Tips to Help Overcome Family Caregiver Dread

caregiver in deep thoughtWhat are your first thoughts as soon as you wake up each morning? Are you looking forward to what the day holds, or would you like to crawl back underneath the covers and stay there? If you are feeling more dread than delight as you think through your family caregiver responsibilities for the day, you’re not the only one.

Distinctly different from anxiety, depression, or even burnout, caregiver dread is an exhausted, heavy feeling of obligation. It stems from feelings of overcommitment as well as the need to escape from obligations. While possible to push through and carry out necessary tasks in spite of these feelings, there are methods to conquer them instead – and regain the joy that comes from making life better for someone you love. For starters, try these techniques:

  • Release the guilt. Meeting the caregiving needs of someone can feel unimpactful, mundane, and simply downright tough. It takes selflessness, which can feel burdening. Yet dreading the daily tasks you’re requested to do by no means reflects the way you feel about your senior loved one. Acknowledge to yourself that your role is not easy, and it’s okay to wish you could be doing something different.
  • Intentionally search for joy. The tiny pleasures each day holds may be diminished by the difficulties. Make the effort every morning to identify five small things that make you smile. Keep a journal of each day’s finds and refer back to it at the end of each week. Engage all of your senses while you seek out the day’s joys: the smell of freshly baked cookies; the beauty of the sunset; the sound of your cat purring; the invigorating feeling of a hot shower.
  • Set boundaries. Designate time every day to spend on pursuits that you enjoy independent of the senior in your care. Plan and look forward to this time when your caregiving tasks start to weigh you down. A dependable care partner is vital to make sure nothing interferes with the important time of taking care of yourself.

Remind yourself that the work you’re doing in caring for your loved one is vitally important. Yet also keep in mind that nobody can do it all, and in order to provide the most effective care for the senior and for yourself, frequent breaks from care tasks are needed.

Connect with Generations at Home’s aging care experts at 727-940-3414 to arrange for regular Pinellas Park respite care services and release the burden of caregiving dread. We’re here for as much or as little assistance as you need to help you enjoy quality time along with an aging loved one and also to rediscover joy in your own life as well. Reach out to us today to find out if our expert respite care services are available in your community.

Lessons From Late Stage Dementia: What the Return of Lucidity Is Teaching Us

caregiver comforting senior coupleEven as memory loss and confusion increase during late stage dementia, there’s a fascinating and pleasant reprieve that frequently occurs. Previously termed “terminal lucidity,” it is more frequently referred to now as “paradoxical lucidity.” It signifies an unexpected, short-term regaining of clarity to a nearly pre-dementia state of mind. During this time, the effects can cover anything from nonverbal but emotional connections to significant cognitive recovery.

For loved ones, it is a special gift to be cherished. It provides the chance for meaningful conversations and reminiscing, as well as the mutual sharing of feelings and thoughts, if only for a brief period of time. For researchers, it means a lot more.

Dr. Basil Eldadah, supervisory medical officer in the Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology at the US National Institute on Aging, looks at the opportunities as exceptional. “It gives us some pause with regard to our current theories and understanding about the nature of dementia. We’ve seen enough examples of this to be reassured that dementia can be reversed – albeit temporarily, very transiently – nevertheless, it does reverse. And so the question then is how.”

Currently, there are six studies ongoing to answer that very question, and to gain more extensive insight into the condition and to explore future therapeutic approaches. Based on initial data from the studies, it’s clear that it is a far more frequent phenomenon than previously realized. Dr. Sam Parnia, lead researcher and critical care doctor, pulmonologist, and associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center states, “If you talk to hospice nurses and palliative care doctors, they all know about this. But no one’s ever studied it properly because no one ever thought anyone would take it seriously enough. So what I wanted to do is to help move this into the scientific realm.”

Education for families taking care of a member of the family with Alzheimer’s is also critical. It’s essential to remember that this short-lived clarity may occur, making it possible for the opportunity to reconnect with the senior, while recognizing that it is not indicative of improvement in his/her condition.

For additional dementia educational materials and care resources, connect with Generations at Home. We’re also always here to provide customized in-home dementia care to help make life the best it can be for people with Alzheimer’s disease as well as the families who love them, through services such as:

  • Memory-stimulating games, activities, conversations, and reminiscing
  • Knowledgeable, compassionate help with the distinctive challenges of dementia, such as aggression, wandering, sundowning, and more
  • Help with safe bathing as well as other personal care needs
  • Household chores and meals to allow members of the family to savor more quality time with the senior they love
  • And so much more

Reach out to Generations at Home, the experts in elder care in Belleair Beach and surrounding communities, at 727-940-3414 to discover the best possible quality of life for a senior you love with Alzheimer’s.

Balancing Family Caregiving and Work Responsibilities Post-Pandemic

family caregiving while working on laptop at the dining table and sons having lunchIf there is one particular positive after-effect of the pandemic, it’s the attention generated for family caregiving. Managing work and home life has long been a tremendous challenge for anyone caring for a senior relative. As Lindsay Jurist-Rosner, CEO of Wellthy, explains, “Caregiving went from a silent struggle to being in the spotlight overnight.”

Employers were unexpectedly placed into the fire of navigating an environment of balancing the safety of staff with the necessity to uphold productivity. Here’s what we discovered – and what we can expect for the future:

  • More telecommuting. People who began working from home over the last year have, in many cases, proven their ability to be more productive. As a result, it’s predicted that nearly 25 – 30% of the workforce within the United States will continue telecommuting at least several days weekly this year.
  • Lower stress. Doing away with the daily commute opens up additional time for self-care for family caregivers, while boosting peace of mind. This is particularly true for individuals who relied on public transportation and were concerned about compromised health safety. To help boost mental health, many employers are providing subscriptions to meditation and mindfulness applications.
  • A corporate culture of caring. Working from home has exposed the personal components of our lives to employers. Zoom meetings share our living spaces with each other, including the appearance of children, pets, and other family members. Because of this, the workplace has become more humanized, resulting in a more empathetic working environment.
  • Emphasis on mental wellness. Along those lines, there’s also now increased understanding of the need for tending to our mental wellness. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll revealed that nearly 45% of adults experienced negative mental health effects as a consequence of the pandemic – and an even greater percentage in people who serve as family caregivers for older family members. Many employers have started implementing strategies to care for the mental health of their employees, such as offering virtual trips and adventures to give the opportunity to escape and relax.

Let Generations at Home further help cultivate an improved work-life balance with our trusted respite and senior care services in St. Petersburg and the surrounding communities. Regular, ongoing respite care is key to the overall wellness of family caregivers. Our skilled and compassionate home healthcare team is on hand to help with anything from just a couple hours every week up to and including around-the clock care. Give us a call at 727-940-3414 to ask about a no cost in-home consultation to get started.

How to Improve Self Care for Seniors Through Gardening

senior lady gardeningThe cool dampness of rich soil. The warmth of the sun’s rays. The joyful music of songbirds. Gardening has the capacity to engage each of our senses, and provides a wealth of benefits to seniors. No matter what the ability level or any space restrictions, there’s always a way to help older adults experience the joys of planting indoors or outdoors, watching new growth emerge, and harvesting.

Spark interest (or renew interest) in the world of gardening for a senior you love, and discover:

  • A sunnier outlook on life. Research has shown that when compared to other hobbies, gardening is typically the winner in fighting stress levels and improving mood. Participants in the study worked on a stress-inducing task, and were then instructed to either spend 30 minutes gardening outside, or reading inside. Blood tests clearly revealed a lowered level of cortisol – a stress hormone – in the gardening group.
  • Increased flexibility, strength, and stamina. Gardening can actually provide a cardio workout in some instances, but even sitting in place while carrying out gardening tasks will help strengthen and build muscles. The basic acts of bending, reaching, twisting, and pulling also increase stamina and flexibility.
  • Reduced dementia risk. An interesting and extensive study of nearly 3,000 participants has revealed that dementia risk is decreased by up to 36% in adults over age 60 who take part in gardening and similar physical activities.
  • The opportunity to make friends. Community gardens bring neighbors together for a common purpose, providing opportunities to establish friendships. The American Community Gardening Association offers its members a chance to find a community garden in their area – or, to start a brand new one.

An indoor garden is perfect for those who cannot get outside or in the event the weather is not cooperating. Decorate small clay pots with markers or paint, and fill with potting soil and herb seeds. Or create a terrarium with a glass bowl, small shells/stones/etc., potting soil as well as some small succulents.

Need some additional indoor gardening activity ideas? Find ten simple ideas here, and contact Generations at Home for a caregiver to help! Our compassionate home care team is always here to help seniors live life to the fullest through engaging activities such as gardening, as well as:

  • Conversations and reminiscing
  • Mind-stimulating games and puzzles
  • Pleasurable outings
  • Favorite (or new) hobbies: knitting, crocheting, mastering a musical instrument or language – the sky is the limit!

Call us at 727-940-3414 any time for a free in-home consultation to get started on an even more enriching life for an older adult you love!

Fun Activities for Seniors with Dementia and Low Vision

two ladies dancingFinding activities which can be engaging and fun for a family member with dementia tends to be a challenge. Add in vision impairment, and it might seem extremely daunting. Yet it is very important to ensure every day holds opportunities for joy, purpose, and meaning – minimizing the level of frustration, agitation, and other difficult emotions and behaviors in dementia.

The first step is to think through the senior’s current and past hobbies, interests and lifestyle. Then brainstorm approaches to tap into those preferences. We’ve collected a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Put together a playlist of the older adult’s favorite songs or genre of music, and then sing along, dance, keep the beat with a tambourine or a sealed container of uncooked rice or dried beans. Reminisce about memories the music raises.
  • Read aloud, choosing stories or articles that are simple to follow and on topics that are interesting for the older adult. For example, a sports fan may enjoy hearing an update on his/her favorite teams and players, and then talking about highlights from the past as well.
  • Get up and moving for increased muscle tone and circulation, as well as to help encourage daytime wakefulness and better nighttime sleeping. If weather permits, exercising outdoors is an excellent option to add in fresh air and vitamin D. Try walks in nature, pointing out the specific trees, birds, flowers, etc. that you pass on the way.
  • Try out a variety of tactile art mediums that can be manipulated without the use of vision, such as sculpting sand or clay. Or try creating a 3-D work of art by gluing shells, buttons, dried pasta, etc. into a shape or pattern.
  • Include the senior in ability-appropriate tasks around the home. Food preparation offers many different options, such as washing and tearing lettuce for a salad, peeling and breaking apart bananas or oranges, and mixing ingredients for a dessert. Or ask the senior to help with folding laundry or sorting nuts and bolts in a toolbox.
  • Try pet therapy. Specially trained pet therapists can provide a safe, trusted cat or dog for the senior to hold or pet. Even though this might seem simplistic, the joy and relaxing effects of spending time with an animal can be significant.

Our care professionals are skilled in creative tips to engage seniors of any ability level to help make daily life more fulfilling. Call us at 727-940-3414 for a trusted care partner today!

Beware of the Latest in Senior Scams: the “Sweetheart Scam”

Senior old elderly person learning computer and online pension and banking internet skills protect against fraudIt’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began; a year of fear, isolation, and loneliness for a great many older adults. Physical distancing has taken away the ability to provide the warmth and comfort of a hug or even an in-person smile in many cases. Yet humans are social creatures, and this diminished socialization has numerous seniors turning their attention to online sources for connection – such as dating websites.

While this may appear harmless or perhaps beneficial, there can be unknown dangers for older adults specifically, known as sweetheart scammers. Here’s what to look for to help keep the seniors you love safe from senior scams:

  • Flattery that turns into requests for financial help. Financial gain is typically the sweetheart scammer’s primary objective. The scammer will use a variety of strategies to achieve that end goal, including targeting weak spots like loneliness. Praising, flattering, and professing everlasting love and affection for a senior the scammer has not met often moves into a request for money.
  • Overwhelming attention. The scammer will hone in on an older adult’s loneliness and vulnerability, lavishing relentless attention. Pay attention to how much time the senior is spending on conversations and texts with the person. You’ll also want to notice if the individual has been declaring his or her love for the senior, particularly early in the relationship. Scammers move rapidly to get to their end goal in the shortest time possible.
  • No online presence. A quick Google search for the older adult’s new love interest can help you assess if the individual is real. In the event the search produces no information of any kind in regards to the individual, it should immediately raise a red flag. You can also run a background check to uncover any criminal convictions, marriage/divorce certificates, or other public records.
  • A fake photo. Google supplies a reverse image search feature (images.Google.com) which allows you to determine if the individual’s profile picture is in fact a stock photo or stolen from another person.

You might even want to consider logging in to your loved one’s email account to monitor activity and help the senior discern between actual relationships and scammers.

Above all, talk with the senior about the prevalence of online sweetheart scams. Take note of your loved one’s description of his or her new love interest and exactly how the relationship is progressing. Point out any warning signs and help your loved one understand the danger he or she might be facing.

Generations at Home is here to help with safe, trusted caregivers to provide older adults with the cheerful companionship that alleviates loneliness, isolation, and desperation. Give us a call at 727-940-3414 or fill out our online contact form for a free in-home assessment for more information.

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.