May 17th, 2013 | by
Kelly was a nurse who had spent her career working with fragile, sick children in the NICU, and in pediatric home health. She was married to her husband of six years, and nearly done with a nurse practitioner degree. She hoped that once she finished her degree, they would start the process to build their family through adoption.
And then her husband came home one day and dropped the bomb. He was not in love with her anymore and wanted a divorce. He had met someone while traveling out of state, and wanted to enjoy the carefree bachelor days she had “robbed” from him when they met in their younger days. He then left to fly back out of state to resume the single lifestyle he had been craving.
To say she was devastated would be an understatement. She says, “Because I loved him so much it felt like my entire world had been thrown into a blender and I could see no way out.” She felt hopeless and suicidal. These feelings brought her to the hospital, but in lieu of admission, the psychiatrist allowed her to go home, as long as she was supervised 24/7 by friends or family, and as long as she attended the partial hospitalization program that met all day, five days a week. Surrounded by family and friends to support her, Kelly also was helped by the intensive therapy support in the program. She had sessions with the psychiatrist, individual counseling, group therapy, and occupational therapy to work on goal-setting and coping skills.
A caregiver her entire life, Kelly had a difficult time at first giving herself the nurturing that she had always lavished on sick children. Just as if she had a serious medical illness, Kelly had to take time off from work and school to focus on her emotional healing. Shortly after starting the program, and during a time when she still felt suicidal thoughts on a daily basis, she found an abandoned pit bull puppy while walking with a friend. She decided to rescue the abandoned puppy, and as it turns out that puppy rescued her instead. She gave her dog a middle name, Clarence, after the angel that saves George Bailey from suicide in “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
With the professional help, help from loved ones, and from her beloved dog, Kelly was slowly able to envision a new life for herself. With a lot of encouragement, she finished her last class to complete her degree. A year later, despite the fact that she is now divorced, she is happy again. She says, “More than 100 friends and family gave me encouragement to battle my demons and depression and decide to keep living one minute more. Minute by minute, it has now been over a year. I don’t live by minutes anymore.”
According to the CDC, almost 4% of the US population reports suicidal thoughts in the past year. Depression, and the suicidal thoughts that may accompany it, can happen to anyone. If you have suicidal thoughts, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 911, or go to the nearest emergency department.
Mar 18th, 2013 | by
As soon as the weather warms up, people head outdoors. Whether it’s doing yard work, cleaning out the garage, taking a bike ride or walking the dog, there’s something about those first few days of spring that helps us all get moving, especially after the winter we’ve had this year. And there are quick and easy ways you can add activity to your daily routine.
Here are five tips to help you and your family ‘spring’ into wellness:
1. Buy a pedometer.
Wear it every day to count the number of steps you walk/run. Did you know it’s recommended that we take 10,000 steps per day? That’s a lot more than you realize. By wearing a pedometer, you may find that you have a little more motivation to take the stairs instead of the elevator or to park a little farther out at the grocery store than you normally would. Most pedometers are very affordable and range in price from $10 to $30 depending on the model and features.
2. Drink plenty of water.
How much water should you drink every day? Take your total weight and divide it by two. That’s the number of ounces you should be drinking per day. For example, if you are male that weighs 184 pounds, you should be drinking 92 ounces of water a day. That’s 11 1/2 eight ounces of water. Water makes up 60% of your body weight and is important for your body to function – flush toxins out of organs, carry nutrients to your cells and provide a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues. Doctors recommend that an average, healthy adult drink at least 8 – 9 cups (8 oz) of water each day. If you’re concerned about your fluid intake, check with your doctor.
3. Make time for fun and relaxation.
We all live very busy lives. Trying to balance work, raising kids, volunteering, paying bills, attending events and doctor appointments can certainly be challenging. However, if you regularly make time to have fun and relax, you’ll be in a better place to handle stress.
- Set aside relaxation time. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.
- Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life.
- Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for activities that make you happy – taking photographs, playing an instrument, or working out.
- Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. Laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.
4. Get more sleep.
Lack of sleep means your body is working extra hard to do its everyday jobs. If you feel like you need to consume extra sugars and caffeinated drinks to make it through your day, you may not be getting enough sleep. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night is best for a healthy, active lifestyle.
5. Visit your doctor regularly.
Most people only go to the doctor when something is wrong, but it’s very important to see your doctor at least once a year, whether you’re sick or not. Preventive care can help detect warning signs of heart disease, cancer and stroke – three of the biggest threats to your health.
Resources: Mayo Clinic, Humana, WebMD
Dec 31st, 2012 | by
As part of our annual employee Holiday Giving Tree, we recently coordinated the donation of more than 1,000 shoes and socks to three Ohio non-profits – Shoes 4 the Shoeless in Dayton, YWCA Emergency Shelter in Columbus and Shoes and Clothes for Kids in Cleveland.
According to our Foundation Director, Cathy Ponitz, “Our employees are some of the most giving individuals I have ever seen. Whenever we identify a need, they always step up to help. This is an amazing accomplishment—especially at such a busy time of year.”
A majority of low-income and homeless children in Ohio do not have shoes that properly fit. Many are well-worn and provide insufficient protection from the weather.
Kris Horlacher, Executive Director of Shoes 4 the Shoeless explains, “Most people have no idea that this need even exists. In fact, they are shocked. Not only do we constantly see kids that don’t have the proper shoes to protect them from the weather, but we also see the unnecessary physical and emotional distress that is brought on from wearing socks and shoes that don’t fit or are not fit to wear. Our goal is simple, to provide new gym shoes and socks to children in desperate need. Organizations like CareSource help us do just that.”
Since 2010, approximately 11,000 Dayton area children have received new gym shoes and socks from Shoes 4 the Shoeless.
Earlier this year Shoes 4 the Shoeless was the recipient of a $10,000 grant through the CareSource Foundation’s People’s Choice Grants program. Each quarter, the Foundation contributes $10,000 to one nonprofit organization that is nominated and voted on by CareSource employees.
Thank you to all of our employees for helping such a worthy cause and making a difference every day. Have a blessed 2013.
Nov 12th, 2012 | by
With all the hubbub on the Internet lately about Honey Boo Boo and her rather interesting diet (Mountain Dew for a young child?), it begs the question- what should children be eating throughout the day?
Children’s nutritional needs will change as they grow, but it is always important to emphasize fresh, whole foods no matter what the age. You can go to the American Heart Association’s website to learn exactly what your child should be eating, depending on age and whether they are a girl or a boy.
How do you know if your child is at a healthy weight? Try one of these calculators to find where they land on the growth charts. You can bring the results to your child’s pediatrician if you have concerns.
What exactly does a day’s worth of meals look like for a preschooler?
Half a cup with whole grain cereal with milk and a piece of fruit.
Whole grain bread with meat, cheese, or nut butter, fresh veggies, yogurt with fruit, a piece of fresh fruit, and optional treat. Children do not need sweet treats every day.
Sorry Honey Boo Boo, but water or low-fat milk is the preferred beverage. It is better to eat fresh fruits rather than juices. If your children do not like plain water, try putting a slice of fruit or homemade flavored ice cubes in their water.
Fruit is a perfect snack. So are fresh veggies, for that matter!
Dinner is a palm-sized amount of meat or beans, a one-half to one cup serving of vegetables, and a couple ounces of whole grains. (Pictured above, turkey breast roasted in apple cider and stuffing made of wheat bread and apples.)
If you need more ideas for meal plans, you can go to Choose My Plate. For snack ideas, try 100 Days of Real Food. Don’t forget, fresh foods don’t necessarily mean lots of preparation time! Apples and bananas are nature’s original convenience foods.
Nov 2nd, 2012 | by
Every quarter, we hold All Staff meetings to provide news and updates to our employees. Our most recent meeting was one to remember. To kick it off - in the spirit of Halloween - 20 of our employees volunteered to do the Thriller dance to open the meeting. Our internal communications team held weekly rehearsals to get them ready, but they had to keep it a secret until October 31. It was a huge undertaking.
The crowd cheered with suprise as they entered the stage. People are still talking about it and now want to do a “jig” at every All Staff. CareSource is certainly a great place to work.
Sep 11th, 2012 | by
By Jennifer Dozer - busy wife, mother and RN
The start of the school year often means the start of school-year stress for busy families. To families already overwhelmed with the usual chaos that comes from one or both parents working, adding homework, sports practices, and other activities into the mix can cause unwanted stress.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that families establish a daily routine. Having a routine helps children feel safe, teaches self-discipline, and helps parents avoid the stress of rushed mornings and forgotten homework.
The internet is a treasure-trove of ideas for the organizationally-challenged. Popular blogs and social networking sites such as Pinterest are full of tips both for establishing personal routines that suit your family, and plotting out ways to organize your home.
Not sure where to get started? Here are a few tips:
- Establish a Command Center. A command center is a single place in your home- in your kitchen, office, or entryway- that meets your daily organizational needs. What should you keep in your command center? Homework folders, bills that need mailing, keys, phones, chore charts, calendars, and menu plans are typical command center must-haves. Papers that otherwise would get piled on tables should have a home here. There should be only one answer to the questions “Where is it?”, “When is it?”, “What am I supposed to do?”, and “What’s for dinner?” Go to the Command Center.
- Make a Meal Plan. Having a plan ahead of time can help you avoid last-minute fast food runs and wasted time scrambling to figure out dinner. It can also help you save money! If you find you don’t have much time for cooking on weeknights, consider spending a few hours on the weekend creating freezer meals, or becoming adept at using a slow cooker.
- Keep a Family Calendar. Google makes it easy to keep a paper-free shared calendar online, and will automatically send a reminder email to your Gmail account. Setting up an account is free. If you have a smartphone, you can download the Gmail app, and get reminders directly to your phone! If you prefer to keep a calendar in your command center, you can often download and print free calendar pages for a family binder, or use a simple chalkboard or dry erase board.
- Be Prepared. If you need something the next day, be sure to prepare it the night before. Make sure homework is done, papers have been signed, and lunches and book bags are packed. Need some healthy school lunch ideas? Try here.
- Build Your Family Routine. Sit down and spend a few minutes thinking about what your family needs to accomplish before and after school, then devise a routine to help make it happen. Help your children gain some independence by delegating age appropriate tasks to them. You can post your family’s routines and chore charts in your command center or keep track of completed tasks in a family binder.
Follow CareSource on Pinterest to check out our boards. We’ve pinned plenty of tips to help get you started on a smooth transition to the school year.
Aug 29th, 2012 | by
By Elizabeth Stevens and Daniell Ross, CareSource Interns
This summer during our internship, CareSource University hosted the Poverty Simulation to help employees better understand the realities of poverty. Here are a few testimonials from the interns who were able to catch a glimpse of the challenges and heartbreak that some of our members experience daily.
“The most frustrating part of the simulation was adjusting to a new role. Before the simulation started, I was a 21 year old college senior with zero debt and a roadmap for my future success. Suddenly, I had to assume an entirely different identity. My character was a 30 year old father/husband with a 10 year son and a baby on the way. I didn’t have a car and couldn’t afford a bus pass, so I had to walk everywhere. I spent a lot of time at work and a lot of time figuring out which resources I needed and how to obtain them. Weeks flew by, and my family’s finances didn’t improve at all. In fact, by the end, we still owed hundreds of dollars in loans and were unable to buy enough food to feed our child.”
“The most eye opening part of the simulation was the aspect of looking at something from the inside versus the outside. From the outside my character was stealing money, not going to school, and leaving my little brother home alone. Because of the stereotypes society has built, many people probably thought I was stealing the money to go buy drugs, that I was a dead beat, and that I was irresponsible with my little brother. However, from the inside my family was stretched thin on money and every cent I stole went to help my mom with her health care and other bills. I didn’t go to school but I would drop my little brother off and go try and find a job. And I left my brother home alone because it was safer for him to be locked home working on his school work then outside where something could happen to him. I’ve learned you can’t be quick to judge, and you really need to have compassion. You never know what someone else is going through – everyone has a story.”
“I volunteered as a grocery store owner. Throughout the simulation I struggled with my role because I wanted to help people any way I could. I found myself overpaying employees and donating extra money and groceries to families. However, about half way through the simulation I became frustrated because of how poorly customers were treating me. I found it very difficult to stay positive, and it was evident in the quality of my customer service. I learned that with a little bit of empathy and a smile, you can make a positive impact.”
CareSource, in collaboration with Think Tank Inc., offers “A Poverty Simulation,” to help employees and community leaders better understand the realities of poverty that our more than 900,000 members face daily. For more information, contact Karin VanZandt, CEO at Think Tank.
Aug 13th, 2012 | by
By Jennifer Dozer, RN, Patient Care Coordinator, Behavioral Health
With all the recent news stories about shootings and speculations about whether the alleged gunmen were psychiatrically ill, I’ve had quite a few people say to me, “I’m sure you’re glad you don’t work that job doing home visits anymore – somebody might try to kill you!”
After a few years in group homes and a few years doing home visits with folks who have behavioral health issues, I can honestly say I feared no two things more than bedbugs and drug dealers. Well, maybe lice- my hair used to be down to my waist, after all.
Now, I won’t speculate on whether or not I think an alleged gunman had a psychotic disorder. If I gathered all the tiny bits of information from the news- absent the actual acts – and tried to determine if any of the men met hospital admission criteria right before the events happened, I’d have to stamp that file “insufficient information” and go calling around trying to find more. No judgments will be made here.
What the general public is asking itself now is this:
Aren’t people with psychiatric illness threats?
That’s an easy question to answer. Most violent crimes are not committed by people with a serious mental health diagnosis. Just like in the general population, having an addiction – cocaine, methamphetamines, or the new bath salts – as well as a serious mental health condition is more associated with violence than a mental health diagnosis by itself.
Those of us who have worked in the trenches generally have an interesting story or two about something that happened when a family member or patient became very ill, as we are in frequent contact with the most seriously ill in our communities. The only time I felt my life was in danger, however, was when a drug dealer in a neighborhood broke in through a window while I was visiting a client, threatening both of us. It was another client, the lady next door who had schizophrenia, who called 911 to summon the police. We both made it out alive and unhurt.
There are a few circumstances when hospitalization is necessary because symptoms are severe enough to override judgment and safety.
How could you tell if someone’s behavior actually requires intervention? Here’s a brief checklist:
- First and foremost, are they actually threatening harm to themselves or others? Always take such statements seriously. Don’t be afraid to call the police, who can take them to the hospital to be evaluated. In Ohio, a psychiatrist can put a 72-hour hold on someone suspected to be a danger to themselves or others. Let the professionals decide whether a threat is real or not.
- Keep an eye out for friends and family, especially if you already know they struggle with an illness. If they withdraw suddenly, or have another change from normal behavior, check on them.
- Are they afraid, or thinking someone is out to get them or poisoning their food? Are they becoming aggressive towards other because of this fear?
- Have their hallucinations gone beyond just being present, to actually commanding them to harm themselves or others?
The most important thing to remember, is that your neighbor, or cousin, or brother is most likely not a threat to you, but instead needs your support. Stigmatizing people with mental health issues as violent only makes them less likely to seek treatment.
Jun 27th, 2012 | by
By Jennifer Dozer, Behavioral Health
The other week I caught myself bragging, “I’ve spent 48 hours of my life in labor, but didn’t feel I needed any pain medications.” Of course, both births ended up with c-sections, but there was no brag that I didn’t need any medication after those surgeries. Pass the pain medication please!
There is a common sentiment that one is better or stronger for not taking any medications. We value independence and autonomy. Needing help of any kind, even to ease severe pain, is not something we like to admit. There is a stigma attached to this. With neurobiological disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, this is especially true.
When I was in 5th grade, we spent one semester in gym class trying to climb a huge rope that hung from the ceiling. Touching the ceiling meant you got an “A”, making it three-quarters of the way up got you a “B”, making it half-way got you a “C”, and wrapping your arms and legs around the rope and hanging on for dear life for 30 seconds meant you squeaked by with a “D”. Touching the mat before that 30 seconds was up was instant failure.
Being the puny bookish type that preferred frequenting Star Trek conventions, I did not have a prayer of ever reaching the top of that rope. What fifth-grader lifts weights, after all? My natural abilities earned me a “D”, and just barely.
If I had had help, say, a small cherry-picker, a ladder, or a human pyramid of cheerleaders, I could have reached the top. I probably could have somewhat improved my natural abilities through weight-lifting and practice, but doubt I could ever reach the top without a major intervention.
If it’s unfair to do this to kids, why do we do this as adults? Don’t we all deserve an “A” in Life?
This is why I felt so bad, once I noticed I was starting to brag about not needing pain relief. For all I knew, the person I was talking to could have secretly had a health condition that required lifelong daily medication to control. Maybe they were undergoing cancer treatment and needed nausea medications to live through the side effects of treatment. Was I inadvertently reinforcing the stigma of needing medication and, in essence, shaming them for something they could not control?
The really absurd thing, though, is that I have chronic autoimmune disease that requires daily medication to be the best wife/mother/employee that I can be, unencumbered by excessive pain.
I really ought to have known better than to utter such words. As a behavioral health nurse, I have spent a lot of time working against the stigma of taking daily medications. Our thoughts, our emotions, and our relationships with others are right at the core of our beings. It can be deeply uncomfortable to admit to anyone we need a hand up to reach our fullest potential.
Stigmatizing thoughts almost always begin with “You are good, if…” Isn’t it time, then, that we stop bragging about how strong we are if we do without, and start bragging about how strong we are, period. No qualifiers needed.