the daughter and the doctor were very glad they had taken the time to take the screening as the mother would now receive the appropriate care she needed.

We had another gentleman stop by, who stated he had been having memory concerns for several months, and every time he spoke to his family and coworkers about it, they would pass it off as normal aging. After meeting with us, he realized the symptoms he described were in fact something he should talk with his doctor about. Before leaving, he thanked us for being at the fair. He said he felt better now that he had someone that seemed to understand and validate what he had been experiencing, and planned to schedule a doctor’s visit.

Face-to-face memory screenings average three minutes and consist of questions and tasks to assess memory. HealthStar and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America encourage screenings for adults with memory concerns, a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, and those who want to check their memory now and have the baseline results for future comparison. Unfortunately, there’s a large gap in education. There are many reasons for memory loss that are treatable such as vitamin deficiency, thyroid issues, changes in medication, stress, and many others. Once the public was made aware during our time at the fair that there might be a treatable cause, they were more at ease, and we saw a big jump in the number of people deciding to take the memory screen. We want to raise public awareness and take the fear out of being screened. Early diagnosis and treatment can substantially help during early onset, whereas treatment in later stages of the disease aren’t as beneficial.

For many with Alzheimer’s or dementia, they will spend several years at home under the care of a family member or other caregiver before a move to a higher level nursing facility is required. The behaviors that accompany this disease can be very overwhelming and many families do not have the financial means to cover some of the costs of care, so they suffer through the journey alone, and often alienated from friends and family who eventually pull away. Changes in healthcare, due to high prevalence of the disease, allow our nursing experts to provide training, education and non-pharmacologic behavior assistance in the home to families and caregivers, which is 100 percent covered by traditional Medicare and most insurance plans. The public as well as many healthcare professionals are not aware of this available resource. It is even available to those under the age of 65, if they’ve been diagnosed by a doctor.

HealthStar uses the free memory screenings as a way to educate the public and provide families with lots of additional resources after a diagnosis. HealthStar also provides a free memory café, which is a social group for families and the person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Families share their successes and challenges, and gain much needed support. Our biggest concern is that the public isn’t aware that this type of care is available for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, and that it is covered by insurance.

Memory Screenings – Proof the Public Wants to Know!

People have mixed feelings about taking a memory screen. Fifty percent of the public told us they didn’t want to know even if they do have memory loss related to dementia and the other half that have been affected in some way by Alzheimer’s or dementia said they wished they would have known to get checked sooner and thanked us for being at the fair. One family in particular that had a memory screening during the fair decided to take our advice and have follow up with their physician after their mother scored poorly on the memory screen. Two days later, the daughter returned to our booth to thank us for being at the fair. She said, had we not been there, she never would have known her mother was having difficulties as it was not something that was discussed openly nor something she had detected on her own. This is very common among children with aging parents. During the two days after the screening, the daughter took her mother to the doctor and the doctor agreed further testing and screening was recommended. Both the daughter as well as the doctor were very glad they had taken the time to take the screening as the mother would now receive the appropriate care she needed. We had another gentleman stop by, who stated he had been having memory concerns for several months and every time he spoke to his family and co-workers about it they would pass it off as normal aging. After meeting with us, he realized the symptoms he described were in fact something he should talk with his doctor about. Before leaving, he thanked us for being at the fair and said he felt better now that he had someone that seemed to understand and validate what he had been experiencing and planned to schedule a doctor’s visit.

Face-to-face memory screenings average three minutes and consist of questions and tasks to assess memory. HealthStar and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America encourages screenings for adults with memory concerns, a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or those who want to check their memory now and have the baseline results for future comparison. Unfortunately, there’s a large gap in education. There are many reasons for memory loss that are treatable such as vitamin deficiency, thyroid issues, changes in medication, stress and many others to name a few. Once the public was made aware during our time at the fair that there might be a treatable cause, they were more at ease and we saw a big jump in the number of people deciding to take the memory screen. We want to raise public awareness and take the fear out of being screened. Early diagnosis and treatment can substantially help during early onset whereas treatment in later stages of the disease aren’t as beneficial.

70% of families diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia keep their loved one at home until it’s time to move them into a nursing facility. For many with Alzheimer’s or dementia, they will spend several years at home under the care of a family member or other caregiver before the need to move to a higher level nursing facility is required. The behaviors that accompany this disease can be very overwhelming and many families do not have the financial means to cover some of the costs of care so they suffer through the journey alone and often alienated from friends and family that eventually pull away. Changes in healthcare, due to high prevalence of the disease, allow our nursing experts to provide training, education and non-pharmacologic behavior assistance in the home to families and caregivers, which is 100% covered by traditional Medicare and most insurance plans. The public as well as many healthcare professionals are not aware of this available resource.

It is even available to those under the age of 65, if they’ve been diagnosed by a doctor. Family and caregiver burnout rises dramatically when faced with this disease. We had a family member call a few weeks ago, who was completely at their wits end from trying to care for their loved one. When the family member called to ask for help the caregiver’s comment was, “I know I shouldn’t be saying this, but it would be so much easier if he wasn’t here anymore.” Some of the behaviors exhibited by a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia are: agitation, aggression, sundowning, sexual inappropriateness, wandering, hallucinations, repetitiveness, screaming, paranoia, and accusations of infidelity or family members stealing from them. These are very traumatizing behaviors for families who don’t know how to deal with them. The main reason for this is due to the fact that they haven’t been taught how to manage these behaviors at home or how to work with the disease instead of working against the disease. This is a very real problem that we often encounter and families don’t know where to turn to receive more help and available resources. After being in the home and working with the emotionally and physically drained family caregiver, she informed us that she had been dealing with this on her own for four years and had tried several resources but none were able to help in a way that supported her needs. She was extremely grateful and felt better equipped to continue caring for her loved one.

HealthStar uses the free memory screenings as a way to educate the public and provide families with lots of additional resources after a diagnosis. HealthStar also provides a free Memory Café which is a social group for families and the person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Families share their successes and challenges and gain much needed support. Our biggest concern is that the public isn’t aware this type of care is available for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients or that it is covered by insurance.

For additional information on dementia and caregiving check out Alzheimer’s Speaks