Wandering and Alzheimer’s: Why It Happens and How to Help

dementia care experts

Wandering is a common side effect of Alzheimer’s disease.

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
  • Bored
  • 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!

 

Why Is Dad Being So Irrational? Tips To Understand and Respond to Senior Paranoia

St. Petersburg FL home care

Dementia can cause irrational thoughts.

“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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Important Facts and Figures to Know from the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2019 Report

Closeup of various reminders attached with magnetic thumbtacks on metal

Learn about the newest and most important information regarding Alzheimer’s Disease

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.

How to Be Happy—Even with Chronic Pain or Illness

senior man playing with his dog

Living a joyful, happy life is possible despite chronic pain.

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!

How Caring for Aging Parents is Causing Many People to Quit Their Jobs

businesswoman looking out of an office window

Family caregiving can have a large impact on work performance.

Recently, actor Rob Lowe brought family caregiving into the spotlight by sharing his story of caring for his mother and the toll it took on his own life. He explains, “When you’re caring for a loved one, there’s nothing you won’t do to give them as much comfort and peace of mind as you can possibly provide. Often that means you’ll skip your social obligations, wreck your diet, suffer sleep deprivation, and even risk your career.”

Of course, this is nothing new to the vast majority of the U.S. workforce (3 out of 4 employees) who are simultaneously providing care for someone at home. And according to a survey conducted by Harvard Business School, 80% of those family caregivers are struggling to keep up with their career commitments as a result of their caregiving duties. And nearly a third of them end up relinquishing their careers to focus more on the care their loved one requires.

Yet conversely, employers seem to be less aware of the challenges faced by their employees, and the stress that results from juggling responsibilities between home and work, noting in the survey excuses such as, “It’s none of our business,” and “The volume of use of caregiving benefits is low enough that it is not necessary to track it.” And the majority of those employees are in agreement that their organization’s culture is not as supportive as they’d like with regard to meeting needs on the job as well as at home.

So how can employees help to drive the workplace changes needed to ensure that the ever-growing army of working family caregivers receives both the understanding and resources needed for a successful work/life balance? It begins with speaking up to create the necessary awareness of the issue. Employers need to understand the impact family caregiving has on their staff in order to retain the employees most likely to leave over caregiving stress: younger workers, higher-ranking workers, and higher-earning workers. Research and recommend caregiving benefits the employer can offer, and then don’t be afraid to use those benefits when offered.

Additionally, keep in mind that Generations at Home in St. Petersburg, FL provides a highly personalized care solution that allows employed family members to focus more fully on their careers, knowing their senior loved ones are receiving the high quality care they need at home. Contact us online or call us at 727-940-3414 to arrange for a free in-home consultation to learn more about our professional in-home care services for seniors, and how we can partner with your employer to explore caregiving benefit offerings for employees.

How to Help Aging Parents Who Are Reluctant to See a Doctor

doctor explaining medication schedule to senior man

Find helpful information that can persuade your aging loved ones to get the medical care they need.

Why don’t we face it: many of us put off going to the doctor’s office. It could be uncomfortable and downright distressing when something is wrong and we are confronted with the prospect of an undesirable diagnosis. Nonetheless, we recognize it makes sense to do what’s most beneficial for our health and wellness and to be conscientious about obtaining necessary healthcare.

For senior loved ones, many other concerns enter into play as well, commonly resulting in the decision to skip that check-up or follow-up appointment, even if it is obviously not in their best interest. Whenever a senior loved one digs in her heels, refusing to see the doctor, it is important to first realize why the resistance is happening, to tackle those concerns, and after that to know how best to provide encouragement.

One of the main reasons seniors avoid healthcare appointments and procedures is fear. It might appear safer and easier just to disregard symptoms and hope they will fix themselves on their own. For other people, the worry can be financial. Or they might want to prevent the distress of being reminded of a weight problem, or to disclose living an unhealthy lifestyle.

Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that it is vital for the elderly to manage their own health, which calls for routine medical examinations and staying proactive in bringing to light any worries. So as an adult child, how can you best help overcome your parent’s resistance to seeing a doctor?

At Generations at Home, we’ve learned that perhaps the most effective approach to convince aging parents to take care of themselves is by their adult children discussing what it means to them. Our parents have cared for us all of our lives, and want what is most beneficial for us. Sharing your point of view can go a long way towards convincing them of the necessity and subsequently encouraging them to remain healthy. For instance, try initiating the discussion like this:

“Mom, the pain you have been experiencing in your wrist is really concerning me. Can we go to have that looked at so that I’ll be able to stop worrying?”

You could be pleasantly surprised at how easily your aging parent will agree, understanding that it will help you. If you continue to struggle with assisting your loved one to be aware of the need for proper medical care, turn to Generations at Home. We are experienced in assisting families with navigating the often challenging transition to agree to assistance in the home, and sometimes the recommendation of an experienced, unbiased third party will make a world of difference in easing concerns and moving the focus towards the many benefits of Pinellas County, FL in-home care. Call us now at 727-940-3414.

Flying Solo? Here’s Why It’s Vital to Partner with Professionals for Dementia Care.

daughter visiting her senior mother in hospital

Learn how in-home dementia care from our St. Petersburg home care experts can provide needed respite.

Although millions of older adults are struggling with the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease, a far greater number of family members are struggling with caring for them. Surprisingly, nearly 75% of family caregivers are managing their senior loved ones’ dementia care needs on their own, with only 26% reaching out for professional care assistance.

Unsurprisingly, families want to do all they can in order to satisfy their loved ones’ needs, but dementia caregiving can cause an exceedingly high level of both mental and physical stress. This takes a toll on the caregivers’ own health and wellbeing in the long run, particularly once the disease progresses. And many members of the family assume there’s an all-or-nothing approach: either oversee their loved one’s needs in the home, or confront moving him or her into residential care.

Generations at Home, fortunately, has a solution that is good for seniors with dementia along with their family caregivers: the addition of a professional in-home dementia caregiver to provide as much or as little respite care as necessary. Here is why we believe that dementia care at home is best:

  • Highly trained care. Because our care providers are both skilled and experienced in the many complex facets of Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia, they will proactively address and more effectively manage even the most difficult of behaviors, including wandering, aggression, sundowning, and more.
  • Enhanced safety. The possibility of accidents is increased for those with dementia. Even something that appears as uncomplicated as assisting your loved one into the shower or onto the toilet can cause a dangerous fall risk. Skilled care providers know how to watch out for and avoid falls, keeping both you and your family member safe from harm.
  • Sustainable aging in place. Very often, family caregivers become so stressed attempting to meet all of a senior loved one’s needs in combination with their own that a change to a residential dementia care facility seems inevitable. However, partnering with a professional dementia care provider opens up the possibility of long-term, beneficial care in the home.
  • Ease of mind. Knowing your senior loved one is in qualified hands enables you to take a breath, relax, and step away from the pressures of caregiving for the much-needed breaks that decrease stress as well as the potential for caregiver burnout and depression.

It’s better to look into in-home dementia care possibilities as early in the disease as you possibly can, to allow for an even more seamless transition and to be sure that your loved one gets the most beneficial care from the very beginning. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 to inquire about a consultation from the comfort of home, where we can create a highly customized plan of care which will increase quality of life for your senior loved one today, and also as needs change in the future.

Dementia Care Tips Caregivers Wish They’d Known Sooner

two senior women hugging

Learn important dementia care tips from the Pinellas County dementia care experts at Generations at Home.

In some cases, the best lessons in life come through experiencing them firsthand; yet the lessons learned by those who’ve walked an identical course before us is priceless. If you’re providing care for a family member with dementia and feeling a bit weighed down in this uncharted territory, the strategies below will help:

  • A brief break will make all the difference. When your senior loved one is struggling with complicated feelings, such as fear or anger, it’s advisable to temporarily stop whatever activity or task she is taking part in, and allow time for a breather. Change the situation by moving into a different area or outside if the weather allows, play some favorite music, look through a scrapbook, or point out different birds and flowers. When peace is restored, you should attempt the task again, frequently with far better results.
  • Let go of rationalizing. Aiming to establish a point or win a disagreement is rarely successful when speaking with someone with Alzheimer’s. Remind yourself that the individual’s brain functioning is changed, and as long as no harm will likely be done, permit the senior to maintain her own personal reality.
  • Address denial. While it may be human nature to want to deny that there’s a challenge, acknowledging signs and symptoms of dementia and seeking medical assistance at the earliest opportunity is recommended to obtain the medical care and treatment necessary.
  • Check medications. The side effects of some prescription drugs have the ability to cause greater confusion and cognitive difficulties than the disease itself. Put together an in-depth listing of all medications (including over-the-counter ones) and review together with the senior’s health care provider to confirm that the benefits surpass any unwanted side effects.
  • Take proper care of YOU, too. Caregiver burnout and depression are significant concerns for loved ones taking care of a senior with dementia. Ensure that you are carving out sufficient time for self-care, socializing, and hobbies which you enjoy. Bear in mind that your family member will benefit from having a caregiver who is in good health and recharged.
  • Recognize that life can be fulfilling with dementia. Even though the person you love is going through some difficult changes, it is beneficial to know that life, while different, can still be meaningful and bring happiness regardless of the disease. Consider various kinds of experiences for the senior to enhance socialization, improve memory and cognitive functioning, and remain physically active.

Generations at Home is always here to provide the encouragement you will need to ensure your loved one with dementia will be able to live life to the fullest. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 for more information on our highly specialized in-home dementia care for seniors.

Managing It Together When Mom Starts to Show Early Signs of Dementia

An adult daughter and her mother spending time

When a senior parent starts to show signs of dementia or decline, it’s time to have some difficult, but necessary, conversations.

The first signs might be so subtle that many people would not even detect that anything is amiss. Mom is extroverted, pleasant, and conversational while visiting close friends and family and while running errands. However those closest to her have begun to pick up on concerns: being forgetful about the soup cooking on the stove, resulting in a scorched pan. Putting her keys in the cookie jar. Neglecting to pay expenses.

As an adult child of a loved one in the beginning stages of compromised safety or perhaps the capability to make reasonable decisions, it is normally extremely challenging to transition to a greater degree of involvement and assistance – yet it is also essential to take steps sooner rather than later.

Similar to bringing up any confrontational topic of conversation, speaking with your parent with regards to the concerns you are seeing is likely to be met with resistance and defensiveness in the beginning. And yet, it’s essential to detail the particular factors behind your concern, and also the negative consequences if these signs and symptoms continue or become worse.

Generations at Home recommends this strategy:

  1. Be certain that a durable power of attorney has been appointed.
  2. Confirm with your siblings that the problem needs to be addressed, and discuss together what options are accessible for the senior’s care as needs continue to progress.
  3. Remain loving but steady in your approach. Explain the choices you’ve thought through. If she balks at the thought of moving to an assisted living facility, which many seniors do, suggest an in-home caregiver instead, permitting her to stay independent and safe within the comfort of home.
  4. Be aware that it will likely take multiple conversations before the senior accepts the need for assistance – which is why it is important to start the process without delay.

At Generations at Home, we’re experienced in helping seniors to feel comfortable and positive regarding how our services will help enhance safety and overall quality of life and wellbeing. As soon as your family decides the time is right for assistance, we can help with highly personalized care that will meet a wide range of needs, such as:

  • Companionship
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Housework and laundry
  • Transportation
  • Running errands
  • Highly specialized care for dementia
  • And much more

Whether the need is for just a few hours each week to boost safety and socialization, full-time care, or anything in between, partnering with Generations at Home increases quality of life for seniors and offers peace of mind for people who love them. Call us at 727-940-3414 for an in-home consultation to find out how we can assist.

Learn More About the Two Primary Types of Alzheimer’s Medications

Senior woman checking label on medication

The medical world currently has two main types of medications to help patients with Alzheimer’s. Learn more about each here.

The latest Alzheimer’s data is worrying. The disease is currently the sixth leading cause of death, rising above both breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. And even though deaths from other chronic conditions, including cardiovascular illnesses, are decreasing, those from Alzheimer’s have escalated upwards of 100%. The toll the illness takes on family caregivers is equally shocking, with more than 16 million Americans delivering over 18 billion hours of care for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease.

Though we have yet to uncover relief from Alzheimer’s disease, there are a couple of distinct types of treatment options that may help decrease several of the more predominant symptoms. If your senior loved one was identified as having Alzheimer’s, here are a few Alzheimer’s medication options your doctor may suggest:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors: By hindering the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical crucial for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these prescription medications can provide some benefits within the mild to moderate phases of Alzheimer’s for many patients. Dr. Zaldy Tan, medical director for the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, warns, however, to keep in mind that benefits are likely to be limited at best. “The best-case scenario is that the patient’s memory and cognitive function may improve slightly to what it was six months to a year ago – it’s not going to turn back time,” he explains. Included in this class of medications are galantamine (Razadyne), donepezil (Aricept) and rivastigmine (Exelon).
  • Memantine: In the moderate to severe phases of the disease, a doctor may recommend memantine (Namenda) which takes a unique strategy in contrast to cholinesterase inhibitors, preventing the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which in turn might help improve limited memory function. Doctors will frequently add memantine to a patient’s care plan together with a cholinesterase inhibitor as the disease advances.

Determining the effectiveness of these treatments requires patience, as both take four to six weeks before benefits may be realized. And, it’s important to weigh the benefits versus any adverse side effects, which could include confusion and constipation in memantine, and nausea, vomiting and a low heart rate with cholinesterase inhibitors.

One of the most effective ways to help individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease live life to the fullest is through engaging the services of a specially trained caregiver who understands and can help manage the varied struggles of dementia. Call Generations at Home for more information about our highly trained, compassionate Alzheimer’s care services for older adults.