Tips for Family Caregivers: Three Benefits of Family Therapy

With a serious look on her face, the teen girl looks at her grandmother during group therapy.There are certain milestones we might encounter in our lives that, while not fundamentally negative, are known stressors. Losing a job. Starting a new job. Getting married. Getting divorced. And one that individuals in the home care industry are particularly mindful of: the mental and physical impact on family members who are caring for aging parents.

A number of conflicting emotions crop up for people in the role of family caregiver, and these are increased when trying to share commitments with siblings or other members of the family. There are past resentments and hurts that may resurface, disputes pertaining to decision-making, in addition to the stress of trying to navigate what feels like a role reversal with a parent who once took care of us.

For these reasons and more, family counseling tends to be a great addition to a family caregiver’s toolbox to ensure the absolute best possible care for aging parents, as well as his/her own physical and mental wellbeing. Listed below are just a few benefits of family therapy as parents age:

  • It provides care for the caregiver. Agreeing to the role of family care provider may be daunting in and of itself, but factor in additional responsibilities, for example, managing a home and caring for children while maintaining a career, and you’ve got a recipe for stress. Family therapy helps caregivers work through challenging emotions and reach resolutions.
  • It offers support through grief. Grief comes in many forms, and quite often begins in the early stages of being a caregiver for aging parents, as family members work through the inherent changes happening now and also to come. When an elderly parent is identified as having Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia, the decrease in cognitive functioning results in yet another degree of grief. A family counselor can assist all members of the family to work through their grief together.
  • It helps the family as a unit. A family therapist is focused on achieving what is most beneficial for the whole family as well as its cohesiveness, through challenges for example, issues connected to inheritance and other financial considerations, medical decisions, and any challenging family dynamics.

If in-person counseling sessions for your family are not practical because of geographic restraints, continued COVID-19 distancing concerns, or any other reason, phone or Zoom sessions can be every bit as beneficial. One of the keys is for involvement to be a top priority for all family members involved, and to make therapy sessions a consistent, routine obligation.

If you need a partner to provide trusted respite care services while you devote the time necessary for family therapy, call us at 727-940-3414. With both a reliable family therapist in addition to the aging care professionals at Generations at Home on your side, your family can deal with caregiving obstacles and enjoy high quality time together.

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.

Dementia Caregiver Tips: How to Handle Shadowing

Granddaughter giving a surprise gift to grandmotherPrimary caregivers for those with dementia are frequently all too familiar with the complications experienced in trying to take a quiet moment or two alone – to use the bathroom, get a quick shower, and even step into another room. Those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can experience enhanced fear when a family member is out of sight – a condition known as shadowing. And the ensuing behaviors can be extremely challenging to manage: crying, meanness and anger, or continuously asking where you are.

It can help to understand the reasoning behind shadowing. You are the older adult’s safe place, the main one who helps make sense of a disorienting and confusing world, so when you’re gone, life can feel frightening and uncertain. And keep in mind that shadowing isn’t a result of anything you have done; it is simply a natural part of the progression of dementia.

Generations at Home offers the following dementia caregiver tips that can help:

  • Expand the senior’s circle of trust. Having another person or two with you while you go through the senior’s daily routines might help him/her begin to trust someone aside from yourself. Slowly, once that trust is in place, the senior will become more at ease when you need to step away, knowing there’s still a lifeline readily available.
  • Record yourself. Make a video of yourself doing laundry or taking care of other day-to-day chores, reading aloud, singing, etc. and try playing it for the senior. This digital substitution may be all that’s needed to provide a feeling of comfort while he or she is apart from you.
  • Take advantage of distractions. Finding a soothing activity for the senior to engage in could be enough of a distraction to permit you a brief time period of respite. Try repetitive tasks, such as sorting silverware or nuts and bolts, folding napkins, filing papers, or anything else that is safe and of interest to the senior.
  • Avoid conflict. Your senior loved one may become combative or angry as a way to express his or her fear of being alone. No matter what he or she may say, it is imperative that you keep from quarreling with or correcting the senior. An appropriate response is to validate the person’s feelings (“I can see you’re feeling upset,”) and redirect the conversation to a more pleasing topic (“Would you like to try a piece of the cake we made earlier?”)
  • Clarify the separation period. Because the sense of time can be lost in individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, telling a senior loved one you’ll just be away for a minute may not mean very much. Try using a common wind-up kitchen timer for brief separations. Set the timer for the amount of time you’ll be away and ask the senior to hold onto it, explaining that when it rings, you’ll be back.

Engaging the services of a highly trained dementia caregiver who understands the nuances of dementia and can put into practice creative techniques such as these can help restore peace to both you and the senior you love. The dementia care professionals at Generations at Home are fully trained and available to fill in whenever you need a helping hand. Give us a call at 727-940-3414 or fill out our online contact form for a free in-home consultation and learn more about how our customized dementia care in Kenneth City and other surrounding areas can help with your particular challenges.

How Creating a Memory Book Can Help a Senior with Dementia

memory book

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss

Memories are the glue that binds together our past with who we are today; and for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease, confusion around these memories may have a deep impact. One of our goals in caring for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is to help them store and share memories in order to make sense of daily life.

Creating a memory book can help a senior with dementia, with photos and short descriptions to refer back to when the older adult has questions relating to his or her identity, loved ones, etc. Memory books are great for responding to repetitive questions and for helping to clear any muddied waters. For instance, if an older adult asks who his brother is, whether she’s married (and to whom), where he used to live, etc., an easy response of, “Let’s go through the memory book,” can be extremely effective – and, can help with redirection as well for a senior experiencing difficult behaviors or emotions.

The book can (and should) be basic and straightforward. Simply pick out a sturdy binder, scrapbook, or photo album and place 1 to 2 photos on each page, with a short description underneath. Include such details as:

  • Close family and friends, including those from the senior’s childhood, if possible
  • The senior’s place of work
  • Milestones and special events
  • Hobbies/interests
  • Pets
  • Previous homes
  • And more

You may also create individual sections for every category, so it will be easier to find a certain image when wanted. For a more elaborate or extensive book, you can make use of the template, identifying which pages you wish to include that’ll be most helpful for your loved one.

For additional creative dementia care tips and resources, call Clearwater home care provider Generations at Home at 727-940-3414. We are also pleased to offer a free in-home assessment to share how we can help with the particular challenges your loved one is facing. Our highly trained, compassionate dementia caregivers can:

  • Encourage socialization
  • Offer creative approaches to manage challenging behaviors
  • Ensure safety in bathing/showering, dressing, etc. in addition to reducing fall risk
  • Provide trusted respite care for family caregivers to take some time for self-care
  • Engage seniors in enjoyable, meaningful activities
  • Assist with preparing meals and clean-up
  • Run errands, such as picking up prescriptions and groceries
  • And so much more

Reach out to our Alzheimer’s care specialists today to discover a higher quality of life for a senior you love.

How to Free Yourself of Caregiver Guilt

woman on beach in windFamily care providers give a great deal of themselves to take care of their loved ones, frequently surrendering their own desires and needs in the process. It may seem natural to assume then that caregivers would feel good about themselves, with high self-esteem and sense of purpose.

However, the opposite is oftentimes true, with many family care providers struggling with feelings of guilt, wishing they had more patience, a remedy for all of their loved ones’ issues, or the power to do everything on their own without the need for assistance. They may have set unrealistic and unattainable standards, which may lead to:

  • Bitterness
  • Feeling trapped
  • Not feeling good enough
  • Wanting to get away
  • Loss of joy in life
  • Elevated stress
  • Missing out on high quality time together with loved ones
  • And much more

If you’re encountering feelings of caregiver guilt, taking these steps can be extremely freeing:

  1. Admit your feelings of guilt as well as the particular cause of it; for instance, “I feel guilty because I became impatient with Mom’s repeated questions.”
  2. Keep a reasonable perspective, knowing that all family caregivers are encountering challenges. We’re all human.
  3. Replace your internal “should have” dialogues with a more favorable slant: “It is challenging to answer the same questions again and again, and I’m doing the very best that I am able to.”
  4. Switch your focus to a positive achievement. Remind yourself of the joke you told that made Mom smile this morning, or how much she enjoyed the dinner you prepared.
  5. Be sure to put aside enough time for calming, enjoyable and gratifying activities: engaging in favorite hobbies and pastimes, journaling, spending time with family, friends and pets, etc.
  6. Adhere to a healthy lifestyle which includes healthy eating, striving for 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night, exercising, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption.
  7. Find a support partner. To be the best family caregiver you can be requires routine, regular breaks from care assistance to take care of yourself.

Call Generations at Home at 727-940-3414 for trusted respite care which enables family caregivers time to destress and unwind, an essential element of effective senior care. We’re available based on your desired schedule and routine, with as little or as much ongoing support as needed, up through around-the-clock care. Keep in mind that taking the best care of yourself allows you to provide the best care assistance for the older adult you love, and we are always available to help!

How to Help Someone with Dementia Who Refuses to Change Clothes

Adult Daughter Helping Senior Man To Button CardiganBeing a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or some other type of dementia requires creativity, patience, and empathy, the ability to step away from your individual reasoning and logic and realize why a certain behavior is occurring, and then to determine how exactly to effectively manage it. That’s certainly the situation with a family member who will not change his or her clothing, regardless of how unkempt or dirty an outfit has become.

There are lots of explanations why a senior with Alzheimer’s disease may insist on wearing the same outfit, including:

  • Memory or judgment problems, such as losing track of time or thinking the clothes were just recently changed
  • The comfort and familiarity of a certain piece of clothing
  • A desire to exert control
  • Problems with the task of changing clothes
  • Feeling stressed by the choices involved with selecting an outfit
  • Fatigue and/or physical pain
  • The inability to detect scent or to clearly see stains on clothes

Our dementia care team has some recommendations for how to help someone with dementia experiencing these challenges:

  1. First of all, do not ever argue or attempt to reason with someone with dementia.
  2. Purchase additional outfits that are the same as the one your loved one insists on wearing.
  3. When the senior is bathing or asleep, take away the soiled clothing from the room and replace with clean items.
  4. Make getting dressed as simple as possible, using only a couple of choices that are uncomplicated to put on and take off, and allowing as much time as needed for dressing.
  5. Offer clothing options in solid colors rather than patterns, which could be confusing, distracting, or visually overstimulating.
  6. Take into consideration any timing issues: is the senior loved one extremely tired and/or upset at a certain period of the day? If so, try incorporating dressing into the time of day when he or she normally feels the most calm and content.
  7. Determine if your own feelings are exacerbating the matter in any respect. For example, is it a matter of embarrassment that’s driving the desire for the senior to dress in a specific way?

Remember that wearing a comfy outfit for an extra day might be preferred over the emotional battle involved in forcing a change of clothing. When it truly becomes a problem, however, call us! Sometimes, an older adult feels more at ease being assisted with personal care needs such as dressing and bathing by a skilled in-home caregiver in place of a family member. Generations at Home’s dementia care experts are skilled and experienced in assisting people who have Alzheimer’s maintain personal hygiene with compassion and kindness, and they are always here to help.

Give us a call at 727-940-3414 for additional helpful tips or to schedule an in-home consultation.

How to Handle False Accusations When Caring for Someone with Dementia

caregiver consoling senior womanIt may come seemingly out of thin air: you put your loved one’s favorite tuna sandwich in front of her – light on the mayo, no onions – something which usually brings her enjoyment. But today, she forces the plate away and refuses to take a bite, insisting that you’ve poisoned the sandwich.

Or, you’ve presented your loved one with a meaningful activity that links her to a significant time in her past career, organizing paperwork. Out of the blue, she accuses you of meddling with the documents in order to steal funds from her banking account.

How can you most successfully diffuse situations such as these, which are resulting from the delusions or hallucinations which can be so frequent in dementia?

  1. Maintain a controlled, gentle, understanding tone. It may be instinctive to become defensive and argue, but recommended replies may include something such as, “I realize that you are feeling frightened, but I won’t let anything bad happen to you. Let’s enjoy this sandwich together,” or, “Oh no, have you lost some money? Your bank is not open at this time, but let’s go there right away tomorrow and get it straightened out.”
  2. Move into a welcomed diversion. After sharing in the older adult’s concern, transition into a pleasurable topic or activity that your loved one enjoys, or move to another area. With regards to the suspected food poisoning, you can engage the senior in going into the kitchen and helping her make a fresh sandwich. If you’ve assured the person that you’ll visit the bank together tomorrow, a walk outside to view the flowers and birds, or playing some favorite music, could help.
  3. Never argue or try to reason. These approaches very often increase agitation in someone with Alzheimer’s. It could take some trial and error to develop the approach that works best, and that approach may have to change from one day to the next. The aim is to stay calm, patient, and empathetic, validating the older adult’s feelings and supplying comfort.

Generations at Home’s care professionals are fully trained and experienced in effective, creative Alzheimer’s care techniques, and can help with managing difficult behaviors and situations, enabling a senior loved one to enjoy a greater quality of life, and providing family caregivers with peace of mind and relief. Call us today at 727-940-3414 to learn more or to request some additional resources which will help you better care for a loved one with dementia.

Resources and Tips for Seniors Living with COPD During COVID-19

treatment at home by inhalationThose diagnosed with COPD have needed to stay especially watchful since the COVID-19 pandemic started, as they are likely at both a much higher risk for contracting the virus as well as for developing more severe complications from it. A recent research study published by the European Respiratory Journal reported that people with COPD were more likely to be admitted to the ICU, require ventilator care, and succumb to the virus compared to those without the disease.

And even though the CDC gives recommendations for all of us, including those diagnosed with COPD to avoid getting the illness, such as frequent handwashing, social distancing, and staying home whenever possible, one advisory is particularly a struggle for an individual with breathing difficulties: wearing a face covering. The American Lung Association suggests that individuals diagnosed with COPD try a number of various kinds of coverings to discover the one that’s most comfortable, and wear the mask around the home for brief amounts of time to become more used to the feeling.

Additional suggestions include:

  • Continue to manage your COPD as recommended by the physician, with modifications to curb your exposure to other people, such as telehealth appointments and mail-order prescriptions.
  • Boost your body’s defense system with a healthy and balanced diet and plenty of rest, and make sure to follow the physician’s recommended treatment plan.
  • Take good care of your emotional health to minimize anxiety and stress. Switch off the news and social media and take part in soothing and gratifying activities instead. And make certain to consult with a mental health professional as needed for help with managing stress and preventing depression.

Of particular importance for anyone with COPD is the need for regular physical exercise. According to David Au, MD, professor at the University of Washington Medical School’s division of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine, because COPD causes shortness of breath, physical activity is particularly challenging. He, as well as the Respiratory Health Association, recommend (with physician approval):

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on a daily basis, at least three times per week.
  • Try leg lifts, marching in place, and arm circles, making use of canned goods or small weights.
  • Go up and down stairs.
  • Include deep breathing exercises.

These resources offer more useful information targeted to COPD considerations during the COVID-19 pandemic:

For specialized in-home care for individuals diagnosed with COPD as well as other chronic conditions, call on Generations at Home. Our staff are fully trained and knowledgeable in providing individualized care in order to make life safer and much more enjoyable. You can reach us any time at 727-940-3414.

Best Ways to Provide Alzheimer’s Care During COVID-19

senior wears a mask to protect against viruses and bacteriaLoneliness. Confusion. Isolation. These feelings have become commonplace for a number of us during the COVID-19 pandemic, but when you factor in the challenges of dementia, the difficulties and frustrations are heightened to a completely new level.

Take, for example, the short-term memory loss inherent in dementia. A family caregiver searching for the proper way to explain why the senior won’t be able to venture out for coffee, get a haircut, or visit with the neighbors may need to offer up that explanation several times – often in the same day.

Sue Spalding, Chief Executive Officer for the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota, North Dakota Chapter, stresses the necessity of helping individuals with Alzheimer’s to minimize unnecessary stress, which can accelerate the progression of the disease. So just how can family members best help their senior loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease to calmly navigate life during a pandemic? Here are some helpful tips:

  • Stay calm. Even though you may feel stressed and overwhelmed because of the state of the world, it is best to steer clear of talking about alarming issues and even watching the news with an individual with Alzheimer’s. Make sure to determine an appropriate outlet for your feelings, however – your partner or other members of the family, a therapist, or trusted friend.
  • Maintain routines. Of course, certain previously enjoyed routines that include outings or visits with loved ones might need to be placed on hold; however, maintain a predictable schedule in the home that’s comforting to the senior, such as a set time for meals, exercise, hobbies, and bedtime.
  • Institute a backup plan. If you were to become ill, who would be qualified to step up to care for your senior loved one? Strategizing now, prior to when the need arises, is critical. Partnering with a skilled home care agency, like Generations at Home, is the ideal solution, and it’s an excellent idea to arrange for regular respite care now, to help a loved one become familiar and comfortable with having another caregiver inside your home.

And always remember, it is very important for you to take good care of yourself, too! Don’t forget to set aside time each day for relaxing, enjoyable activities to let you unwind and destress, to remain connected with family and friends, to adhere to a healthy diet and fitness regimen, and to get lots of sleep. If carving out time for yourself is a struggle, let us know – we have the solution you need!

While we all continue to wait for a vaccine or effective treatment option for COVID-19, be aware that Generations at Home is equipped and ready to safely care for seniors, especially those diagnosed with dementia, following all recommended protective guidelines. Give us a call at 727-940-3414 to arrange an in-home consultation to learn more.

How to Weather the Storm as a Family Caregiver in a Time of Crisis

happy senior woman making a heart shape with her handsTimes of crises can bring out both the best and the worst in us. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve heard stories of people hoarding products and selling them to make an outrageous profit, along with stories of heroes who selflessly met the needs of others in spite of their own fears.

The key to weathering the storms that are bound to come up in our lives in a healthy way is resiliency. Mia Bartoletti, clinical psychologist for the Navy SEAL Foundation, works with families of those serving in the military, and offers suggestions that can help build resilience through any time of crisis.

  1. Communicate your reactions. It’s normal to experience a range of responses to a crisis: flashbacks to other difficult situations, dreams and nightmares, avoidance and withdrawal, difficulty sleeping, irritability, problems with concentration and focus, and hypervigilance. What’s important is to ensure these responses are short-term, and don’t progress into longer-term psychological problems. Acknowledge your feelings, and share them with a trusted confidante, or write them in a journal.
  2. Maintain social connections. While your instinct may be to pull away from friends and family during a crisis, staying in touch on a regular basis with those you care about is crucial. Finding a support group, whether in person or online, is another great way to ensure you’re forming and maintaining social ties, allowing you to talk with others in similar circumstances.
  3. Take time for self-care. This means something different to each individual, but should include relaxing activities, engaging hobbies and interests, healthy meals, plenty of sleep, and physical activity. If you find it hard to carve out time for yourself due to caregiving duties, Generations at Home is always here to partner with you to provide trusted respite care. Taking care of yourself enables you to take better care of those you love.
  4. Realize what you can control – and what you cannot. Letting go of what is out of your control and focusing instead on what you CAN control is one of the foundations of resilience. Psychologist Mary Alvord, who founded Resilience Across Borders, explains, “Depression is hopelessness and helplessness, and so resilience is the opposite. No, you’re not helpless; you do have control over many aspects of your life.”

It’s always a good idea to seek professional counseling when your reactions to stressful situations are impeding your ability to maintain a sense of calm and to tend to the necessary daily activities of living. And, watch for signs that elderly loved ones are experiencing undue levels of stress so that you can obtain the help that they need as well.

Know that whatever life may bring, you can count on Generations at Home to walk beside you with dependable, professional aging care services that empower seniors to remain resilient and independent. Call us at 727-940-3414 to learn more.