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.

Help for This Common Alzheimer’s Care Concern: Resistance to Personal Hygiene

Towel LifestyleOf the many challenges related to providing care for a loved one with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association reveals that the most prevalent difficulty is with personal hygiene, for a variety of reasons:

  • Reduced sense of vision and smell
  • Comfort found in familiarity (i.e., wanting to wear the same clothes over and over again)
  • The complexities of bathing, compounded by cognitive impairment and confusion
  • Fear of falling, the sounds and sensations of the water, and more

Cajoling, arguing, and reasoning are rarely effective tactics with those impacted by Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. Instead, try these creative approaches if your loved one resists maintaining proper hygiene:

  • Prepare the bathroom in advance so the room will be comfortable and you won’t need to juggle gathering up supplies in conjunction with assisting the senior. Warm the room with a space heater, and place soap, shampoo, towels, washcloth, etc. within easy reach, as well as remove any throw rugs or other tripping hazards.
  • A shower chair and hand-held sprayer often make a more comfortable bathing experience for those with dementia. Face the chair away from the faucet, and use towels to cover parts of the body before and after they are cleaned to keep the senior warm and to avoid feelings of exposure.
  • Have the senior assist with bathing tasks as much as possible to promote independence. It may be as simple as offering a washcloth or the shampoo bottle for the senior to hold.
  • If hair washing is difficult for either of you, forego that task during bath time, and arrange for weekly trips to the salon.
  • Plan a special outing with the senior, such as a lunch date with a friend, and center bath time around getting ready for the event.
  • Bring in the recommendation of a medical professional, who can advise the senior about the increased risk of infection or skin problems without proper hygiene. Sometimes hearing from a trusted third party carries more weight than from a family member.
  • Engage the services of a caregiver, allowing the senior the dignity of having personal care needs tended to by a professional, rather than a family member.

At Generations at Home, each of our caregivers is adept in safe hygiene procedures for older adults, with specialized training to help those with Alzheimer’s disease feel comfortable with personal hygiene tasks, including creative approaches to safe bathing, skin, hair, and oral care, restroom assistance, and much more. Call us at 727-940-3414 or contact us online to discover effective solutions to the concerns you and your loved one are facing!

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.

You Are Not Alone: Study Reports Many Family Caregivers Fear Providing Inadequate Care

Senior woman and husband visit with doctor

A serious senior woman sits between her unrecognizable female doctor and her husband. She gestures as she speaks with her doctor.

“Absolutely Dad can move in with me!”

Family care providers are making this commendable choice more often, signifying the beginning of changes in lifestyle they can only fully understand once immersed in them. And even though the rewards of providing care for an older loved one are immeasurable, they are not lacking multiple challenges as well.

It may seem natural to manage everyday activities for a senior loved one; however, it’s much less instinctive than it initially seems. As an example, helping a senior in the shower or bath the wrong way can cause a fall. Inadequate incontinence care may cause skin damage and infection. Noncompliance with a recommended nutritional plan can bring about a number of health complications.

It’s not a surprise that in a current report provided by AARP, “Home Alone Revisited,” a lot of family caregivers reported stress over the chance of making an error in the care they provide. The report features answers from a study sent to over 2,000 family caregivers, who revealed that even though they believed their caregiving was enabling their family members to remain at home over a move to an assisted living or nursing home setting, they expressed concern over their proficiency to complete the tasks needed.

Participants in the survey identified that the most emotionally stressful part of caregiving is incontinence care. And, nearly ¾ of family caregivers surveyed are routinely undertaking medical duties associated with pain management – responsibilities for which they wished they’d been given better training and assistance from the senior’s medical care team.

Heather Young, dean emerita at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis (and co-author of the report) points out that, “Too often (family caregivers) are unprepared and do not get the support they need to assume these important roles.”

Asking for guidance and training in new tasks is vital for family caregivers. Those who partner with a knowledgeable in-home care provider, like Generations at Home, can decrease the trepidation and uncertainty in managing care at home successfully. Our caregivers are fully trained in the countless intricacies of aging care, and can provide family members with valuable guidance and education. We also offer trusted, reliable respite care services that enable family caregivers to step away from their care duties while knowing their senior family member will be safe and well cared for.

Call us at 727-940-3414 for a free in-home consultation to learn more.

Wandering and Alzheimer’s: Why It Happens and How to Help

dementia care experts

Wandering is a common side effect of Alzheimer’s disease.

Of the many effects of Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps one of the most concerning is the individual’s tendency for wandering as well as the potential dangers that may occur if the senior becomes disoriented or lost. Wandering can take place when the older adult is:

  • Scared, confused or overwhelmed
  • Trying to find someone or something
  • Bored
  • Seeking to keep a familiar past routine (such as going to a job or shopping)
  • Taking care of a basic necessity (such as getting a drink of water or going to the bathroom)

The objective is twofold; to help keep the senior safe, and to make certain his / her needs are fulfilled to attempt to prevent the need to wander to begin with. Try the following safety measures in case your senior loved one is likely to wander:

  • Be certain that the residence is equipped with a security system and locks that the senior is unable to master, such as a sliding bolt lock above his or her range of vision. An assortment of alarms can be bought, from something as simple as placing a bell over door knobs, to highly-sensitive pressure mats that will sound an alarm when stepped upon, to GPS devices which can be worn, and more. It’s also a great idea to register for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.
  • Conceal exits by covering up doors with curtains, setting temporary folding barriers strategically around doorways, or by wallpapering or painting doors to match the surrounding walls. You could also try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes dissuade people in the earlier stages of dementia from trying to exit.
  • Another danger for individuals who wander is the additional risk of falling. Look over each room of the house and address any tripping concerns, such as removing throw rugs, extension cords, and any obstacles that may be obstructing walkways, adding extra lighting, and placing gates at the top and bottom of stairways.

It is important to keep in mind that with supervision and direction, wandering is not necessarily an issue. Go for a walk together outside anytime weather permits and the senior is in the mood to be mobile, providing the extra advantage of fresh air, physical exercise, and quality time together.

While often tricky to manage, the dementia care team at Generations at Home has been specially trained to be equally watchful and proactive in deterring wandering and to utilize creative strategies to help seniors with dementia stay calm and happy. Email or call us at 727-940-3414 for more information!

 

Why Is Dad Being So Irrational? Tips To Understand and Respond to Senior Paranoia

St. Petersburg FL home care

Dementia can cause irrational thoughts.

“I’m telling you, there is a dog in my closet! I hear it growling all night long. We have got to find its owner!”

Hearing a senior loved one express worries such as this that you know to be untrue is unsettling – yet not abnormal. Your very first impulse could be to attempt to rationalize with the person with a response such as, “Nonsense! There’s not a chance a dog may have gotten into the closet!” All the same, for several different reasons, this can be the least successful option to handle irrational ideas and behaviors within the senior population.

Alternatively, at Generations at Home, we suggest the following strategies to help restore a feeling of calm and wellbeing:

  1. First and foremost, schedule a check-up with the senior’s doctor. It’s important to identify any cognitive problems and to make certain he or she receives appropriate treatment if necessary. There also could possibly be prescription medication side-effects taking place.
  2. Seek out the thinking behind the irrationality, and then decide how to solve the issue. For instance, possibly the heating and cooling vent in the closet is loose, or an air vent is blowing onto a row of hangers and bringing about a strange sound.
  3. Instead of wanting to correct the individual, react lovingly with assurance and empathy. Focus on acknowledging the feelings being expressed, as well as on letting the person know that you’re going to be there to assist. Accompanying the senior into a different area and providing interesting distractions, such as listening to music, baking, gardening, or browsing through photos together, can help you restore calm.
  4. One of the most helpful ways to conquer any obstacle is by determining what has helped others in a similar situation. Consider joining an in-person or online community of family caregivers, allowing for the exchange of insightful recommendations and information. A wide range of choices are readily available, such as AgingCare.com’s caregiver forum.
  5. Enlist the support of a professional in-home care provider, such as Generations at Home. Our caregivers are proficient at helping aging parents remain active and engaged, as well as helping to decrease challenging behaviors. Partnering with a trusted caregiver also gives you necessary respite, to take a break from caregiving duties while knowing your loved one is benefiting from superior care.

For additional suggestions about assisting your parent through obstacles with aging, dementia or chronic illness, reach out to the senior care experts at Generations at Home. We’re always available to answer any questions, share resources specific to the challenges you are encountering, and to provide a free of charge in-home consultation and development of a customized care plan to improve quality of life for a senior loved one. Reach out via our online contact form or call us any time at 727-940-3414.

How Caring for Aging Parents is Causing Many People to Quit Their Jobs

businesswoman looking out of an office window

Family caregiving can have a large impact on work performance.

Recently, actor Rob Lowe brought family caregiving into the spotlight by sharing his story of caring for his mother and the toll it took on his own life. He explains, “When you’re caring for a loved one, there’s nothing you won’t do to give them as much comfort and peace of mind as you can possibly provide. Often that means you’ll skip your social obligations, wreck your diet, suffer sleep deprivation, and even risk your career.”

Of course, this is nothing new to the vast majority of the U.S. workforce (3 out of 4 employees) who are simultaneously providing care for someone at home. And according to a survey conducted by Harvard Business School, 80% of those family caregivers are struggling to keep up with their career commitments as a result of their caregiving duties. And nearly a third of them end up relinquishing their careers to focus more on the care their loved one requires.

Yet conversely, employers seem to be less aware of the challenges faced by their employees, and the stress that results from juggling responsibilities between home and work, noting in the survey excuses such as, “It’s none of our business,” and “The volume of use of caregiving benefits is low enough that it is not necessary to track it.” And the majority of those employees are in agreement that their organization’s culture is not as supportive as they’d like with regard to meeting needs on the job as well as at home.

So how can employees help to drive the workplace changes needed to ensure that the ever-growing army of working family caregivers receives both the understanding and resources needed for a successful work/life balance? It begins with speaking up to create the necessary awareness of the issue. Employers need to understand the impact family caregiving has on their staff in order to retain the employees most likely to leave over caregiving stress: younger workers, higher-ranking workers, and higher-earning workers. Research and recommend caregiving benefits the employer can offer, and then don’t be afraid to use those benefits when offered.

Additionally, keep in mind that Generations at Home in St. Petersburg, FL provides a highly personalized care solution that allows employed family members to focus more fully on their careers, knowing their senior loved ones are receiving the high quality care they need at home. Contact us online or call us at 727-940-3414 to arrange for a free in-home consultation to learn more about our professional in-home care services for seniors, and how we can partner with your employer to explore caregiving benefit offerings for employees.