The Post-Pandemic Importance of Strength Training for Older Adults

older disabled adult strength trainigAs we’re finally easing our way out of this pandemic, we’re finding out more information on how it has impacted the elderly – both physically and emotionally. We know older adults have been at a greater threat of serious side effects and death from the COVID-19 virus; however, the impact of 15 months of physical distancing and social isolation is likewise worrisome.

Dr. Jonathan Bean of the New England Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center in the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System has observed a “significant decline in functioning” in both his senior patients and his own mother. While she had been able to walk using the assistance of a walker, be involved in conversations, and take part in other activities of daily life independently pre-pandemic, her self-care and cognitive abilities have diminished dramatically.

Physical therapy Linda Teodosio confirms, explaining, “Immobility and debility are outcomes to this horrific pandemic that people aren’t even talking about yet.” She is observing a substantial increase in both chronic disease exacerbation and falls – very likely because of poor lifestyle choices brought on by the pandemic, such as unhealthy food choices and less exercise.

As a result, increasingly more older adults are in need of physical therapy and other rehabilitative services. Several health plans are attending to the matter by following up with seniors to check on their wellbeing and also to help connect them to the services they require to regain their strength. Surprisingly, up to 20% of an older adult’s muscle tissue could be lost simply by not walking for as few as five days, according to physical therapist Sabaa Mundia.

Before leaping into a different exercise regimen, however, it is vital that seniors first schedule a consultation with the physician for a complete exam and recommendations on safe, ability-appropriate physical activity. Then make a plan to assist the seniors in your life to follow a healthier lifestyle which includes plenty of exercise.

Let Generations at Home assist the seniors that you know stay as physically active and engaged as possible to stay strong post-pandemic. Our professional caregivers are always readily available to provide the encouragement and motivation to help seniors make physical exercise a routine element of each day. We can also provide transportation and accompaniment to exercise classes, the gym, the pool – wherever and whenever an older adult wants to go. Sometimes, just adding in a daily walk with one of our friendly care providers can make a world of difference in how older adults feel!

Call us at 727-940-3414 for a complimentary in-home consultation to learn more about how we can help.

Study Reveals a Distinctive Progression of Dementia in Latinos

senior with dementia hugging caregiverA new study sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association is revealing some surprising results in the progression of dementia in Hispanic people. While further exploration is needed to fully understand whether these differences are the consequence of social/cultural nuances or the dementia itself, it’s worthwhile information for Latino families to know.

Daily Activities

One highlight of the study was the significantly faster decline in the ability to perform everyday activities, such as getting dressed, walking, and taking a shower, in comparison to other ethnicities. Andrea Ochoa Lopez, the University of Houston doctoral student who carried out the research, explained that the cultural dedication to caring for elderly loved ones could be a contributing factor.

“Some families want to start doing everything for their older members to try and remove some of the burdens and make their lives easier,” she mentioned. “But there is research showing that when cognition is declining, older people actually do better when they stay active. And there is also still stigma. They may not want their elder family member to be seen as ill or mentally unstable.”

Anxiety and Depression

While we realize that anxiety and depression are risk factors for dementia, a separate research study of 5,000 individuals showed a noticeably higher percentage of Hispanic people reporting these concerns: more than 25%, when compared with almost 16% and 11% in black and non-Hispanic white participants, respectively. Concentrating on the mental health of those with dementia is essential. Clinical psychologist Michael Cuccaro explains, “We have lots of great evidence that medications and talk therapy help, but minorities have the lowest rate of getting this help.”

Although more extensive research is required to better comprehend these ethnic differences in dementia, finding minorities to take part in studies has been an issue. Latinos currently make up less than 8% of present dementia scientific research studies – in spite of the reality that the prevalence of dementia in Latinos is as much as 50% higher than it is in non-Hispanic whites.

Families who want to learn about current Latino dementia research opportunities can go to the Alzheimer’s Association’s TrialMatch page to find out more.

At Generations at Home, our professional caregivers are extensively trained and experienced in helping seniors with whatever their particular challenges are, making life the best it can be. We achieve this by meeting with each older adult in his or her home before the beginning of services, enabling us to generate a customized care plan. We then diligently monitor the care plan ongoing to ensure that needs are always met thoroughly, both now and as needs change with time.

Whether the need is for a little help with meals and housework, transportation and companionship, or if more specialized dementia care assistance is necessary, Generations at Home has got the perfect solution. Call us at 727-940-3414 to arrange your free in-home consultation to find out more.

The One Phrase to Avoid When Caring for Elderly Parents

daughter talking to elderly parentAs our parents age, it’s not necessarily simple to know exactly what our role as adult children must be. We’d like what is best for them, but if we’re not cautious, we’ll overstep our boundaries and find ourselves attempting to parent our parents.

This is also true when safety is a concern. There’s a thin line to walk between ensuring senior parents are safe, and supporting the independence they want and deserve. All things considered, it was not all that long ago when our parents were meeting not merely all their own needs, but ours as well. The change from care provider to care recipient can be frustrating and painful for seniors.

With this thought, there are a number of elements of independent life that a senior may now be lacking. And if we aren’t careful in how we approach these losses, it may lead to arguments, hurt feelings, and fractured relationships.

For example, one part of senior independence that’s often jeopardized is in others stepping in to take over tasks that could now be a little more challenging and take a bit longer for an aging adult to perform. Even though intentions are certainly good, it is actually bad for a senior’s self-worth and self-esteem. A much better approach would be to allow extra time, and to only offer assistance when truly necessary.

Yet one of the greatest indicators of freedom is the ability to drive, to go wherever and whenever we please. When driving is no longer safe for an older adult, it’s essential to approach the topic with tact and empathy. Neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez explains that too often, adult children lose patience with their older parents, resulting in hurtful comments that may be truly traumatic.

He recommends avoiding phrases such as, “You’re not allowed to drive anymore!” It is much kinder and more effective to give elderly advice with choices, and to engage them in brainstorming a potential alternative. An example of this could be, “I’m sure it’s getting much harder to be able to see clearly now, which must make it challenging to drive. Let’s talk about some options that will allow you to go wherever you want safely.”

Together, then you can come up with an idea that’s agreeable to everyone. When it comes to choices, take into account that Generations at Home’s caregivers are available any time, day or night, to provide safe transportation and accompaniment for seniors. Our services are available in accordance with each senior’s wishes and timeframe, whether that involves a weekly lunch date with a friend, medical or salon appointments, attending religious services, or simply a Sunday afternoon drive to get out of the house and relish the scenery. Call us at 727-940-3414 for details.

Tips to Help Manage Dysphagia in Elderly Parents

mature caregiver giving glass of water to senior womanThere’s nothing better than a tall, cold drink on a hot summer day, but for a person with dysphagia, this simple pleasure can be dangerous. Dysphagia – or difficulty with swallowing – impacts millions of seniors, because of weakened mouth and/or throat muscles. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, MS and stroke are typical causes as well.

Symptoms of dysphagia include:

  • Drooling
  • Coughing, choking or gagging when drinking, eating, or taking medication
  • A gurgling sound in the senior’s voice after eating/drinking

Additionally, if you suspect dysphagia in an older family member, ask him or her the following questions – and check with the medical practitioner right away for additional guidance:

  • Have you been coughing or choking when trying to eat or drink?
  • Are you experiencing regular issues with food “going down the wrong pipe?”
  • Is food getting caught in your throat?
  • Is it taking you longer to eat than it used to?
  • Are you losing weight?

If you’re taking care of a senior loved one with dysphagia, keep these strategies in mind:

  • Pay attention to posture. Ensure that the older adult is sitting fully upright, at a 90-degree angle, before trying to drink or eat.
  • Bypass the straw. Straws speed up the rate at which the liquid goes into the mouth, which can cause choking or aspiration.
  • Thicken liquids. Most pharmacies sell thickening gels or powders that should be added to all fluids for anyone with dysphagia. However, avoid serving ice cream and jello, which change from their thickened form to a liquid in the mouth.
  • Keep nutritional needs in mind. Good options for dysphagia-friendly foods include yogurt, pureed fruits, pureed veggies, pureed beans, and pureed lentils, avocado, soft cheese, and creamy nut butters. Discover some simple, dysphagia-friendly recipes.
  • Consider prescription drug administration. Washing down pills with thickened liquid can be difficult. Speak with the prescribing doctor and/or pharmacist to see if prescription drugs can be crushed and mixed with pudding or applesauce to help them go down easier.
  • Timing is everything. The tiredness that accompanies a chronic medical condition that creates dysphagia may make it tough to eat or drink for more than fifteen minutes at any given time. Try to plan meals around times when your loved one is least tired, and have thickened drinks available throughout the day to ensure hydration.

Generations at Home can help plan and prepare healthy meals and thickened beverages for a loved one with dysphagia, and we’ll even pick up all of the ingredients, too! Learn more about our home care services by contacting us for a free consultation at 727-940-3414.

Understanding the Different Stages of Dementia

Female home carer hugging senior male patient at care homeOne of the first questions in most people’s minds when a family member is diagnosed with dementia is precisely what can be expected in the weeks, months, and years to come. We realize that the hallmark of Alzheimer’s is the progressive decline in cognitive abilities and also the skills required to manage everyday life. Yet, every person advances through these changes in a different way. There are a number of factors that will impact the rate of decline, such as:

  • Prescriptions the individual is taking
  • Overall health and physical makeup
  • The system of support available
  • The person’s general emotional wellbeing and resilience

There are other determinants to factor in based on the specific type of dementia diagnosed. As an example:

  • MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment): Mild cognitive impairment affects up to 20% of seniors. More than the typical minor cognitive decline experienced in aging, MCI involves difficulties with language, judgment, thinking, and memory which are obvious to the senior individually and frequently to others as well. Researchers found that about 38% of seniors with MCI later developed dementia. The other 62% never progressed further than MCI – and in a number of cases, their condition actually improved, for unknown reasons. Indications of MCI include forgetfulness, impulsiveness, depression, apathy, anxiety, aggression and irritability, and others.
  • Vascular Dementia: Because vascular dementia is caused by a blockage in the flow of blood to the brain, the kind of blockage will affect the progression of the disease. For example, if small blood vessels are blocked, the decline is typically gradual. Major blood vessel blockage may cause a sudden onset of symptoms, accompanied by intense periods of change thereafter.
  • Lewy Body Dementia: Progression of Lewy body dementia can be gradual, but could also include widely differing degrees of alertness and attention during the early stages. One day could find the senior lucid, while the following day – or even several hours later – could bring hallucinations, confusion, and memory loss. In the later stages of the disease, restlessness, agitation, aggression, tremors, and stiffness become more prevalent.
  • Frontotemporal Dementia: Unlike other forms of dementia, short-term memory is usually not impacted in the early stages of frontotemporal dementia. Instead, early symptoms include behavioral changes, such as distraction, rudeness, apathy, and disregard for social norms. As the disease advances, difficulties with language become noticeable as well, in addition to memory loss, vision problems, and other typical symptoms observed in Alzheimer’s disease.

Reach out to the dementia care team at Generations at Home for more informative resources to help you better understand and care for someone you love with Alzheimer’s. We are also always here to assist with creative, compassionate care in order to make life more fulfilling for a senior with dementia, and to help family members achieve an improved life balance. Call us at 727-940-3414 to learn more.

Shocking New Statistics for Medication-Related Senior Falls

woman speaking with a female medical professional via video chatWe’ve known for a long time that there are specific medications that increase the risk of senior falls. 20 years ago, only a little over 1/2 of older adults were impacted by that risk; yet now, that number has increased significantly – to a staggering 94% of seniors who are now in danger of falling as a result of medication side effects. In addition, deaths from such falls are taking place at more than twice the previous rate.

Researchers who identified this growing concern also found that between 1999 and 2017, senior prescriptions for medications that increase fall risk were filled more than 7.8 billion times. This consists of a spike from 12 million antidepressants in 1999 to greater than 52 million in 2017.

The analysis does not specifically identify these medications as the cause for fatality in the falls experienced, but indicates the requirement for additional exploration into the dosages being prescribed. Joshua Niznik in the geriatric medicine division at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine notes, “We’re starting to understand now that the dose of the medication that someone is on is really what we should be looking at probably with the greatest level of scrutiny, and that really has a strong correlation with falls.”

It is important for older adults and their doctors to work together to strike the ideal balance between managing the conditions that necessitate these medications and preventing additional complications from a fall.

Amy Shaver, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, and lead author of the research study, explains, “These drugs are all necessary medications, but there needs to be a conversation about risks and advantages, that pro-con conversation about: For this particular patient at this particular point in time, what can we do?”

Medications that are specifically connected with fall risk include those for depression, blood pressure management, seizures, psychosis, and pain, among others. Women are most often prescribed these types of medications, and those 85 and older are being affected by the highest spike in fall-related deaths.

One step seniors can take to help is to have the home assessed for fall risk, and to follow through with any recommended safety measures. Generations at Home is pleased to offer an assessment, scheduled at your convenience. We can also help with fall prevention through:

  • Making sure that prescription drugs are taken exactly as prescribed
  • Aiding in safe walking and transfers
  • Encouraging seniors to engage in physician-approved exercise programs to strengthen balance, flexibility, and strength
  • And much more

For additional information about our home care services and to schedule a complimentary assessment, reach out to us at 727-940-3414!

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!