Today’s Most Recent Cancer News Updates You Need to Know

 young adult female hugging her mother who has cancerEach year since 1999, we’ve achieved an increasing decline in cancer-related deaths, an encouraging trend that’s poised to continue as researchers learn more and more about the causes of cancer and are able to develop new and better treatment methods. Yet cancer is still one of the leading causes of death in America, second only to heart disease – making it all the more crucial to continue to press forward with persistence to find a cure.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

  • Diet makes a difference. Although a diet rich in antioxidants can help prevent cell damage (and protect against cancer), a recent study showed that in some cases, cancers take advantage of a nutrient-rich diet, leading to accelerated metastasis. As a result, the recommendation is to avoid antioxidant supplements unless the doctor prescribes them. Get your antioxidants from fruits, veggies, and beans instead, as the additional molecules in the whole food make a difference. Additionally, a link is suspected between sugary drinks (soda, artificially sweetened drinks, and even 100% fruit juice) and an increased risk of cancer.
  • Cancer may develop before birth. In particular, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is believed to stem from a mutation that develops in utero, triggered when infection is first introduced. The recommendation is to ensure children are exposed to germs in the first year of life, to train the immune system to deal with pathogens and prevent the secondary mutation that triggers leukemia.
  • The focus is shifting to immunotherapy. Those who’ve experienced the ravages of chemotherapy’s side effects will be relieved at the latest treatment advances, which focus on immunotherapy that enables the targeting of only the cancer cells themselves. A clinical trial of a “cancer vaccine,” in conjunction with a light dose of radiation, has already shown promising results.
  • The financial impact can be overwhelming. A large study of 9.5 million cancer patients revealed an average financial loss of over $92,000, as 42% of these patients were required to deplete their life savings to cover the cost of just the first two years of treatment. Authors of the study share, “As large financial burdens have been found to adversely affect access to care and outcomes, the active development of approaches to mitigate these effects among already vulnerable groups remains of key importance.”

If you or a loved one is facing the challenges of cancer, let us help. Our professional in-home care team can prepare healthy meals, pick up prescriptions, provide accompaniment to appointments, and offer the emotional support needed to focus on healing. Contact us at 727-940-3414 for assistance.

Reasons Why Women Are at Higher Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers are finally beginning to get a grip on the imbalance between Alzheimer’s diagnoses in women and men. Currently, as many as 2/3 of those with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. are female, and as scientists begin to understand the particular nuances behind this trend, we can begin to address them.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s Director of Scientific Engagement, Rebecca Edelmayer, “Women are at the epicenter of Alzheimer’s disease as both persons living with the disease and as caregivers of those with dementia. Over the last three years, the Alzheimer’s Association has invested $3.2 million into 14 projects looking at sex differences for the disease and some of the findings today may explain risk, prevalence, and rate of decline for women.”

The longstanding belief has been that women simply have a longer expected lifespan, and we know that Alzheimer’s becomes more prevalent as age increases. Yet the theory has shifted to include the following additional determinants:

  • Biology. Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers discovered that women with mild cognitive impairment had a more accelerated spread of tau (the protein in the brain linked to death of brain cells), as well as a greater extent of tau network connectivity, than that of men.
  • Memory. A study conducted by the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine revealed higher scores on verbal memory tests in women than men, which may contribute to the ability of women’s brains to compensate for cognitive impairments and to the delay of a diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
  • Employment. Memory decline in women ages 60 – 70 who never worked was greater than in women with consistent employment, per the findings of a study conducted by the University of California Los Angeles – indicating that “consistent cognitive stimulation from work helps increase cognitive reserve in women.”
  • Lifestyle. Because a healthy lifestyle, including a lower incidence of stress, helps reduce Alzheimer’s risk, women are particularly vulnerable – as they are most often in the role of family caregiver, a known inducer of stress.

All of these findings highlight the need for women to take good care of their own health and wellbeing, and Generations at Home is here to help. We provide the trusted St. Petersburg senior care that enables family caregivers to take much needed breaks from caring for their loved ones and focus on self-care. Our caregivers are specially trained and experienced in meeting the unique needs of those with Alzheimer’s disease, giving family members the peace of mind in knowing their loved ones are receiving the very best care. Call us at 727-940-3414 to learn more about our Alzheimer’s care services.

How Seniors Can Use Technology to Comfortably Age in Place

elderly woman is using a smartphoneWhether you’re looking to tune a guitar, learn a new language, or simply add cats’ ears to a selfie, there’s an app for that! And for seniors who choose to age in place, technology can be a key component in enhancing safety, comfort, and overall quality of life.

Take Amazon’s Alexa, for instance. While its current benefits for seniors are countless, including the ability to track glucose levels, make medical appointments, and research information related to a particular health condition, it’s actually poised to delve even deeper into the health care arena – perhaps even detecting heart attacks and helping doctors obtain accurate diagnoses.

Here are some additional technology solutions you might want to consider for a senior you love:

  • Home Security: A motion-detecting security system offers peace of mind related to crime prevention, but often can do so much more, such as alerting when sensing smoke, broken glass, or temperatures in the home that are too high or low, just to name a few. They’re also beneficial for those with dementia who may be prone to wandering, to alert to a senior’s movements in and around the home.
  • Telehealth: Save a trip to the doctor’s office by utilizing one of a variety of apps that allow for remote consultations from board-certified physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists, many of whom are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Fall Prevention: One of the top contributors to senior falls is insufficient lighting. Smart lights use motion detection to boost lighting in areas of particular concern, such as between the bedroom and bathroom, or on outdoor walkways, when triggered by a person’s movement.
  • Fraud Protection: Senior scammers are relentless and constantly evolving their tactics. Older adults can enhance protection through apps that keep an eye on financial activity and neighborhood crime activity, reduce robocalls, catch any usage of a person’s Social Security number, and more.
  • Health Care: A variety of health care needs can now be met from the comfort of home, including video chats with doctors to avoid a trip to the office, prescription ordering, and medication management to ensure meds are taken at the correct times and in the correct doses.

Contact Generations at Home for more tips on improving life at home for seniors – whether through technology, our professional in-home care assistance, or both! We’re always available to help set up and explain technological options, and to provide the tried-and-true, hands-on assistance in the home that empowers older adults to live their best lives. Call us any time at 727-940-3414 for a free in-home consultation and let us know how we can help!

Common Medication Prescriptions Linked to Increased Risk of Alzheimer’s

Senior citizen female holding bottles of prescription medicine sitting in a wheelchair.

Generations at Home’s medication reminder services ensure seniors take the right medications at the right time.

They’re already known to cause a number of short-term side effects, such as memory loss and confusion, but new research links some of the stronger anticholinergic drugs (such as those prescribed for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and overactive bladder) to a markedly increased risk for dementia.

The study involved two groups of seniors: 59,000 patients with dementia, and 225,000 without. About 57% of those with dementia, and 51% without, were given at least one (and up to six) strong anticholinergic medication. Taking into account other known dementia risk factors, the results were an astonishing 50% increased risk of dementia in those who were taking strong anticholinergics daily for three or more years, with the greatest risk to those who received a dementia diagnosis before age 80.

It’s important to note that there was no correlation discovered between dementia and other forms of anticholinergics (such as antihistamines like Benadryl and GI medications).

While these findings do not prove anticholinergics as a cause for dementia, at the very least, “This study provides further evidence that doctors should be careful when prescribing certain drugs that have anticholinergic properties,” according to Tom Dening, study co-author and head of Nottingham’s Center for Dementia. Dening also stressed that those currently prescribed these medications should never cease taking them abruptly, which can cause even more harm.

If it’s determined that these medications do in fact lead to dementia, an estimated 10% of all seniors currently struggling with dementia may be able to attribute the condition to anticholinergics.

The recommendation is for anyone concerned about this potential link to talk with his or her physicians to weigh the benefits against any potential risks, and to explore alternative means of treatment when possible. For example, those taking medications for help with sleeping – something that has become increasingly common in older adults – can consider behavioral changes and a more therapeutic approach over insomnia medications.

And regardless of the medications a senior takes, proper medication management is key – something that’s easier said than done with many older adults taking multiple medications in various doses at varying times of the day. Generations at Home’s medication reminder services are perfect to ensure seniors take the right medications at the right time – every time.

Our specially trained and experienced dementia care team is also on hand to provide creative, compassionate, effective care strategies to help minimize the challenging aspects of the disease, leading to a higher quality of life for both seniors and their families. Contact us at 727-940-3414 any time to learn more.

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.

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: Read more

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.