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

 

 

 

 

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.

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!

Avoiding SCAMS

SSA and IRS SCAM ALERT! 

Anyone can become a victim of Identity theft and seniors are one of the biggest targets.  It is important to always stay vigilant in protecting your social security number and other personal information.  Be informed and be aware because scammers are creative and determined.

The Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone, is warning citizens about ongoing Social Security Administration impersonation schemes.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have recently received several reports of suspicious phone calls from people who claim to be with the IRS or the SSA.  Here is a list of a few of their tactics:

  • A person receives an automated phone call stating that their social security number has been suspended for suspicious illegal activity.  The person is given a phone number to call to immediately resolve the issue. The call concludes by stating that if the person doesn’t contact the provided phone number, the person’s assets will be frozen until the alleged issue is resolved.  When the victim returns the call, they are immediately asked to provide a date of birth and their social security number.
  • Someone claiming to be from Social Security calls and says that a person is guilty of fraud and is subject to prosecution in federal court.  Again, they leave a phone number and tell you to contact them immediately.
  • IRS scammers use phone spoofing to make their number come up as the ‘IRS’.  They accuse the victim of a fraudulent tax return or tax evasion and tell you to call back immediately to avoid prosecution.  They ask for payment to resolve the issue.

Know this: The IRS will NEVER contact you by phone asking for money.  They use snail mail as their only means of communication.  The SSA will NOT call you and tell you that you are going to be prosecuted in federal court.  These are scare tactics.

These scams are showing up in our local area and have claimed some victims.  Remember to NEVER give personal information over the phone unless you have initiated the phone call.

Hearing Aid Assistance

Hearing loss creates confusion, frustration and isolation for those who experience it.  If we don’t struggle with this ourselves, we most certainly know someone who does.  Adding to the frustration is the fact that hearing loss tends to occur most frequently among the aging population and Medicare, the standard health care for those who are over 65 years of age or disabled, does not help with the cost of hearing aids.  It is not uncommon for a Medicare beneficiary to need hearing aids, but can’t afford them.

The Starkey Hearing Foundation Hear Now program may be able to help those who are financially strapped and can’t afford hearing aids.  The foundation provides assistance to just such individuals.  There is an application processing fee of $125 per hearing aid requested.  When an application is approved, aids are given to the applicant at no additional cost.

Hear Now serves low income individuals, of any age, who permanently reside in the U.S. that have no other resources to acquire hearing aids.  Anyone having a benefit for hearing aids, in part or total, is encouraged to call and discuss their individual situation.

The hearing aids provided are Behind the Ear models, and are new.  Custom hearing aids are not provided by Hear Now.  Starkey Hearing Foundation-Hear Now program offers help to low income individuals.

Call 800-328-8602 to discuss eligibility with a Hear Now representative or email: hearnow@starkey.com to request an application for assistance.

 

*This information is provided by the Idaho Senior  Health Insurance Benefits Agency  (SHIBA).  Our local SHIBA counselor/partner is Kim Hulme  847.0949.

 

Adults Need More Physical Activity

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 31 million adults age 50 years or older are inactive – that is, they are not physically active beyond the basic movements needed for daily life activities.   Any increase in activity is beneficial and leads to more vibrant health.

According to the CDC, the analysis of adult activity showed:

  • Inactivity was higher for women (29.4%) compared to men (25.5%)
  • Inactivity significantly increased with age. 25% of 50-year-olds are inactive compared to almost 34% of 75-year-olds who are
    inactive.
  • Having a chronic disease was a major factor in inactivity. This increase is about 21% among adults of the same age.
  • Inactivity in the U.S. is highest in the South (30.1%) followed by the Midwest (28.4%) and in the Northeast (26.6%). Inactivity was lowest in the West (23.1%)

According to Kathleen B. Watson, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, “More work is needed to make it safer and easier for people of all ages and abilities to be physically active in their communities.”

Physical activity reduces the risk of premature death and can delay or prevent many chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and some cancers.

Four of the five most costly chronic conditions for ages 50+ can be managed or prevented with physical activity.   Being physically active helps older adults maintain the ability to live independently and reduces the risk of falling and fracturing bones.  Being physically active can also improve mental health and delay dementia and cognitive decline.

Summertime is an ideal time to get out of doors and start moving.*  Yard work, gardening, walking the dog, walking with a friend, and even parking your car farther from the grocery store entrance are all ways to begin increasing activity. As previously mentioned, any increase in activity is beneficial.  It is wise to see your doctor before beginning a vigorous approach to exercise.

*Remember to wear sunscreen when being outdoors.

 

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital named Top 20 Critical Access Hospital

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in Montpelier, ID was recently recognized with two national awards:  (1) Top 20 Critical Access Hospital (CAH), and (2) Top 20 “Best Practices in Quality”. There are over 1300 critical access hospitals in the nation and BLMH ranked in the 99.6% percentile overall.  The Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals scored best among critical access hospitals, as determined by The Chartis Center for Rural Health, and was recently announced by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA).

The Top 20 Critical Access Hospital “winners” are those hospitals who have achieved success in overall performance based on a composite rating from seven indices of strength: Patient Satisfaction, Operational Costs, Financial Stability, Patient Expense, Market Share, Outcomes, and Quality. The Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals are recognized for the outstanding patient satisfaction they provide.

 

The Top 20 Best Practices in Quality award is a rating of hospital performance based on the percentile rank across the five categories of ‘Hospital Compare Process of Care’ measures. All hospitals in the index study are evaluated across rural-relevant Process of Care measures (including Heart Failure, Pneumonia, and Outpatient metrics). The Best Practices in Quality award recipients are recognized for the outstanding quality they deliver to their patients.

 

“Bear Lake Memorial Hospital is proud of the efforts of its physicians and staff who have contributed to our hospital achieving this designation,” said Dennis Carlson, Hospital Administrator. “Our results as top 99.6% percentile overall means our visitors and community members can count on us to deliver the services they need now and in the future.”

 

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital invites the public to come to a Top 20 Community Celebration on Friday, June 29th at Well C. Stock Park in Montpelier. It will be held from 5pm – 8pm and have food, games, giveaways, along with Top 20 hit songs from 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. More information can be found at www.BLMHospital.com.

 

About the National Rural Health Association

NRHA is a nonprofit organization working to improve the health and wellbeing of rural Americans and providing leadership on rural health issues through advocacy, communications, education, and research. NRHA membership is made up of 21,000 diverse individuals and organizations, all of whom share the common bond of an interest in rural health. For more information, visit RuralHealthWeb.org.

 

About the Chartis Group

The Chartis Group (Chartis) provides comprehensive advisory services and analytics to the health care industry. With an unparalleled depth of expertise in strategic planning, performance excellence, informatics and technology, and health analytics, Chartis helps leading academic medical centers, integrated delivery networks, children’s hospitals and health care service organizations achieve transformative results. Learn more at Chartisrural.com

National Cancer Survivor’s Month

Image result for cancer survivor June 2018National cancer survivor’s month was established to recognize those who have successfully fought or are in the process of fighting the disease.  Each one of us most likely knows a person who has either succumbed to cancer or is currently battling the disease.  Cancer is a disease that literally affects millions of Americans daily.  In June we take time to celebrate those who are still among us after having fought cancer.

Thanks to many advancements in treating cancer, people are living longer after receiving a cancer diagnosis.  The most recent studies show that more than six million men, and seven million women have managed to survive cancer in the United States.  The growing number of cancer survivors is not an indication that cancer rates are rising, (they have actually declined over the past 10 years), but more an indication that treatments are improving.

In 2014, half of the cancer survivors were diagnosed before the age of 66 and half were diagnosed after.  Certain types of cancer affect a particular age group more commonly than others.  For instance, the median age of someone with lymphocytic leukemia is 14, but for those with bladder cancer, it’s 73.

Today, 64% of all cancer survivors have lived at least five years since their diagnosis.  A great many of these have gone on to live long lives, with 46% of them reaching their 70th birthday.

For men, the largest group of survivors is the 43% who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Colorectal cancer has the second largest group of survivors among men.

Among women, survivors of breast cancer are by far the largest group, making up 41% of female cancer survivors.  Uterine and colorectal cancer both have the second largest group of female survivors.  This makes sense when we understand that women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than either uterine or colorectal cancer.

Some types of cancers are as common in men as they are in women.  For instance, survivors of colorectal cancers account for 9% of male cancer survivors and 8% of female cancer survivors. The survival rate for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is essentially the same for men as it is for women.

Early detection is key to survival.  The growing number of survivors in the U.S. helps us understand the importance of health screenings such as blood work, colonoscopies, and mammograms.  Please talk with your doctor to take advantage of these screenings.

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