How to Handle Aging Parents Who Expect Too Much

senior woman looks disparagingly at the cameraIn an ideal world, we could perfectly compartmentalize our caregiving duties, sticking to a routine that met the needs of a loved one, while enabling enough time necessary to handle our myriad of other responsibilities. But of course, life does not adhere to our desired script, and conflicting needs are common when caring for an older adult. Many seniors balk at the need for help, while others can come to rely too greatly on an adult child, leading to unfulfilled expectations and ultimately disappointment for both parties.

Generations at Home’s senior care experts provide the following tips to help explain objectives and communicate effectively:

  • Focus on empathy. Rather than drawing away from a senior loved one whose expectations seem unreasonable, pause and empathize. Think through the problems your senior loved one is facing, and how it would feel to be in his or her shoes. Then voice your genuine concern and desire to help.
  • Permit each other to be heard. Initiate a dialogue with your loved one, encouraging her or him to talk about how it feels to be in need of care, and what type of care is necessary. Determine what the senior’s expectations are, and then share your own expectations and limitations in being able to fully meet his or her needs.
  • Compromise to arrive at a solution. Finding a resolution that works well for both of you might be easier than you think. For example, if the senior expects assistance with transportation in accordance with a particular schedule several times a week, perhaps you can provide that assistance one day, while recruiting assistance from others to cover additional days. This allows for improved socialization for the older adult as well as the healthy life balance you need.

Generations at Home is available to partner with family caregivers with highly skilled, carefully matched care experts who are passionate about making life the very best it can be for older adults. Working together with Generations at Home enables adult children to ensure their aging parents are well taken care of all of the time, whether by filling in with respite care where needed, through around-the-clock live-in care, or a variety of solutions in between. Just some of the countless ways we can help include:

  • Safe, accompanied transportation
  • Running errands
  • Planning and preparing nutritious meals
  • Keeping the house clean and neat
  • Offering friendly companionship to brighten each day
  • Creative and highly specialized care for individuals diagnosed with dementia
  • And so much more

Contact us online or call us at 727-940-3414 to discuss the challenges you are facing, and to let us share more about how we can help.

How to Manage Rummaging Behaviors for Seniors with Dementia

Forgetful Senior Man With Dementia Looking In Cupboard At HomeDigging through boxes, cabinets, and closets, pulling out odds and ends from drawers, and sorting repetitively through a variety of items can be frustrating for those providing care for a loved one with dementia, but actually these behaviors are fulfilling a purpose. Rummaging can provide a measure of comfort for those with dementia, with the reassurance of recognizing familiar objects and finding purpose and meaning.

The key then is not to discourage rummaging, which can cause agitation, but to better manage this behavior if it becomes disruptive. These tips can help:

  • Keep rummaging to a controlled area. Put together boxes of items the senior seems particularly drawn to, such as keys, paperwork, a wallet, tools, gardening equipment, sewing implements, sports memorabilia, etc. When your loved one begins to rummage in other areas, pull out one of the boxes and direct his or her attention there.
  • Create an activity centered on rummaging behaviors. Let the senior know you could really use his or her help with a particular activity that utilizes these behaviors, such as folding towels or socks, sorting nuts/bolts in a toolbox, or placing paperwork into folders.
  • Find other stimulating activities to alleviate boredom. Rummaging may be the result of feelings of restlessness, loneliness, or boredom. Experiment with different activities you can suggest and do together with the senior, such as arts and crafts, puzzles, taking a walk, listening to music, etc.
  • Keep valuables out of reach. Knowing that your loved one has the propensity to rummage, be sure that any important documents, jewelry, keys, credit cards, etc. are all stored securely away. It’s also a good idea to tuck away the mail when it arrives, to ensure bills and other items aren’t getting tossed or misplaced.
  • Step up safety precautions. Now is a good time to assess how dangerous items are that are stored in the home could be to your loved one, such as sharp knives, cleaning products, even certain types of foods such as raw meat that the senior may accidentally mistake for another food product and ingest. Keep all items that may cause the senior harm in secure locations, preferably locked away.

Generations at Home can help with the professional in-home care services that provide companionship and engagement in creative, enjoyable, and fulfilling activities for those with dementia that lead to fewer challenging behaviors. Contact us at 727-940-3414 for additional dementia care resources or to schedule an in-home assessment to learn more about our services.

Top Tips for Managing Stress for Caregivers

senior man relaxing and listening to headphonesStress is inevitable, and actually, not necessarily always a bad thing. After all, as the saying goes, “A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.” Yet especially when managing stress for family caregivers, it can quickly escalate and become overwhelming, and if not managed effectively, lead to serious health concerns.

Try these tips to minimize stress and achieve a healthier and more relaxed lifestyle – both for yourself and those you love:

  • Change your self-talk. Throughout the course of your day, you may find yourself entertaining thoughts such as, “I can’t do this!” or “Everything is going wrong!” Pause when negative thinking begins to intrude, and say to yourself instead, “I can handle this, one step at a time,” or “Help is available to me whenever I need it.”
  • Take a break. Deescalate stress through any or all of the following techniques:
    • Breathe deeply (inhale to a count of 4; hold for a count of 4; exhale to a count of 4; hold for a count of 4; repeat as needed)
    • Take a walk or engage in some other physical activity
    • Pray or meditate
    • Play favorite music
    • Write in a journal
    • Call a friend
  • Try a stress-busting activity. There are a variety of enjoyable activities that can distract your focus away from whatever was causing stress and onto something more positive, such as creating art, reading, playing with pets or children, working in the garden or on a DIY project – the ideas are limitless, and even as little as 10 or 15 minutes spent on the activity can help.

There are even apps specifically created with family caregivers in mind to help reduce stress and restore calm. Find five that are especially helpful here from DailyCaring.

Caregiver stress is particularly common for those who feel as though they have no support system, and have to manage everything independently. Thankfully, we have a solution! Call Generations at Home for a free in-home consultation to learn how we can share in your caregiving duties, allowing you the necessary time away to destress, with services such as:

  • Planning and preparing nutritious meals
  • Assistance with personal care and hygiene
  • Taking care of housekeeping chores and laundry
  • Running errands, such as grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions
  • Accompaniment to medical appointments and enjoyable outings
  • Companionship to brighten each day with stimulating conversations, games, puzzles, hobbies, etc.
  • Medication reminders
  • And so much more

Contact us online or call us at 727-940-3414 and discover how a partner in care can make a world of difference in reducing caregiver stress and restoring a healthy life balance.

How to Weather the Storm as a Family Caregiver in a Time of Crisis

happy senior woman making a heart shape with her handsTimes of crises can bring out both the best and the worst in us. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve heard stories of people hoarding products and selling them to make an outrageous profit, along with stories of heroes who selflessly met the needs of others in spite of their own fears.

The key to weathering the storms that are bound to come up in our lives in a healthy way is resiliency. Mia Bartoletti, clinical psychologist for the Navy SEAL Foundation, works with families of those serving in the military, and offers suggestions that can help build resilience through any time of crisis.

  1. Communicate your reactions. It’s normal to experience a range of responses to a crisis: flashbacks to other difficult situations, dreams and nightmares, avoidance and withdrawal, difficulty sleeping, irritability, problems with concentration and focus, and hypervigilance. What’s important is to ensure these responses are short-term, and don’t progress into longer-term psychological problems. Acknowledge your feelings, and share them with a trusted confidante, or write them in a journal.
  2. Maintain social connections. While your instinct may be to pull away from friends and family during a crisis, staying in touch on a regular basis with those you care about is crucial. Finding a support group, whether in person or online, is another great way to ensure you’re forming and maintaining social ties, allowing you to talk with others in similar circumstances.
  3. Take time for self-care. This means something different to each individual, but should include relaxing activities, engaging hobbies and interests, healthy meals, plenty of sleep, and physical activity. If you find it hard to carve out time for yourself due to caregiving duties, Generations at Home is always here to partner with you to provide trusted respite care. Taking care of yourself enables you to take better care of those you love.
  4. Realize what you can control – and what you cannot. Letting go of what is out of your control and focusing instead on what you CAN control is one of the foundations of resilience. Psychologist Mary Alvord, who founded Resilience Across Borders, explains, “Depression is hopelessness and helplessness, and so resilience is the opposite. No, you’re not helpless; you do have control over many aspects of your life.”

It’s always a good idea to seek professional counseling when your reactions to stressful situations are impeding your ability to maintain a sense of calm and to tend to the necessary daily activities of living. And, watch for signs that elderly loved ones are experiencing undue levels of stress so that you can obtain the help that they need as well.

Know that whatever life may bring, you can count on Generations at Home to walk beside you with dependable, professional aging care services that empower seniors to remain resilient and independent. Call us at 727-940-3414 to learn more.

A New Disease That Mimics Alzheimer’s: LATE

An individual who exhibits memory loss, confusion, poor judgment, repetition, and challenges with performing daily activities has the telltale symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, right? As a matter of fact, what seems to be an obvious case of Alzheimer’s may in fact be a recently discovered dementia.

Known as LATE, or limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy, this condition presents with almost the same symptoms, but the root cause is another story. Rather than the buildup of amyloid plaques and tangles inherent in Alzheimer’s, LATE is distinguished by deposits of TDP-43 protein, as reported by Dr. Julie Schneider, associate director for the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

And TDP-43 protein troubles are in fact quite common in elderly people, with as many as one out of four older people over age 85 affected enough to cause obvious cognitive and/or memory problems. Nevertheless, it remains an under-diagnosed condition, which could lead to misdiagnoses, and consequently, inappropriate treatment plans.

The most up-to-date recommendations call for those who have been diagnosed with LATE to be removed from Alzheimer’s medication research, focusing research alternatively on establishing biomarkers to better detect LATE, to locate therapeutic intervention methods, and to increase testing to include a broader array of diverse populations, in an effort to increase both prevention and treatment.

Understanding the differences between both types of dementia is paramount to the best treatment, and per Dr. James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, “This evidence may also go some way to help us understand why some recent clinical trials testing for Alzheimer’s disease have failed – participants may have had slightly different brain diseases.”

Key aspects of LATE include:

  • Generally affecting older adults over age 80
  • A slower progression than Alzheimer’s
  • Typically only affects memory
  • May be accompanied by Alzheimer’s disease, which leads to a far more rapid decline

Whether Alzheimer’s disease, LATE, or some other form of dementia, Generations at Home offers the highly customized, skilled and creative caregiving that can help seniors live the highest possible quality of life where it is most comfortable: at home. Our care aides are thoroughly trained and experienced in helping those with dementia, along with helping family caregivers, to more fully manage the varying challenges experienced in each stage.

Call us any time at 727-940-3414 to inquire about further dementia care resources, find answers to the questions you have, or to schedule an in-home consultation to learn more about how we can help a family member you love with dementia.

How One Woman Uses Her Sense of Smell to Diagnose Parkinson’s Disease

You may not recognize her by name, but you’ve probably heard her story. Joy Milne has an exceptionally unique talent: recognizing Parkinson’s disease by using her nose. Her gift came to light when she detected what she details as an “overpowering sort of nasty yeast smell” in her husband of ten years. Subsequently observing other differences in her husband, in particular personality and mood shifts, he ultimately went to the doctor for medical help, and was given a diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

Upon walking into a Parkinson’s support group meeting, that identical scent permeated the room – although evidently only Joy was able to notice it. Actually, she was even able to pick up on varying levels of the odor – some whose odor was faint, while for other people, it was much stronger. With both her own and her husband’s medical backgrounds (she a nurse and he a physician), this finding was definitely meaningful and required further action.

Her story led her to assist Tilo Kunath, a Parkinson’s disease researcher at the University of Edinburgh, with the aim of developing a tool to offer earlier detection – and ultimately, treatment – of Parkinson’s.

While initially skeptical of the probability of Parkinson’s being found through odor, he was open to additional exploration after finding out about the success dogs were having in identifying the odor of cancer in individuals. He then designed a way to assess her skills, by giving her a random assortment of t-shirts – half which had been worn by someone clinically determined to have Parkinson’s, and the other half by those without the disease – and, her accuracy rate was astonishing. As a matter of fact, she missed the mark on only one of the t-shirts, worn by someone without Parkinson’s, but who in fact was later identified as having the disease as well.

Kunath explains, “Imagine a society where you could detect such a devastating condition before it’s causing problems and then prevent the problems from even occurring.” Dr. Thomas Hummel of the Technical University of Dresden’s Smell & Taste Clinic, said that while the idea is interesting, there are still an assortment of questions to first sort out.

Parkinson’s disease, in addition to a variety of other chronic health issues, can be more effectively managed with the help of an in-home care provider like Generations at Home. Call us at 727-940-3414 for additional information.

The 6 Best Resources for Seniors and Caregivers to Navigate COVID-19

Identifying where to turn with regard to the latest, most reliable information on COVID-19, particularly as it pertains to seniors and people who care for them, is important – and can be difficult. With so many sources and different viewpoints on this important topic, we want to help make it simpler to locate what you need by sharing the following list of reliable resources.

  • COVID-19 Guidance for Seniors: The CDC’s COVID-19 Guidance for Older Adults web page contains a great deal of information, such as help determining who is at higher risk, symptoms, how to safeguard yourself, a checklist for your house, stress and anxiety coping recommendations, and so much more.
  • Coronavirus: What Seniors and People With Disabilities Need to Know: ACL provides information on what seniors and people with disabilities need to be aware of to reduce the risk of catching and spreading the virus, including warning signs, state-by-state regulations, and a thorough directory of federal and non-federal resources.
  • AARP Answers Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19: AARP keeps an ongoing bulleted list of the current information connected with COVID-19, plus what seniors should do to reduce their likelihood of contracting it and answers to several common questions.
  • Resources and Articles for Caregivers on COVID-19 Safety: The Family Caregiver Alliance offers caregiver-specific resources and articles to help family caregivers enhance the protection of the older adults within their care.
  • Extensive Frequently Asked Questions List on Caregiver COVID-19 Issues: DailyCaring, an award-winning website dedicated to caregivers, created a commonly asked questions page to supply answers to many questions, including safeguards to take when visiting an older adult’s home, simple tips to sanitize packages, proper handwashing techniques, and much more.
  • NAHC COVID-19 Senior Care Tips: The National Association for Home Care & Hospice advocates for the scores of older adults who receive in-home care, and also for people who provide that care. Their COVID-19 reference page provides articles, webinars, interactive tools, and much more.

For additional resources to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and for safe, dependable, in-home care to enhance wellness and comfort for the seniors you love, call on Generations at Home today. Following a stringent protocol to ensure the safety of the older adults we serve, we can help with a variety of important services, such as:

  • Grocery shopping and running other errands, to enable older adults to remain safe at home
  • Preparing healthy and balanced meals
  • Companionship to help relieve loneliness and stress through conversations, films, hobbies/interests, games, puzzles, and more
  • Keeping the house thoroughly clean and sanitized
  • Medication reminders
  • Specialized care for people diagnosed with dementia
  • And many more

Call Generations at Home at 727-940-3414 for a consultation within the safety and comfort of home, to find out how our home care services can help your loved ones.

Addressing In-Home Care and Financial Issues with an Aging Parent

Serious mature couple calculating bills to pay, checking domestic finances, middle aged family managing, planning budget, expenses, grey haired man and woman reading bank loan documents at homeFamily financial matters are often a forbidden topic, and the root of many different disputes, enhanced emotions, and misunderstandings. And for a good number of today’s older adults, who maintain a “Depression mentality” from years of saving for a rainy day and learning to “waste not, want not,” it can be difficult for them to grant access to finances to adult children, and to acknowledge the need to spend some of those personal finances on caregiving needs.

Speaking with an older parent about finances is most effective when started before the need develops, understanding it may take numerous conversations until an understanding can be reached. These discussion starters can really help:

  • “Dad, sooner or later, we are going to need to make some decisions with regards to the future. Now may be a good time to take a moment together and go over your wishes, and the financial side of making sure we can abide by those wishes.”
  • “Mom, I know you’re managing your finances just fine now, but what if something were to happen to your overall health that stopped you from paying your bills on time? It might be good to have a backup plan ready to go. Let’s take a moment and devise one.”
  • “Mom and Dad, you’ve always been so competent at handling your money and providing for us while we were growing up. We want to be sure to carry on that legacy, as well as to understand how best to help you both meet your monetary obligations if the time comes that you might want some help with that.”

It’s also useful to share real-life scenarios of a relative or neighbor who was exploited by identity theft, or a story from the media concerning the changing economy, stock exchange drops, modifications to tax laws, etc. This tends to jumpstart a discussion regarding your aging parents’ own retirement plans and any financial fears for the future, enabling you to come to a mutually agreeable resolution, such as talking with a financial advisor together.

First and foremost, be sure to maintain a sense of respect, never seeking to “take over” your parents’ finances, but to offer the reassurance and peace of mind that their financial matters will continue to be managed effectively. Ask your parents for advice, including them in the decision-making process. Daniel Lash, certified financial planner at VLP Financial Advisors, suggests, “Tell them what you’re thinking about doing so you give them the power to tell you what they think you should do. It’s like they’re giving you advice because that’s what parents are good at – giving advice.”

Generations at Home offers an in-home consultation that can help aging parents to know their choices for care, and to help mediate stressful conversations such as those related to finances. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 for in-home care for Tarpon Springs and the surrounding areas.

Get Better Results by Using Journaling in Dementia Caregiving

Portrait of middle-aged lovely womanIn St. Petersburg, FL, being a dementia caregiver for someone you love is a fluid, ever-evolving undertaking. One day may be calm and peaceful, with your family member enjoying activities, eating healthy meals, and sharing laughter with you; while the next day could be fraught with agitation, anxiety, and sullenness. What will today bring?

Identifying how to best manage the difficult behaviors as well as ensure life is as enjoyable and comfortable as it can be for an individual with dementia can be made easier through a simple tool: journaling. Here’s how you can implement it in your daily caregiving routine, and how to utilize your journal to enhance quality of life for a senior in your life:

  • Monitor symptoms and caregiving needs on a daily basis. Your notes don’t have to be lengthy, but record any difficulties that occur, particularly time of day and what could have initiated the issues. Additionally, include tasks the individual was able to accomplish independently, together with the ones that were challenging. At the conclusion of every week, look back over the behaviors to determine if a pattern can be noticed – such as heightened agitation before meals or bedtime.
  • Track eating habits. Note which foods are most appealing to your senior loved one, which are least difficult for him or her to self-feed, exactly how many meals/snacks are being eaten as well as what times throughout the day, etc. Make sure to record beverages, to guarantee the older adult is taking in sufficient quantities of water to remain hydrated. In going over your notes, you could find that six smaller meals through the course of the day are better for your senior loved one than three larger ones, for instance.
  • Track safety concerns. Maintaining safety is a top priority in dementia care, with a variety of dangers that can result from wandering, dizziness/balance problems, hallucinations, and misunderstanding what common items are used for, such as thinking a household cleaner could possibly be a sports drink. Securing dangerous items or putting them in out-of-reach places is essential, and keeping a list of changes made to the house environment for safety’s sake can be extremely helpful to alert other loved ones to potential risks.

It is also a good idea to bring your journal with you to your loved one’s medical appointments, and bring any concerns documented to the doctor’s attention. This enables you to be completely prepared prior to appointments with concerns you want to get addressed, making the most of the limited time available to consult with doctors.

Make contact with our highly skilled and knowledgeable St. Petersburg, FL dementia care experts to get more tips along with specialized in-home care that increases safety while maximizing independence, purpose, and meaning – making every day the very best it can be for a person with dementia.

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.