As 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.
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.
On any particular day, a physician likely has somewhere around 20 patients to see – combined with telephone calls, paperwork, and various other administrative responsibilities. It leaves precious little time spent with each patient, which is why it’s imperative to take advantage of that time and ensure you properly comprehend the outcome of each appointment.
At Generations at Home, our caregivers offer transportation and accompaniment for seniors to medical appointments, and suggest the following approach:
- Don’t be hesitant to ask questions. With such a time crunch, your health care provider may tend to communicate information to you rather quickly, and it’s up to you to hit the pause button to make sure you clearly comprehend everything that is being communicated and to speak up with any questions you might have, regardless of how small or seemingly unimportant you may think they are.
- And, plan ahead of time for those concerns. It is often challenging to process everything being shared with you within the few minutes spent together with the doctor. Creating a list of concerns beforehand can help guarantee nothing slips through the cracks. Some questions to consider include:
- What are the long- and short-term outcomes of my condition?
- What could be the reason behind this condition?
- Is there a remedy?
- Where exactly can I find additional resources?
- Will I require any medical tests?
- What are the possible adverse reactions from those tests?
- When will I be given the test results?
- What treatments are available to help with my health problem?
- What are the likely side effects of these medications?
- Are there changes in lifestyle I should think of making?
- Take excellent notes. Bring along paper and a pen, or use the notes section of your smartphone or tablet, and write down answers to your questions along with any other information the doctor provides. It can be beneficial to have a trusted friend or professional caregiver on hand throughout the appointment in order to make sure everything is understood.
- Include other medical experts. Don’t forget that although the instructions supplied by the doctor are paramount, other individuals within the senior’s medical team can provide worthwhile insight as well: nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, dieticians, physical therapists, etc. Follow up with these professionals for extra assistance in carrying out the doctor’s instructions if warranted.
At Generations at Home, we are always here to help older adults through medical appointments and procedures in many ways, and to help carry out doctors’ instructions after returning home. We can provide transportation, medication reminders, preparation of meals that are in adherence with any prescribed dietary plan, and lots of other tasks to ensure the best possible health for seniors. Contact us at 727-940-3414 to learn more!
“Absolutely Dad can move in with me!”
Family care providers are making this commendable choice more often, signifying the beginning of changes in lifestyle they can only fully understand once immersed in them. And even though the rewards of providing care for an older loved one are immeasurable, they are not lacking multiple challenges as well.
It may seem natural to manage everyday activities for a senior loved one; however, it’s much less instinctive than it initially seems. As an example, helping a senior in the shower or bath the wrong way can cause a fall. Inadequate incontinence care may cause skin damage and infection. Noncompliance with a recommended nutritional plan can bring about a number of health complications.
It’s not a surprise that in a current report provided by AARP, “Home Alone Revisited,” a lot of family caregivers reported stress over the chance of making an error in the care they provide. The report features answers from a study sent to over 2,000 family caregivers, who revealed that even though they believed their caregiving was enabling their family members to remain at home over a move to an assisted living or nursing home setting, they expressed concern over their proficiency to complete the tasks needed.
Participants in the survey identified that the most emotionally stressful part of caregiving is incontinence care. And, nearly ¾ of family caregivers surveyed are routinely undertaking medical duties associated with pain management – responsibilities for which they wished they’d been given better training and assistance from the senior’s medical care team.
Heather Young, dean emerita at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis (and co-author of the report) points out that, “Too often (family caregivers) are unprepared and do not get the support they need to assume these important roles.”
Asking for guidance and training in new tasks is vital for family caregivers. Those who partner with a knowledgeable in-home care provider, like Generations at Home, can decrease the trepidation and uncertainty in managing care at home successfully. Our caregivers are fully trained in the countless intricacies of aging care, and can provide family members with valuable guidance and education. We also offer trusted, reliable respite care services that enable family caregivers to step away from their care duties while knowing their senior family member will be safe and well cared for.
Call us at 727-940-3414 for a free in-home consultation to learn more.
Think of an average day in the life of a senior loved one. Ideally it provides a couple of positive and enriching experiences: savoring breakfast, participating in an enjoyable hobby or interest, visiting with a good friend or relative, watching a well-liked show on tv. Nonetheless, there’s a distinction between positivity and purpose; and the value of a life rich with significance and purpose is becoming more understandable, particularly in the life of senior loved ones.
Viktor Frankl, world-renowned psychiatrist and survivor of the Holocaust, shares poignantly, “What matters is not the meaning in life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.”
For anyone whose identity has been devoted to a job and raising a family, and who now are in a season of retirement and fulfilled family commitments, it can be difficult to find other meaning and purpose. At Generations at Home, we make it a priority to help seniors find their passions and funnel them into purposeful experiences, such as:
- Volunteering. For a senior who loves working with children, tutoring, reading to, or mentoring kids at a local school is an excellent option. Other people may care greatly about helping veterans, and put together care packages of personal care products and snack food items to send overseas. And for animal lovers, delivering treats, blankets, and an affectionate heart to a pet shelter could be extremely satisfying.
- Learning. It’s true: you’re never too old to master something new. Look into your nearby community college, library, or senior center to find classes or online programs of interest to your senior loved one.
- Helping at home. Well-meaning family caregivers oftentimes take over household duties to relieve their senior loved ones from the chores they have taken care of throughout their lifetime. Unfortunately, this may have the adverse effect of leaving seniors feeling as though they are no longer useful. Engage the senior in tasks throughout the home that are within his / her expertise and interest, such as assisting with preparing meals, folding laundry, organizing nuts and bolts in a toolbox, etc.
- Recording family history. Providing the next generation with the rich family history and stories experienced firsthand is a treasure that only seniors can provide. Help your senior loved one document his / her lifetime legacy in a scrapbook, writing, or video recording, and then share with family and friends.
And, get in touch with Generations at Home for the customized in-home support that helps seniors discover satisfaction and purpose, while remaining secure and comfortable within the familiarity of home. We’re able to supply transportation to interesting and enjoyable activities, help plan and implement ideas to accomplish right at home, or help with the various daily tasks throughout the house, such as cleaning and cooking, enabling friends and family to savor high quality time together. You can contact us any time at 727-940-3414.
Of the many effects of Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps one of the most concerning is the individual’s tendency for wandering as well as the potential dangers that may occur if the senior becomes disoriented or lost. Wandering can take place when the older adult is:
- Scared, confused or overwhelmed
- Trying to find someone or something
- Seeking to keep a familiar past routine (such as going to a job or shopping)
- Taking care of a basic necessity (such as getting a drink of water or going to the bathroom)
The objective is twofold; to help keep the senior safe, and to make certain his / her needs are fulfilled to attempt to prevent the need to wander to begin with. Try the following safety measures in case your senior loved one is likely to wander:
- Be certain that the residence is equipped with a security system and locks that the senior is unable to master, such as a sliding bolt lock above his or her range of vision. An assortment of alarms can be bought, from something as simple as placing a bell over door knobs, to highly-sensitive pressure mats that will sound an alarm when stepped upon, to GPS devices which can be worn, and more. It’s also a great idea to register for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.
- Conceal exits by covering up doors with curtains, setting temporary folding barriers strategically around doorways, or by wallpapering or painting doors to match the surrounding walls. You could also try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes dissuade people in the earlier stages of dementia from trying to exit.
- Another danger for individuals who wander is the additional risk of falling. Look over each room of the house and address any tripping concerns, such as removing throw rugs, extension cords, and any obstacles that may be obstructing walkways, adding extra lighting, and placing gates at the top and bottom of stairways.
It is important to keep in mind that with supervision and direction, wandering is not necessarily an issue. Go for a walk together outside anytime weather permits and the senior is in the mood to be mobile, providing the extra advantage of fresh air, physical exercise, and quality time together.
While often tricky to manage, the dementia care team at Generations at Home has been specially trained to be equally watchful and proactive in deterring wandering and to utilize creative strategies to help seniors with dementia stay calm and happy. Email or call us at 727-940-3414 for more information!
“I’m telling you, there is a dog in my closet! I hear it growling all night long. We have got to find its owner!”
Hearing a senior loved one express worries such as this that you know to be untrue is unsettling – yet not abnormal. Your very first impulse could be to attempt to rationalize with the person with a response such as, “Nonsense! There’s not a chance a dog may have gotten into the closet!” All the same, for several different reasons, this can be the least successful option to handle irrational ideas and behaviors within the senior population.
Alternatively, at Generations at Home, we suggest the following strategies to help restore a feeling of calm and wellbeing:
- First and foremost, schedule a check-up with the senior’s doctor. It’s important to identify any cognitive problems and to make certain he or she receives appropriate treatment if necessary. There also could possibly be prescription medication side-effects taking place.
- Seek out the thinking behind the irrationality, and then decide how to solve the issue. For instance, possibly the heating and cooling vent in the closet is loose, or an air vent is blowing onto a row of hangers and bringing about a strange sound.
- Instead of wanting to correct the individual, react lovingly with assurance and empathy. Focus on acknowledging the feelings being expressed, as well as on letting the person know that you’re going to be there to assist. Accompanying the senior into a different area and providing interesting distractions, such as listening to music, baking, gardening, or browsing through photos together, can help you restore calm.
- One of the most helpful ways to conquer any obstacle is by determining what has helped others in a similar situation. Consider joining an in-person or online community of family caregivers, allowing for the exchange of insightful recommendations and information. A wide range of choices are readily available, such as AgingCare.com’s caregiver forum.
- Enlist the support of a professional in-home care provider, such as Generations at Home. Our caregivers are proficient at helping aging parents remain active and engaged, as well as helping to decrease challenging behaviors. Partnering with a trusted caregiver also gives you necessary respite, to take a break from caregiving duties while knowing your loved one is benefiting from superior care.
For additional suggestions about assisting your parent through obstacles with aging, dementia or chronic illness, reach out to the senior care experts at Generations at Home. We’re always available to answer any questions, share resources specific to the challenges you are encountering, and to provide a free of charge in-home consultation and development of a customized care plan to improve quality of life for a senior loved one. Reach out via our online contact form or call us any time at 727-940-3414.
The Alzheimer’s Association has released its 2019 Facts and Figures Report, and with a full 5.8 million Americans currently diagnosed with the disease – including one out of every ten seniors – it’s important for all of us to understand the latest developments in research and treatment options.
According to the report, the number of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is expected to explode from 5.8 million in 2019 to an estimated 13.8 million in 2050. And while the impact is greatest on older adults, the disease begins to create changes in the brain a full 20 years or more before symptoms are evident.
If you’re one of the millions of family members providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you’re well aware of the investment in time required: combined with other family caregivers, totaling 18.5 billion hours in 2018 alone. In fact, 83% of dementia care is provided by family and friends. And the impact on a caregiver’s health is significant, with nearly 60% reporting emotional stress and nearly 40% suffering from physical stress.
Risk factors have also been updated in this year’s report, and include:
- Age: Not surprisingly, risk increases dramatically with age, from as little as 3% in the 65 – 74 age group, to 17% in those ages 75 – 84, to a whopping 32% for those age 85 and older.
- APOE gene: Of the 3 forms of the APOE gene (e2, e3, and e4), which transports cholesterol in the bloodstream, the e4 form is linked to the highest prevalence of the disease.
- Family history: Individuals with at least one first-degree relative (parents, siblings) are at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s, and the risk increases when shared lifestyle and environmental factors are at play (i.e. unhealthy eating or obesity).
Of significant importance is the finding that although healthcare providers are advised to regularly assess cognitive functioning for all seniors, only 16% of those over age 65 report receiving a routine assessment, and more than half have never received an assessment at all – in spite of the fact that 94% of physicians noted the importance of such an evaluation.
Per Joanne Pike, Dr.P.H., chief program officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, “Early detection of cognitive decline offers numerous medical, social, emotional, financial and planning benefits, but these can only be achieved by having a conversation with doctors about any thinking or memory concerns and through routine cognitive assessments.” Generations at Home remains committed to following the latest developments in Alzheimer’s disease, and to providing the exceptional, highly skilled care that allows for the highest possible quality of life at all times for those with dementia. Contact us online [KW3] or call us at 727-940-3414 for more educational resources related to Alzheimer’s, or to learn more about our specialized in-home dementia care services.
Have you ever woken up and thought, “It’s going to be one of those days!” Maybe your alarm didn’t go off, the hot water heater decided to quit working, and the dog chewed up one of your favorite shoes overnight. Now imagine if every day were “one of those days!” For a person living with a chronic disease (and that’s the majority of the senior population, daily struggles and challenges can be a given.
Yet there are several steps that older adults can take to discover and maintain a life of joy, even in the face of chronic illness. For instance:
- Follow passions. Finding purpose and meaning in each day is crucial – and attainable. Many older adults find fulfillment in helping and encouraging others. Others thrive on being lifelong learners. For some it may mean documenting the past for the next generation. Brainstorm ideas until you come upon one that sparks passion, and then make it a reality.
- Practice positivity. One great way to achieve a more positive outlook on life is by journaling. Encourage your senior loved ones to begin each day by creating a list of everything they’re thankful for that morning, including the seemingly mundane: the smell of fresh coffee brewing, a cat curled up in a sunbeam, an upcoming lunch date with a friend. At the end of each week, sit together and read back through the previous entries for a quick and effective pick-me-up.
- Avoid negativity. Adding in a measure of positivity as outlined above can naturally lead to reduced negativity, but there are additional steps that can be taken as well. For instance, allow for breaks from activities that induce frustration to allow needed time to de-stress. Place the focus on tackling tasks that can be accomplished successfully, and find an alternate solution for those that are too challenging, such as delegating those tasks to another family member or friend, or engaging the services of a professional.
- Leave the house. Maintaining as active a lifestyle as possible outside of the home can be so refreshing for older adults. Help your senior loved ones go out for hair appointments, shopping excursions, visits with friends, and other fun outings, as much as they are able. Even simply stepping outdoors and relaxing on the front porch when weather permits can greatly enhance someone’s mood and outlook.
At Generations at Home, it’s our goal to help older adults achieve the highest possible quality of life at all times. Our fully trained and experienced caregivers provide cheerful companionship, engaging activities, transportation, and more. Contact us online or call us at 727-940-3414 and discover the difference our in-home care services can make for your senior loved one!