Help Calm Agitation for a Senior with Alzheimer’s Disease with These 5 Steps

happy senior woman with dogAgitation is among the more difficult results of dementia, and can be exceedingly complex for family members to handle. The key is in taking steps to address agitation before it’s felt and conveyed by the older adult, which involves keeping an eye on what has initiated these feelings in the past, and establishing a home environment in which those triggers are removed or minimized. The following tips can help:

  1. Designate an area of retreat. When life begins to get overwhelming, having a specially created area for the senior to go to de-stress often works wonders in restoring calm. This can be a designated room, or merely a comfortable corner with numerous calming activities readily available, quiet music, a relaxing scent to enjoy like lavender or vanilla – whatever delivers peace and relaxation for the older adult.
  2. Evaluate the home for upsetting items. Look closely at exactly what your senior loved one is easily agitated by, such as specific decorations, mirrors (that could give the illusion of somebody else watching), window coverings that may not sufficiently filter out the darkening evening sky (prompting sundowning issues), etc.
  3. Minimize noise along with other distractions. Soft carpeting is frequently more soothing for those with dementia than harder floor materials that could reverberate or accentuate the noise of footsteps. Keep the television or radio at a reasonable volume, and set to a station that plays soft music as opposed to alarming, graphic news presentations. Close windows if outside noises seem to trigger discomfort.
  4. Change lighting. Make sure that each room the senior may enter is well lit, with natural light whenever feasible, or higher wattage lightbulbs, very carefully adjusting to remove any abnormal shapes or shadows created by the light.
  5. Keep commonly used items easily accessible. Whatever the older adult has a tendency to want to utilize or hold regularly ought to be put into a prominent location where he or she can find it quickly. Placing labels with words or pictures of what the senior may want to locate in cabinets or the refrigerator is also a great way to help prevent aggravation.

Let Generations at Home’s experienced dementia caregivers help preserve the most calming and peaceful environment for a senior you love, and provide the skilled, innovative, compassionate care that makes life the very best it can be. Some of the many ways we are able to improve life for those with dementia include:

  • Specifically created activities based on a senior’s particular interests and abilities
  • Companionship in order to help seniors stay socially engaged
  • Evening respite care, allowing family caregivers the chance for a restful night when a cherished older adult is challenged by sundowning
  • And a lot more

Give us a call at 727-940-3414 to ask about an in-home consultation and learn more about our top-quality dementia care for seniors today!

Caring for a Senior Loved One: Strategies for a Successful Family Caregiver Meeting

Therapist in group meeting“It takes a village” was never a more accurate statement than when caring for a senior loved one. It’s very important for that “village” to have ongoing communication to be certain that everyone involved in care is on the same page. It’s also essential for family caregivers to have the chance to express concerns and to come together to get to resolutions, to express different perspectives, and also to continue to be proactive in preparing for the future.

Holding family meetings that produce positive results includes thinking through the following:

  • Who must always be included – and who should not? Certainly, those providing direct or indirect care for the older adult should attend, as well as any other individuals with a vested interest in the older adult’s health and wellbeing. Nevertheless, also take into account that while each meeting ought to include the integral members of the senior’s care team, there could be chances to include others as well, depending on the meeting’s agenda. And in case you worry that emotions may run high, it could be exceedingly useful to enlist the assistance of an objective, trustworthy mediator.
  • Must the older loved one take part in the meeting? There’s no blanket answer to cover all situations, but be cautious about whether the conversation could cause your loved one to feel guilty or uncomfortable, or whether he or she may have useful insight to share. Oftentimes, family members have the ability to open up and share more honestly when meetings take place without the older adult present.
  • What’s your agenda? Figure out the specific issues to be discussed, getting feedback from attendees, and then provide the agenda to everyone. Agree to stick to the things listed, and to shelve any other topics (aside from emergencies) until the following meeting.
  • Where should you meet? Technology provides a great venue for hosting meetings for family spread out by geographic location, but for in-person meetings, it is very important to select a location that will be clear of distractions, and that will be most comfortable for everybody. Often a neutral location, such as a library meeting room or local restaurant, is most effective.
  • Have you set boundaries? Think about rules that everyone can agree on before meeting, for instance abstaining from judging each other, listening with an open mind, and promising to maintain a tone of respect all through the meeting. As the meeting progresses, make notes, and go over the notes together at the end of the conversation so that everyone is in agreement on choices and commitments made.

The professional care team at Generations at Home in St. Petersburg, FL is available to attend and facilitate family meetings for our clients, and to present solutions to concerns raised. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 any time for assistance!

Why Nonverbal Communication for Alzheimer’s Patients is Often Better Than Words

Senior woman spending quality time with her daughter

When communicating with a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it is helpful to use a range of nonverbal communication methods.

Connecting with a cherished older adult struggling with Alzheimer’s, especially in the middle and later stages, is often discouraging – both for you and also for your loved one. Brain changes affect the ability to listen, process, and respond appropriately to conversations, and it’s up to us to put into action new methods of communicating to more effectively interact with a senior loved one with dementia.

What’s promising is, it is easier than it may look. We already communicate nonverbally in a variety of ways:

  • Physical contact
  • Posture and body movement
  • Eye contact
  • Facial expressions
  • Gestures
  • Personal space

Take a look at these techniques to include nonverbal communication in your interactions with a senior loved one:

  • Offer support through caring touch. If your family member is comfortable with touch, hold and pat the senior’s hand, rub the senior’s back, place an arm around his or her shoulders, and share warm hugs.
  • Look the person in the eye. Eye contact expresses interest in the senior, even when no words are spoken.
  • Recognize personal boundaries. Refrain from overwhelming the person by allowing adequate personal space, and making sure you are at the same level as the person, never towering over the senior. Your face should be at eye level.
  • Always keep a relaxed, patient and confident attitude. Quash any anger, annoyance or impatience, and focus on maintaining a peaceful and pleasant look on your face when communicating with your loved one. If this proves to be problematic because of challenging behaviors, step away briefly and practice deep breathing or other relaxation strategies, such as:
    • Square breathing: Use a finger to draw the shape of a square in front of you. When tracing the first side, breathe in deeply for a count of three; for the next side, hold your breath for one second; for the third side, breathe out for a count of three; and for the fourth side, hold your breath for one second. Do it again as necessary.
    • Relaxing phrase repetition: A couple of examples to get you started: This will pass, and everything is ok. I can handle this. I am secure and well.
    • Distracted thinking: Practice concentrated refocusing. Try saying the alphabet backwards, stating as many state capitals as you can, or singing the words to a popular song.

Learn more creative methods of effective Alzheimer’s care by getting in touch with Generations at Home. Our care providers are specially trained in the most current Alzheimer’s care techniques, and we’re always available to assist a family member with dementia to remain safe and calm, and to enjoy life to his/her greatest possible potential. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 at any time for assistance.

A New Approach to Chronic Condition Care: Let the Patient Take Control

Senior female patient discusses concerns about her medication with an unrecognizable home healthcare nurse.

Generations at Home knows what’s most important for chronic disease care.

When it comes to chronic diseases, older adults are the experts, hands down, with as many as three out of four seniors impacted by multiple conditions that are ongoing, require extensive medical treatment, and place limitations on activities. With the never-ending barrage of bloodwork and other tests, doctors’ appointments and procedures, and medications, managing chronic diseases can take both a physical and emotional toll, and can quickly become overwhelming.

Dr. Mary Tinetti, chief of geriatrics and internist at Yale School of Medicine, explains, “Once you get three, four, or five and six diseases, several things happen: Number one, almost guaranteed, trying to get one of these diseases under control is going to make one of the other diseases worse. Number two: The more we ask people to do, the more overwhelmed they get and the less they are likely to do.”

For these reasons, Dr. Tinetti has developed the Patient Priorities Care approach, with the goal to reduce the burden of treatment by empowering patients to voice their personal health care goals – identifying what matters most to them. A plan of care is then developed to best meet those goals. For instance, one person’s goal may be to improve quality of life in the short-term, while another person may seek to increase longevity of life. It also takes into consideration activities the person enjoys and how to find a way for him or her to continue to engage in them.

The Patient Priorities Care method builds upon the Minimally Disruptive Medicine strategy developed a decade ago, which also seeks to relieve the burden of chronic condition treatment, but which did not include the key aspect of including input from patients to understand what means the most to them.

Ultimately, what many older adults determine is that they want to minimize “unwanted care,” which they believe to require more trouble than the benefit they will receive, such as with diagnostic tests and procedures. To that end, seniors and their families can utilize these helpful resources for more effective, self-directed care, including a conversation guide, summary of health priorities, and more.

At Generations at Home, we’re fully committed to learning what is most important to the seniors in our care, and to providing the level of care that helps them to thrive and achieve their goals. It’s why our care is highly personalized, and always begins with learning as much as possible about each individual and what his or her goals entail – and then developing a plan of care to help achieve those goals. Call us at 727-940-3414 to learn more.

St. Petersburg, FL Home Care: Top Ways to Avoid Caregiving Injuries

Nursing home – home caregiver helping an elderly man out of bed

Avoid caregiving injuries with Generations at Home’s expert services.

While the ultimate goal is to improve health and safety for the seniors they love, family caregivers, unfortunately, often end up compromising their own in the process. In fact, an astounding 94% of caregivers in a recent study conducted by Ohio State University reported musculoskeletal pain in at least one part of their body – and 66% reported this pain impacting their quality of life.

And know that a “caregiver” can represent anyone in the family who assists another person with daily activities. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, this means that 34 million Americans are at risk of becoming injured through the care they provide.

At Generations at Home, we know firsthand the degree of lifting, bending, and weight-bearing required in meeting the care needs of an older adult, which is why each of our professional caregivers is trained in techniques that safeguard both themselves and the seniors in their care. Injuries can result from even the simplest of tasks that require more physical strength than you may realize: shopping and running errands, cleaning the home, performing laundry chores, even cooking.

To help family caregivers reduce the risk of injury, we offer the following recommendations:

  • Let assistive devices do the lifting. For older adults with mobility issues, transfers, such as from bed to chair, represent one of the most common causes of injury to those caring for them. Not only that, but the risk of the senior falling and obtaining an injury are heightened. Caregivers should look into equipment such as a Hoyer lift to assist with safe transfers (but note that proper training will be required).
  • Exercise safe movement practices. We’ve all heard the adage, “Lift with your legs, not with your back,” but before lifting a finger, caregivers should take a quick assessment of their own physical status. If any pain is felt in any of the joints or back, it’s a sign that the body has been pushed beyond its capacity – and an alternative means of assisting the senior should be explored.
  • Seek help. The best way to avoid injury in caregiving is by knowing your limitations, and calling in professionals when warranted. The caregiving team at Generations at Home is fully experienced and adept in providing a full range of senior care assistance, allowing family members and seniors alike to remain safe and well.

Contact us at 727-940-3414 to request a free in-home consultation. We can perform a safety assessment of the home, provide resources to help in your caregiving journey, and offer the highly customized, expert in-home care services that allow families the opportunity to simply enjoy quality time with the seniors they love.

The Surprising New Recommendations Related to Low Blood Sugar and Senior Diabetics

Senior Couple Enjoying Meal At Home Passing Food Smiling

The latest recommendations from the Endocrine Society regarding the elderly and diabetes are surprising, to say the least: lower blood sugar isn’t always best. And for those who’ve been maintaining a regimen of finger pricks, insulin injections, and careful monitoring of food intake, this change of course may be a bit hard to swallow.

Known as de-intensification, geriatricians are now often taking the approach with older adults that the benefits to be gained by striving for strict blood sugar control aren’t outweighing the health risks inherent with aging and illness. When A1c and glucose levels are kept at very low levels in the elderly, for instance, it can lead to an increased frequency of hypoglycemia and even kidney failure.

With as many as one in three seniors currently diagnosed with diabetes, these new guidelines are poised to have a staggering impact on the treatment and management of the disease for older adults, requiring a shift in mindset for many.

And not surprisingly, many older diabetics are reluctant to embrace this change. In one patient’s words to Dr. Pei Chen, a geriatrician at the geriatric clinic at the University of California, San Francisco, “I’ve been doing this for 25 years. You don’t need to tell me what to do. I can handle it.”

The new guidelines recommend an increase in A1c from 7 to 7.5% for older adults who are in good health; and up to 8 – 8.5% for those with dementia, multiple chronic illnesses, or poor health. It’s important to note, however, that recommendations are highly individualized based on a variety of factors, and that at no time should high blood sugar be ignored in the elderly.

Generations at Home can help older adults adhere to doctors’ recommendations to manage diabetes and a variety of other conditions with professional, customized, in-home care services for seniors. Just a few of the many ways we can help include:

  • Grocery shopping to ensure the senior has plenty of healthy food options readily available
  • Meal planning and preparation in adherence to any prescribed dietary plans
  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, tests, and procedures
  • Encouragement to engage in doctor-approved exercise programs
  • Medication reminders to ensure prescriptions are taken at the proper time and in the correct dose
  • And more!

Contact us online or at 727-940-3414 to request a free in-home assessment and discover a healthier lifestyle for a senior you love.

How to Keep Motivating Seniors from Crossing the Line to Bullying

Married couple argumentAs a family caregiver, you no doubt encounter a range of emotions throughout the day: shared laughter over a joke with your loved one; worry over a health concern; and certainly, from time to time, frustrations. We want only the best for those we love, and when an older adult is resistant to doing something we know is best, it can be challenging to determine the most appropriate response.

The key is to offer motivation and encouragement, while being careful not to cross the line into bullying the senior. These tips are good to keep in mind:

  • There’s no one-size-fits-all. An approach that works on one occasion may be completely ineffective in another. If the senior refuses to take a bath, for instance, you may simply want to let the matter slide and try again tomorrow. Or, maybe reframing bath time into a soothing spa activity will hold more appeal. Incorporating humor may work well one day, while using a gentler, softer tone of voice may be the solution on another. Having a variety of strategies at the ready can help reduce frustration for both of you.
  • Empower the senior to remain in control. Have a heart-to-heart conversation with the senior during a calm, peaceful moment to solicit feedback on how the caregiving relationship is going, and what he or she would like to see changed. It’s important to then take to heart the older adult’s feedback and incorporate it into your caregiving approach.
  • Be mindful of incremental bullying. While we certainly would never set out to bully a loved one into compliance, it’s possible to gradually progress from encouragement and motivation into pushiness and forcefulness without realizing it. Take an honest look at your tendencies in communicating with your loved one, and then take steps to improve upon them if needed.
  • Remember the overarching priority. Above and beyond the many tasks required in providing care for a senior loved one, maintaining a healthy, positive and fulfilling relationship with each other is paramount. If you find that the frustrations of providing care are outweighing the benefits for either of you at any time, there’s always the possibility of exploring alternate care options, allowing you to place your focus on spending quality time together with the senior you love.

Generations at Home is the perfect partner for family caregivers. Our caregiving staff are fully trained and experienced in the many facets of senior home care, and can provide the assistance family members need to maintain healthy relationships with those they love. Contact us online or call 727-940-3414 and request an in-home consultation to discover the difference respite care can make in both a senior’s quality of life and yours.

Don’t Spiral Downward: Daily Steps to Increase Positivity in the Life of a Caregiver

Woman relaxing at the beach

Learn practical daily habits to implement that can help reduce caregiving stress and provide a positive outlook.

Our facial expressions expose so much to people around us, and if you are encountering an abnormal degree of stress, well-meaning family members will surely pick up on it, possibly encouraging you to essentially, “Cheer up, buttercup!” The truth is, of course, it will require a lot more than a couple of words to turn our mood around.

However, new research does support the idea of positive thinking as a method to eliminate degrees of depression and anxiety that may develop when we are overloaded with stress – something critical for busy family caregivers to take to heart to decrease the potential for burnout.

Judith Moskowitz, lead psychologist in the research study who consequently established a program to combat the downward spiral of emotions so common in people providing care for a loved one, says, “We’re not saying don’t be sad or upset about what’s going on. But we know people can experience positive emotions alongside that negative emotion, and that positive emotion can help them cope better.”

The core techniques in her program include the following:

  • Keep a journal of things for which you’re thankful – even the little things.
  • Recognize a minimum of one positive event every day.
  • Talk about this occurrence with friends on social websites.
  • Identify one new milestone each day, and keep an eye on your progress in achieving it.
  • Identify one of your talents and contemplate how you’re applying that strength.
  • Undertake one daily small act of kindness for someone else.
  • Think about a negative event, and then discover a way to see it in an optimistic light.
  • Engage in focused breathing and mindfulness to recover a sense of peace.

For the people providing care for a senior with dementia, the need to concentrate on positives is often even more imperative to overall wellbeing. Family caregivers who participated in a recent 5-week study in which the effectiveness of these coping skills were analyzed reported a decrease in depression scores of 16%, and a decrease in anxiety of 14%.

Together with the ideas above, it is necessary for family caregivers to avoid isolating themselves and trying to manage their caregiving duties alone, which can rapidly lead to caregiver burnout and various other significant health complications. Working with an established in-home care agency, like Generations at Home, is the perfect method for obtaining a healthier life balance – both for family caregivers and the older adults in their care.

Life is stressful, but we’re able to help! Contact Generations at Home at 727-940-3414 for the dependable St. Petersburg home care services that allow you a chance to focus on self-care and high-quality time with those you love.

Tips to Prepare for a Visit with Your Doctor

Senior couple talking with doctor.

When attending a doctor’s appointment, it is best to come prepared by following these recommendations to make the most out of a visit.

On any particular day, a physician likely has somewhere around 20 patients to see – combined with telephone calls, paperwork, and various other administrative responsibilities. It leaves precious little time spent with each patient, which is why it’s imperative to take advantage of that time and ensure you properly comprehend the outcome of each appointment.

At Generations at Home, our caregivers offer transportation and accompaniment for seniors to medical appointments, and suggest the following approach:

  • Don’t be hesitant to ask questions. With such a time crunch, your health care provider may tend to communicate information to you rather quickly, and it’s up to you to hit the pause button to make sure you clearly comprehend everything that is being communicated and to speak up with any questions you might have, regardless of how small or seemingly unimportant you may think they are.
  • And, plan ahead of time for those concerns. It is often challenging to process everything being shared with you within the few minutes spent together with the doctor. Creating a list of concerns beforehand can help guarantee nothing slips through the cracks. Some questions to consider include:
    • What are the long- and short-term outcomes of my condition?
    • What could be the reason behind this condition?
    • Is there a remedy?
    • Where exactly can I find additional resources?
    • Will I require any medical tests?
    • What are the possible adverse reactions from those tests?
    • When will I be given the test results?
    • What treatments are available to help with my health problem?
    • What are the likely side effects of these medications?
    • Are there changes in lifestyle I should think of making?
  • Take excellent notes. Bring along paper and a pen, or use the notes section of your smartphone or tablet, and write down answers to your questions along with any other information the doctor provides. It can be beneficial to have a trusted friend or professional caregiver on hand throughout the appointment in order to make sure everything is understood.
  • Include other medical experts. Don’t forget that although the instructions supplied by the doctor are paramount, other individuals within the senior’s medical team can provide worthwhile insight as well: nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, dieticians, physical therapists, etc. Follow up with these professionals for extra assistance in carrying out the doctor’s instructions if warranted.

At Generations at Home, we are always here to help older adults through medical appointments and procedures in many ways, and to help carry out doctors’ instructions after returning home. We can provide transportation, medication reminders, preparation of meals that are in adherence with any prescribed dietary plan, and lots of other tasks to ensure the best possible health for seniors. Contact us at 727-940-3414 to learn more!

How to Be Happy—Even with Chronic Pain or Illness

senior man playing with his dog

Living a joyful, happy life is possible despite chronic pain.

Have you ever woken up and thought, “It’s going to be one of those days!” Maybe your alarm didn’t go off, the hot water heater decided to quit working, and the dog chewed up one of your favorite shoes overnight. Now imagine if every day were “one of those days!” For a person living with a chronic disease (and that’s the majority of the senior population, daily struggles and challenges can be a given.

Yet there are several steps that older adults can take to discover and maintain a life of joy, even in the face of chronic illness. For instance:

  • Follow passions. Finding purpose and meaning in each day is crucial – and attainable. Many older adults find fulfillment in helping and encouraging others. Others thrive on being lifelong learners. For some it may mean documenting the past for the next generation. Brainstorm ideas until you come upon one that sparks passion, and then make it a reality.
  • Practice positivity. One great way to achieve a more positive outlook on life is by journaling. Encourage your senior loved ones to begin each day by creating a list of everything they’re thankful for that morning, including the seemingly mundane: the smell of fresh coffee brewing, a cat curled up in a sunbeam, an upcoming lunch date with a friend. At the end of each week, sit together and read back through the previous entries for a quick and effective pick-me-up.
  • Avoid negativity. Adding in a measure of positivity as outlined above can naturally lead to reduced negativity, but there are additional steps that can be taken as well. For instance, allow for breaks from activities that induce frustration to allow needed time to de-stress. Place the focus on tackling tasks that can be accomplished successfully, and find an alternate solution for those that are too challenging, such as delegating those tasks to another family member or friend, or engaging the services of a professional.
  • Leave the house. Maintaining as active a lifestyle as possible outside of the home can be so refreshing for older adults. Help your senior loved ones go out for hair appointments, shopping excursions, visits with friends, and other fun outings, as much as they are able. Even simply stepping outdoors and relaxing on the front porch when weather permits can greatly enhance someone’s mood and outlook.

At Generations at Home, it’s our goal to help older adults achieve the highest possible quality of life at all times. Our fully trained and experienced caregivers provide cheerful companionship, engaging activities, transportation, and more. Contact us online or call us at 727-940-3414 and discover the difference our in-home care services can make for your senior loved one!