A Guide to Preserving the Relationship While Caring for a Spouse

happy-affectionate-senior-couple

Caring for a chronically ill spouse can change routines and expectations, so good communication and support are essential.

If you are in a successful, long-lasting relationship, you recognize that it requires commitment, compromise, and sacrifice. The happiest relationships are the ones where both parties selflessly take care of each other. This balance shifts, however, if the person you love encounters a serious health concern. And this shift into the role of care provider can have a devastating effect on the dynamics of your relationship if you’re not careful.

Naturally, you want to do whatever you can to help when caring for a spouse. Nonetheless, it is important to ensure you’re not losing your romantic connection along the way. Trying to parent your spouse can cause resentment – for both of you. To keep healthy boundaries, keep the following at heart:

  • Enable your partner to remain as independent as possible. While you undoubtedly have the best of intentions in wanting to help, it is easy to cross the line into more of a parenting role, which can damage a person’s self-esteem. Plan extra time, incorporate adaptive tools, and step back whenever you can to permit him/her to do whatever they can on their own.
  • Convey your love for your partner in ways that have nothing in connection with the care you are providing. Write love letters, provide small, thoughtful gifts, tell the person just how much you admire specific qualities in them.
  • Have an open, honest conversation about how the health changes are affecting you. Brainstorm approaches to find a new normal that will be fulfilling for each of you, and realign new, attainable goals and dreams together.
  • Be deliberate in creating opportunities to focus on your relationship apart from the injury or illness. Continue to participate in the activities and conversations you enjoyed together before the health issue arose, adapting along the way if needed.

If all of this seems easier said than done, there are some specific steps you can take to make sure you’re maintaining appropriate boundaries in your role as caregiver for your partner:

  • Place some favorite memorabilia or photos from prior vacations you’ve taken together in areas where you’ll see them frequently, to remind each of you of the happy times you’ve shared together.
  • Offer hugs, hold hands, give a back rub or shoulder massage, etc. to stay in close physical contact apart from touch that is a required component of care.
  • Keep an active social network, both as a couple and individually. The activities you participate in with relatives and friends may need to be modified, but should never be eliminated altogether.
  • Focus on resolving any conflicts in a healthy way, bringing in a professional counselor for help if required.

An at-home caregiver is a perfect solution to make sure your partner has all the help and support needed, enabling you to focus on spending quality time together as a couple. Contact the care professionals at Generations at Home at 727-940-3414 to learn more about our respite care in Clearwater and the surrounding areas.

Technology for Older Adults that Makes Living at Home Easier and Safer

senior lady and adult daughter looking at tablet“You are always free to choose what you do with your life. To make changes in your future, make new choices today.” – Brian Tracy

Selecting where to live in our older age is not straight forward. Nearly all seniors would rather remain at home for a lifetime, however it is not without concerns. Can it be safe? How about mobility issues or any other physical limitations? What happens if an older adult falls and cannot get up?

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of solutions that make aging in place feasible for seniors. Technology, for instance, is constantly evolving and developing, offering answers to the difficulties that may surface as we get older. Just look at some of these tech devices and how they are improving life at home for older adults!

Remote Patient Monitoring

Remote patient monitoring connects individuals with their physicians in innovative ways: wearable devices to trace vital signs, smart pill bottles with sensors, bio-ingestible capsules older adults can swallow, even electronic tattoos that can assess the progression of pneumonia. It’s a step above telehealth appointments, delivering more comprehensive data on a person’s medical condition than can be determined via a video chat.

Home Safety

Smart devices provide peace of mind to an older adult who lives alone – and to the family members who love them. Older adults can select from individual products that meet a particular need, for example, a smart door lock, doorbell, or fire alarm, or entire smart security packages for all of these features and much more.

Additionally, a smart speaker system such as Amazon Echo or Google Nest Audio operates by voice command, an essential feature to a home technology system. The senior can simply say what they need, for example, calling for help, and technology takes care of it.

Whole Home Automation

For people who want to jump into technology with both feet, a central control system will allow for a variety of functions to be executed at the touch of a tablet or smartphone, for example, lights, security cameras, sensors, window shades, thermostat, music, Wi-Fi, and so much more.

Michael Miller, author of My Smart Home for Seniors, sums up the many benefits of technology for seniors: “Technology helps all homeowners, but especially seniors, by automating things that are a pain or difficult to do.”

Of course, a human touch is always necessary for safe and independent living at home, in spite of how many tech tools we utilize! Reach out to Generations at Home at 727-940-3414 for customized in-home care support that will help seniors truly thrive.

Effective Strategies to Advocate for Aging Parents

Advocate for Aging ParentsTrusting someone you love to be cared for by someone else is never easy, especially for a senior family member. Whether at home or in a facility, you’ll have questions that need to be answered. You’ll also want to be prepared to advocate for your loved one to proactively manage any potential problems and also to immediately resolve issues that come up.

For example, review the following common situations and how to most effectively advocate for aging parents and loved ones:

  • You live far away. Thanks to technology, it is easier than ever to stay close to a long-distance relative and to keep a finger on the pulse of how things are going. Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype with the senior regularly to check in. If a family portal is available for the care provider and family members to share notes and comments, make the most of this communication tool. And in case you are unable to visit in person, ask a friend or other member of the family who lives close by to drop in routinely.
  • Your loved one has dementia. A loved one with dementia might not be able to effectively communicate their wishes and needs. For example, a new caregiver may not realize that Dad wears inserts in his shoes and she may put his shoes on each morning without them. Dad may not know how to express this need or could have forgotten about this need and start to become uncomfortable that day. Or he might act out because he is experiencing related discomfort, which may result in other issues. As the older adult’s voice, make certain to share even the seemingly small details about the person’s preferences with the care provider to ensure transitions are a smooth experience for all.
  • You’re concerned about challenging behaviors. In the event the older adult is susceptible to wandering, aggression, angry outbursts, hoarding, or any one of a variety of other difficult behaviors, you might feel embarrassed or ashamed. Though some may prefer not to discuss the issue, it is better to share this openly with the care provider. More likely than not, they have knowledge about effectively working with an array of personalities and personal nuances, and will be able to incorporate strategies that will work most effectively together with your loved one.

Generations at Home partners with families, working together to ensure the highest quality of care and independent living for seniors, through customized services such as:

  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Companionship for enjoyable activities and conversations
  • Running errands
  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • Personal care for safe baths/showers, getting dressed, etc.
  • Transportation and accompaniment
  • And much more

Contact us at 727-940-3414 for a complimentary in-home consultation and learn more about options for senior care in St. Petersburg and surrounding areas. Please allow us to get to know one another and to develop a care plan to best meet the needs of a senior you love.

Four Great Social Activities for Seniors

Elderly women enjoying fun activities outsideIf you’ve ever watched kids at the playground, you know how effortlessly friendships are formed. A small group may be playing tag, and a newcomer dashes over with a breathless, “Can I play?” More often than not, the response is a resounding, “Sure!” and voila – instant friends.

If only it were that easy as adults! Friendships provide us with a wealth of benefits, and are especially important for seniors now following COVID-related isolation requirements. So how can you help the older adults you love boost socialization and make some new friends? Short of jumping into a pick-up game of tag, try these tips:

  • Join a club. Brainstorm topics of interest with your loved one: reading, knitting, gardening, fishing, sports. Then search online for groups in your area that meet to enjoy those activities together. The local senior center may be a great resource as well. If you can’t find an already-established group, consider starting one of your own!
  • Take a class. Community colleges often offer reduced-cost (or no-cost) classes for seniors. Browse through an online list of courses to find one or more that spark the senior’s curiosity and sign up. Don’t forget to check out physical fitness classes too! A variety of exercise programs geared specifically to older adults can be found at the local gym or YMCA.
  • Attend religious services. Many seniors stayed away from religious services during the pandemic. As it becomes safer to venture out, religious organizations are a great way to both build faith and friendships, often offering weekday programs and study groups in addition to worship services.
  • Get involved virtually. There are countless opportunities to meet others remotely – even more so since the pandemic caused us to think outside of the box. From online games to yoga to learning new languages, whatever the interest, there’s likely a virtual version available!

Once engaging in new activities such as these, it can still be challenging to know how to bridge the gap from an acquaintance to a friend. Help the senior remember that more than likely, everyone else in the room is feeling the same trepidation and self-consciousness to some degree. With those playground children in mind, encourage the senior to make the first move to start a friendly, welcoming conversation. Sometimes all it takes is one person brave enough to break the ice to kick off a lifelong friendship!

Our caregiving companions are great friends for seniors too! We carefully match each person with a caregiver who shares a similar personality type and interests, leading to a fast and strong bond between the two. Contact us online or call us at 727-940-3414 for a free in-home consultation to learn more!

The Keys to Happy & Healthy Aging

It has taken nearly 80 years and a variety of research studies to produce the result: a good genetic makeup and wealth really have very little to do with our degree of joy. The Harvard Study of Adult Development launched in 1938, looking into the lives of high-profile participants such as Ben Bradlee and John F. Kennedy. Over the years, it has been expanded to add inner-city residents along with offspring from the original Harvard elite, and the outcomes were unexpected, to say the least.

It was established that the most effective predictors of a long and happy life were not genetics, IQ, finances, fame, or social class but quite simply close relationships. Robert Waldinger, director of the research study and a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital as well as a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, shares, “The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.” 

Psychiatrist George Vaillant, who spearheaded the study from 1972 until 2004, shared in his book “Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development,” the factors that forecast healthy aging:

  •     The absence of smoking and alcohol abuse
  •     Physical activity
  •     Mature mechanisms in place to manage difficulties in life
  •     Sustaining a healthy weight
  •     Having a stable marriage

In a nutshell, self-care is crucial for senior health – both mentally and physically – and devoting time and effort to making your relationships the best they can be most certainly falls under that umbrella as well. As a matter of fact, subsequent scientific studies have uncovered that the satisfaction level men and women experience in their relationships is an even better determinant of what their physical health is likely to be later in life than physical factors like cholesterol levels. 

The research also upended prior thinking that our personalities are set in stone by age 30. Many people who encountered difficulties in their early adult years enjoyed fulfilling later years, while others excelled early in life but ran into challenges in later years because of mental health issues and alcoholism. 

The research study is ongoing, looking into its third and fourth generations, as researchers believe there is still more to understand, such as how to better regulate stress and whether a hard childhood makes a difference in middle age and later years.

Let Generations at Home’s compassionate caregivers help instill joy in an older adult’s life; reach out to us today! Our caregivers serve as friendly companions to engage in exercise, conversations, and enjoyable activities together, cultivating socialization and additional relational connections. You can reach us 24/7 at 727-940-3414 to arrange a complimentary in-home consultation to learn more.

The One Phrase to Avoid When Caring for Elderly Parents

daughter talking to elderly parentAs our parents age, it’s not necessarily simple to know exactly what our role as adult children must be. We’d like what is best for them, but if we’re not cautious, we’ll overstep our boundaries and find ourselves attempting to parent our parents.

This is also true when safety is a concern. There’s a thin line to walk between ensuring senior parents are safe, and supporting the independence they want and deserve. All things considered, it was not all that long ago when our parents were meeting not merely all their own needs, but ours as well. The change from care provider to care recipient can be frustrating and painful for seniors.

With this thought, there are a number of elements of independent life that a senior may now be lacking. And if we aren’t careful in how we approach these losses, it may lead to arguments, hurt feelings, and fractured relationships.

For example, one part of senior independence that’s often jeopardized is in others stepping in to take over tasks that could now be a little more challenging and take a bit longer for an aging adult to perform. Even though intentions are certainly good, it is actually bad for a senior’s self-worth and self-esteem. A much better approach would be to allow extra time, and to only offer assistance when truly necessary.

Yet one of the greatest indicators of freedom is the ability to drive, to go wherever and whenever we please. When driving is no longer safe for an older adult, it’s essential to approach the topic with tact and empathy. Neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez explains that too often, adult children lose patience with their older parents, resulting in hurtful comments that may be truly traumatic.

He recommends avoiding phrases such as, “You’re not allowed to drive anymore!” It is much kinder and more effective to give elderly advice with choices, and to engage them in brainstorming a potential alternative. An example of this could be, “I’m sure it’s getting much harder to be able to see clearly now, which must make it challenging to drive. Let’s talk about some options that will allow you to go wherever you want safely.”

Together, then you can come up with an idea that’s agreeable to everyone. When it comes to choices, take into account that Generations at Home’s caregivers are available any time, day or night, to provide safe transportation and accompaniment for seniors. Our services are available in accordance with each senior’s wishes and timeframe, whether that involves a weekly lunch date with a friend, medical or salon appointments, attending religious services, or simply a Sunday afternoon drive to get out of the house and relish the scenery. Call us at 727-940-3414 for details.

Advice for Becoming a Caregiver for a Family Member

elderly lady having tea with her daughterIt may have come totally without warning: an unexpected fall that led to a fractured hip and the requirement for Dad to have assistance to stay at home. Or, it may have been building up over the years, such as through the slow and incremental progression of Alzheimer’s disease. No matter the circumstances, you have now found yourself becoming a caregiver for a family member, and maybe are wondering what exactly that means and how to navigate these uncharted waters.

First of all, take a deep breath, and a moment to appreciate the selflessness of your decision. Caregiving is an incredibly rewarding undertaking, yet not without its struggles. A bit of proactive planning will go a long way towards an easier transition to care, both for yourself and your loved one. A great starting point is to consider the way you would both like each day to look and to make a simple timeline to record the daily activities and tasks that will need your attention. For instance:

  • 7 a.m.: Help Dad get out of bed, showered, dressed, and ready for the day
  • 8 a.m.: Make breakfast and tidy up
  • 9 a.m.: Take Dad to exercise class and/or physical therapy
  • 11 a.m.: Run errands with (or for) Dad
  • 1 p.m.: Prepare lunch and clean up
  • 2 p.m.: Help Dad get settled set for afternoon activities: a film, reading, puzzles, nap, participating in a well-loved hobby or pastime, etc.
  • 6 p.m.: Make dinner and clean up
  • 8 p.m.: Help Dad with bedtime tasks – a bath, changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, etc.
  • 10 p.m.: Help Dad get into bed

Your list will be different for each day, of course, but this offers a helpful overview to let you know when you could have just a little downtime to yourself, and when you will need to provide hands-on help.

This is also an appropriate time to establish boundaries together – and also to pledge to adhere to them. Again, these will be different for each person as well as on different days, but decide what is essential to each of you: having a specified time every day for self-care and personal time, when family and friends may come to visit, whether or not you want to maintain a job outside of the home, etc.

Recognize that Generations at Home is always here to help while you adjust to your caregiving role with the respite care needed to make certain you are able to take care of yourself, as well – something which is extremely important to both you and the senior in your care. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 for more information about our senior care in St. Petersburg and other nearby areas in Florida.

How to Help Elderly Parents Maintain Dignity and Independence at Home

portrait of senior manIt is simple to get caught up in the day-to-day caregiving tasks required to help elderly parents at home. There’s a great deal to be done, and often it’s just easier and more efficient to do it all on your own, letting the seniors relax. After all, our elders have taken care of everything for a lifetime; don’t they deserve a break?

The truth, however, is that retaining dignity and independence through our later years is particularly necessary to our wellbeing, something that originates from a desire for meaning and purpose in life. Even though ensuring safety is, of course, a primary concern, there are ways to help elderly parents feel empowered and still in control while in your care. For instance:

  • Work together on chores. While standing at the sink and scouring pots and pans might be unsafe or difficult for a senior loved one, perhaps she or he can sit at the table and dry them. The senior might not be in a position to bake a meal from start to finish but can mix ingredients while you reminisce about recipes made over the years. It could take a little consideration; nevertheless, it’s worthwhile to determine methods to alter tasks to incorporate the older adult’s assistance as much as possible.
  • Permit decision-making. Seek out opportunities to ask for the older adult’s wisdom, allowing her or him to remain in control. As opposed to assuming he or she will want a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, ask. Before automatically accompanying a loved one to the doctor’s office for an exam, ask if she or he would like you there. Having a say in even the smallest of decisions can make a major difference in self-esteem.
  • Ensure safety with respect. Safety is, certainly, paramount, but there are ways to make sure a senior loved one stays safe without overstepping boundaries. Medical alert systems, for instance, are a great way to encourage independence in older adults while providing them with the means to call easily for help when needed.
  • Hire professional in-home caregivers. Some older adults resist the thought of their adult children helping them with personal care needs, such as using the toilet or taking a bath. A professional agency caregiver, who is trained and experienced in helping seniors maintain dignity while staying safe, is often a more agreeable solution.

Reach out to our aging care team at Generations at Home to learn more about our trusted home care services and other care tips on how to help elderly parents age at home, always provided with the respect and attention to the dignity older adults deserve. We are available for as little as a few hours each week up through and including 24/7 care. Call us at 727-940-3414 or fill out our online contact form to learn more about our home care in Indian Shores and other surrounding areas in Florida.

Helping to Alleviate Holiday Senior Depression

sad senior woman sitting on couch

Although this season is typically viewed as the season of joy, for many, holiday senior depression is real and brings with it a period of deep despair. Yearning for holidays past, sadness over the loss of close friends and family, and difficult changes to health can magnify throughout the holiday season, and it’s essential to take steps to help senior loved ones prevent the downward fall into depression.

Start with asking yourself these three questions if a senior you love is feeling blue this holiday season.

  1. Might it be regular nostalgia? Wistful feelings of nostalgia, remembering pre-pandemic holiday celebrations and get-togethers, are normal for all of us. Determine if the older adult’s sadness is lifted following a journey down memory lane, or if it lingers no matter what the topic of conversation is.
  2. Is health affected? If your loved one is struggling to sustain a balanced and healthy diet, has difficulty with staying or falling asleep during the night, is losing weight, and/or is feeling fatigued, these could all be indications of depression.
  3. Is the senior disengaged? Look for a lack of interest in formerly-enjoyed activities, diminished motivation, trouble with concentration and focus, and/or the inability to sit still without fidgeting, as these can also be common in depression.

Lara Honos-Webb, clinical psychologist and author of “Listening to Depression: How Understanding Your Pain Can Heal Your Life,” compares the difference between depression and sadness to colors. “A person is blue if they have deep, colorful emotions in response to loss in life. Depression is more like the color black – there [are] no subtle colors to the emotion but stark pain.”

It is essential to seek medical assistance if depression is suspected – and even if you’re uncertain – as effective treatment is readily available and necessary, and early detection and treatment are key. Also, there are a number of steps members of the family can take to support a loved one with depression:

  • Create a list of the senior’s interests, and set a schedule to take part in one or more of them together.
  • Encourage your loved one to exercise along with you, including getting outside for walks in nature.
  • Turn on some of the senior’s favorite music, or if the senior plays an instrument, request that she or he play some songs for you.
  • Remain positive yourself, providing affirmations of your love, as well as the many small but wonderful gifts each new day brings.
  • Most importantly, just be there, whatever the older adult’s mood. At times, just sitting together quietly may make a world of difference in how someone feels.

Connect with the St. Petersburg senior care experts at Generations at Home for more tips and resources in order to help enhance health and wellness for older adults, and for high quality in-home care which makes every single day the very best it can be.

Why There is Chronic Dehydration in Seniors and How You Can Help

Senior woman at home drinking hot drink and smilingDid you know…almost 50% of all older adults are chronically under-hydrated, as reported by a recent scientific study conducted at UCLA? Not just that, but older adults over age 65 represent the highest category of hospital admissions due to dehydration.

Dehydration can rapidly sneak up on seniors, who often have a lessened sensation of thirst, who may experience medication side effects that cause hydration problems, or who incorrectly think that drinking less will lessen incontinence issues.

Senior dehydration can be very unsafe, raising the risk for health issues such as:

  • UTIs
  • Kidney stones and/or failure
  • Blood clots
  • Seizures
  • Hypovolemic shock
  • And many others

Dehydration can be identified according to the following symptoms:

First stages:

  • Decreased amount/darker-colored urine
  • Dry mouth
  • Feelings of weakness, dizziness, and/or tiredness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Irritation

Advanced stages:

  • Confusion and disorientation, such as problems with walking
  • Low blood pressure and weakened, faster pulse and breathing
  • Stomach bloating
  • Sunken, dry eyes
  • Skin that is wrinkled without having any elasticity
  • Worsened muscle cramps and contractions, and/or convulsions

While we frequently pay more attention to hydration once the temperature is elevated, it’s essential for older adults to drink sufficient fluids all year long. A simple formula to ascertain just how much, on average, an older adult ought to drink every day is to divide the older adult’s body weight by three, and have him or her consume that many ounces of water. For example, if an older adult weighs 180 pounds, she or he would require a minimum of 60 ounces of water each day.

Try these tips to ensure the older adults you love stay healthy and hydrated:

  • Plain water is the best, but consider other types of fluids, such as soup, juice, fruits, and vegetables. That said, try to avoid sugary and caffeinated beverages.
  • Place bottled water, or a small pitcher of ice water and a cup, close to the senior to encourage him or her to sip on it during the day.
  • Test different temperatures. Perhaps a warmed cup of water would be more comforting than an icy one. You may even try warming up juice as well as other beverages to determine if they’re more appealing, or offer popsicles.

The experienced in-home caregivers at Generations at Home are adept in imaginative ways to help older adults stay hydrated, and in monitoring fluid intake to make sure adequate fluids are consumed each day. Contact us at 727-940-3414 to understand exactly how we can help enhance the health of older adults throughout St. Petersburg, FL, right in the convenience and familiarity of home.