Posts made in October 2018

Suicide Rates Rising Across the U.S.

USPM is taking this time to share information and resources in an effort to bring awareness to this difficult topic.

Considered one of the biggest public health problems nationwide, suicides have been steadily increasing in nearly every state according to the latest Vital Signs reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2016, approximately 45,000 people ages 10 or older died by suicide. It is the 10th leading cause of death, and one of just three leading causes of death on the rise1. Although suicide affects people of all ages, the majority of cases are occurring in people over 60 years of age.

Suicidal thoughts or behaviors can be both damaging and dangerous and should be considered a psychiatric emergency. Seek immediate assistance from a health or mental health care provider if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Know the Warning Signs

  • Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more obvious and dangerous
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Talking, writing or thinking about death
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior2

Imminent Danger

If you notice any person exhibiting these behaviors, seek immediate care:

  • Putting their affairs in order and giving away their possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Mood shifts from despair to calm
  • Planning, possibly by looking around to buy, steal or borrow the tools they need to complete suicide, such as a firearm or prescription medication2

If you are unsure, contact a licensed mental health professional to help assess the risk.

 Risk Factors for Suicide

Research has found that more than half of people (54%) who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition. Other things may have put a person at risk of suicide, including:

  • A family history of suicide.
  • Substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that worsen suicidal thoughts.
  • More than one in three people who die from suicide are found to be under the influence.
  • Access to firearms.
  • A serious or chronic medical illness.
  • Gender. Men are four times more likely to die by suicide even though more women than men attempt suicide.
  • A history of trauma or abuse.
  • Prolonged stress.
  • Isolation
  • Age. People under age 24 or over age 65 are at a higher risk for suicide.
  • A recent tragedy or loss.
  • Agitation and sleep deprivation2.

Crisis Resources

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255).
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line3.

Suicide prevention is important to address year-round…everyone can help prevent suicide – because all it takes is just one conversation to change a life. #SuicidePrevention #StigmaFree. #moregoodyears

References:

1: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0607-suicide-prevention.html

2: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Related-Conditions/Risk-of-Suicide

3: https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Suicide-Prevention-Awareness-Month

Written by: Sonia Rosemond, USPM Marketing Content Designer

Don’t Let Falls Trip You Up

According to the World Health Organization, falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide1. It is estimated that 646,000 fatal falls occur each year. Adults age 65 and older seem to suffer the greatest numbers of fatal falls. In a study published by The American Medical Directors Association, women over the age of 70 had a greater risk of falling than men2. It is more common for falls to take place in a familiar environment during your regular activities of daily living.

There are many reasons why people fall. Some are environmental, like area rugs or spills on the floor, while others are related to the physical health of the individual3. Physical factors that can lead to falls include:

  • Loss of balance
  • Poor vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Changes in a person’s weight and how it is distributed throughout their body

Additional fall risk factors include:

  • Age- as we age our risks increase
  • Occupation- hazardous working conditions or elevated heights
  • Alcohol or substance use
  • Certain medications can increase risk of falling- such as muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, and some heart medications
  • Underlying medical conditions-such as neurological or other disabling conditions

The good news is we can reduce our risk of falling even as we age. It’s never too early or too late to start. When we think of exercise, typically things like walking or running pop into our mind. Balance exercises are a great way to strengthen your core and prevent future falls. Below are some exercises that can improve your balance:

  • Standing on one leg- try standing on one leg for 10 seconds. Stop and then switch to the other foot. You can do this exercise while washing the dishes or brushing your teeth. Try to get in 10 repetitions.
  • Heel-toe walk­­-­ start by taking 20 steps while keeping your eyes straight ahead. Put your heel in front of your toes as you take a step. Stop and turn around and take another 20 steps in the opposite direction. Repeat the sequence three times.
  • Try tai chi to improve your fitness, agility, and balance.

Remember, by preventing falls you are preserving your independence.

Written by: Jennifer Martin, USPM Director of Health Services

References:

  1. http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/falls
  2. http://www.healthinaging.org/aging-and-health-a-to-z/topic:falls/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3863882/

Tips for Self-Managing Your Health

A chronic illness is one that is ongoing versus an acute illness which doesn’t last very long, typically less than 12 weeks. An example of a chronic illness is diabetes or asthma whereas pneumonia would be an example of an acute illness. Acute illnesses may lead to a chronic condition if left untreated1.

Whether your condition is chronic or acute, it is important that you take care of your body to prevent further illness or complications. Self-management means that you are taking responsibility for your health such as taking your medications as prescribed, monitoring your vital signs such as weight or blood pressure, and making good lifestyle choices like being active and eating a healthy diet. According to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, individuals who do not feel capable of managing their own health are more likely to develop a new chronic disease over a 3-year period when compared to individuals with good self-management skills2.

Your health care provider may make recommendations to help improve or maintain your condition. It’s up to you to follow them when in between your provider visits. Below are a few steps you can take to manage your condition3:

  • Be active- get at least 30 min of physical activity each day.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet: make sure to get the colors of the rainbow, lean proteins and whole grains.
  • Take your medications as prescribed- this includes over-the counter and prescription medications as recommended by your provider.
  • Keep all scheduled provider appointments and new appointments for worsening symptoms.
  • Complete your preventive screenings, exams and immunizations as recommended.
  • Know your condition triggers- avoid activities, environments, or foods that can make you feel worse.
  • Self-monitor your vital signs and blood values- if you are a diabetic or prediabetic it may be important for you to check your glucose in between visits with your provider. It is also important to keep track of your blood pressure, heart rate, and weight at least once a week.

Remember to take control of your health and don’t let your condition take control of you!

Content contributor: Jennifer Martin, USPM Director of Health Services

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/18126.htm
  2. https://www.ajmc.com/newsroom/identifying-patients-health-self-management-skills
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/10-steps-for-coping-with-a-chronic-condition
5 Tips to Reduce Stress This Year

5 Tips to Reduce Stress This Year

Stress is an inevitable part of life. We cannot avoid stress, but we can take steps toward reducing the amount of stress we take on. Not all stress is bad. However, long-term stress can harm your health. It’s important to pay attention to how you deal with minor and major stressful events so that you can address them head on, and know when to seek help. Take practical steps to manage your stress and prevent its effects on your health.

Here are 5 ways you can reduce stress this year.

 

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