How to Manage These 5 Tough (But Normal) Emotions in Caregiving

woman being comforted by a friendIf you are feeling somewhat overwhelmed in your role as a caregiver, take heart; you’re in good company. Providing care for a senior loved one is probably one of the more complex roles we can hold: highly fulfilling on the one hand, while at the same time discouraging and ever-evolving, often leading to feelings of doubt about whether we are up to the challenge and providing the best possible care.

It’s why a lot of family caregivers battle against some or all of these types of feelings:

  • Guilt: You may feel as if you are not doing as much as you should to assist your parent, that you’re self-centered for wanting time away to yourself, or that you’re ill-prepared to provide the assistance your senior loved one needs.
  • Helplessness: There are some circumstances when you simply cannot solve the problems your parent is going through.
  • Anger or frustration: This can be directed at yourself, other members of the family who seem as though they’re not doing their fair share, and even at your older loved one for causing you to be in this situation.
  • Resentment: Particularly typical when caring for someone who hurt or betrayed you in the past, it’s easy for those feelings to resurface when that individual is now in your care.
  • Hopelessness: When a senior faces a challenging diagnosis, for example, a chronic or terminal condition, feelings of hopelessness can settle in, which could lead to despondency or depression.

Acknowledging these feelings, and accepting that they are completely normal, is an excellent starting point. These tips can also help:

  • Share how you feel. Find a reliable friend, family member, or professional counselor to vent to, someone who can provide an alternative perspective and help you to adjust your thinking to a more positive slant.
  • Think about the advice you’d offer a friend. Sometimes, stepping out of your situation and picturing how you would react to somebody else dealing with these feelings could offer invaluable insight. Provide the same encouragement you’d offer to another to yourself.
  • Find a care partner. Working together with a professional care provider, like Generations at Home, enables you to achieve a healthy life balance – an element that is vital to every caregiver.

Reach out to our trained, experienced, and compassionate care team by calling 727-940-3414 and let us walk alongside you with the high quality, personalized care services your loved one deserves – permitting you to take much-needed time for self-care. We are always available to answer any questions you have, to provide helpful resources specific to the challenges you’re facing, and also to provide a complimentary in-home consultation to share more about how we can help.

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 Laughter May Be the Best Medicine in Dementia Care

two happy elderly women spending time with each other at homeProviding dementia care for a person you love is certainly not something to laugh about. Yet scientific studies are frequently pointing towards the benefits of laughter, and incorporating it into dementia care may be just what the doctor ordered to enhance quality of life for your loved one.

For example, an Australian study just recently revealed that humor therapy can aid in eliminating agitation in people who have dementia as successfully as antipsychotic medications, with no unwanted side effects. Shared laughter connects us, and helps people who have cognitive difficulties to feel accepted, safe, and at ease. As stated by Lori La Bey, founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks, “When anyone is sick or having a hard time, they still like to laugh. I spend a lot of time teaching people that feelings don’t go away, and it’s okay to get back to that zone.”

Laughter also produces endorphins, which suppress stress hormones, and can even improve blood pressure and minimize pain for aging parents – all of which make it well worth adding to your dementia care regimen, either by enrolling in a laughter yoga class together with your loved one (which incorporates clapping, singing, silly poses, and of course, laughter) or simply implementing ideas including these in your own home:

  • Add some lightheartedness and silliness randomly through the day. Sing goofy songs, dance around the house, tell simple jokes, and develop an environment of happiness for the senior.
  • Recognize that what works today might not work tomorrow – and sometimes even an hour from now. Evaluate your loved one’s responses, and if anything seems to boost anxiety, shelve the idea and attempt again at a later date.
  • Remove arguing and correcting from conversations with the older adult. A straightforward “yes” and redirection to a different subject or activity goes a long way in preempting negativity.
  • Emphasize to yourself that it is completely acceptable to be joyful. Laughter and dementia don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Let Generations at Home help brighten life for a cherished older adult with dementia! Each one of our specialized dementia caregivers is completely trained and experienced in numerous creative, effective care techniques. Older adults achieve the added benefit of improved socialization, coupled with necessary respite from care duties for family members, making a partnership with a Generations at Home caregiver a win-win!

What to Ask the Doctor as a Family Caregiver for Senior Parents

senior couple visiting a doctorOf all of the many responsibilities a family caregiver faces, perhaps one of the most daunting is managing medical issues. The National Council on Aging estimates that nearly three quarters of all seniors are identified as having a minimum of two chronic conditions, and are seeing on average four healthcare experts.

As your aging parent’s advocate, it’s very important to learn simple tips to communicate effectively with those from the senior’s medical team, and to come to appointments fully ready to address any and all concerns. The following four questions are a great place to start:

  1. Are all of these prescription drugs required? With most older adults taking several medications, you’ll need to keep a detailed list and examine periodically with the physician along with the pharmacist, both of whom should be able to ensure there are not any duplications prescribed by different specialists, or any contraindications between meds.
  2. If prescribing something new, what side effects should we be prepared to see? Weighing the advantages vs. the potential health risks for any new medication is a must, as there may be occasions when troublesome side effects outweigh any benefits available. And if the physician shares a blanket statement such as, “Most patients don’t experience any complications with this prescription,” make sure to follow up for more information about individuals who DO encounter problems.
  3. What is the simplest way to relieve pain and discomfort? We are all aware of the opioid epidemic, as well as the danger of addiction along with other considerations that come with taking prescription pain medications. However, unaddressed pain and discomfort may cause both slowed healing and considerable emotional stress, both for a senior loved one experiencing pain along with his or her caregivers.
  4. If this was your mom, what would you do? Inviting the doctor to step into your shoes is generally a very helpful method to gauge how you may wish to proceed. There may, in fact, be less invasive or aggressive ways to managing a challenge that you may want to check out first.

For more recommendations on making sure a loved one is provided with the best possible care, contact the home care professionals at Generations at Home. We’re available to help through:

  • Accompanying a senior loved one to medical appointments and procedures and making sure concerns are answered
  • Ensuring prescriptions are taken just as prescribed
  • Proactively monitoring for any changes in condition, such as medication side effects, and reporting them promptly
  • Planning and preparing wholesome meals and offering encouragement to stay physically active to improve health
  • And much more

To get started on an improved quality of life for a loved one, simply call us at 727-940-3414 to ask about an in-home consultation.

Beyond Losing 10 Pounds: Meaningful Resolutions for Family Caregivers to Inspire Hope

Senior woman backpacking and exploringIf you are one of the 8% of Americans who actually accomplish their New Year’s resolution goals, well done! However, if you are like the majority of us, you’ve given up well before even turning the calendar page to February. Although of course it is admirable to strive to improve ourselves by resolving to get rid of 10 pounds or eat healthier, for busy family caregivers, there are some truly meaningful, attainable goals that will improve life throughout the year.

Consider these recommendations:

  • Find joy. Taking care of another person is a labor of love, but can bring about challenges that make it hard to spark joy. Take time each day to pause and discover a reason to smile. Bring humor into the daily caregiving tasks to share laughter along with your family member. Take pleasure in the feeling of the sunlight shining through the window as you are sorting laundry. Call a relative who lifts your spirits for a brief chat.
  • See the bigger picture. Attempt to take one step back from the busyness of your to-do list, and view the overall effect your caregiving is making. Because of you, a senior loved one is able to continue living in the comfort and familiarity of home. Thanks to you, life is the absolute best it can be for your loved one. Your contribution is priceless and is making a significant difference.
  • Compartmentalize. It is really important to make mental wellness a priority, and one effective way to cope with the numerous different responsibilities associated with providing care is to be fully focused on the present. Visualizing different rooms for different concerns can be helpful; when you begin to worry about a planned surgical procedure a loved one is facing while watching a show along with your children, contemplate placing that concern in its appropriate room until later, and being focused on the present.
  • Be kind to yourself. It is easy to succumb to a pattern of wishing you could do more for a parent, or thinking about errors you have made which you wish you could change. Emphasize to yourself that you are human, and that you are performing essential work for the individual you love. Acknowledge the sacrifices you’re making, just like you would take note and appreciate them in another family caregiver.
  • Seek – and accept – support and help. Attempting to be a superhero who handles each and every thing independently can easily result in burnout and depression. Working with other people to assist the senior is the best method to be sure his / her needs are completely met, while helping you realize the healthy life balance you need and deserve.

Generations at Home is the ideal partner for family caregivers, offering highly skilled, professional, and compassionate care for older adults in accordance with each person’s specific needs. Allow us to help! Give us a call at 727-940-3414 and together we can develop a plan of care in order to make 2020 the greatest year yet – both for the senior in your care, as well as for yourself.

5 Tips to Avoid Financial Frustrations with Senior Parents

Senior woman with her daughter online purchasing togetherAmongst the most difficult to navigate issues for adult children are financial frustrations with senior parents. Finances are both exceedingly personal and a representation of your self-sufficiency, and adult children especially can often be met with reluctance when stepping into the financial arena with their senior parents.

However, for multiple reasons, such as the ever-increasing occurrence of senior scams and cognitive decline, it is important to make certain that the financial assets our senior loved ones have earned through the years are safeguarded, and that expenses are paid properly as well as on time. It is a concern which needs to be taken care of delicately and with diplomacy. Consider these tips for an easy transition to assisting a family member with finance management:

  1. The introductory conversation. Approaching the senior about the need for assistance with finances can be overwhelming. Maintaining respect for the older adult during the process is essential, making it clear that your objectives are not to “take over,” but to work together with the older adult to come up with a strategy for successfully managing finances.
  2. Organizing documents. As soon as you’ve established a viable financial plan along with your loved one, collect copies of all important documents into one conveniently-accessible location, including bank/brokerage statements, insurance policies, mortgage/reverse mortgage paperwork, Social Security payments, wills, etc.
  3. Accessing accounts. Work with a dependable financial planner or elder law attorney to get access to your loved one’s financial accounts to enable you to write checks on his/her behalf and perform any other necessary transactions.
  4. Including other family members. Regular meetings with other family members who may have a vested interest in the senior’s financial matters makes certain everyone is informed and on the same page, and may assist in preventing future conflict. Designate someone to take notes about any decisions made, and provide each family member with a copy.
  5. Planning for the future. As a senior loved one’s health or cognitive ability change over time, it’ll be important to have a strategy set up for additional action that may be needed, such as becoming Power of Attorney for the senior, as well as for end-of-life decisions, such as asset distribution.

If the senior is resistant to your help with his / her finances, it can sometimes help to bring in a trusted third party professional, such as a financial advisor – and sometimes even the senior’s primary care physician – who can help a senior loved one understand the importance of getting financial affairs in order now. Or, you may want to shelve the conversation for a little bit and revisit this issue later.

Contact Generations at Home for additional tips to help ease challenging conversations with the older adults you love, and to learn more about our dependable in-home care solutions for older adults.

Are you Experiencing Family Caregiver Depression?

Woman stressed alone in the roomThere’s no question that it’s an incredible honor to care for people we love. Family caregivers experience a closeness and bond with those in their care that usually far outweighs the difficulties. However, there are challenges. A perpetual to-do list to be sure the senior loved one you’re providing care for is as happy and healthy as possible. Household chores and errands to manage. Job obligations. The requirements of other members of the family and friends. And don’t overlook self-care.

The result is an often daunting degree of stress, that if left uncontrolled, can quickly become caregiver burnout and even depression, which could appear in any or each of the following ways:

  • Feelings of anger, unhappiness, despair, stress
  • Difficulty with falling or staying asleep during the night
  • Lack of interest in previously-enjoyed activities
  • Eating more or significantly less than usual
  • Delayed thinking
  • And if left untreated, suicidal thoughts or even attempts at suicide

This brief online evaluation will allow you to determine whether you might be suffering from depression.

The good news is, there are a number of easy steps you are able to take to lower your potential for falling into depression:

  • To start, make an appointment with your health care provider for help
  • Refrain from isolating yourself and ensure lots of opportunities for socialization apart from your caregiving relationship
  • Remain active, both physically and mentally, with activities you love: swimming, playing a sport, reading, volunteering with a cause that is important to you

While it could be challenging for family caregivers to carve out the time essential for self-care, it’s vitally important to the health of both the caregivers themselves and the seniors in their care. Lots of times, family relations feel as if they should do it all on their own – after all, they understand the older adult much better than anyone else, and quite often it just seems easier to manage things independently.

An overly stressed, burned out, or depressed caregiver requires dependable, reliable support – and the great news is, it is easily obtainable! A knowledgeable, home caregiver can provide as much or as little care support as needed. Perhaps, for instance, you’d like to continue to make all of the meals for your senior loved one – but would love some help with tidying up the kitchen afterwards. Or perhaps your senior loved one would feel more comfortable with a professional caregiver providing help with personal care needs, for example, bathing and assistance in the restroom.

At Generations at Home, we appreciate how complicated life can feel for family caregivers, and we work with families to develop a plan of care that meets each person’s individual needs and desires. Let us help with trustworthy, professional respite care. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 any time for additional information.

The 5 Things to Avoid When Caring for Alzheimer’s

When a caregiver comes out with an older woman for a walk, she always takes a plastic bottle with water.While there are some commonalities, Alzheimer’s disease impacts each individual uniquely. Our highly trained dementia caregivers know, for instance, that while one person may appreciate being outdoors, a different individual may be overloaded by so much sensory input and favor a quieter indoor environment. One person may enjoy a morning bath routine, whereas a bit of creativity is needed to help another maintain good hygiene.

We also recognize there are certain triggers that may often exacerbate the challenging aspects of Alzheimer’s disease. Family care providers should be especially careful in order to avoid the following when caring for Alzheimer’s in a senior loved one:

  1. Dehydration. Those diagnosed with dementia might not be in a position to identify when they’re thirsty, or may refuse when provided fluids. It’s crucial to ensure appropriate hydration to avoid further confusion and weakness. Plain water is the best, nonetheless, if rejected, try flavored waters, along with different types of cups or bottles.
  2. Isolation. Individuals diagnosed with dementia experience loneliness as much as anyone else, and without adequate social stimulation, can become increasingly agitated or paranoid. An established care provider, like those at Generations at Home, who are fully trained in dementia care, can offer appropriate socialization, giving members of the family a much-needed break from care.
  3. Sugar. It’s not unusual for those with Alzheimer’s disease to have a heightened desire for cookies or cake, along with other sugary snacks, but it also can produce additional irritability. Try offering a variety of healthier choices, like fruit, yogurt, or sugar-free treats.
  4. Sleeping pills. With the challenges of common sleep problems such as sundowning, it could be tempting for family members to supply sleeping pills to a loved one with Alzheimer’s to encourage a more restful night. However, these drugs raise the risk for falls and other accidents and contribute to fogginess and confusion. Talk to the senior’s physician for a natural sleep-inducing option.
  5. TV. Be mindful of what’s on TV; programs that contain criminal activity, violence, as well as the nightly news can instill worry and paranoia in those with dementia. It might be better to leave the television off and engage your loved one in alternative activities, including games, puzzles, reading together, exercising, and reminiscing – or choose to view movies you have carefully evaluated to make sure content is suitable.

Every member of our dementia care team is fully trained and experienced in providing person-centered, compassionate care to successfully manage the issues inherent with Alzheimer’s, and to increase total wellbeing. Contact us at 727-940-3414 for additional dementia care tips, and for an in-home consultation to find out how our specialized in-home Alzheimer’s care can make life better for your senior loved one.

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.