Category Archives: Health Topics

How to help break the stigma of mental illness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but what do we mean by mental health?

As discussed in an article by the The Mayo Clinic*, “Mental health is the overall wellness of how you think, regulate your feelings and behave.”

At times, physical illness, environmental stresses or a change in one’s personal situation can cause a disruption or interference with individual thought process and mental functioning. This is what can cause our mental wellness to be compromised.  Being aware of changes and recognizing signs that someone might be experiencing challenges with their mental health is helpful for all involved.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Openly talk about mental health – Break the stigma about talking about mental health issues.   Common and treatable, more people suffer from mental health then you may be aware.

Educate yourself – There are plenty of resources accessible to learn more about specific types of mental illnesses, treatments and support.  Talk to your health professional, visit the library or online resources.

Be aware of the language you use – The language we choose to use matters. Do not use insulting terms (ex. “Crazy” or “Psycho”). Identify the person first, not the illness. (ex. My brother who struggles with OCD vs. My OCD brother).

Show compassion towards those with mental illness – Be supportive to people with mental health conditions. Check in frequently, provide support and encouragement.

Speak up against the stigma - Be positive.  Don’t sit by idly as others pass judgements or speak in a derogatory manner.

 

Great resources to educate yourself about mental health:

www.nami.org

www.thedepressionproject.com

www.mayoclinic.org

www.mentalhealthmn.org

www.mn.gov

www.nimh.nih.gov

Sources: https://www.centracare.com/blog/2019/may/break-the-stigma/
*https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/mental-health/art-20044098

 

Posted in General Information /Health Topics /Uncategorized /

Signs You Should Check On A Loved One’s Mental Health

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month – What better time to touch base with a friend, neighbor or family member who might be experiencing stress in their life.  The path to obtaining the help one might need starts with the recognition that there is an issue, open and honest discussion and reaching out to those appropriate providers who can help with treatment towards improved well being.

Below are some of the most common signs that someone might be experiencing challenges with their mental and/or physical health.  It is always recommended to seek out professional help and consultation.  Consulting  your primary care team is a great place to start.

1. Becoming socially withdrawn

2. Experiencing difficult life events

3. Reckless behavior

4. Changes in sleeping habits or experiencing difficulties sleeping

5. Changes in eating habits

6. They constantly express being “busy” or overwhelmed by things

7. They are acting out of character

8. They are emotionally distant

9. Loss of concentration and/or ability to focus

10. Excessive worrying or fear

11. Changes in libido or sexual drive

12. Physical ailments without an obvious cause, examples:   headaches, stomach aches and elusive body “aches and pains”

13. Losing interest in leisure activities

14. Prolonged feelings of irritability

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To learn more about the signs of mental health and to find resources about mental health:

National Alliance on Mental Illness

The Depression Project

 

 

Posted in General Information /global interest /Health Topics /Uncategorized /

May is…

National Mental Health Awareness Month

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May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. This year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) if focusing on the message that no person experiencing mental health challenges should feel alone. There is a large percentage of individuals experiencing mental health concerns that will be coming to the forefront due to the many pressures and stresses of the pandemic. Mental health awareness is important and needs to be addressed and improved for all.

The American Psychiatric Association reports that close to half of people with mental illness do not receive treatment. Fearing stigma, prejudice and possible discrimination, many fear they will lose their jobs, friends and will just be treated differently. Stigma and prejudice usually come from lack of knowledge about mental illness, misinformation and inaccurate media representations. Many have a negative view even though they might know about the medical factors and general nature of some mental health disorders. Stigma comes in many forms and it can be public, self or institutional.

The most important message is that stigma and discrimination can contribute to the reduced likelihood of someone getting treatment. Low self-esteem, loss of hope, difficulties with social relationships are all gateways to difficulties at home and work and the likelihood of getting and maintaining treatment.

Open, honest discussion, showing compassion and educating oneself about mental illness goes a long way to crushing the stigma. This opens up opportunities for those suffering to be more receptive to treatment and a healthier life.

Many organizations offer education and training on identifying how to address the issues of mental illness and the stigma that can come with it. Seeking out help from a mental health professional is key to diagnosing mental health conditions. A psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker or other mental health professional along with your primary care doctor can be involved with diagnostic assessments and referrals for treatment.

 

*Learn more at: psychiatry.org, nami.org, mayoclinic.org

 

Posted in General Information /Health Topics /Human Interest /

Some Thoughts on Depression and Dementia

How does depression fit in with the conversation about dementia?

First of all, it is not easy to identify depression in someone who has dementia. Because dementia can cause some of the same symptoms. Some of those symptoms include: apathy, sleep interruptions (too much or too little), loss of interest in activities, isolation and social withdrawal, concentration issues and impaired thinking.

Treatment is important for anyone with depression alone. It’s equally as important for someone with dementia. Coping with dementia and the changes it brings may be made easier if depression is addressed as well. We cope with things better when we are not depressed.

Symptom overlap is a real issue. Since depression and dementia often occur together, distinguishing one from another can be hard. Physical and psychological evaluations are helpful to making the diagnosis. However, many with advanced dementia may not be able to communicate how they feel. Nonverbal cues and observations by caregivers can often help medical professionals detect depression.

In any case, depression can have long lasting effects on the quality of life for any individual. It is important to recognize symptoms and address with treatment. Getting treatment can make life easier and more enjoyable for all involved.

 

sources:  Alz.org, mayclinic.org, nih.gov, family doctor.org

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease /depression /General Information /Health Topics /Memory Care /

More Information about Delirium

What is Delirium?

Yes, Delirium is a rock band. Yes, Delirium is a thriller on the NETFLIX streaming service. Yes, Delirium is a book by Lauren Oliver – but they aren’t the Delirium we are talking about.

Simply put, delirium is a condition that has been around for a long time. The word delirium comes from the Greek word meaning “out of the furrow” or “off track”. That is what it is, a medical condition that causes sudden changes in cognition (thinking) and or behavior. It is not uncommon for older adults and people with dementia to experience delirium. You might have heard someone say “Dad’s dementia got much worse during his hospital stay.” What they are describing is delirium – a sudden and noticeable change in behavior.   Dementia, on the other hand, is a slow and progressive disease, it does not suddenly accelerate. At the moment, dementia has no cure. Delirium, on the other hand, can be treated and reversed.

Identifying and addressing the causes of delirium are the best ways of clearing it up. Common causes are medication interactions, infection (often urinary tract infection or UTI), dehydration and sometimes a combination of causes. Some can be treated easily, by changing a medication, introducing antibiotics or increasing fluid intake. A family member or friend might be the most obvious and best person to recognize and report delirium. However, the best person to diagnose and treat delirium is a member of a trained medical team.

Integrative cares are somethings to consider for someone with delirium. Alternative non-drug methods that can aid in the reduction of confusion and anxiety are worthy of consideration: aromatherapy, massage, Reiki and music therapy are a few examples. Familiar and enjoyable activities to pass the time, such as puzzles, reading, coloring or listening to music can be beneficial and therapeutic.

Many of us have never heard of delirium. We mistake it for dementia, depression and anxiety. Knowing about delirium is important for making sure your family member or loved one gets proper treatment, so they can get back on track enjoying life in familiar settings and participating in favorite activities.

Here are a few key points to remember:

  • Older adults and persons with dementia have a higher chance of experiencing delirium.
  • Delirium is a sudden and noticeable change in thinking and behavior.
  • Dementia is a slow and progressive disease.
  • Delirium can be reversed.
  • You are the best person to recognize delirium. A trained medical professional is the best person to diagnose and treat it.

Posted in Delirium /General Information /Health Topics /Memory Care /

Dementia and Delirium; Know the Difference

The Difference Between Dementia and Delirium

Cognitive impairment is more common as we age. Dementia and delirium are two common causes. Delirium and dementia have similarities and can be confusing to experience and to distinguish. Both can cause memory loss, poor judgment, a decreased ability to communicate and impaired functioning. However, there are many differences between the two.

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“Dementia resembles delirium in the same way an ultramarathon resembles a dash across the street. Same basic components, vastly different scale.” ~Floyd Skloot

Onset: Dementia typically begins slowly and is gradually noticed over time. If the person who’s being evaluated is unknown to you, having a report of his usual functioning is key. Delirium is usually a sudden or acute change in condition. One day, someone is doing fine, the next, they may be very confused and unable to perform tasks, like dressing.

Cause: Dementia is typically a disease such as Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia, frontotemporal dementia or a related disorder. Delirium is usually triggered by a specific illness, including: urinary tract infection, pneumonia, dehydration, illicit drug use, or withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. Medication interactions can also cause delirium.

Duration:   Dementia is a progressive, chronic disease that is incurable. Delirium is normally short term and can last for a couple of days to a couple of months. Delirium is almost always temporary if the cause is identified and treated.

Communication Abilities: People with dementia often experience difficulty remembering and finding the right words. Their ability to express themselves erodes over time as the disease progresses. Delirium may cause inappropriate and/or incoherent communication that is uncharacteristic for the individual.

Attention Span and Memory: With dementia a person’s memory is significantly affected throughout the disease. The level of alertness is typically not affected until the late stages of the disease. With delirium, memory functioning is usually less affected, but the general ability to focus and maintain attention is very poor.

Activity Level: Dementia tends to not affect a person’s activity level until the later stages. People with delirium are often overly active (hyper and restless) or under-active (lethargic and less responsive) compared to usual activity.

Treatment: There are a few medications approved by the FDA to treat Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. They don’t cure dementia but sometimes can slow the progression of the symptoms, including: memory loss, poor judgment and behavioral changes. Delirium requires immediate treatment by a physician. Because delirium is usually caused by a physical illness or infection, medications are often effective.

 

Sources: mayoclinic.org, merckmanuals.com, verywellhealth.com, alz.org

 

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease /Health Topics /Memory Care /Nursing /Senior Living /

Diet Choices That Can Boost Sleep Quality

Diet-and-Exercise-and-Sleep

In March we welcome the change of seasons. We are excited to say goodbye to winter and the cold weather. With the promise of Summer on the horizon, many people are refocusing their attention on their health and wellness journey.  This often includes attention to your diet, which can help with better weight management.

If you are seeking to make changes to your nutrition and diet, sleep plays an important factor in being successful.  Many of us feel especially sluggish after the winter hibernation. In addition, we experienced the change of our clocks. We jumped ahead one hour due to Daylight Savings. The National Sleep Foundation has claimed the week after Daylight Savings to be Sleep Awareness Week. In 2021, Sleep Awareness Week is dated March 14th through March 20th.

We have compiled a few options on how to achieve a better night’s sleep through our nutrition choices during the day.

Fruits – An important piece for any diet, but when we are speaking about sleep specifically, look at eating more cherries or kiwis. Cherries have been found to help decrease the effects of insomnia. Cherries contain a high amount of the sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin. Eating kiwis two hours before bed has been found to help with falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer and waking up less frequently.

Caffeine – Most of us know to avoid caffeine before bed. The rule is to avoid caffeine 5 to 6 hours before bed. Caffeine can be tricky because it can also be found in the foods we consume, it’s not limited to beverages like coffee or soda.

Snacking – Avoid late night snacking. Try to stop eating 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed. Snacking can lead to broken sleep, individuals find themselves waking up more frequently during the night.

Spicy food – Eating spicy food can cause heartburn which can impact your sleep. Acid reflux can worsen and irritate an individual’s airways. Avoid consuming spicy foods within 3 hours of going to bed.

Alcohol – Drinking alcohol before bed is typically not the best choice. Alcohol is a sedative and it may help you fall asleep, but it reduces the overall quality of sleep you receive. Most people find themselves waking up more frequently during the night.

Sources: Sleep.org and Hopkinsmedicine.org

Posted in Fun Facts /General Information /Health Topics /Uncategorized /

Simple Steps To Eat HEALTHIER

March Is National Nutrition Month

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Most of us are aware that we need to make a change to our diet. However, a complete overhaul of our current habits is an overwhelming task. Instead of looking at the whole pie all at once, try breaking down the end-goal into smaller pieces. Each small step that you accomplish is a mini-victory on your way to a Healthier diet.

We have highlighted a few small steps that can help jump start you goals:

Slow Down – let your brain and body register the food that you are eating. Your appetite is controlled by hormones. The hormones will send signals to your brain stating if you are hungry or full. Your brain needs about 20 minutes to receive these signals. There have also been studies to show that fast eaters are more likely to be obese than slow eaters.

Eat Your Greens First – The best way to ensure that you eat all your greens/vegetables is to eat them at the beginning of your meal.

Eat Your Fruits Instead Of Drinking Them – Fruits are most nutritious in their natural form. Most fruit juices don’t even use real fruit. They are typically made from a concentrate that contains excess sugar. Some fruit juices can contain as much sugar as a soft drink.

Cook At Home More Often – This tip helps your diet and your wallet. Choose to eat at home 4+ nights a week. By cooking the food yourself at home, you know exactly what you will be consuming once it is completed.

Replace Your Sugary Beverages With A Sugar Free Alternative Or a Flavored Sparkling Water – Sugary beverages are loaded with liquid sugar which is linked to numerous diseases like Heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

Get A Good Night’s Sleep – the importance of sleep cannot be overstated! Our bodies need good and ample sleep to function properly. Example being, sleep deprivation can disrupt appetite regulation.

Eat From A Smaller Plate – When eating from a smaller plate, it can trick your brain into thinking that you are actually eating more.

Learn these tips and more at Healthline.com

 
 

Posted in General Information /Health Topics /Uncategorized /

Let’s March into Spring HEALTHIER

March is

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National Nutrition Month was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The month focuses on helping people make informed and healthy food choices. They focus on developing better eating habits and healthy physical activities. Many common health problems can be prevented by taking charge of your diet and exercise. Paying attention to what you eat and drink and physical movement are two of the biggest ways you can take control of your health.

Common health problems that can positively benefit from a good eating regime are many. At any age it is important to pay attention to what you eat and the quantity. Our diet contributes to our overall well being.

Diabetes is a long lasting disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. There are different types of Diabetes. Over 34 million people live with diabetes and over 85 million live with prediabetes. Most of the food we eat is broken down into sugar (glucose) and released into our bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, your pancreas is signaled to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy. With diabetes, your body doesn’t make insulin or can’t use it properly. Over time, serious health problems can develop, such as heart disease, kidney disease and vision loss.

Living with diabetes can be a challenge. But one can do a lot of good by eating well and staying active. A healthy diet that includes a balance of nutrient rich foods is extremely important. Balancing your blood sugar is the key to staying well. Knowledge is power, so here’s a list of things to help create a healthy eating plan.

Meal Planning - Make a plan so you are not caught without the proper foods to sustain your health

Grocery Shopping - Helps keep you on track with your meal plans

Read Food Labels - Know the nutritional value of the food you purchase

Eating Out - Have a plan before you go to a restaurant, choose wisely

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Learn much, much more at: mayoclinic.org, cdc.org, diabetes.org, eatingwell.org

 

Posted in Fun Facts /General Information /Health Topics /

February is…

NATIONAL HEART HEALTH MONTH

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In 2010, the American Heart Association presented a strategic plan to reduce cardiovascular disease in the United States. It identified seven of the most important behaviors people can follow to protect their cardiovascular health.

Exercise: Regular exercise improves nearly every aspect of your health.

Eat right: Seek out foods such as nuts, whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, seafood, yogurt, and healthy fats.

Blood Pressure: Get your blood pressure checked, make sure your heart isn’t working harder than it should be.

Cholesterol: Know your cholesterol level and keep it low.

Keep blood sugar levels down: Exercise and diet help keep blood sugar levels in check.

Maintain a healthy weight: Fat cells release many substances that increase inflammation, promote insulin resistance, and contribute to atherosclerosis.

Don’t smoke: Smoking and the use of tobacco products isn’t just bad for your lungs, it is bad for your heart too.

Posted in General Information /global interest /Health Topics /Heart Health /History /Human Interest /Independent Living /Nursing /Safety /Senior Living /