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.

How One Woman Uses Her Sense of Smell to Diagnose Parkinson’s Disease

You may not recognize her by name, but you’ve probably heard her story. Joy Milne has an exceptionally unique talent: recognizing Parkinson’s disease by using her nose. Her gift came to light when she detected what she details as an “overpowering sort of nasty yeast smell” in her husband of ten years. Subsequently observing other differences in her husband, in particular personality and mood shifts, he ultimately went to the doctor for medical help, and was given a diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

Upon walking into a Parkinson’s support group meeting, that identical scent permeated the room – although evidently only Joy was able to notice it. Actually, she was even able to pick up on varying levels of the odor – some whose odor was faint, while for other people, it was much stronger. With both her own and her husband’s medical backgrounds (she a nurse and he a physician), this finding was definitely meaningful and required further action.

Her story led her to assist Tilo Kunath, a Parkinson’s disease researcher at the University of Edinburgh, with the aim of developing a tool to offer earlier detection – and ultimately, treatment – of Parkinson’s.

While initially skeptical of the probability of Parkinson’s being found through odor, he was open to additional exploration after finding out about the success dogs were having in identifying the odor of cancer in individuals. He then designed a way to assess her skills, by giving her a random assortment of t-shirts – half which had been worn by someone clinically determined to have Parkinson’s, and the other half by those without the disease – and, her accuracy rate was astonishing. As a matter of fact, she missed the mark on only one of the t-shirts, worn by someone without Parkinson’s, but who in fact was later identified as having the disease as well.

Kunath explains, “Imagine a society where you could detect such a devastating condition before it’s causing problems and then prevent the problems from even occurring.” Dr. Thomas Hummel of the Technical University of Dresden’s Smell & Taste Clinic, said that while the idea is interesting, there are still an assortment of questions to first sort out.

Parkinson’s disease, in addition to a variety of other chronic health issues, can be more effectively managed with the help of an in-home care provider like Generations at Home. Call us at 727-940-3414 for additional information.

The 6 Best Resources for Seniors and Caregivers to Navigate COVID-19

Identifying where to turn with regard to the latest, most reliable information on COVID-19, particularly as it pertains to seniors and people who care for them, is important – and can be difficult. With so many sources and different viewpoints on this important topic, we want to help make it simpler to locate what you need by sharing the following list of reliable resources.

  • COVID-19 Guidance for Seniors: The CDC’s COVID-19 Guidance for Older Adults web page contains a great deal of information, such as help determining who is at higher risk, symptoms, how to safeguard yourself, a checklist for your house, stress and anxiety coping recommendations, and so much more.
  • Coronavirus: What Seniors and People With Disabilities Need to Know: ACL provides information on what seniors and people with disabilities need to be aware of to reduce the risk of catching and spreading the virus, including warning signs, state-by-state regulations, and a thorough directory of federal and non-federal resources.
  • AARP Answers Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19: AARP keeps an ongoing bulleted list of the current information connected with COVID-19, plus what seniors should do to reduce their likelihood of contracting it and answers to several common questions.
  • Resources and Articles for Caregivers on COVID-19 Safety: The Family Caregiver Alliance offers caregiver-specific resources and articles to help family caregivers enhance the protection of the older adults within their care.
  • Extensive Frequently Asked Questions List on Caregiver COVID-19 Issues: DailyCaring, an award-winning website dedicated to caregivers, created a commonly asked questions page to supply answers to many questions, including safeguards to take when visiting an older adult’s home, simple tips to sanitize packages, proper handwashing techniques, and much more.
  • NAHC COVID-19 Senior Care Tips: The National Association for Home Care & Hospice advocates for the scores of older adults who receive in-home care, and also for people who provide that care. Their COVID-19 reference page provides articles, webinars, interactive tools, and much more.

For additional resources to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and for safe, dependable, in-home care to enhance wellness and comfort for the seniors you love, call on Generations at Home today. Following a stringent protocol to ensure the safety of the older adults we serve, we can help with a variety of important services, such as:

  • Grocery shopping and running other errands, to enable older adults to remain safe at home
  • Preparing healthy and balanced meals
  • Companionship to help relieve loneliness and stress through conversations, films, hobbies/interests, games, puzzles, and more
  • Keeping the house thoroughly clean and sanitized
  • Medication reminders
  • Specialized care for people diagnosed with dementia
  • And many more

Call Generations at Home at 727-940-3414 for a consultation within the safety and comfort of home, to find out how our home care services can help your loved ones.

Get Better Results by Using Journaling in Dementia Caregiving

Portrait of middle-aged lovely womanIn St. Petersburg, FL, being a dementia caregiver for someone you love is a fluid, ever-evolving undertaking. One day may be calm and peaceful, with your family member enjoying activities, eating healthy meals, and sharing laughter with you; while the next day could be fraught with agitation, anxiety, and sullenness. What will today bring?

Identifying how to best manage the difficult behaviors as well as ensure life is as enjoyable and comfortable as it can be for an individual with dementia can be made easier through a simple tool: journaling. Here’s how you can implement it in your daily caregiving routine, and how to utilize your journal to enhance quality of life for a senior in your life:

  • Monitor symptoms and caregiving needs on a daily basis. Your notes don’t have to be lengthy, but record any difficulties that occur, particularly time of day and what could have initiated the issues. Additionally, include tasks the individual was able to accomplish independently, together with the ones that were challenging. At the conclusion of every week, look back over the behaviors to determine if a pattern can be noticed – such as heightened agitation before meals or bedtime.
  • Track eating habits. Note which foods are most appealing to your senior loved one, which are least difficult for him or her to self-feed, exactly how many meals/snacks are being eaten as well as what times throughout the day, etc. Make sure to record beverages, to guarantee the older adult is taking in sufficient quantities of water to remain hydrated. In going over your notes, you could find that six smaller meals through the course of the day are better for your senior loved one than three larger ones, for instance.
  • Track safety concerns. Maintaining safety is a top priority in dementia care, with a variety of dangers that can result from wandering, dizziness/balance problems, hallucinations, and misunderstanding what common items are used for, such as thinking a household cleaner could possibly be a sports drink. Securing dangerous items or putting them in out-of-reach places is essential, and keeping a list of changes made to the house environment for safety’s sake can be extremely helpful to alert other loved ones to potential risks.

It is also a good idea to bring your journal with you to your loved one’s medical appointments, and bring any concerns documented to the doctor’s attention. This enables you to be completely prepared prior to appointments with concerns you want to get addressed, making the most of the limited time available to consult with doctors.

Make contact with our highly skilled and knowledgeable St. Petersburg, FL dementia care experts to get more tips along with specialized in-home care that increases safety while maximizing independence, purpose, and meaning – making every day the very best it can be for a person with dementia.

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.