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.

A New Disease That Mimics Alzheimer’s: LATE

An individual who exhibits memory loss, confusion, poor judgment, repetition, and challenges with performing daily activities has the telltale symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, right? As a matter of fact, what seems to be an obvious case of Alzheimer’s may in fact be a recently discovered dementia.

Known as LATE, or limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy, this condition presents with almost the same symptoms, but the root cause is another story. Rather than the buildup of amyloid plaques and tangles inherent in Alzheimer’s, LATE is distinguished by deposits of TDP-43 protein, as reported by Dr. Julie Schneider, associate director for the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

And TDP-43 protein troubles are in fact quite common in elderly people, with as many as one out of four older people over age 85 affected enough to cause obvious cognitive and/or memory problems. Nevertheless, it remains an under-diagnosed condition, which could lead to misdiagnoses, and consequently, inappropriate treatment plans.

The most up-to-date recommendations call for those who have been diagnosed with LATE to be removed from Alzheimer’s medication research, focusing research alternatively on establishing biomarkers to better detect LATE, to locate therapeutic intervention methods, and to increase testing to include a broader array of diverse populations, in an effort to increase both prevention and treatment.

Understanding the differences between both types of dementia is paramount to the best treatment, and per Dr. James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, “This evidence may also go some way to help us understand why some recent clinical trials testing for Alzheimer’s disease have failed – participants may have had slightly different brain diseases.”

Key aspects of LATE include:

  • Generally affecting older adults over age 80
  • A slower progression than Alzheimer’s
  • Typically only affects memory
  • May be accompanied by Alzheimer’s disease, which leads to a far more rapid decline

Whether Alzheimer’s disease, LATE, or some other form of dementia, Generations at Home offers the highly customized, skilled and creative caregiving that can help seniors live the highest possible quality of life where it is most comfortable: at home. Our care aides are thoroughly trained and experienced in helping those with dementia, along with helping family caregivers, to more fully manage the varying challenges experienced in each stage.

Call us any time at 727-940-3414 to inquire about further dementia care resources, find answers to the questions you have, or to schedule an in-home consultation to learn more about how we can help a family member you love with dementia.

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.

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.