Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

HealthStar Home Health is presenting a series on various mental health and behavioral health topics. In this series of articles, we take a look at different subjects and provide information to help you know how best to care for your loved one.

The Mayo Clinic defines seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as a type of depression that is related to the changes in seasons. A person with SAD will feel the effects of this disorder about the same time each year, feeling moody with very low levels of energy. For many individuals living with SAD, the symptoms begin in the fall and continue through the winter months. For some, seasonal affective disorder can cause depression in the spring and summer months, but that is not as common.

Experts believe it is caused by a lack of sunlight which can upset a person’s biological clock which controls the sleep/wake patterns and circadian rhythms as well as the balance of serotonin. Serotonin is the natural brain chemical that affects mood. Although much more common in women, anyone can get seasonal affective disorder, especially people who live far from the equator where daylight is short and those who have a close relative with it. Read more on the risk factors here. At HealthStar Home Health, our caregivers are educated in seasonal affective disorder as well as depression and 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.

Here at HealthStar Home Health, we serve individuals in our adult and children’s mental health programs that are suffering from depression, including seasonal affective disorder, as well as other mental health disorders. When serving individuals with depression, we understand that coping with this illness is difficult. If you need support, get it! Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help. If we all do our part to remove the stigma associated with depression and mental health illnesses, it will go a long way for those who suffer daily.

Symptoms of SAD typically start out mild and progressively get more severe as the season goes on. Symptoms may include:

  • Feeling depressed much of every day
  • Low energy
  • Experiencing sleep issues
  • Feeling sluggish and agitated

To learn more about each of these symptoms and others visit: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

It can be difficult to diagnose seasonal affective disorder because the symptoms are similar to depression and other mental health conditions. Once diagnosed, treatments include but are not limited to:

  • Light therapy
  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Lifestyle remedies

We invite you to learn more about the mental health services offered by HealthStar Home Health. Both our Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS) and Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) feature cultural sensitivity and are provided with empathy to the underserved members of the communities and regions we serve.

Our highly trained and culturally competent multi-disciplinary team of mental health professionals, practitioners and behavioral aides provide CTSS and ARMHS services in the home, school, and in the community.

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 mental health and behavioral health topics being presented in this series, such as autism, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, visit our blog.

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.

Infusion Therapy

Infusion therapy refers to administering medication through a needle or catheter and is typically prescribed when a patient’s condition does not allow effective treatment with oral medication. Home health care nurses commonly administer therapies intravenously to deliver medications, for blood transfusions, for fluid replacement, or to correct electrolyte imbalance and is also used for chemotherapy. Intravenous therapy is the fastest way to deliver fluids and medications throughout the body.

There are several different types of access devices used to infuse medications. The type of access device that a patient has is based on the type of therapy, length of therapy and pH of the drug to be infused.  Here are some examples of the types of devices our home health care nurses work with:

  • A peripheral access device is a short IV (less than 2 inches) inserted into veins in the arm or hand. This type of IV is used for short term therapies and needs to be changed after 3 to 4 days or as needed.
  • A central vascular access device is inserted into large veins in the central circulation like the jugular vein. This type of line is used for patients with long term therapy and can remain in place for over a year.
  • Peripherally inserted central catheters are placed in the basilic, brachial or cephalic veins of the upper arm. These lines are inserted by a specially trained nurse or interventional radiologist. They are placed in the hospital and an X-ray is needed to confirm placement in the lower third of the superior vena cava. These lines can remain in place for weeks to a year if tolerated.
  • The port-a-cath is implanted subcutaneously and provides access to the central circulatory system. The port-a-cath is accessed by the nurse with a special needle to provide samples for labs or for infusion. Ports are used primarily for oncology patients or long term therapies.

The most common therapies HealthStar Home Health nurses work with in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and throughout Minnesota are:

  • Anti-infective therapy – treats post-op infections, infected wounds, sepsis, diverticulitis or any other type of infection
  • Total parenteral nutrition therapy – for clients unable to take in nutrition orally due to bowel issues or swallowing problems
  • IVIG therapy – treats primary immunodeficiency diseases
  • Hydration fluid therapy – treats hyperemesis of pregnancy or patients with severe nausea
  • IV steroid therapy – to treat exacerbations of Multiple Sclerosis

For patients with cancer, we provide chemotherapy disconnects in the home. The patient must go to the hospital or oncology clinic to have the chemo infusion started, but once the treatment is complete a HealthStar Home Health nurse can remove the access device. Our nurses also educate patients on enteral feeding, which is nutrition administered through a tube inserted in the stomach or jejunum portion of the colon, as well as wound care including wound VAC care.

Our home health nurses provide teaching in the home for most therapies so the clients can monitor their own infusions. Infusion therapy in the home allows the client to spend less time in or at the hospital or infusion center. The teaching process is set up to be very user friendly with simplified educational materials that enable lay people to become proficient at administering their IV infusions and alleviate their fears of IV therapy.

Our skilled nurses then see these clients weekly or as needed for lab draws and sterile dressing changes of their IV devices. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for on-call problems with therapy or device problems. Common questions or problems can include inflammation of the vein, occlusions of the devices, skin irritation, compromised dressings or adverse reactions to the IV medication.

At HealthStar Home Health, our home health professionals provide unparalleled public health care services through stewardship, honor-driven values, and a genuine desire to serve. Our Minnesota clients benefit from the range of healthcare services we provide, from Alzheimer’s and dementia care, to behavioral nursing, home health care nursing, respite care and more. HealthStar Home Health has a team of nurses dedicated to IV infusion. We work with several infusion companies and pharmacies to provide IV services to our patients in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area and throughout Minnesota. IV infusion therapy is our passion and we provide services to a wide range of ages and cultures by developing culturally-relevant services while identifying barriers to care, and launching culture-specific care and prevention programs.

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

Creating a Dementia Care Plan

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

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

Creating a Dementia Care Plan

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

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

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

Why Choose Home Health Care?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that overall health and life expectancy continue to improve in recent years for most Americans, thanks in part to an increased focus on preventative medicine and dynamic new advances in medicine and medical technology. However, not all Americans are enjoying a healthy lifestyle and living longer equally. Many racial and ethnic minorities in the United States struggle to live longer, healthy lives, due much in part to the fact that appropriate care is often associated with an individual’s economic status, race, and gender. Equitable access to health care is a foundational principal at HealthStar Home Health and we focus daily on reducing or eliminating the disparity in health care in the diverse communities we serve throughout Minnesota, Arizona, and New Mexico.

The term home health care encompasses a wide range of health care services that can be provided in the home for illness, injury, or daily care. Our home health professionals provide unparalleled public health care services ranging from Alzheimer’s and dementia care, behavioral nursing, home health care nursing, or respite care to daily cares like bathing and dressing, chores around the home, transportation and companionship. We are a culturally sensitive team of health care professionals that provide services to individuals who are traditionally underserved. Our community-based approach to reducing health disparities is based on the premise that the causes of poor health include factors related to the social, economic and physical environment of a community. The way in which we work enables us to build long-lasting relationships with members of the community, which then allow us to participate in local causes, activities and events.

HealthStar Home Health offers culturally-relevant services that address the unique needs of various communities in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.  Some of the multicultural initiatives we have started and proudly serve are:

First Nations Home Health Minnesota’s premier provider of home health services for Native American communities. Not only providing service from seven branch locations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, but also serving greater Minnesota, such as Duluth and Bemidji and the Red Lake, White Earth, Leech Lake, Bois Fort, Fond du Lac, and Mille Lacs Reservations.

Sagrado Corazón – Minnesota’s most trusted source of home health care services for the Latino community. Our teams of care givers, nurses and case managers provide services that allow people to stay at home in familiar cultural surroundings, develop good health habits, and reduce hospitalizations.

Circle of Life Home Care This home health care initiative offers personal health care services in the ten county area of northwestern New Mexico, and Arizona. The services are specifically designed to enhance the well-being of Native American people with a focused goal to improve the health status of those who experience an unusually high rate of preventable acute and chronic illnesses.

If you have a passion for health and wellness, care deeply for others and want to be part of an occupation the New York Times often reports is expected to grow more than any other and will become the largest occupation in the next 5 years, then being a caregiver is for you! HealthStar Home Health offers employment opportunities in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, northern Minnesota area, including Duluth and Bemidji, Arizona and New Mexico. Contact us to learn more.

HealthStar Home Health understands how overwhelming and difficult it can be to care for a loved one at home, as well as the cultural, ethnic, and linguistic challenges our patients face, and offers a variety of home health care services to support your loved one to live a more independent and fulfilling life at home. Contact us today at 651-633-7300 for more information and to schedule a no-charge consultation.

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.

Home Care Services Delay Nursing Home Admission for Loved One’s of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is devastating, but it also tends to progress slowly. This means that with the proper care, a loved one can remain at home and mostly independent for a surprisingly long period of time. In today’s world, this period of time is longer than it has ever been. That’s because more and more people want to avoid nursing homes, and this has driven up the demand for home care services.

Thanks to the increased demand, there are more service options and companies than there once were. In fact, it’s not hard to find one that specifically offers help for suffers of Alzheimer’s disease in Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Mexico and their caregiver relatives. These companies can provide everything from occasional check-up visits to daily care. They still don’t provide 24-hour care, but for many people, a daily visit is all that is needed to avoid full-time nursing for an extended period of time.

At first, people with Alzheimer’s will notice that it’s harder to remember things than it should be. This is what often leads them to see a doctor and get the diagnosis. During this very early phase, the effects are still mild. Check-up visits, reminder calls, and the provision of meals may be all that is needed to allow them to stay at home without other help.

As the disease progresses, more care will be needed. A daily visit by a nurse or other care practitioner will ensure that medicines are being taken properly and that basic hygiene, such as bathing and toothbrushing, is done. Relatives will usually step in to provide more care at this point.

Eventually, the patient will need full-time care. This, however, doesn’t mean that a nursing home is needed at this point. Help from relatives, combined with professional aid from a home care service, can allow the patient to avoid an institution despite their infirmity. In its final stages, Alzheimer’s may force the loved one into a hospital or similar environment, but thanks to all of the care options available, it is likely that this won’t happen for a very long time.

Of course, there are many ways people choose to deal with Alzheimer’s and the progressive infirmity it causes. However, the ability to avoid an immediate move to a nursing home is a point of light for many who contend with the condition.

Meeting of the Minds to Connect the Hearts

The Meeting of the Minds Dementia Conference was at the Riverside Convention Center in downtown St. Paul on March 12, 2015 … and HealthStar Home Health was there!

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Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel, Branch Manger

Hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter and Mayo Clinic, the conference draws over 1,300 participants and over 70 sponsors and exhibits. Imagine a convergence of persons with dementia, family caregivers and professionals all learning, sharing and networking. The passion to provide the best care, identify resources and support for those in need of Alzheimer and dementia care was palpable.

The most memorable moment of the day for the HealthStar team was when Lucinda Hochsprung visited our exhibit. She shared that she attended the conference last year and learned about HealthStar’s Alzheimer’s Whisperer program. With much appreciation for the HealthStar team and what she learned, Lucinda shared, “I found HealthStar’s Alzheimer’s Whisperer information very helpful with my Dad.” It was a touching moment that affirmed the importance of the services that are provided and the lives that are positively touched by HealthStar.

HealthStar Home Health's NIlda

HealthStar understands how overwhelming and difficult it can be to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other Dementias. Our multidisciplinary team provides a comprehensive and effective Alzheimer’s and Dementia Home Care Program, so you can care for your loved one at home or an Assisted Living setting. In addition to the “Becoming an Alzheimer’s Whisperer ” program, HealthStar also offers the Memory Café for individuals with early memory loss. It’s an opportunity for everyone to come together to share stories and laughter with supportive resources in an environment that is understanding. After all, our loved ones with Alzheimer’s and dementia deserve as much love, understanding, compassion and support that we can provide.

To learn more about the Meeting of the Minds Dementia Conference, click here. To learn more about HealthStar Home Health’s Alzheimer’s Whisperer Program, please visit our Alzheimer’s and Dementia page.