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!

How to Help Aging Parents Who Are Reluctant to See a Doctor

doctor explaining medication schedule to senior man

Find helpful information that can persuade your aging loved ones to get the medical care they need.

Why don’t we face it: many of us put off going to the doctor’s office. It could be uncomfortable and downright distressing when something is wrong and we are confronted with the prospect of an undesirable diagnosis. Nonetheless, we recognize it makes sense to do what’s most beneficial for our health and wellness and to be conscientious about obtaining necessary healthcare.

For senior loved ones, many other concerns enter into play as well, commonly resulting in the decision to skip that check-up or follow-up appointment, even if it is obviously not in their best interest. Whenever a senior loved one digs in her heels, refusing to see the doctor, it is important to first realize why the resistance is happening, to tackle those concerns, and after that to know how best to provide encouragement.

One of the main reasons seniors avoid healthcare appointments and procedures is fear. It might appear safer and easier just to disregard symptoms and hope they will fix themselves on their own. For other people, the worry can be financial. Or they might want to prevent the distress of being reminded of a weight problem, or to disclose living an unhealthy lifestyle.

Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that it is vital for the elderly to manage their own health, which calls for routine medical examinations and staying proactive in bringing to light any worries. So as an adult child, how can you best help overcome your parent’s resistance to seeing a doctor?

At Generations at Home, we’ve learned that perhaps the most effective approach to convince aging parents to take care of themselves is by their adult children discussing what it means to them. Our parents have cared for us all of our lives, and want what is most beneficial for us. Sharing your point of view can go a long way towards convincing them of the necessity and subsequently encouraging them to remain healthy. For instance, try initiating the discussion like this:

“Mom, the pain you have been experiencing in your wrist is really concerning me. Can we go to have that looked at so that I’ll be able to stop worrying?”

You could be pleasantly surprised at how easily your aging parent will agree, understanding that it will help you. If you continue to struggle with assisting your loved one to be aware of the need for proper medical care, turn to Generations at Home. We are experienced in assisting families with navigating the often challenging transition to agree to assistance in the home, and sometimes the recommendation of an experienced, unbiased third party will make a world of difference in easing concerns and moving the focus towards the many benefits of Pinellas County, FL in-home care. Call us now at 727-940-3414.

Dementia Care Tips Caregivers Wish They’d Known Sooner

two senior women hugging

Learn important dementia care tips from the Pinellas County dementia care experts at Generations at Home.

In some cases, the best lessons in life come through experiencing them firsthand; yet the lessons learned by those who’ve walked an identical course before us is priceless. If you’re providing care for a family member with dementia and feeling a bit weighed down in this uncharted territory, the strategies below will help:

  • A brief break will make all the difference. When your senior loved one is struggling with complicated feelings, such as fear or anger, it’s advisable to temporarily stop whatever activity or task she is taking part in, and allow time for a breather. Change the situation by moving into a different area or outside if the weather allows, play some favorite music, look through a scrapbook, or point out different birds and flowers. When peace is restored, you should attempt the task again, frequently with far better results.
  • Let go of rationalizing. Aiming to establish a point or win a disagreement is rarely successful when speaking with someone with Alzheimer’s. Remind yourself that the individual’s brain functioning is changed, and as long as no harm will likely be done, permit the senior to maintain her own personal reality.
  • Address denial. While it may be human nature to want to deny that there’s a challenge, acknowledging signs and symptoms of dementia and seeking medical assistance at the earliest opportunity is recommended to obtain the medical care and treatment necessary.
  • Check medications. The side effects of some prescription drugs have the ability to cause greater confusion and cognitive difficulties than the disease itself. Put together an in-depth listing of all medications (including over-the-counter ones) and review together with the senior’s health care provider to confirm that the benefits surpass any unwanted side effects.
  • Take proper care of YOU, too. Caregiver burnout and depression are significant concerns for loved ones taking care of a senior with dementia. Ensure that you are carving out sufficient time for self-care, socializing, and hobbies which you enjoy. Bear in mind that your family member will benefit from having a caregiver who is in good health and recharged.
  • Recognize that life can be fulfilling with dementia. Even though the person you love is going through some difficult changes, it is beneficial to know that life, while different, can still be meaningful and bring happiness regardless of the disease. Consider various kinds of experiences for the senior to enhance socialization, improve memory and cognitive functioning, and remain physically active.

Generations at Home is always here to provide the encouragement you will need to ensure your loved one with dementia will be able to live life to the fullest. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 for more information on our highly specialized in-home dementia care for seniors.

Making Your Marriage a Priority as You Care for an Aging Parent

Mature couple holding hands

Caregiving for a senior can impact your marriage relationship. Learn tips to keep your marriage intact here.

In marriage, we agree to stick together for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness as well as in health – but what does not come up in our vows to each other is the way to preserve marriage while caregiving as our parents age.

Nevertheless, with our life span increasing, it is essential to put together a strategy based on both the needs of our parents as they age, as well as the multitude of day-to-day needs, all while honoring our cherished relationship with a spouse. It is a challenge that is contributing to anxiety and strain for 80% of couples surveyed, leading to detachment and much less quality time together. The following areas in a marital relationship are especially impacted by caregiving for a senior parent:

  • Finances. Still retaining the top spot for the reason cited for divorce, fiscal stress is magnified if the senior has not executed a financial arrangement for long-term care. Truthfully discussing frustrations with one another and working together to examine choices to pay for services can help.
  • Exhaustion. As gratifying as it might be, meeting the needs of an elderly family member calls for a great amount of time and effort – leaving little left over at the end of your day for your spouse. Agree to accept the help of others or hire professional in-home senior care help, so you can be sure to provide for quality time with your significant other.
  • Frustration. Mounting frustration and decreased patience are a couple of frequent side effects of fatigue, and sadly, we tend to lash out at those we love the most when feeling overwhelmed. Allow imperfection, practice understanding, and look for professional assistance if needed.

So how else are you able to try to avoid these issues and keep a strong and healthy marriage? These tips may help:

  • Make sure your spouse is always a high priority. Thoughtful gestures can go a long way towards this end, such as writing a note of love and appreciation, getting up a couple of minutes early to share a cup of coffee together before the day becomes hectic, or setting aside time at the conclusion of the day to talk and unwind.
  • Joining an online support group for family caregivers can allow you the opportunity to share irritations with individuals in similar situations, relieving concerns.
  • Seek out the services of a certified counselor, either for you separately or for the two of you as a couple.

An additional great way to accomplish a healthy life balance is through partnering with an established and trusted in-home care provider, like Generations at Home. We provide customized respite care solutions that allow loved ones to take time away from caregiving, while providing seniors the opportunity for enhanced socialization with a helpful and fully-trained caregiver. Contact us at 727-940-3414 to explore our senior care options today!

Striking a Balance Between Senior Safety vs. Independence

St Petersburg FL home care

Learn how to strike a balance between safety and independence for seniors

It’s a conflict that emerges for a number of families: seniors adamantly want to age in place at home, while their family members worry about their health and safety. And there’s an argument to be made in both scenarios. Seniors, especially individuals who live alone, encounter multiple dangers: falls that could lead to serious injury, trouble in maintaining the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed as aging progresses, even a vulnerability to con artists. Yet independence is vital to self-worth, irrespective of age.

Striking a balance that meets the requirements of both sides may very well be difficult, but there are some important factors to take into account that will help.

  • Let go of ageism. While there is certainly credibility to worries over safety for older adults at home, especially if they live alone, the other side of the picture is our perception of aging. Pioneer Network President/CEO Penny Cook explains, “Our negative perception helps marginalize older adults. They become ‘less than’ because that helps us cope and then we take on the parental model.” A shift in this reasoning allows us to retain the respect for seniors which they so appropriately deserve, as well as know how integral it really is for them to remain as independent as possible throughout aging.
  • Know their rights. Legally, unless older adults are contending with cognitive challenges, they continue to have the ability to make decisions independently – no matter if the choices made are not the ones we would have selected for them. Attorney Barbara Cashman explains, “Even if I decide to give my money away, a judge could say that it’s my money and my choice what to do with it.”
  • Dialogue is key. As with any issue, calm, logical discussions are definitely the best remedy in diffusing difficult situations and arriving at an answer that really works for everyone. Sit down with your parent and clarify your concerns, but prepare yourself to listen with an open mind to his or her thoughts and views. Realize that a resolution will not be reached in a single discussion; use an initial discussion as a beginning point, and agree to revisit the matter periodically to reevaluate.

Most especially, be aware that there is a viable option: the professional in-home care services of Generations at Home. We can aid in a number of ways to enhance well-being, delivering family members peace of mind, while empowering your loved one to maintain independence, making his or her own choices and decisions in the comfort and familiarity of home. Contact us at 727-940-3414 for an in-home assessment to find out more.

Caring for Senior Loved Ones You Don’t Care For

Senior father and son family issues

How do you overcome childhood hurt when caring for a senior parent? Learn tips in this article.

When it comes to caregiving for a family member, family dynamics can play a big part in the caregiver’s outlook. For people who have been raised by loving parents who provided for all their needs, offering the same level of care may just be second nature. But what if you’ve been negatively affected by childhood experiences, determined to distance yourself from problematic family relations later in life, simply to wind up going back to look after them in a period of need?

AARP offers some helpful tips for family members who would like to do something to overcome old wounds with regard to providing care:

  • Develop emotional boundaries. It’s feasible to offer compassionate caregiving while remaining emotionally detached. Imagine tending to the needs of someone you’d never met, and try to hold that mindset with a difficult family member, attempting to help keep personal feelings and hurts out of the picture while meeting his / her care needs with compassion.
  • Try to separate the past from the present. While your family member may have displayed a pattern of causing you pain in past times, perhaps with furious outbursts or deprecating comments, it’s important to separate that pain from today’s struggles. For example, someone with Alzheimer’s may go through a stage of aggressive behavior that is a hallmark struggle associated with the disease, as opposed to a continuation of parenting mistakes.
  • Start to change what you expect. Some members of the family move into a caregiving role with the purpose of changing the course of a relationship, convinced that if only they forget about past hurts and supply the best possible care, the individual may be converted into someone caring, kind and considerate after a lifetime of issues. The stark reality is, story book endings are quite few. Keeping expectations realistic helps reduce potential future disappointments.

First and foremost, recognize that no one needs to feel “stuck” in looking after a difficult family member. The professional home care team at Generations at Home is fully trained, experienced, and equipped to give you the highly skilled and compassionate care that allows family members peace of mind. A number of the various ways we can help include:

  • Personal care assistance, such as with bathing, dressing, and using the restroom
  • Cooking meals
  • Keeping the home environment clean and tidy
  • Running errands
  • Providing transportation to health-related appointments and other outings
  • Companionship
  • And more

Contact us at 727-940-3414 for a free in-home assessment and to discover a Pinellas County senior care solution which will work for your family.

Things You Should Never Say to Someone in a Medical Crisis

adult child embracing her ill senior mother

Learn what commonly used sentiments are better left unsaid when a loved one is facing a health crisis.

Have you ever walked in to the office or a get-together with friends or family and had someone say to you with great concern, “You really look tired today!” Even though you were feeling relatively perky prior to that moment, suddenly you really DO feel exhausted and rundown. The words we use with others in addition to the ways in which we interpret them are powerful. When addressing individuals who have a chronic health condition, it’s important to thoughtfully consider what to say, and perhaps most importantly, what NOT to say, to help the individual feel his or her best.

While we are most certainly well meaning, there are comments which are better left unsaid. Blurting out a less-than-sensitive comment, according to Mindy Beth Lipson, a Phoenix psychologist, occurs because, “I think people are just scared and nervous and don’t know how to respond. There might be several reasons, the first being it brings up their own mortality. Some people also just lack empathy.”

Following are several statements to remove from your vernacular when communicating with persons going through a health crisis:

  • “My friend had a similar medical diagnosis and was sick for many months.” Sharing adverse stories about an individual with an identical medical diagnosis is a guaranteed way to bring the person’s spirits down. As an alternative, remember that each individual goes through medical conditions in different ways, and focus on the positives the person you’re speaking with has achieved.
  • “If you’d only stopped smoking (or exercised; or followed a healthy eating plan; etc.) this wouldn’t have happened.” It is impossible to know if the result may have been different if healthier choices were made, and there’s no benefit to playing “what if.” Focus your attention on offering the support and compassion the individual needs right now, and leave any thoughts of judgment at the door.
  • “Do you remember…?” Specific to those with dementia or other cognitive impairment, memory prompts of this nature can add to the frustration and agitation already experienced. Discussing news from the past as if it’s new is a wonderful solution to engage the individual instead.

Your very best bet is to permit the person the opportunity to talk about (or not to talk about) his or her experience and thoughts, hold the person’s hand if it’s welcome, give a pretty bouquet of flowers or other small present or treat, and just offer your affectionate, loving presence and encouragement.

To get more detailed care tips, and for hands-on advice about specialized care in the familiarity of home, call on Generations at Home. We provide expert, caring services for everyone confronted with a health crisis that delivers comfort and peace through companionship, assistance with meal preparation and housework, transportation to medical appointments and procedures, running errands, and so much more. Call us at 727-940-3414 to learn how we can help.

Tips for Aging for Seniors Without Children

Senior woman with laptop

This strong and self-reliant genre faces a number of unique issues in aging.

Are you a “solo ager“? This is the new term being passed around to describe baby boomers who do not have children. This strong and self-reliant genre faces a number of unique issues in aging, chiefly who to designate as guardian and decision-maker in case they become unable to do so themselves. In her book, Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers, author Sara Zeff Geber, Ph.D. outlines several options to consider: Read more

The Alzheimer’s Supplements to Avoid

Senior couple looking at medications

Always obtain your health care provider’s approval prior to trying anything new.

As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That can easily be applied to the recent increase of corporations offering alternative supplements, dietary programs, and herbal concoctions in order to treat, or at the very least lessen, the ramifications of Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association aims to alert us, however, to go forward with careful attention when investigating treatment options for a loved one with dementia – and always obtain the health care provider’s approval prior to trying anything new. Read more

Tips for St. Petersburg Seniors to Prevent Cognitive Dysfunction After Surgery

Senior Woman in hospital

POCD occurs in more than 25% of seniors after non-cardiac surgery.

Undergoing surgery for older adults always involves some inherent risks, but there’s a little-known effect impacting a substantial number of seniors after surgery that we all should be informed about: POCD (postoperative cognitive dysfunction). POCD occurs in more than 25% of seniors in the days and sometimes even weeks after non-cardiac surgery, and can present with an array of symptoms, several of which are often almost indiscernible: forgetfulness, lack of concentration and focus, as well as other forms of cognitive decline that impact quality of life. Read more