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!

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!