Advancements in Alzheimer’s Research Made in 2020

Brain from wooden puzzles. Mental Health and problems with memory.With so much negative news in the forefront of 2020, it is worth reflecting on a number of the wonderful achievements the year brought – most notably the advancements in Alzheimer’s disease research. Katie McDonough, director of programs and services for the Alzheimer’s Association, shares, “There are many things that we’re learning and it’s an exciting time for Alzheimer’s research.”

The following are just a few of the milestones reached that are taking us ever nearer to a cure:

  • Identification of Alzheimer’s risk factors. Understanding the leading risk factors for dementia, such as excessive alcohol consumption, pollution, and traumatic brain injury (among others) is projected to lower cases of Alzheimer’s around the world up to 40%.
  • Falling rates of Alzheimer’s cases. For the past three decades, dementia diagnoses in North America and Europe have declined by 13% per decade – very likely due to changes in lifestyle.
  • Progress towards earlier diagnosis. The Early Detection of Neurodegenerative diseases initiative (EDoN) has been launched, wherein digital devices are now being developed to diagnosis dementia earlier – as early as 10 – 15 years before symptoms begin.
  • Greater focus on MCI. Mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is now being evaluated more closely, making it possible for earlier strategy, diagnosis and treatment.
  • Dementia blood tests. Predictors for the potential risk of Alzheimer’s disease are becoming more sophisticated, and in a recently available study from Sweden, scientists identified blood-based proteins that predict future thinking and memory problems.
  • Review of antipsychotic prescription drugs. A recently available study conducted by the University College London uncovered an elevated rate for the prescription of antipsychotic medicines for those with dementia – likely from the increased need for delirium management along with agitation and anxiety from COVID-19 restrictions. These medications are recommended only when no alternative is available, and the reduction of their use is currently being further explored.
  • Artificial intelligence. At a faster pace and less expensive, a new AI solution is able to determine the form of proteins in the brain, helping medical researchers design medications that can help remove these proteins.
  • Aducanumab. The FDA accepted this promising drug in 2020 for a priority review process, meaning that sometime early in 2021, we should be finding out if it is approved for use within the general population.

At Generations at Home, we are committed to following the current research on dementia, as well as on providing the cutting-edge, highly skilled care that helps those diagnosed with dementia live to their greatest potential. Whether the need is for full-time care, or simply several hours every week for trusted respite services, reach out to us for an in-home assessment for more information on how we can help.

Tips for Family Caregivers: Three Benefits of Family Therapy

With a serious look on her face, the teen girl looks at her grandmother during group therapy.There are certain milestones we might encounter in our lives that, while not fundamentally negative, are known stressors. Losing a job. Starting a new job. Getting married. Getting divorced. And one that individuals in the home care industry are particularly mindful of: the mental and physical impact on family members who are caring for aging parents.

A number of conflicting emotions crop up for people in the role of family caregiver, and these are increased when trying to share commitments with siblings or other members of the family. There are past resentments and hurts that may resurface, disputes pertaining to decision-making, in addition to the stress of trying to navigate what feels like a role reversal with a parent who once took care of us.

For these reasons and more, family counseling tends to be a great addition to a family caregiver’s toolbox to ensure the absolute best possible care for aging parents, as well as his/her own physical and mental wellbeing. Listed below are just a few benefits of family therapy as parents age:

  • It provides care for the caregiver. Agreeing to the role of family care provider may be daunting in and of itself, but factor in additional responsibilities, for example, managing a home and caring for children while maintaining a career, and you’ve got a recipe for stress. Family therapy helps caregivers work through challenging emotions and reach resolutions.
  • It offers support through grief. Grief comes in many forms, and quite often begins in the early stages of being a caregiver for aging parents, as family members work through the inherent changes happening now and also to come. When an elderly parent is identified as having Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia, the decrease in cognitive functioning results in yet another degree of grief. A family counselor can assist all members of the family to work through their grief together.
  • It helps the family as a unit. A family therapist is focused on achieving what is most beneficial for the whole family as well as its cohesiveness, through challenges for example, issues connected to inheritance and other financial considerations, medical decisions, and any challenging family dynamics.

If in-person counseling sessions for your family are not practical because of geographic restraints, continued COVID-19 distancing concerns, or any other reason, phone or Zoom sessions can be every bit as beneficial. One of the keys is for involvement to be a top priority for all family members involved, and to make therapy sessions a consistent, routine obligation.

If you need a partner to provide trusted respite care services while you devote the time necessary for family therapy, call us at 727-940-3414. With both a reliable family therapist in addition to the aging care professionals at Generations at Home on your side, your family can deal with caregiving obstacles and enjoy high quality time together.

Long Distance Caregiving Tips: Assessing an Aging Parent’s Mental Health

Senior couple on a video calling using a digital tablet at homeThe isolation and fear caused by COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the wellbeing of older adults, with nearly half of seniors surveyed in a Kaiser Family Foundation poll stating that their amount of stress and worry was negatively impacting their health. And while it still may be unsafe to visit in person with older adults, it’s crucial to stay in regular and frequent contact, and to watch out for any changes or signs which might indicate a mental health concern.

As stated by psychiatrist Judith Feld, MD, MPH, “If a senior usually really enjoys a call with a grandchild, for example, but that seems to have changed, maybe you need to ask more questions, such as, ‘How can we be of help?’”

Other symptoms and signs of depression to watch for include sleeping issues, reduced appetite, sluggishness, and complaints about pain, which interestingly, can often be one of the key symptoms of depression in older adults. Take note of anything that is out of normal for a senior’s personality and character.

It is crucial to understand that depression is not just an unavoidable element of growing older, and that it can be a serious – but treatable – condition.

Here are a few further guidelines to help thoroughly assess an older adult’s mental health:

  • Make sure the conversation is natural and organic, without coming across as interrogating. Statements such as, “Tell me what has been happening in your life this week,” will motivate a senior to open up a lot more than, “Tell me what your doctor mentioned at your last scheduled appointment.” The goal is to be caring however, not condescending, being careful never to try to parent your mother and father.
  • While talking with and seeing the grandchildren on Zoom is an easy way to boost a senior’s mood, make sure to plan for some one-on-one time to talk, sans children.
  • Take notice of what is going on in the background of your video chats for any additional clues, such as whether or not the home looks clean and well maintained, including personal hygiene – unkempt, disheveled hair, for example.
  • Take into consideration whether substance abuse might be a factor. An increase in alcohol consumption during the pandemic is happening in individuals of all ages, and can be very harmful if there are potential interactions with medications a senior loved one is taking.

If you suspect depression or any other mental health issues in your senior loved one, be sure to get in touch with the doctor right away. Because you are most familiar with the senior, you may be in a position to pick up on signs that the medical team misses during routine appointments, and it’s vital to help make your concerns known.

If you have any concerns, connect with the St. Petersburg home care experts, Generations at Home, for additional assistance. We’re able to serve as your eyes and ears when you are unable to be there in person, and offer a wide selection of customized services to boost socialization and quality of life at home. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 to find out more.

Advice for Becoming a Caregiver for a Family Member

elderly lady having tea with her daughterIt may have come totally without warning: an unexpected fall that led to a fractured hip and the requirement for Dad to have assistance to stay at home. Or, it may have been building up over the years, such as through the slow and incremental progression of Alzheimer’s disease. No matter the circumstances, you have now found yourself becoming a caregiver for a family member, and maybe are wondering what exactly that means and how to navigate these uncharted waters.

First of all, take a deep breath, and a moment to appreciate the selflessness of your decision. Caregiving is an incredibly rewarding undertaking, yet not without its struggles. A bit of proactive planning will go a long way towards an easier transition to care, both for yourself and your loved one. A great starting point is to consider the way you would both like each day to look and to make a simple timeline to record the daily activities and tasks that will need your attention. For instance:

  • 7 a.m.: Help Dad get out of bed, showered, dressed, and ready for the day
  • 8 a.m.: Make breakfast and tidy up
  • 9 a.m.: Take Dad to exercise class and/or physical therapy
  • 11 a.m.: Run errands with (or for) Dad
  • 1 p.m.: Prepare lunch and clean up
  • 2 p.m.: Help Dad get settled set for afternoon activities: a film, reading, puzzles, nap, participating in a well-loved hobby or pastime, etc.
  • 6 p.m.: Make dinner and clean up
  • 8 p.m.: Help Dad with bedtime tasks – a bath, changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, etc.
  • 10 p.m.: Help Dad get into bed

Your list will be different for each day, of course, but this offers a helpful overview to let you know when you could have just a little downtime to yourself, and when you will need to provide hands-on help.

This is also an appropriate time to establish boundaries together – and also to pledge to adhere to them. Again, these will be different for each person as well as on different days, but decide what is essential to each of you: having a specified time every day for self-care and personal time, when family and friends may come to visit, whether or not you want to maintain a job outside of the home, etc.

Recognize that Generations at Home is always here to help while you adjust to your caregiving role with the respite care needed to make certain you are able to take care of yourself, as well – something which is extremely important to both you and the senior in your care. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 for more information about our senior care in St. Petersburg and other nearby areas in Florida.

How to Help Elderly Parents Maintain Dignity and Independence at Home

portrait of senior manIt is simple to get caught up in the day-to-day caregiving tasks required to help elderly parents at home. There’s a great deal to be done, and often it’s just easier and more efficient to do it all on your own, letting the seniors relax. After all, our elders have taken care of everything for a lifetime; don’t they deserve a break?

The truth, however, is that retaining dignity and independence through our later years is particularly necessary to our wellbeing, something that originates from a desire for meaning and purpose in life. Even though ensuring safety is, of course, a primary concern, there are ways to help elderly parents feel empowered and still in control while in your care. For instance:

  • Work together on chores. While standing at the sink and scouring pots and pans might be unsafe or difficult for a senior loved one, perhaps she or he can sit at the table and dry them. The senior might not be in a position to bake a meal from start to finish but can mix ingredients while you reminisce about recipes made over the years. It could take a little consideration; nevertheless, it’s worthwhile to determine methods to alter tasks to incorporate the older adult’s assistance as much as possible.
  • Permit decision-making. Seek out opportunities to ask for the older adult’s wisdom, allowing her or him to remain in control. As opposed to assuming he or she will want a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, ask. Before automatically accompanying a loved one to the doctor’s office for an exam, ask if she or he would like you there. Having a say in even the smallest of decisions can make a major difference in self-esteem.
  • Ensure safety with respect. Safety is, certainly, paramount, but there are ways to make sure a senior loved one stays safe without overstepping boundaries. Medical alert systems, for instance, are a great way to encourage independence in older adults while providing them with the means to call easily for help when needed.
  • Hire professional in-home caregivers. Some older adults resist the thought of their adult children helping them with personal care needs, such as using the toilet or taking a bath. A professional agency caregiver, who is trained and experienced in helping seniors maintain dignity while staying safe, is often a more agreeable solution.

Reach out to our aging care team at Generations at Home to learn more about our trusted home care services and other care tips on how to help elderly parents age at home, always provided with the respect and attention to the dignity older adults deserve. We are available for as little as a few hours each week up through and including 24/7 care. Call us at 727-940-3414 or fill out our online contact form to learn more about our home care in Indian Shores and other surrounding areas in Florida.

Dementia Caregiver Tips: How to Handle Shadowing

Granddaughter giving a surprise gift to grandmotherPrimary caregivers for those with dementia are frequently all too familiar with the complications experienced in trying to take a quiet moment or two alone – to use the bathroom, get a quick shower, and even step into another room. Those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can experience enhanced fear when a family member is out of sight – a condition known as shadowing. And the ensuing behaviors can be extremely challenging to manage: crying, meanness and anger, or continuously asking where you are.

It can help to understand the reasoning behind shadowing. You are the older adult’s safe place, the main one who helps make sense of a disorienting and confusing world, so when you’re gone, life can feel frightening and uncertain. And keep in mind that shadowing isn’t a result of anything you have done; it is simply a natural part of the progression of dementia.

Generations at Home offers the following dementia caregiver tips that can help:

  • Expand the senior’s circle of trust. Having another person or two with you while you go through the senior’s daily routines might help him/her begin to trust someone aside from yourself. Slowly, once that trust is in place, the senior will become more at ease when you need to step away, knowing there’s still a lifeline readily available.
  • Record yourself. Make a video of yourself doing laundry or taking care of other day-to-day chores, reading aloud, singing, etc. and try playing it for the senior. This digital substitution may be all that’s needed to provide a feeling of comfort while he or she is apart from you.
  • Take advantage of distractions. Finding a soothing activity for the senior to engage in could be enough of a distraction to permit you a brief time period of respite. Try repetitive tasks, such as sorting silverware or nuts and bolts, folding napkins, filing papers, or anything else that is safe and of interest to the senior.
  • Avoid conflict. Your senior loved one may become combative or angry as a way to express his or her fear of being alone. No matter what he or she may say, it is imperative that you keep from quarreling with or correcting the senior. An appropriate response is to validate the person’s feelings (“I can see you’re feeling upset,”) and redirect the conversation to a more pleasing topic (“Would you like to try a piece of the cake we made earlier?”)
  • Clarify the separation period. Because the sense of time can be lost in individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, telling a senior loved one you’ll just be away for a minute may not mean very much. Try using a common wind-up kitchen timer for brief separations. Set the timer for the amount of time you’ll be away and ask the senior to hold onto it, explaining that when it rings, you’ll be back.

Engaging the services of a highly trained dementia caregiver who understands the nuances of dementia and can put into practice creative techniques such as these can help restore peace to both you and the senior you love. The dementia care professionals at Generations at Home are fully trained and available to fill in whenever you need a helping hand. Give us a call at 727-940-3414 or fill out our online contact form for a free in-home consultation and learn more about how our customized dementia care in Kenneth City and other surrounding areas can help with your particular challenges.

How Creating a Memory Book Can Help a Senior with Dementia

memory book

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss

Memories are the glue that binds together our past with who we are today; and for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease, confusion around these memories may have a deep impact. One of our goals in caring for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is to help them store and share memories in order to make sense of daily life.

Creating a memory book can help a senior with dementia, with photos and short descriptions to refer back to when the older adult has questions relating to his or her identity, loved ones, etc. Memory books are great for responding to repetitive questions and for helping to clear any muddied waters. For instance, if an older adult asks who his brother is, whether she’s married (and to whom), where he used to live, etc., an easy response of, “Let’s go through the memory book,” can be extremely effective – and, can help with redirection as well for a senior experiencing difficult behaviors or emotions.

The book can (and should) be basic and straightforward. Simply pick out a sturdy binder, scrapbook, or photo album and place 1 to 2 photos on each page, with a short description underneath. Include such details as:

  • Close family and friends, including those from the senior’s childhood, if possible
  • The senior’s place of work
  • Milestones and special events
  • Hobbies/interests
  • Pets
  • Previous homes
  • And more

You may also create individual sections for every category, so it will be easier to find a certain image when wanted. For a more elaborate or extensive book, you can make use of the template, identifying which pages you wish to include that’ll be most helpful for your loved one.

For additional creative dementia care tips and resources, call Clearwater home care provider Generations at Home at 727-940-3414. We are also pleased to offer a free in-home assessment to share how we can help with the particular challenges your loved one is facing. Our highly trained, compassionate dementia caregivers can:

  • Encourage socialization
  • Offer creative approaches to manage challenging behaviors
  • Ensure safety in bathing/showering, dressing, etc. in addition to reducing fall risk
  • Provide trusted respite care for family caregivers to take some time for self-care
  • Engage seniors in enjoyable, meaningful activities
  • Assist with preparing meals and clean-up
  • Run errands, such as picking up prescriptions and groceries
  • And so much more

Reach out to our Alzheimer’s care specialists today to discover a higher quality of life for a senior you love.

Helping to Alleviate Holiday Senior Depression

sad senior woman sitting on couch

Although this season is typically viewed as the season of joy, for many, holiday senior depression is real and brings with it a period of deep despair. Yearning for holidays past, sadness over the loss of close friends and family, and difficult changes to health can magnify throughout the holiday season, and it’s essential to take steps to help senior loved ones prevent the downward fall into depression.

Start with asking yourself these three questions if a senior you love is feeling blue this holiday season.

  1. Might it be regular nostalgia? Wistful feelings of nostalgia, remembering pre-pandemic holiday celebrations and get-togethers, are normal for all of us. Determine if the older adult’s sadness is lifted following a journey down memory lane, or if it lingers no matter what the topic of conversation is.
  2. Is health affected? If your loved one is struggling to sustain a balanced and healthy diet, has difficulty with staying or falling asleep during the night, is losing weight, and/or is feeling fatigued, these could all be indications of depression.
  3. Is the senior disengaged? Look for a lack of interest in formerly-enjoyed activities, diminished motivation, trouble with concentration and focus, and/or the inability to sit still without fidgeting, as these can also be common in depression.

Lara Honos-Webb, clinical psychologist and author of “Listening to Depression: How Understanding Your Pain Can Heal Your Life,” compares the difference between depression and sadness to colors. “A person is blue if they have deep, colorful emotions in response to loss in life. Depression is more like the color black – there [are] no subtle colors to the emotion but stark pain.”

It is essential to seek medical assistance if depression is suspected – and even if you’re uncertain – as effective treatment is readily available and necessary, and early detection and treatment are key. Also, there are a number of steps members of the family can take to support a loved one with depression:

  • Create a list of the senior’s interests, and set a schedule to take part in one or more of them together.
  • Encourage your loved one to exercise along with you, including getting outside for walks in nature.
  • Turn on some of the senior’s favorite music, or if the senior plays an instrument, request that she or he play some songs for you.
  • Remain positive yourself, providing affirmations of your love, as well as the many small but wonderful gifts each new day brings.
  • Most importantly, just be there, whatever the older adult’s mood. At times, just sitting together quietly may make a world of difference in how someone feels.

Connect with the St. Petersburg senior care experts at Generations at Home for more tips and resources in order to help enhance health and wellness for older adults, and for high quality in-home care which makes every single day the very best it can be.

How to Safely Enjoy Celebrating the Holidays with Seniors During COVID-19

senior man on video call

Think about the most ideal holiday season you are able to imagine. While that image will vary slightly for every one of us, it could include gifts, good food, lights, and traditions passed down through the generations. Yet what most certainly rings true for everyone is the happiness in spending time with the people we love.

Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us all to rethink how to safely enjoy celebrating the holidays with seniors. With a little bit of ingenuity and creativity, however, it’s quite possible to bridge the gap while making new memories with the seniors you love, even if you can’t be with them in person this season.

Our aging care professionals have compiled several tips to allow you to get started:

  • Adjust traditions. Consider the traditions that mean the most to you and your family, and how you can alter them to keep everyone safe. For instance, if everyone usually gets together each year to bake cookies, try using Zoom or a comparable platform to stay connected while making cookies from home. Choose a favorite recipe, have everyone log on at a specific time, and bake away while visiting and listening to some holiday music.
  • Don’t forego decorating. Seniors who live alone often look forward to having loved ones, especially grandchildren, visit to help with holiday decorating. Without in-person visits, older adults may not be motivated to bother with decorations. Again, using a software app like Zoom, plan a time for everyone to get together online and share the stories behind favorite decorations.
  • Enjoy the wonderful outdoors. If weather allows, plan short visits with seniors outside, safely socially distant and with face coverings. String lights on trees around the yard and decorate the front porch.
  • Send smiles. Pictures, cards, letters, telephone calls, small gifts, etc. will all mean a great deal to older adults who are missing time with loved ones. Coordinate with members of the family to take turns reaching out as much as possible in ways similar to this so that your older senior loved ones are flooded with expressions of love.
  • Share your feelings. There is nothing quite as heartwarming as hearing from someone you love about the impact you’ve made on his or her life. Take this time to convey your thankfulness towards the older adults you love for the difference they’ve made in your daily life, and be specific: “Grandma, your patience with me when I was a teenager taught me what unconditional love looks like, and thanks to you, I’m a more patient person with my own kids.”

Generations at Home’s St Petersburg home care providers are experienced and fully trained in improving wellbeing for seniors at home and follow stringent safety protocols for every person’s protection. Contact us at 727-940-3414 to learn how we can help make this holiday season the very best it can be for a senior you love.

Elderly Care Tips: How Humidifiers Can Improve Quality of Life

smart home, humidifierFor seniors and those with lung conditions such as COPD, maintaining the best possible air quality in the house is a must. Air that is too dry, for instance, might cause or exacerbate health problems such as:

  • Itchy, dry, or chapped skin
  • Nose bleeds
  • Sore throat
  • Dry eyes
  • Aggravated allergy, asthma, and flu/cold symptoms such as congestion
  • And more

Yet air that is too humid can cause mold and mildew to grow, which can lead to a variety of health issues along with causing damage to the home.

Humidifiers, when used correctly, can help maintain an ideal level of moisture in the air (between 30 – 50%), and particularly for anyone with a chronic lung disease, can foster eased breathing, reduced irritation of nasal passages, and the ability to more effectively expel phlegm in coughing.

Also, using a humidifier during the night can ease congestion and snoring, help reduce the level of any allergens, viruses and bacteria in the air, even relieve an itchy scalp. Again, use caution to be sure the amount of humidity doesn’t surpass the optimal range, which can bring about disrupted sleep patterns.

There are many different types of humidifiers to choose from:

  • Central humidifiers, which are built into the house’s central heating/air conditioning unit; the most costly option, but one that will benefit the entire house rather than only one room
  • Impeller humidifiers, utilizing a cool mist, which is a safer option because it cannot cause burns; it may, however, trigger allergic or asthmatic problems if overused
  • Evaporators, blowing air through a dampened filter; a budget friendly choice, but can be problematic if allowed to add too much moisture into the air
  • Ultrasonic humidifiers, using vibrations to produce mist in either a warm or cool option; offered in an assortment of sizes
  • Steam vaporizers, which are typically the least expensive and most portable option; water is heated and then cooled before being discharged into the air

Speak to a physician about the benefits of a humidifier in your loved one’s particular circumstances, and which type is preferred.

Generations at Home is here to assist those diagnosed with chronic medical conditions like COPD, or simply just the challenges inherent in normal aging, through a variety of home care services. Call us at 727-940-3414 to discover how we can help you breathe easier with reliable in-home support.