Technology for Older Adults that Makes Living at Home Easier and Safer

senior lady and adult daughter looking at tablet“You are always free to choose what you do with your life. To make changes in your future, make new choices today.” – Brian Tracy

Selecting where to live in our older age is not straight forward. Nearly all seniors would rather remain at home for a lifetime, however it is not without concerns. Can it be safe? How about mobility issues or any other physical limitations? What happens if an older adult falls and cannot get up?

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of solutions that make aging in place feasible for seniors. Technology, for instance, is constantly evolving and developing, offering answers to the difficulties that may surface as we get older. Just look at some of these tech devices and how they are improving life at home for older adults!

Remote Patient Monitoring

Remote patient monitoring connects individuals with their physicians in innovative ways: wearable devices to trace vital signs, smart pill bottles with sensors, bio-ingestible capsules older adults can swallow, even electronic tattoos that can assess the progression of pneumonia. It’s a step above telehealth appointments, delivering more comprehensive data on a person’s medical condition than can be determined via a video chat.

Home Safety

Smart devices provide peace of mind to an older adult who lives alone – and to the family members who love them. Older adults can select from individual products that meet a particular need, for example, a smart door lock, doorbell, or fire alarm, or entire smart security packages for all of these features and much more.

Additionally, a smart speaker system such as Amazon Echo or Google Nest Audio operates by voice command, an essential feature to a home technology system. The senior can simply say what they need, for example, calling for help, and technology takes care of it.

Whole Home Automation

For people who want to jump into technology with both feet, a central control system will allow for a variety of functions to be executed at the touch of a tablet or smartphone, for example, lights, security cameras, sensors, window shades, thermostat, music, Wi-Fi, and so much more.

Michael Miller, author of My Smart Home for Seniors, sums up the many benefits of technology for seniors: “Technology helps all homeowners, but especially seniors, by automating things that are a pain or difficult to do.”

Of course, a human touch is always necessary for safe and independent living at home, in spite of how many tech tools we utilize! Reach out to Generations at Home at 727-940-3414 for customized in-home care support that will help seniors truly thrive.

Preventing Broken Heart Syndrome and Ways to Help Seniors Who Are Grieving

senior lady looking at old photoIn his documentary about grief, George Shelley uses the analogy of glitter. Toss a handful of glitter into the air, and it is going to settle into most of the cracks and crevices of the room, impossible to fully sweep up and remove. Individuals who have lost a loved one can relate. Yet in some instances, grief may be so overwhelming that it can result in a serious and aptly-named condition: broken heart syndrome.

Broken heart syndrome is a very real physical condition due to the intense stress experienced in some forms of grief (such as one spouse losing the other after decades of marriage). The medical term is takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a temporary enlargement of the heart that prevents it from pumping blood effectively.

And, it’s more prevalent than you may know. A number of high-visibility examples include George H.W. Bush, who became ill following the loss of his wife of 73 years, and Johnny Cash, who passed on just four months following the loss of his wife.

Researchers have been studying the impact of grief on an individual’s physical health for years. In 1995, for example, the term “widowhood effect” was coined to describe the 30% rise in mortality rate faced by individuals who lost a longtime partner. Other scientists determined a connection between grief and the immune system. Some surviving spouses simply lose the will to live.

Help prevent this condition and ease the pain of grief for someone you love with these tips.

  • Help the senior stay involved with comforting, enjoyable activities whenever possible.
  • Provide a listening ear and encourage the senior to convey their grief in a healthy way.
  • Talk about the lost loved one, allowing the opportunity for shared stories and memories.
  • Recommend the person speak with a therapist to effectively work through overwhelming emotions.
  • Look for a grief support group for the senior to attend, either in person or virtually.
  • Make sure the person is staying hydrated, eating well balanced meals, and getting lots of sleep.
  • Emphasize to the senior everything they have to live for, and that doing so is the best way to honor the lost loved one’s legacy.

A trained caregiving companion from Generations at Home is also a great way to help a loved one who is grieving. We offer socialization and lots of opportunities for conversations and reminiscing, as well as engaging activities, transportation wherever an older adult would like to go, and much more. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 for a complimentary in-home consultation to find out more.

How Hearing Loss Treatment May Help Prevent Dementia

happy senior man wearing hearing aidAre you finding the need to turn the television up louder for a senior you love? Chatting more loudly? Repeating conversations your senior loved one missed hearing the first time? Hearing loss in older adults is not uncommon. But fresh research is pointing to a startling connection between hearing loss and an elevated risk for dementia.

How Hearing and Cognitive Functioning Are Related

There are several hypotheses that researchers are investigating to explain the link between hearing loss and dementia:

  • Reduced social interaction results in less mental stimulation and a less active and engaged brain.
  • An older brain shrinks more rapidly as the result of hearing loss.
  • The brain’s thinking and memory systems are affected when it has to focus harder to strain to hear and also to fill in the gaps when communication is missed.

It’s very important to determine the exact reason for this connection and to discover if treating hearing loss can help. The number of individuals who could be impacted is astonishing, with up to 37.5 million Americans currently having some level of hearing loss.

We already know that those diagnosed with hearing loss have a decline in cognitive functioning at a rate of 30 – 40% faster compared to those with normal hearing. Not only this, but hearing loss escalates the risk for additional health issues, for example, depression and falls.

The good news is that medical researchers at Johns Hopkins are presently working to determine whether treating hearing loss could actually minimize brain aging and prevent dementia. A study of almost 1,000 seniors with hearing loss is ongoing, and by as early as the coming year, we’ll have the information needed for a path forward.

If someone you love has difficulties with hearing loss, encourage them to get a checkup and to wear hearing aids if recommended by the doctor. Our care providers can even provide transportation for that checkup if needed.

Additionally, our dementia care specialists are readily available to help those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia to stay safe, comfortable, and involved with enjoyable and meaningful activities. We can also help with more effectively managing a number of the challenging behaviors connected with dementia, in particular aggression, agitation, wandering, sundowning, and more.

Just call us any time at 727-940-3414 for additional details on how we can help older adults live healthier lives at home. We offer a free in-home consultation to answer all of your questions and to develop a personalized plan of care to best meet your needs.

Four Great Social Activities for Seniors

Elderly women enjoying fun activities outsideIf you’ve ever watched kids at the playground, you know how effortlessly friendships are formed. A small group may be playing tag, and a newcomer dashes over with a breathless, “Can I play?” More often than not, the response is a resounding, “Sure!” and voila – instant friends.

If only it were that easy as adults! Friendships provide us with a wealth of benefits, and are especially important for seniors now following COVID-related isolation requirements. So how can you help the older adults you love boost socialization and make some new friends? Short of jumping into a pick-up game of tag, try these tips:

  • Join a club. Brainstorm topics of interest with your loved one: reading, knitting, gardening, fishing, sports. Then search online for groups in your area that meet to enjoy those activities together. The local senior center may be a great resource as well. If you can’t find an already-established group, consider starting one of your own!
  • Take a class. Community colleges often offer reduced-cost (or no-cost) classes for seniors. Browse through an online list of courses to find one or more that spark the senior’s curiosity and sign up. Don’t forget to check out physical fitness classes too! A variety of exercise programs geared specifically to older adults can be found at the local gym or YMCA.
  • Attend religious services. Many seniors stayed away from religious services during the pandemic. As it becomes safer to venture out, religious organizations are a great way to both build faith and friendships, often offering weekday programs and study groups in addition to worship services.
  • Get involved virtually. There are countless opportunities to meet others remotely – even more so since the pandemic caused us to think outside of the box. From online games to yoga to learning new languages, whatever the interest, there’s likely a virtual version available!

Once engaging in new activities such as these, it can still be challenging to know how to bridge the gap from an acquaintance to a friend. Help the senior remember that more than likely, everyone else in the room is feeling the same trepidation and self-consciousness to some degree. With those playground children in mind, encourage the senior to make the first move to start a friendly, welcoming conversation. Sometimes all it takes is one person brave enough to break the ice to kick off a lifelong friendship!

Our caregiving companions are great friends for seniors too! We carefully match each person with a caregiver who shares a similar personality type and interests, leading to a fast and strong bond between the two. Contact us online or call us at 727-940-3414 for a free in-home consultation to learn more!

How to Handle the Effects of Chemo Brain

Elder man holding his head in discomfortShort-term memory problems. Confusion. Inability to concentrate. Could it be Alzheimer’s?

Perhaps; but if you’re a cancer survivor, there’s another common culprit that could be at play: chemotherapy. Known as chemotherapy induced cognitive impairment (CICI) or “chemo brain,” effects such as these can last for months or even years post-treatment.

Chemo brain can occur in anyone receiving chemotherapy as well as radiation, surgery, or hormonal treatments, even without chemo. Additionally, the cancer itself can cause cognitive problems as well, compounding the difficulty with effectively treating the condition.

Dr. Kevin Liou of the Bendhaim Integrative Medicine Center of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center explains, “Cancer-related cognitive impairment is now understood to be a complex, multi-factorial problem with various contributory factors.”

As a result, chemo brain can occur any time during or after cancer treatment, presenting with symptoms such as difficulty with:

  • Multitasking
  • Reading comprehension
  • Finding the right word (i.e., remembering the name of a person or familiar object)
  • Completing sentences
  • Processing information
  • Attention span

A general feeling of fuzziness has also been reported. Taking these steps can help maximize cognitive functioning if chemo brain is impacting you or someone you love:

  • Prioritize getting 6 – 8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Exercise each day for at least 20 – 30 minutes. This can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, choosing a parking space farther away from your destination, or taking a daily walk around the block.
  • Manage stress by incorporating time every day for calming activities.
  • Minimize distractions.
  • Get plenty of fresh air, avoiding exposure to any airborne toxins.
  • Make a realistic list of to-dos, and prioritize them.
  • Use memory-assisting tools such as notifications and alerts on your phone.
  • Create and stick to a routine to help with your particular concerns; for instance, if you’re struggling with misplacing items, make a habit of always placing your keys, wallet, etc. in the same place every single day.

Generations at Home’s caregivers are skilled in caring for those diagnosed with cancer, before, during, and after treatment. We develop a personalized plan of care that addresses any challenges being faced and outlining solutions to help overcome them, through services such as:

  • Planning and preparing healthy meals that are palatable to those receiving chemotherapy
  • Grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, and running other errands as needed
  • Providing friendly companionship to engage in conversations and fun activities to brighten each day
  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • Assistance with personal care needs
  • And more

Call us at 727-940-3414 and let us know how we can help.

What to Do When Guardianship of an Elderly Parent Is Needed

Family caregiver helping elderly loved one with paperwork

In a perfect world, our family interactions would all be helpful and positive. We would handle transitional times cooperatively, smoothly, and without any disagreement. As our parents grew older, it would be a seamless process to meet their needs today and as they change in the future.

The reality, however, is that being an adult child to aging parents can be tumultuous. It’s not easy to discern when to step in and help, and when to step back so as not to step on your parents’ toes. And, there may be times when your efforts to help are met with resistance – even though you know that help is needed for their safety and protection.

A good first step is to ensure the senior parent has designated both a power of attorney and medical power of attorney. The person or persons entrusted with these roles will have the authority to make financial and health-related decisions on behalf of the senior if he or she were to become unable to do so.

However, even if you are the designated power of attorney/medical power of attorney for a senior parent, you may want to consider going a step further and petitioning for guardianship. This is worth exploring if:

  • The senior’s home or other property needs to be sold
  • Medical intervention is necessary
  • Dementia or other cognitive function limitations are impacting the person’s decision-making ability

There is also the option for limited guardianship, if the senior is capable of maintaining control in some aspects of life, while other areas are compromised.

How to File for Guardianship

  1. First, schedule an appointment with the senior’s doctor, who will need to determine if guardianship is necessary and complete a form attesting to the senior’s physical and mental functioning.
  2. You can then file for guardianship at a probate court. The court will run a criminal background check, assess your financial responsibilities, and investigate whether there are any conflicts of interest.
  3. You are then legally bound to notify both the senior and family members (as outlined in the estate code) of your intent to obtain guardianship.
  4. Finally, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the senior, and a decision will be made to determine what is in his/her best interest.

At Generations at Home, we’re here to help ensure all of the needs of your aging parents are met. Contact us to find out more.

The Keys to Happy & Healthy Aging

It has taken nearly 80 years and a variety of research studies to produce the result: a good genetic makeup and wealth really have very little to do with our degree of joy. The Harvard Study of Adult Development launched in 1938, looking into the lives of high-profile participants such as Ben Bradlee and John F. Kennedy. Over the years, it has been expanded to add inner-city residents along with offspring from the original Harvard elite, and the outcomes were unexpected, to say the least.

It was established that the most effective predictors of a long and happy life were not genetics, IQ, finances, fame, or social class but quite simply close relationships. Robert Waldinger, director of the research study and a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital as well as a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, shares, “The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.” 

Psychiatrist George Vaillant, who spearheaded the study from 1972 until 2004, shared in his book “Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development,” the factors that forecast healthy aging:

  •     The absence of smoking and alcohol abuse
  •     Physical activity
  •     Mature mechanisms in place to manage difficulties in life
  •     Sustaining a healthy weight
  •     Having a stable marriage

In a nutshell, self-care is crucial for senior health – both mentally and physically – and devoting time and effort to making your relationships the best they can be most certainly falls under that umbrella as well. As a matter of fact, subsequent scientific studies have uncovered that the satisfaction level men and women experience in their relationships is an even better determinant of what their physical health is likely to be later in life than physical factors like cholesterol levels. 

The research also upended prior thinking that our personalities are set in stone by age 30. Many people who encountered difficulties in their early adult years enjoyed fulfilling later years, while others excelled early in life but ran into challenges in later years because of mental health issues and alcoholism. 

The research study is ongoing, looking into its third and fourth generations, as researchers believe there is still more to understand, such as how to better regulate stress and whether a hard childhood makes a difference in middle age and later years.

Let Generations at Home’s compassionate caregivers help instill joy in an older adult’s life; reach out to us today! Our caregivers serve as friendly companions to engage in exercise, conversations, and enjoyable activities together, cultivating socialization and additional relational connections. You can reach us 24/7 at 727-940-3414 to arrange a complimentary in-home consultation to learn more.

Six Ways to Boost Senior Health and Wellness

Many individuals have left their New Year’s resolutions by the wayside by the end of January, but who says resolutions should only be made in the beginning of the year? There’s no time like the present to start a new goal or habit, particularly for seniors hoping to improve overall health. 

We have six tips you can implement today. Select one to begin, or jump right into all of them to attain the greatest benefit:

  1.     Make an appointment for a physical. As opposed to waiting for an injury or illness to contact the physician, a yearly check-up is a perfect way for older adults to stay on top of their own health and potentially prevent problems before they occur.
  2.     Get physical. With the doctor’s approval and recommendations at hand, kick off a new exercise routine – together! Working out with a senior you love allows you to motivate one another and function as accountability partners. Agree to sticking with it for a minimum of 21 days, after which it ought to be an ingrained, pleasurable habit you will wish to continue.
  3.     Stay connected. Help the older adult maintain friendships and contact with friends and family to ward off isolation and loneliness – something we have all become too familiar with throughout the pandemic. Offer transportation if needed for dinner dates, or with setting up technology to stay virtually connected.
  4.     Update vaccinations. Along with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, flu, pneumonia, and shingles vaccines must be up to date. With age comes an elevated risk for severe effects from these illnesses, so vaccinations become much more important.
  5.     Don’t forget mental health. A mental health provider can help determine if anxiety, depression, or other concerns should be addressed, offering both therapeutic tools and medication if needed. Staying mentally sharp through brain enrichment activities can also help with the natural cognitive decline that occurs in aging.
  6.     Monitor what you eat. If the fridge and pantry are full of empty-calorie or fatty foods, replace them with proteins, whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, and low-fat dairy products. An extreme change in diet can be overwhelming and hard to stick to, so start simple with one replacement at first – carrot sticks instead of potato chips, for example – and work up to an overall healthier diet.

Generations at Home is here to help older adults in achieving these and any other goals with personalized in-home care and companionship. From transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and fitness classes to grocery shopping and preparing healthy meals, all while giving socialization a much-needed boost, we’re empowering seniors to live their best lives every day. Email or call us to learn more about how we can help an older adult you love!

Promising Alzheimer’s Vaccine on the Rise

If 2021 will be recalled as the year for COVID-19 vaccines, perhaps 2022 will be marked with a different type of life-changing vaccine: one which may actually slow or prevent the further advancement of Alzheimer’s disease. 

The first human trial of Protollin, delivered by way of nasal spray, is underway in 16 seniors with-early stage Alzheimer’s symptoms and who are between the ages of 60 and 85 years old. The predicted outcome will be to activate immune cells which will eliminate the beta-amyloid plaque thought to cause the disease.

Arriving on the heels of controversial results of Biogen’s Aduhelm, the first new approved drug for Alzheimer’s in decades, the stakes are high. Aduhelm is an antibody infusion that at first appeared to fail in its goal of improving memory and cognition functioning, leading Biogen to discontinue clinical trials. Yet several months later, there did seem to be a beneficial impact in a small group of participants, leading the FDA to approve its use – even though the outcomes are not definitively clear.

Identifying an effective preventative or treatment option is vitally important. The most current statistics show approximately 6 million Americans currently diagnosed with the disease. It is also among the leading causes of death in adults within the U.S., with a steep incline in mortality rate of 88% between 1999 and 2019. And that statistic may only be scratching the surface, as it represents only those clinically diagnosed. We know that those with cognitive impairment may struggle with receiving the correct diagnosis, and they often are challenged by other health issues as well.

Scientists are hopeful that Protollin, along with Aduhelm and other antibody drugs undergoing study, is positioning us on a promising path forward. Jeffrey Cummings, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas brain-science professor, goes as far as to say, “It just feels like we have turned a corner.” 

Our elder care experts are helping older adults with Alzheimer’s each day, and we excitedly look forward to a point in the future when the disease is defeated. Until then, we’re here for your needs with personalized, creative care in order to make life the very best it can be for those diagnosed with dementia. 

It’s vitally important for loved ones caring for a person with dementia to protect their own health by ensuring ample time for self-care. Our dementia care team can help you set up a schedule for regular time away – just as much or as little as you wish. We are skilled in effective management of many difficult effects of the disease, including wandering, aggression, agitation, sundowning, and many others.

Reach out to us at any time at 727-940-3414 for a free assessment to learn more. 

Caregiving for COPD: How to Best Communicate and Connect

happy-senior-man-holding-oxygen-mask-with-copdIt began with those in your inner circle, and it has gradually been spreading outward to close friends and acquaintances. Discussing your COPD diagnosis and knowing how to respond to the many questions that arise about it can be uncomfortable – for you personally, and for those you’re speaking with as well.

Interestingly, you could find that the greatest challenges come in communicating with your primary caregiving partner – the individual who is closest to you. Family caregiving for COPD can raise a number of emotions. The person on the receiving end of care may feel insecure and self-conscious as a result of needing assistance, which could lead to feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration, just to name a few. The care provider may feel incapable of meeting all of the required needs, regretful for mistakes made, and downright worn-out from attempting to manage someone else’s care needs with their own.

There are a number of key strategies to improve communication with your caregiving partner:

  • Make sure you are both fully informed about COPD, the corresponding symptoms and treatment plans, and its typical progression. The doctor can offer resources for both of you to more fully understand what you are facing.
  • Don’t beat around the bush. Clearly and honestly state your feelings and needs.
  • Listen to your partner – and let them know they’re being heard. Nod, maintain eye contact or use other nonverbal indicators to demonstrate you’re listening.
  • Be assertive without being controlling. Your emotions are valid and deserve to be shared in a constructive way without lashing out at the other person.
  • Avoid argumentative words and phrases, for instance, “You never…” or “You always…”. The individual is probably going to become defensive and hurt feelings will intensify.
  • Remind yourself that no one is a mind-reader. If you’re assuming your caregiving partner knows what you are thinking or how you’re feeling merely by your actions, it opens the door to misinterpretation.
  • Maintain empathy and respect for one another. You both are facing new and evolving challenges, and will both make mistakes. A little grace will go a long way.

It’s also a smart idea to call a time-out if emotions start to escalate. Take a break from one another and focus on calming activities, such as listening to music, reading, exercising, or writing in a journal. When you both feel calmer, try the conversation again.

At Generations at Home, we understand the stress that can develop when battling a chronic health issue like COPD, and we are available to help. Our friendly caregivers make great companions to talk with and spend time with engaging in enjoyable activities. We work with family caregivers to make certain they have time required for self-care, while enriching the lives of the older adults for whom they care. Reach out to us any time to find out more about our home care services in Pinellas County, Florida.