Summer Safety 101

Bear Lake winters can be long and hard.  The excitement of spring and summer brings with it a desire to get out of the house and be more active.  By following a few main safety tips, summer can be an enjoyable, safe time. Stay Hydrated. The standard recommendation is to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.  If you spend a fair amount of time in the sun, you may want to drink even more to avoid dehydration.  Don’t just depend on your body to tell you when you’re thirsty because as you age, you become less aware of your thirst.  Be proactive in staying hydrated. Sodas, coffee, and especially alcohol won’t work as good alternatives for hydration.  Water, sports drinks, and juice are the best. Don’t Stay Out for Too Long. If you are in extreme heat, you should keep your plans for outdoor activities reasonably short. Do not spend all day in the sun. After a couple of hours, plan to take a break.  You don’t always feel the effects of the sun in the exact moment, but it can build to something dangerous if you aren’t careful how much time you spend outside on hot days. Keep Sunscreen Where It’s Readily Accessible So That You Will Remember to Use It. If you carry a bag or purse, keep your sunscreen in it at all times.  If you don’t, stick your sunscreen in your care or anywhere else you can think of where you will be likely to have it when you need it.  You will need to reapply if you get wet, sweat, or stay outdoors for a reasonable amount of time. Check the Side Effects of Your Prescriptions. Some medications make people more sensitive to the sun.  Make sure you know if your prescriptions mean you need to take extra precautions.  Some common prescriptions you will need to be aware of that can increase sun sensitivity are: Antibiotics such as Doxycycline, Tetracycline, and Ciprofloxacin; Antidepressants such as Doxepin and other tricyclics: Antihistamines; some blood pressure drugs such as Hydrochlorothiazide, Aldactazide, and Diltiazem; many cholesterol drugs, diuretics, chemotherapy drugs, and NSAIDS such as ibuprofen. (This is not a comprehensive list.  Check with your doctor about your medications.) Use Air Conditioning If You Have It Making sure you are comfortable in your home is worth the price of air conditioning. If you don’t have it, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program may help if the cost is prohibitive.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

What is Mental Health? Mental Health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.  It affects how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life.  It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.  Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood through adulthood. What are Mental Illnesses? Mental illnesses are serious disorders which can affect your thinking, mood, and behavior.  They may be occasional or long-lasting.  They can affect your ability to relate to others and function each day.  Mental disorders are common; more than half of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental disorder at some time in their life.  But there are treatments.  People with mental health problems can get better, and many of them recover completely. Why is Mental Health Important? Mental health is important because it can help you to: Cope with the stresses of life                           Be physically healthy Have good relationships                                    Make meaningful contributions to your community Work productively                                              Realize your full potential How can I improve my Mental Health? Stay Positive                                                Practice gratitude Be physically active                                    Connect with others Learn to manage/eliminate stress           Get enough sleep Get help to develop coping skills              Meditate Volunteer                                                      Grow a flower or vegetable garden Learn relaxation technics                           Let go of grudges and bitterness Learn to manage anger                               Practice “Mindfulness” technics   Resourced from https://medlineplus.gov/mentalhealth.html        

BLMH is Top 20 in the Nation

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital Named as 2019 Top 100 Critical Access Hospital  Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in Montpelier, ID scored in the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) in the United States by iVantage Health Analytics and The Chartis Center for Rural Health. This recognition is regarded as one of the industry’s most significant designations of performance excellence. Bear Lake Memorial is one of over 1300 Critical Access Hospitals surveyed nationally. This is the third year in a row the hospital has received this recognition additionally in 2018 they ranked as a Top 20 CAH by the National Rural Health Association.   “In an era of increased complexity and uncertainty, Top 100 hospitals have established themselves as a bellwether for rural provider performance,” said Michael Topchik, National Leader of The Chartis Center for Rural Health. “Top 100 status is a real indicator of how proactive these hospitals are when it comes to pushing for performance improvement in areas such as quality, outcomes, patient safety, market share and finance.”   Measurements like these reinforce Bear Lake Memorial’s high standards of quality healthcare and their vision of being most caring to the visitors and residents of the Bear Lake Valley and surrounding areas.    

April is Stress Awareness Month

Everyone has stress. Sometimes we have short-term stress, the kind that hits us when we get lost while driving or when we are late for an appointment. Even everyday events, such as dealing with difficult family members, or making time for errands can cause stress. This kind of stress can make us feel worried or anxious. Other times, we face long term stress, such as facing a chronic illness, dealing with death, divorce, or financial troubles. This kind of stress can affect your health on many levels, and can be a contributing factor in depression. Research shows how stress triggers changes in our bodies and makes us more likely to get sick. It can worsen problems we already have and can play a part in the following issues:
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Lack of Energy
  • Heart Problems
  • Lack of Concentration
  • Anger
  • Stomach Cramping
  • Skin Problems (Hives)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Weight Gain or Loss
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Neck and/or Back Pain
  • Asthma/Arthritis Flare-Ups
Stress Reducers - The first step is to recognize when you’re feeling stressed. The next step is to choose a way to deal with your stress. One way to choice the event o thing that causes the stress—but this is not always possible. We have to learn to change how we react to stress. There are many ways we can reduce stress levels. Some of then include: Fine time to relax: It’s important to take time for yourself and unwind. This may include a hot bath, listening to soothing music, or reading. Sleep: When the body is well-rested, the defense systems works better. Try to get 7-9 hour of sleep each night. Eat Right: Fuel up with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins. Avoid caffeine and sugar. Talk to Friends: Friends can be good listeners. Finding someone who will listen freely without judging does a world of good. Get help from a professional: Talk to a therapist for help navigate stresses. Write down your thoughts: Just put your feelings to paper as a release. Set Limits: Figure out what you can really do. There are only so many hours in a day. Plan your time: Planning ahead is one single most effective ways to reduce stress from the demands on our time.  

March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month Everyone has heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.”  That phrase has never been more important than it is today, given the variety of snack foods and fast-food diets.  National Nutrition Month, which is celebrated in March, is an excuse to step back and take stock of what we are really eating.  “Mindful” eating is important.  Some people find it helpful to keep a food journal and are often shocked at the number of empty calories, or the wrong kinds of calories being consumed in a day. Make a meal plan and make sure it’s balanced; include healthy carbs, proteins, and fiber.  Allow yourself some cheat days every now and again. Why is it important to have a “National Nutrition Month?”  Hopefully, it promotes healthier living.  A country with healthy citizens is bound to be more productive, and a productive economy is always good news, all around.  The more a healthier diet is promoted, the greater the chance for healthy lifestyles for all ages. Healthier eating does not mean compromising on your love for food.  It means adopting a more balanced approach instead.  Ingredients in your favorite recipes can be substituted for healthier options, such as substituting yogurt for sour cream. You can find an ingredient/food substitution list at www.heart.org. The internet is full of useful sites to help you make better-informed nutrition choices.  Some of those sites are: www.choosemyplate.gov www.eatright.org www.nutrition.gov www.healthierus.gov www.diabetes.org www.heart.org www.usda.gov   With the hope of combating childhood and adult obesity in America (both on the rise), sound nutritional information and practices become ever important to the well-being of our citizens and economy.

2019 Top 100 Critical Access Hospital

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in Montpelier, ID scored in the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) in the United States by iVantage Health Analytics and The Chartis Center for Rural Health. This recognition is regarded as one of the industry’s most significant designations of performance excellence. Bear Lake Memorial is one of over 1300 Critical Access Hospitals surveyed nationally. This is the third year in a row the hospital has received this recognition additionally in 2018 they ranked as a Top 20 CAH by the National Rural Health Association. “In an era of increased complexity and uncertainty, Top 100 hospitals have established themselves as a bellwether for rural provider performance,” said Michael Topchik, National Leader of The Chartis Center for Rural Health. “Top 100 status is a real indicator of how proactive these hospitals are when it comes to pushing for performance improvement in areas such as quality, outcomes, patient safety, market share and finance.” Measurements like these reinforce Bear Lake Memorial’s high standards of quality healthcare and their vision of being most caring to the visitors and residents of the Bear Lake Valley and surrounding areas.

Having Sleeping Issues?

Sleep Apnea Sleep Apnea, the repeated stopping and starting of your breathing while you sleep, can be a serious risk to your health. Untreated sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, liver problems, and possibly even dementia. Sleep Apnea Facts Sleep apnea affects up to 18 million Americans. People with sleep apnea can stop breathing as many as 30 times or more each night. Often a spouse or family member is the first to notice signs of sleep apnea in someone. The condition affects about 4 percent of middle-aged men and 2 percent of middle –aged women. Men, in general, suffer from sleep apnea more often than women. Children can also have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea in children has been linked to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. (ADHD) Some studies suggest that sleep apnea runs in families. People with sleep apnea are three times more likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents. People with sleep apnea sometimes fall asleep unexpectedly during the day, such as while talking on the phone or driving. Risk factors for sleep apnea include being overweight and having a large neck. Losing even 10 percent of body weight can help reduce the number of times a person with sleep apnea stops breathing during sleep. Smoking and alcohol use increase the risk of sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, is the most common, noninvasive treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. If you think you may have sleep apnea, lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol before bedtime and quitting smoking can help. A primary care physician can refer you to a specialist to be evaluated for sleep apnea. Most of the time, a sleep test, or polysomnography, is conducted overnight at a sleep center.  If you are wary of spending the night in a strange bed and being hooked up to an array of equipment, then you can ask your doctor about possibly doing a home test.

7 Tips to Help Your Body Cope With Winter

The season of biting winds and below zero temperatures makes one want to stay indoors and hibernate.  Though we are “toughened” Bear Lakers, winter can and does take its toll on our minds and bodies. Here are seven tips to help protect yourself mentally and physically during the winter season.
  1. Keep the winter blues at bay- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is responsible for an estimated 10 to 20 percent of recurring cases of depression in American women. Symptoms include feelings of sadness, irritability, anxiety, and exhaustion.  This condition can be a result of the extra hours of darkness on the shorter winter days. Light therapy and antidepressants, as well as exercise and social interaction, seem to help. Talk with your doctor about for further information about ways to cope with SAD.
  2. Stay Hydrated-Losing just one percent of the water in our bodies can cause dehydration. Even in winter one needs to be vigilant about getting enough water each day.  Fruits and veggies are packed with water, so eating plenty of those helps.
  3. Fight Dry Skin- Cold weather plus dry heat often results in crackly skin. Drinking plenty of water is necessary but may not be enough to fight off dry skin.  Hydration in all forms, including lotion and lip balm can help.
  4. Stay Safe in the Snow-Shoveling snow can be a literal pain. An average of 11,500 snow shoveling-related accidents are treated in emergency rooms each year.  More than half are pulled muscle injuries.  If you plan to shovel snow, walk around and warm up your muscles first, and be sure to “push” the shovel out of the way, rather than lifting it.
  5. Ward off the flu- Getting a flu shot, washing hands frequently, and eating a healthy diet are ways to help protect our bodies against those nasty flu viruses
  6. Keep Active-Despite those well-meaning New Year’s resolutions, we tend to exercise about five percent less in winter than in summer. Exercising in short spurts, such as walking in place while watching TV, going for a brisk walk around the block, or taking the stairs a few extra times are all ways of increasing physical activity.
  7. Keep Your Energy Up- Shorter days tend to make us sleepier because of the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep cycles. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, eating regular healthy meals, and staying physically active are all ways of improving energy levels.  If all else fails, have a good laugh-----studies show that humor can increase energy!

How You React to Stress May Predict Brain Health

 New research finds that our response to even minor daily stressors, such as getting stuck in traffic or waiting too long at the supermarket, can affect how healthy our brain is, particularly into old age. Prolonged chronic stress can lead to a wide range of adverse health consequences, from diabetes and heart disease, to mental health conditions, such as depression, burn-out, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even schizophrenia.  Zooming in on the effects that stress has on the brain, recent studies have suggested that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol may impair memory. How do small daily stressors affect the brain?  New research, led by Robert Stawski, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon’s State University in Corvallis, suggests that it is not so much the stressful events in themselves, but our reactions to them that harm our brain health. One study, done during a 2.5 years period, examined senior’s cognitive health using standardized assessments every 6 months.  Some of these assessments included asking the seniors to look at two sets of numbers and then say if the same numbers appeared in the two sets, even if not in the same order.  Overall, the study found that people whose response to daily stressors involved more negative emotions and were of higher intensity had higher inconsistencies in their response time, suggesting poorer mental focus and brain health. The research revealed significant age differences.  For instance, the older participants-those in their late 70’s to early 90’s-were most affected.  That is, the higher the stress reaction, the less cognitive function. However, for those in their late 60’s to mid 70’s, more stress seemed to benefit cognitive health in some cases.  These people may have had a more active life-style to begin with, or more social and professional engagement, which sharpens mental function. The results confirm that people’s daily emotions and how they react to stress will affect brain health and function.  It’s not the stressor that contributes to mental declines, but how a person responds that affects the brain.   *The finding s in this study are available in Psychosomatic Medicine, the journal of the American Psychosomatic Society.

November is Alzheimer Awareness Month

Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or other dementia.  Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills  Here are 10 warning signs: 1.Memory loss that disrupts daily life One of the most common signs of the disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information, or forgetting important dates or events.  Some people ask for the same information over and over again, or have to rely more and more on reminder notes. What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later.
  1. Challenges in planning or solving problems. 
Some people experience changes in their ability to follow a plan or work with numbers.  They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They find it difficult to concentrate and take much longer to do things than they did before. What’s a typical age related problem? Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.
  1. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or at work.
Sometimes, people have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget or remembering the rules of a favorite game. What’s a typical age-related problem? Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.
  1. Confusion with time or place
People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. Sometimes they forget where they are or how they got there. What’s a typical age-related problem? Forgetting what day of the week it is, but figuring it out later.
  1. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s.  They may have difficulty judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving. What’s a typical age-relate problem? Vision changes related to cataracts.
  1. New problems with words in speaking or writing
People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue.  They may struggle with vocabulary or have trouble finding the right word.  (like calling a watch a “hand-clock) What’s a typical age-related problem? Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.