Health Conditions That Cause Mood Changes in Elderly Individuals

concerned-senior-couple

Negative mood changes are a common response to several common, treatable health conditions impacting seniors, or could be a response to exasperation, pain, or confusion.

We all have good days and bad days, and we are all entitled to a bit of negative thinking or crankiness occasionally. If you are taking care of a loved one who appears to have fallen into a routine of ongoing complaining and negativity, however, it is worth exploring whether a health problem may be the culprit.

The following are several common reasons for ongoing negativity, and how you can help resolve mood changes in the elderly.

  • Urinary tract infections. A UTI’s classic symptoms of pain, burning, and urgency to urinate may include additional effects for older adults, including angry outbursts, confusion, and irritability, along with other modifications to behavior or mood. Speak with a physician to rule out a urinary tract infection if you notice these types of uncharacteristic behaviors.
  • Pain. A recent research study revealed that participants who have been experiencing chronic pain reported an increase in negative moods, including fatigue, anger, tension, depression, anxiety, and much more. Furthermore, it’s worth discussing any of these mood changes with the doctor, as these types of mood shifts can actually impact the effectiveness of pain management treatments.
  • Medication side effects. A wide range of medications – including those intended to help with mood, such as antidepressants – may cause troublesome mood swings. Medications for hypertension, inflammation, and seizures can cause personality and behavioral alterations in some individuals. Again, consult with a doctor and review all of the prescribed and over-the-counter medications to determine if the problem is due to one medication, or possibly the interaction of multiple meds together.
  • Dementia. Mood and personality changes are common among those with dementia. It’s important to understand that these changes are a symptom of the physiological changes in the brain, and are not a reflection of the person’s own choices and decisions. There are both medicinal and natural treatment options that can help the person feel calmer and less agitated that you may wish to explore.

Negativity can arise from loneliness or boredom, too. Whatever the cause, persistent negativity can wear on a caregiver’s own sense of peace and wellbeing. It is important to enable yourself to step away from your caregiving role on a regular basis, and to make this time away a top priority. The older adult in your care will also benefit from the opportunity to spend time with different friends, family members, or a professional caregiver. These breaks are a healthy component of your caregiver/care receiver relationship – for both of you.

The professional caregivers at Generations at Home are excellent companions to help brighten the mood of the families we serve. All of our care staff are fully trained, background checked, and accomplished in a wide range of home care services for seniors. Contact us at 727-940-3414 to learn how we can help someone you love with elderly care in St. Pete Beach and the surrounding areas, while allowing you the time needed to rest and rejuvenate.

Preventing Broken Heart Syndrome and Ways to Help Seniors Who Are Grieving

senior lady looking at old photoIn his documentary about grief, George Shelley uses the analogy of glitter. Toss a handful of glitter into the air, and it is going to settle into most of the cracks and crevices of the room, impossible to fully sweep up and remove. Individuals who have lost a loved one can relate. Yet in some instances, grief may be so overwhelming that it can result in a serious and aptly-named condition: broken heart syndrome.

Broken heart syndrome is a very real physical condition due to the intense stress experienced in some forms of grief (such as one spouse losing the other after decades of marriage). The medical term is takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a temporary enlargement of the heart that prevents it from pumping blood effectively.

And, it’s more prevalent than you may know. A number of high-visibility examples include George H.W. Bush, who became ill following the loss of his wife of 73 years, and Johnny Cash, who passed on just four months following the loss of his wife.

Researchers have been studying the impact of grief on an individual’s physical health for years. In 1995, for example, the term “widowhood effect” was coined to describe the 30% rise in mortality rate faced by individuals who lost a longtime partner. Other scientists determined a connection between grief and the immune system. Some surviving spouses simply lose the will to live.

Help prevent this condition and ease the pain of grief for someone you love with these tips.

  • Help the senior stay involved with comforting, enjoyable activities whenever possible.
  • Provide a listening ear and encourage the senior to convey their grief in a healthy way.
  • Talk about the lost loved one, allowing the opportunity for shared stories and memories.
  • Recommend the person speak with a therapist to effectively work through overwhelming emotions.
  • Look for a grief support group for the senior to attend, either in person or virtually.
  • Make sure the person is staying hydrated, eating well balanced meals, and getting lots of sleep.
  • Emphasize to the senior everything they have to live for, and that doing so is the best way to honor the lost loved one’s legacy.

A trained caregiving companion from Generations at Home is also a great way to help a loved one who is grieving. We offer socialization and lots of opportunities for conversations and reminiscing, as well as engaging activities, transportation wherever an older adult would like to go, and much more. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 for a complimentary in-home consultation to find out more.

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!

Helping to Alleviate Holiday Senior Depression

sad senior woman sitting on couch

Although this season is typically viewed as the season of joy, for many, holiday senior depression is real and brings with it a period of deep despair. Yearning for holidays past, sadness over the loss of close friends and family, and difficult changes to health can magnify throughout the holiday season, and it’s essential to take steps to help senior loved ones prevent the downward fall into depression.

Start with asking yourself these three questions if a senior you love is feeling blue this holiday season.

  1. Might it be regular nostalgia? Wistful feelings of nostalgia, remembering pre-pandemic holiday celebrations and get-togethers, are normal for all of us. Determine if the older adult’s sadness is lifted following a journey down memory lane, or if it lingers no matter what the topic of conversation is.
  2. Is health affected? If your loved one is struggling to sustain a balanced and healthy diet, has difficulty with staying or falling asleep during the night, is losing weight, and/or is feeling fatigued, these could all be indications of depression.
  3. Is the senior disengaged? Look for a lack of interest in formerly-enjoyed activities, diminished motivation, trouble with concentration and focus, and/or the inability to sit still without fidgeting, as these can also be common in depression.

Lara Honos-Webb, clinical psychologist and author of “Listening to Depression: How Understanding Your Pain Can Heal Your Life,” compares the difference between depression and sadness to colors. “A person is blue if they have deep, colorful emotions in response to loss in life. Depression is more like the color black – there [are] no subtle colors to the emotion but stark pain.”

It is essential to seek medical assistance if depression is suspected – and even if you’re uncertain – as effective treatment is readily available and necessary, and early detection and treatment are key. Also, there are a number of steps members of the family can take to support a loved one with depression:

  • Create a list of the senior’s interests, and set a schedule to take part in one or more of them together.
  • Encourage your loved one to exercise along with you, including getting outside for walks in nature.
  • Turn on some of the senior’s favorite music, or if the senior plays an instrument, request that she or he play some songs for you.
  • Remain positive yourself, providing affirmations of your love, as well as the many small but wonderful gifts each new day brings.
  • Most importantly, just be there, whatever the older adult’s mood. At times, just sitting together quietly may make a world of difference in how someone feels.

Connect with the St. Petersburg senior care experts at Generations at Home for more tips and resources in order to help enhance health and wellness for older adults, and for high quality in-home care which makes every single day the very best it can be.

Surprising Health Benefits of Laughter and How It May Help When Dealing With a Difficult Diagnosis

happy senior woman laughing

Even when life is difficult, find something that makes you laugh.

Have you ever felt yourself about to bubble over with irrepressible laughter, at the most inopportune moment in time – in a packed elevator, a quiet waiting room, or a religious service? Even though there are, certainly, times when we need to stamp down the silliness, author Jane Heller explains that, “Humor can keep us balanced, even in the grimmest of times. It reminds us that despite illness and disability, there are moments of real joy in life and we need to embrace them.”

The health benefits of laughter are remarkable, including:

  • Releasing endorphins that minimize tension
  • Enhancing brain connectivity
  • Supplying a social boost
  • Relieving pain
  • Enhancing the immune system
  • Boosting mood
  • Safeguarding the heart from coronary disease
  • Revitalizing circulation and muscle relaxation, each of which alleviate stress
  • And much more

Despite the fact that there’s nothing funny when it comes to receiving a difficult medical diagnosis for a loved one, there are ways to maintain an underlying feeling of positivity that might lead to additional possibilities for laughter:

  • Be deliberate about adding snippets of humor throughout your home/office, which can include a well-liked comic strip, meme, funny photographs, etc.
  • Look into a laughter yoga class – yes, there truly is such a thing!
  • Adjust your reading material and TV viewing to incorporate additional lightheartedness. Include joke books – or explore the internet for new jokes to be included in your repertoire.
  • Enjoy time with friends and family who lift your spirits. Remember prior memories together that make you laugh, and create new ones!
  • Don’t forget to laugh at yourself, instead of being hard on yourself for errors, try acknowledging that you’re only human.

Surprisingly, even if you don’t feel like laughing, positive aspects can still be achieved through faking or forcing laughter, according to certified health coach Nancy Kalish.

Generations at Home’s caregivers help bring happiness and laughter to older adults and respite for their families on a daily basis. Our friendly senior companions spend quality time with older adults, engaging in conversations, games, puzzles, exercise, fun outings, not to mention a great deal of laughter. And with our full range of in-home care services, such as meal preparation, household chores, and looking after personal care needs, family care providers and the seniors they love are able to spend more quality time simply taking pleasure in each other’s company. Allow us to help brighten your world! Call us at 727-940-3414 any time to find out more and to arrange for an in-home consultation.

Help for This Common Alzheimer’s Care Concern: Resistance to Personal Hygiene

Towel LifestyleOf the many challenges related to providing care for a loved one with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association reveals that the most prevalent difficulty is with personal hygiene, for a variety of reasons:

  • Reduced sense of vision and smell
  • Comfort found in familiarity (i.e., wanting to wear the same clothes over and over again)
  • The complexities of bathing, compounded by cognitive impairment and confusion
  • Fear of falling, the sounds and sensations of the water, and more

Cajoling, arguing, and reasoning are rarely effective tactics with those impacted by Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. Instead, try these creative approaches if your loved one resists maintaining proper hygiene:

  • Prepare the bathroom in advance so the room will be comfortable and you won’t need to juggle gathering up supplies in conjunction with assisting the senior. Warm the room with a space heater, and place soap, shampoo, towels, washcloth, etc. within easy reach, as well as remove any throw rugs or other tripping hazards.
  • A shower chair and hand-held sprayer often make a more comfortable bathing experience for those with dementia. Face the chair away from the faucet, and use towels to cover parts of the body before and after they are cleaned to keep the senior warm and to avoid feelings of exposure.
  • Have the senior assist with bathing tasks as much as possible to promote independence. It may be as simple as offering a washcloth or the shampoo bottle for the senior to hold.
  • If hair washing is difficult for either of you, forego that task during bath time, and arrange for weekly trips to the salon.
  • Plan a special outing with the senior, such as a lunch date with a friend, and center bath time around getting ready for the event.
  • Bring in the recommendation of a medical professional, who can advise the senior about the increased risk of infection or skin problems without proper hygiene. Sometimes hearing from a trusted third party carries more weight than from a family member.
  • Engage the services of a caregiver, allowing the senior the dignity of having personal care needs tended to by a professional, rather than a family member.

At Generations at Home, each of our caregivers is adept in safe hygiene procedures for older adults, with specialized training to help those with Alzheimer’s disease feel comfortable with personal hygiene tasks, including creative approaches to safe bathing, skin, hair, and oral care, restroom assistance, and much more. Call us at 727-940-3414 or contact us online to discover effective solutions to the concerns you and your loved one are facing!

How to Keep Motivating Seniors from Crossing the Line to Bullying

Married couple argumentAs a family caregiver, you no doubt encounter a range of emotions throughout the day: shared laughter over a joke with your loved one; worry over a health concern; and certainly, from time to time, frustrations. We want only the best for those we love, and when an older adult is resistant to doing something we know is best, it can be challenging to determine the most appropriate response.

The key is to offer motivation and encouragement, while being careful not to cross the line into bullying the senior. These tips are good to keep in mind:

  • There’s no one-size-fits-all. An approach that works on one occasion may be completely ineffective in another. If the senior refuses to take a bath, for instance, you may simply want to let the matter slide and try again tomorrow. Or, maybe reframing bath time into a soothing spa activity will hold more appeal. Incorporating humor may work well one day, while using a gentler, softer tone of voice may be the solution on another. Having a variety of strategies at the ready can help reduce frustration for both of you.
  • Empower the senior to remain in control. Have a heart-to-heart conversation with the senior during a calm, peaceful moment to solicit feedback on how the caregiving relationship is going, and what he or she would like to see changed. It’s important to then take to heart the older adult’s feedback and incorporate it into your caregiving approach.
  • Be mindful of incremental bullying. While we certainly would never set out to bully a loved one into compliance, it’s possible to gradually progress from encouragement and motivation into pushiness and forcefulness without realizing it. Take an honest look at your tendencies in communicating with your loved one, and then take steps to improve upon them if needed.
  • Remember the overarching priority. Above and beyond the many tasks required in providing care for a senior loved one, maintaining a healthy, positive and fulfilling relationship with each other is paramount. If you find that the frustrations of providing care are outweighing the benefits for either of you at any time, there’s always the possibility of exploring alternate care options, allowing you to place your focus on spending quality time together with the senior you love.

Generations at Home is the perfect partner for family caregivers. Our caregiving staff are fully trained and experienced in the many facets of senior home care, and can provide the assistance family members need to maintain healthy relationships with those they love. Contact us online or call 727-940-3414 and request an in-home consultation to discover the difference respite care can make in both a senior’s quality of life and yours.

Helping Seniors Find Meaning and Purpose in Everyday Life

senior home care in St. Petersburg

Seniors enjoy remaining active and engaged in the community.

Think of an average day in the life of a senior loved one. Ideally it provides a couple of positive and enriching experiences: savoring breakfast, participating in an enjoyable hobby or interest, visiting with a good friend or relative, watching a well-liked show on tv. Nonetheless, there’s a distinction between positivity and purpose; and the value of a life rich with significance and purpose is becoming more understandable, particularly in the life of senior loved ones.

Viktor Frankl, world-renowned psychiatrist and survivor of the Holocaust, shares poignantly, “What matters is not the meaning in life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.”

For anyone whose identity has been devoted to a job and raising a family, and who now are in a season of retirement and fulfilled family commitments, it can be difficult to find other meaning and purpose. At Generations at Home, we make it a priority to help seniors find their passions and funnel them into purposeful experiences, such as:

  • Volunteering. For a senior who loves working with children, tutoring, reading to, or mentoring kids at a local school is an excellent option. Other people may care greatly about helping veterans, and put together care packages of personal care products and snack food items to send overseas. And for animal lovers, delivering treats, blankets, and an affectionate heart to a pet shelter could be extremely satisfying.
  • Learning. It’s true: you’re never too old to master something new. Look into your nearby community college, library, or senior center to find classes or online programs of interest to your senior loved one.
  • Helping at home. Well-meaning family caregivers oftentimes take over household duties to relieve their senior loved ones from the chores they have taken care of throughout their lifetime. Unfortunately, this may have the adverse effect of leaving seniors feeling as though they are no longer useful. Engage the senior in tasks throughout the home that are within his / her expertise and interest, such as assisting with preparing meals, folding laundry, organizing nuts and bolts in a toolbox, etc.
  • Recording family history. Providing the next generation with the rich family history and stories experienced firsthand is a treasure that only seniors can provide. Help your senior loved one document his / her lifetime legacy in a scrapbook, writing, or video recording, and then share with family and friends.

And, get in touch with Generations at Home for the customized in-home support that helps seniors discover satisfaction and purpose, while remaining secure and comfortable within the familiarity of home. We’re able to supply transportation to interesting and enjoyable activities, help plan and implement ideas to accomplish right at home, or help with the various daily tasks throughout the house, such as cleaning and cooking, enabling friends and family to savor high quality time together. You can contact us any time at 727-940-3414.

 

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.

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!