Learn the Top Medication Dangers for Seniors

Senior man sitting and looking at his medication despondantly

A recently available study of over 2,000 older adults reveals that an astonishing 87% take a minimum of one prescription drug, and a staggering 36% are taking five or more – together with 38% using over-the-counter meds on an everyday basis. Managing these medications in our older years can be extremely difficult, and there are a number of risks and dangers which can occur in the process.

As specialists in home care in Pinellas County, Generations at Home’s caregiving team helps seniors ensure meds are taken when and exactly how they are prescribed. It is also vitally important to be familiar with common problems older adults encounter with using their prescriptions, and how to overcome them. For example:

In some cases, signs or symptoms continue in spite of taking medications properly. Busy doctors may prescribe what’s known as a “starter dose” of a medication, which will require follow-up to determine if adjustment is needed; but oftentimes, that follow-up never occurs. Make sure to schedule a subsequent visit with the physician when a new medication is prescribed, and ensure the senior keeps that visit.

Adverse reactions could very well be even more serious than the condition being treated. Of particular issue are medications that impact a senior’s balance and thinking – escalating the likelihood of a fall or other dangerous consequences. Prescriptions to be especially on guard about consist of anticholinergics, sedatives/tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and opiates. Speak with your physician if any of these medications are prescribed for an older relative and cautiously weigh the potential risks against benefits.

Staying compliant with medication adherence can be a challenge. Remembering that one specific med needs to be taken with food, while another on an empty stomach, another with a full glass of water, one before breakfast and two at bedtime, can make it tremendously challenging to take prescriptions exactly when and how they’re prescribed. Enlist the services of a home care agency, such as Generations at Home, for medication reminders.

Cost may be prohibitive. When cost for a particular prescription is high, older adults may well be inclined to cut their dosage amounts to conserve cost – a very risky behavior. Seniors can instead consult with their physicians about generic versions of medications, or any other ways to keep cost at a minimum.

Be informed on potential interactions with other meds. Bring the full listing of all of the medications a senior loved one is taking to a health care provider or pharmacist with expertise in polypharmacy, who is able to make sure the drugs can safely be taken in combination with each other. Remember to include any over-the-counter medications taken routinely as well. For a quick online assessment, this drug interaction checker lets you enter all of a senior’s medications and view any concerns that may then be discussed with his / her health care provider.

Contact Generations at Home in Pinellas County at 727-940-3414 to get more medication management tips, as well as professional hands-on help with medication reminders, transportation to doctors’ appointments, and much more to assist those you love in staying healthy and safe.

Best Ways to Manage Incontinence with Dementia

senior woman drinking orange juice in a seat at homeDementia care requires both empathy and creativity to manage a range of complicated behaviors and effects, and that is particularly true in relation to incontinence, something that is quite frequent in Alzheimer’s along with other forms of dementia. These tried-and-true strategies are usually successful in decreasing the effect of incontinence and reducing an escalation of emotions in someone you love with Alzheimer’s.

  1. Pick your words very carefully. As opposed to describing incontinence products as “diapers,” for instance, call them “briefs” or “pull-up underwear.” Nevertheless, take the cue from your loved one; if she or he chooses to make use of the expression “diapers” and appears to be confident with that, then follow along.
  2. Clear away regular underwear from the senior’s dresser. To avoid misunderstandings or opposition to wearing incontinence products, make certain that those are the sole option in his or her wardrobe.
  3. Try a variety of products. With different brands, sizes, and absorbency levels available, it might take some trial and error to come across one that is most comfortable and effective.
  4. Use backup products overnight. To help stop the older adult from waking up during the night from incontinence-related issues, try placing booster pads inside the absorbent underwear, and use products marked for heaviest coverage. Waterproof mattress protectors and disposable bed pads are also extremely helpful.
  5. Ensure easy access to the bathroom. Conduct a walk-through of the areas the older adult spends time in to evaluate how straightforward it is for him or her to get to the bathroom. Specifically, get rid of any clutter, cords, or throw rugs in the person’s walking path to protect against falls.
  6. If an accident does occur… Maintain a calm demeanor so as not to offend (or further upset) the senior loved one, and say something like, “It looks like something may have spilled on your pants; let’s get you some clean clothes,” or “It appears as if your pants are wet; that happens every now and then.”
  7. Address reluctance to keep products on. For seniors who frequently try to remove incontinence products, first see if you can discover the particular reason why. If discomfort is a factor, try different types of products for one that might be more comfortable. Or your loved one might be trying to change if there’s a feeling of wetness.

In all cases, watch the senior’s skin for indications of rash or irritation, and contact her or his medical professional if observed.

For more incontinence care tips, or to learn more about Generations at Home’s reliable, professional Alzheimer’s disease care, contact us at 727-940-3414.

How to Manage These 5 Tough (But Normal) Emotions in Caregiving

woman being comforted by a friendIf you are feeling somewhat overwhelmed in your role as a caregiver, take heart; you’re in good company. Providing care for a senior loved one is probably one of the more complex roles we can hold: highly fulfilling on the one hand, while at the same time discouraging and ever-evolving, often leading to feelings of doubt about whether we are up to the challenge and providing the best possible care.

It’s why a lot of family caregivers battle against some or all of these types of feelings:

  • Guilt: You may feel as if you are not doing as much as you should to assist your parent, that you’re self-centered for wanting time away to yourself, or that you’re ill-prepared to provide the assistance your senior loved one needs.
  • Helplessness: There are some circumstances when you simply cannot solve the problems your parent is going through.
  • Anger or frustration: This can be directed at yourself, other members of the family who seem as though they’re not doing their fair share, and even at your older loved one for causing you to be in this situation.
  • Resentment: Particularly typical when caring for someone who hurt or betrayed you in the past, it’s easy for those feelings to resurface when that individual is now in your care.
  • Hopelessness: When a senior faces a challenging diagnosis, for example, a chronic or terminal condition, feelings of hopelessness can settle in, which could lead to despondency or depression.

Acknowledging these feelings, and accepting that they are completely normal, is an excellent starting point. These tips can also help:

  • Share how you feel. Find a reliable friend, family member, or professional counselor to vent to, someone who can provide an alternative perspective and help you to adjust your thinking to a more positive slant.
  • Think about the advice you’d offer a friend. Sometimes, stepping out of your situation and picturing how you would react to somebody else dealing with these feelings could offer invaluable insight. Provide the same encouragement you’d offer to another to yourself.
  • Find a care partner. Working together with a professional care provider, like Generations at Home, enables you to achieve a healthy life balance – an element that is vital to every caregiver.

Reach out to our trained, experienced, and compassionate care team by calling 727-940-3414 and let us walk alongside you with the high quality, personalized care services your loved one deserves – permitting you to take much-needed time for self-care. We are always available to answer any questions you have, to provide helpful resources specific to the challenges you’re facing, and also to provide a complimentary in-home consultation to share more about how we can help.

A New Treatment for All Cancer Types Is Almost Here

3d illustration proteins with lymphocytes , t cells or cancer cellsWe have no doubt about how amazing our body’s immune system is in fighting invading bacteria and viruses and restoring us to health following an ailment. Even so, the current conclusions from a study by Cardiff University are positioned to bring an innovative and unforeseen development: stopping cancer in its tracks.

Medical researchers discovered a certain type of immune cell, a T-cell, in our blood, which can scan and eradicate threats – including a wide selection of cancer cells: prostate, colon, kidney, lung, cervical, ovarian, blood, and others. And incredibly, all normal tissue is left unaltered.

The discovered T-cell works in concert with a specific molecule on the surface of every cell throughout our body, known as the MR1 molecule. The theory is that the MR1 is notifying the T-cell of any cancer cell malformations. Garry Dolton, who was a part of the research team, points out, “We are the first to describe a T-cell that finds MR1 in cancer cells – that hasn’t been done before; this is the first of its kind.”

While there is currently a comparable type of therapy, called CAR-T, which has shown remarkable results in bringing patients from a terminal status to complete remission, it is only shown to be successful in certain types of cancer, and not “solid cancers” (those that form tumors). This new breakthrough has shown so far to impact all forms of cancer. Here is how it is projected to work:

  • Blood is obtained from an individual diagnosed with cancer.
  • The blood is filtered to remove T-cells.
  • A particular variety of benign virus is injected into the T-cells, allowing them to pick up on cancer cells.
  • These cells are then replicated in a lab, and injected back into the patient.

Studies have been highly effective in animal trials, and with additional safety checks, the next phase is likely to be human trials. According to Daniel Davis, professor of immunology at the University of Manchester, “There is no question that it’s a very exciting discovery, both for advancing our basic knowledge about the immune system and for the possibility of future new medicines.”

As we keep an eye out for more details on this particular breakthrough, you can rely on Generations at Home when it comes to the top quality care for individuals diagnosed with cancer as well as other long-term conditions. Just a few of the many ways we are able to help include:

  • Meal planning and preparation, specific to virtually any nutritional constraints or challenges
  • Warm and friendly companionship
  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • Running errands, including picking up medications and grocery shopping
  • Transportation to physician appointments/procedures and enjoyable outings
  • And a whole lot more

Make the initial step to an improved quality of life for an older adult you love. Give us a call at 727-940-3414 and request an in-home meeting.

Help Calm Agitation for a Senior with Alzheimer’s Disease with These 5 Steps

happy senior woman with dogAgitation is among the more difficult results of dementia, and can be exceedingly complex for family members to handle. The key is in taking steps to address agitation before it’s felt and conveyed by the older adult, which involves keeping an eye on what has initiated these feelings in the past, and establishing a home environment in which those triggers are removed or minimized. The following tips can help:

  1. Designate an area of retreat. When life begins to get overwhelming, having a specially created area for the senior to go to de-stress often works wonders in restoring calm. This can be a designated room, or merely a comfortable corner with numerous calming activities readily available, quiet music, a relaxing scent to enjoy like lavender or vanilla – whatever delivers peace and relaxation for the older adult.
  2. Evaluate the home for upsetting items. Look closely at exactly what your senior loved one is easily agitated by, such as specific decorations, mirrors (that could give the illusion of somebody else watching), window coverings that may not sufficiently filter out the darkening evening sky (prompting sundowning issues), etc.
  3. Minimize noise along with other distractions. Soft carpeting is frequently more soothing for those with dementia than harder floor materials that could reverberate or accentuate the noise of footsteps. Keep the television or radio at a reasonable volume, and set to a station that plays soft music as opposed to alarming, graphic news presentations. Close windows if outside noises seem to trigger discomfort.
  4. Change lighting. Make sure that each room the senior may enter is well lit, with natural light whenever feasible, or higher wattage lightbulbs, very carefully adjusting to remove any abnormal shapes or shadows created by the light.
  5. Keep commonly used items easily accessible. Whatever the older adult has a tendency to want to utilize or hold regularly ought to be put into a prominent location where he or she can find it quickly. Placing labels with words or pictures of what the senior may want to locate in cabinets or the refrigerator is also a great way to help prevent aggravation.

Let Generations at Home’s experienced dementia caregivers help preserve the most calming and peaceful environment for a senior you love, and provide the skilled, innovative, compassionate care that makes life the very best it can be. Some of the many ways we are able to improve life for those with dementia include:

  • Specifically created activities based on a senior’s particular interests and abilities
  • Companionship in order to help seniors stay socially engaged
  • Evening respite care, allowing family caregivers the chance for a restful night when a cherished older adult is challenged by sundowning
  • And a lot more

Give us a call at 727-940-3414 to ask about an in-home consultation and learn more about our top-quality dementia care for seniors today!

How to Help when Dementia Affects Vision

Pondering manThe intricate steps necessary to enable us to see are mind-boggling. In the blink of an eye, our brains are able to take transmitted details of the world around us, interpret that information based on input from other senses, memories, and thoughts, and then create a perception of that information for making us aware of what we’re seeing.

It’s no surprise that those with Alzheimer’s disease can suffer from visual deficits and misperceptions, especially in the aspects of:

  • Depth and/or color perception
  • Contrast
  • Motion recognition
  • Peripheral vision

Furthermore, individuals diagnosed with dementia can often suffer from a distorted sense of reality in the form of illusions. As an example, an individual with dementia might see a shadow on the ground, and mistake it for something harmless, such as the family dog, or a threat, such as an intruder – which may pose quite a challenge for family members. Some other examples of visual misperceptions in dementia can consist of:

  • Misjudging reflections in glass or mirrors for another person. This could easily lead to distress in thinking another person is present, or thinking that a bathroom mirror reflection means the bathroom is already Believing that images on television are real and taking place in the room.
  • Difficulty with sitting in a chair or on the toilet, fearing a fall.
  • Stress in overstimulating surroundings that cause confusion.
  • Reaching for objects that are not there, or missing the mark in trying to grab an item.
  • Issues with self-feeding and drinking.

Here are some ways to help:

  • Maintain sufficient lighting through the entire residence, and take away any particular items which cause anxiety or visual confusion if possible.
  • Use contrasting colors whenever feasible, for example, serving dark-colored soup in a light-colored bowl, or a fried egg on a brown plate. If at all possible, carry this notion through to home furnishings, with darker furniture on a light carpet, and different paint colors on trim vs. walls.
  • Close blinds or curtains both in the evenings and anytime the sun causes a glare.
  • Take advantage of adaptive tools such as remote controls and phones with large buttons to provide the senior loved one with sufficient opportunities for independence.
  • Ensure your loved one has ongoing access to eye care, and notify the eye doctor about the older adult’s dementia diagnosis.

Our professional dementia care team in St. Petersburg, FL can help implement these strategies and so much more to reduce the effects of vision problems. Call us at 727-940-3414 for more information.

Caring for a Senior Loved One: Strategies for a Successful Family Caregiver Meeting

Therapist in group meeting“It takes a village” was never a more accurate statement than when caring for a senior loved one. It’s very important for that “village” to have ongoing communication to be certain that everyone involved in care is on the same page. It’s also essential for family caregivers to have the chance to express concerns and to come together to get to resolutions, to express different perspectives, and also to continue to be proactive in preparing for the future.

Holding family meetings that produce positive results includes thinking through the following:

  • Who must always be included – and who should not? Certainly, those providing direct or indirect care for the older adult should attend, as well as any other individuals with a vested interest in the older adult’s health and wellbeing. Nevertheless, also take into account that while each meeting ought to include the integral members of the senior’s care team, there could be chances to include others as well, depending on the meeting’s agenda. And in case you worry that emotions may run high, it could be exceedingly useful to enlist the assistance of an objective, trustworthy mediator.
  • Must the older loved one take part in the meeting? There’s no blanket answer to cover all situations, but be cautious about whether the conversation could cause your loved one to feel guilty or uncomfortable, or whether he or she may have useful insight to share. Oftentimes, family members have the ability to open up and share more honestly when meetings take place without the older adult present.
  • What’s your agenda? Figure out the specific issues to be discussed, getting feedback from attendees, and then provide the agenda to everyone. Agree to stick to the things listed, and to shelve any other topics (aside from emergencies) until the following meeting.
  • Where should you meet? Technology provides a great venue for hosting meetings for family spread out by geographic location, but for in-person meetings, it is very important to select a location that will be clear of distractions, and that will be most comfortable for everybody. Often a neutral location, such as a library meeting room or local restaurant, is most effective.
  • Have you set boundaries? Think about rules that everyone can agree on before meeting, for instance abstaining from judging each other, listening with an open mind, and promising to maintain a tone of respect all through the meeting. As the meeting progresses, make notes, and go over the notes together at the end of the conversation so that everyone is in agreement on choices and commitments made.

The professional care team at Generations at Home in St. Petersburg, FL is available to attend and facilitate family meetings for our clients, and to present solutions to concerns raised. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 any time for assistance!

Why There is Chronic Dehydration in Seniors and How You Can Help

Senior woman at home drinking hot drink and smilingDid you know…almost 50% of all older adults are chronically under-hydrated, as reported by a recent scientific study conducted at UCLA? Not just that, but older adults over age 65 represent the highest category of hospital admissions due to dehydration.

Dehydration can rapidly sneak up on seniors, who often have a lessened sensation of thirst, who may experience medication side effects that cause hydration problems, or who incorrectly think that drinking less will lessen incontinence issues.

Senior dehydration can be very unsafe, raising the risk for health issues such as:

  • UTIs
  • Kidney stones and/or failure
  • Blood clots
  • Seizures
  • Hypovolemic shock
  • And many others

Dehydration can be identified according to the following symptoms:

First stages:

  • Decreased amount/darker-colored urine
  • Dry mouth
  • Feelings of weakness, dizziness, and/or tiredness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Irritation

Advanced stages:

  • Confusion and disorientation, such as problems with walking
  • Low blood pressure and weakened, faster pulse and breathing
  • Stomach bloating
  • Sunken, dry eyes
  • Skin that is wrinkled without having any elasticity
  • Worsened muscle cramps and contractions, and/or convulsions

While we frequently pay more attention to hydration once the temperature is elevated, it’s essential for older adults to drink sufficient fluids all year long. A simple formula to ascertain just how much, on average, an older adult ought to drink every day is to divide the older adult’s body weight by three, and have him or her consume that many ounces of water. For example, if an older adult weighs 180 pounds, she or he would require a minimum of 60 ounces of water each day.

Try these tips to ensure the older adults you love stay healthy and hydrated:

  • Plain water is the best, but consider other types of fluids, such as soup, juice, fruits, and vegetables. That said, try to avoid sugary and caffeinated beverages.
  • Place bottled water, or a small pitcher of ice water and a cup, close to the senior to encourage him or her to sip on it during the day.
  • Test different temperatures. Perhaps a warmed cup of water would be more comforting than an icy one. You may even try warming up juice as well as other beverages to determine if they’re more appealing, or offer popsicles.

The experienced in-home caregivers at Generations at Home are adept in imaginative ways to help older adults stay hydrated, and in monitoring fluid intake to make sure adequate fluids are consumed each day. Contact us at 727-940-3414 to understand exactly how we can help enhance the health of older adults throughout St. Petersburg, FL, right in the convenience and familiarity of home.

Why Laughter May Be the Best Medicine in Dementia Care

two happy elderly women spending time with each other at homeProviding dementia care for a person you love is certainly not something to laugh about. Yet scientific studies are frequently pointing towards the benefits of laughter, and incorporating it into dementia care may be just what the doctor ordered to enhance quality of life for your loved one.

For example, an Australian study just recently revealed that humor therapy can aid in eliminating agitation in people who have dementia as successfully as antipsychotic medications, with no unwanted side effects. Shared laughter connects us, and helps people who have cognitive difficulties to feel accepted, safe, and at ease. As stated by Lori La Bey, founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks, “When anyone is sick or having a hard time, they still like to laugh. I spend a lot of time teaching people that feelings don’t go away, and it’s okay to get back to that zone.”

Laughter also produces endorphins, which suppress stress hormones, and can even improve blood pressure and minimize pain for aging parents – all of which make it well worth adding to your dementia care regimen, either by enrolling in a laughter yoga class together with your loved one (which incorporates clapping, singing, silly poses, and of course, laughter) or simply implementing ideas including these in your own home:

  • Add some lightheartedness and silliness randomly through the day. Sing goofy songs, dance around the house, tell simple jokes, and develop an environment of happiness for the senior.
  • Recognize that what works today might not work tomorrow – and sometimes even an hour from now. Evaluate your loved one’s responses, and if anything seems to boost anxiety, shelve the idea and attempt again at a later date.
  • Remove arguing and correcting from conversations with the older adult. A straightforward “yes” and redirection to a different subject or activity goes a long way in preempting negativity.
  • Emphasize to yourself that it is completely acceptable to be joyful. Laughter and dementia don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Let Generations at Home help brighten life for a cherished older adult with dementia! Each one of our specialized dementia caregivers is completely trained and experienced in numerous creative, effective care techniques. Older adults achieve the added benefit of improved socialization, coupled with necessary respite from care duties for family members, making a partnership with a Generations at Home caregiver a win-win!

What to Ask the Doctor as a Family Caregiver for Senior Parents

senior couple visiting a doctorOf all of the many responsibilities a family caregiver faces, perhaps one of the most daunting is managing medical issues. The National Council on Aging estimates that nearly three quarters of all seniors are identified as having a minimum of two chronic conditions, and are seeing on average four healthcare experts.

As your aging parent’s advocate, it’s very important to learn simple tips to communicate effectively with those from the senior’s medical team, and to come to appointments fully ready to address any and all concerns. The following four questions are a great place to start:

  1. Are all of these prescription drugs required? With most older adults taking several medications, you’ll need to keep a detailed list and examine periodically with the physician along with the pharmacist, both of whom should be able to ensure there are not any duplications prescribed by different specialists, or any contraindications between meds.
  2. If prescribing something new, what side effects should we be prepared to see? Weighing the advantages vs. the potential health risks for any new medication is a must, as there may be occasions when troublesome side effects outweigh any benefits available. And if the physician shares a blanket statement such as, “Most patients don’t experience any complications with this prescription,” make sure to follow up for more information about individuals who DO encounter problems.
  3. What is the simplest way to relieve pain and discomfort? We are all aware of the opioid epidemic, as well as the danger of addiction along with other considerations that come with taking prescription pain medications. However, unaddressed pain and discomfort may cause both slowed healing and considerable emotional stress, both for a senior loved one experiencing pain along with his or her caregivers.
  4. If this was your mom, what would you do? Inviting the doctor to step into your shoes is generally a very helpful method to gauge how you may wish to proceed. There may, in fact, be less invasive or aggressive ways to managing a challenge that you may want to check out first.

For more recommendations on making sure a loved one is provided with the best possible care, contact the home care professionals at Generations at Home. We’re available to help through:

  • Accompanying a senior loved one to medical appointments and procedures and making sure concerns are answered
  • Ensuring prescriptions are taken just as prescribed
  • Proactively monitoring for any changes in condition, such as medication side effects, and reporting them promptly
  • Planning and preparing wholesome meals and offering encouragement to stay physically active to improve health
  • And much more

To get started on an improved quality of life for a loved one, simply call us at 727-940-3414 to ask about an in-home consultation.