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!

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

Senior woman checking label on medication

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Newest Breakthroughs in Curing Alzheimer’s

microscope with lab glassware, science laboratory research and development
Ground breaking research is honing in ever nearer towards the eradication of Alzheimer’s disease

The first, interestingly, is a drug utilized to manage HIV. Scientists have discovered that the genetic blueprint in Alzheimer’s patients is altered as the disease advances, very similar to the genetic shuffling that occurs in individuals with HIV. The idea is that placing a halt on the movement of the specific genes can possibly prevent the progression associated with the disease.

As stated by lead scientist Jerold Chun, “For the first time, we can see what may cause the disease. We also uncovered a potential near-term treatment.”

Subsequently, researchers at Mount Sinai have discovered that medications used to lower blood glucose in diabetics, such as metformin, might have a direct impact in the reduction of the plaques and tangles linked with Alzheimer’s disease. While this may be helpful immediately for diabetics with Alzheimer’s who are already taking this medication, further research is needed before testing on Alzheimer’s patients without diabetes as a result of the potential for dangerously low glucose levels and other negative effects. Encouragingly, the study outcomes add an additional piece to the puzzle of dementia.

These findings “…point us to the biological mechanisms that are being affected by those drugs. Hopefully, now we can find drugs that would have similar effects on the brain without changing the blood sugar levels,” remarked Vahram Haroutunian, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

With as many as 6 million Americans currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and a predicted increase to 14 million diagnoses over the next 40 years, it is vital for medical scientists to acquire ground on more fully comprehending the root cause, effective treatment options, and eventually a cure for this disease which has certainly become an epidemic.

The Alzheimer’s care experts at Generations at Home continue to track these and other advances, while offering the finest quality home care that enhances general wellbeing while providing family members necessary peace of mind. Our caregivers are fully trained and exceptionally skilled in helping manage many of the more complex facets of Alzheimer’s disease, such as wandering, aggression, sundowning, inappropriate behaviors, and much more. And our aim is always to make certain seniors with dementia have the ability to live life to its fullest potential, while remaining secure and comfortable at home.

Contact us online or call us at 727-940-3414 to find out more or to ask about resources to help you and your family member navigate the journey of Alzheimer’s.

Holiday Visits Can Help Determine if Dementia Care Is Needed

A happy grandmother with her family on Christmas Eve

Learn the signs of early dementia in this article from the St. Petersburg, FL home care experts.

From the second the door swings open and your senior parent wraps you in a warm hug, through the merry holiday dinner and each timeless family tradition, possibilities abound for not just quality time together, but also to evaluate how your senior loved one is really doing and if any warning flags are observed.

In particular, certain indicators could reveal cognitive issues, including Alzheimer’s disease. Because Alzheimer’s happens to be more and more common in senior loved ones, and because early detection and treatment are key, the dementia care team at Generations at Home suggests monitoring for any of the following common signs of early Alzheimer’s disease during your holiday visit this year:

  • Social differences. As outlined by John Ramsay, CEO of Shift 8,“Dementia can cause people to become closed-off, avoiding any sense of social interaction.” Take note of any indications both in the senior’s behavior and conversations that point to his/her preference for reclusiveness and isolation, particularly if the person has always appreciated socializing.
  • Mood swings. Depression, anxiety, and apathy are all early components of dementia. The illness has an effect on a person’s ability to process and manage emotions, often times the result of the inability to remember what sparked an adverse feeling, leading to additional irritation.
  • Loss of memory. Issues with memory are at the heart of Alzheimer’s disease, notably, short-term memory. Notice whether or not the senior seems to have a problem with recent events, but is able to fully engage in conversations in regards to the past.
  • Problems with altered routines. Identifying a sense of disorientation, anxiety or agitation is not uncommon during the holiday season, with its possibility of disruptions to the normal routine. People with Alzheimer’s tend to depend greatly on familiarity and may also appear out of sorts when deviating from the usual.
  • Physical changes. Take note of any evidence of a decline in hygiene or in the cleanliness and organization of the home, particularly if the senior has previously been thorough in maintaining a sense of order.

Any of these concerns ought to be brought to the attention of the senior’s primary care doctor at the earliest opportunity.

And, it is beneficial to have a trusted senior care partner on hand who is familiar with the intricacies of dementia along with other difficulties of aging, and will provide you with the professional assistance which enables aging parents to stay safe and well. Contact the St. Petersburg FL home care experts at Generations at Home at 727-940-3414 to learn more about our highly skilled, professional dementia care team and for a free in-home assessment to find out how we can help.

Help Seniors Overcome the Holiday Blues with These Tips

Senior woman wearing santa hat

Older adults can reduce their risk of experiencing the holiday blues with these tips.

Ah, the holidays: they can either be the most wonderful time of the year, or the most challenging. For some seniors who have lost relatives, are battling chronic health issues, or are going through isolation and loneliness, the holidays can lead to depression. And, the family caregivers who care for a loved one are also susceptible to holiday blues, due to an overabundance of stress.

It’s possible, however, to bring back the holiday season to an occasion full of joy. Generations at Home provides the following suggestions:

Seek medical assistance. First of all, it’s crucial to communicate any suspected indications of depression (changes in sleeping and eating habits, absence of desire for previously enjoyed hobbies and socializing, sluggishness and persistent despair) to your elderly loved one’s (or your) primary care doctor. There are successful treatment options readily available, and also it’s essential to eliminate various other health issues.

Make wholesome choices. With many high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt food products to choose from through the holiday season, it is relatively easy to let a healthy diet slip and overindulge. However eating unhealthy, as well as drinking an excessive amount of alcohol, can contribute to feelings of depression. It is also essential to have lots of sleep; eight hours is best for most adults.

Create new traditions. In many cases for seniors, holiday traditions have had to change over the years. Starting a new normal is not usually easy, but can lead to renewed interest in holiday celebrations. Try participating in an evening of caroling, a shopping and lunch outing at a brand new venue, going to the neighborhood high school’s holiday play or performance, etc.

Reminisce. Rather than steering clear of emotionally charged discussions about lost relatives or past holidays, invite the senior to discuss memories, and take sufficient time to pay attention and engage in the conversation. Looking through pictures or watching home movies will help the senior process the loss and begin to move ahead toward acceptance and comfort.

Help others. Almost nothing enhances our spirits quite like knowing we’ve helped somebody else. Search for opportunities for your senior loved one to volunteer in some capacity to assist people in need: baking cookies for a local homeless shelter, buying small toys and gifts to give to the children’s hospital, putting together care packages for the people in the military services, etc.

For even more tips to motivate your elderly loved one to remain active and engaged during the holidays and all year long, reach out to Generations at Home’s home care experts. Our fully trained caregivers are skilled in assisting older adults to live life to the fullest, and we’re here for you with as much or as little assistance as required. Call us at 727-940-3414 to learn more.