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.

Paid Family Leave for Senior Care: The Benefit Employees Really Need

St. Petersburg FL care solutions

Are employers starting to take notice of a need for senior care leave?

Employers have long recognized the necessity for new mothers or fathers to take time away from their career to focus on the various requirements of an infant, but what has been identified much less is the equally important need for adult children to take time away to look after their aging parents. But as our life expectancy continues to expand, and as baby boomers are going into their senior years, the balancing act to take care of professional and family lives is now more prevalent.

Trying to balance a career alongside senior care requirements can be extremely challenging. In fact, providing care alone, without adding in work-related stress, places family caregivers at a higher chance of depression, substance abuse, and a range of physical issues: heart-related illnesses, infections, and cancer, just to mention a few.

And while the Family and Medical Leave Act helps to ensure that employees of larger companies gain access to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, only 13% of employees receive paid family leave – a crucial component for several to make sure financial requirements are met. And a full one out of every seven employees who take care of an older parent wind up reducing their time in the office, accepting a lesser-paying position, or leaving the workforce entirely.

One potential solution to keep an eye on is the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act, or FAMILY Act, introduced a short time ago to give partial income to family caregivers for up to twelve weeks for providing care for a family member facing a health concern. To date, five states have passed similar policies (New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and California – plus Washington, DC).

Despite the fact that paid leave for caregivers is costly for companies, Maureen Corcoran of Prudential Financial notes, “It is not more costly than losing employees early to disability, to early retirement, to presenteeism (when employees show up for work but don’t get much done).”

Thankfully, there is one other option already available to all family caregivers: partnering with an expert home care agency like Generations at Home. We provide loved ones with the peace of mind needed to focus on the job, confident their senior loved one is receiving the best possible quality of care, customized to each individual’s distinct needs.

Contact us at 727-940-3414 for more information about our quality St. Petersburg, FL in-home care services, to request educational resources specific to the precise challenges your senior loved one is encountering, and to request a free in-home assessment to understand how we’re able to enable you to establish a healthier life balance.

How Concerned Should You Be About Guns and Dementia?

senior aiming a revolver pistol

What you need to know about guns and dementia.

With an impassioned level of debate rivaling the Hatfields and McCoys, it appears insurmountable to come to a resolution around the issue of gun control. Yet in spite of which side of the fence you are on, there’s one little-discussed scenario that will cause all of us to take pause: the frightening mixture of dementia and firearms.

A third of all seniors in the United States report owning a firearm, and an additional 12% are living in the house of a gun owner. Bearing in mind that nearly 9% of those over age 65 have some form of dementia (and that number is anticipated to more than double by 2050), it totals an incredible number of older adults with dementia living with guns. Together with irregular states of confusion, aggression, and other difficult behaviors, having guns in the house sets the stage for possible tragedy.

Within the state of Washington alone, a government study found that tens of thousands of older adults (54,000) reported memory decline and confusion along with access to firearms – and as many as 15,000 of those respondents reported that the firearms they had access to were both unlocked and loaded.

In fact, in one single year alone, a Kaiser Health News report uncovered upwards of 75 reported homicides or suicides committed by people with dementia, in addition to instances of firearms being brandished against those closest to them – family members, neighbors, caregivers. Additionally, the suicide rate for older adults is greater than for any other age bracket, with guns being the most prevalent source for senior men, as reported by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends removing firearms from the houses of those with dementia; however, if that isn’t a choice families are prepared to consider, it is vital that you be certain firearms are stored properly – locked, unloaded, and kept separate from ammunition. A bit of creativity can help as well – as an example, replacing real guns with toy models that allow a person who was an avid hunter to safely maintain his connection to that activity.

For more recommendations on keeping people who have dementia safe, call the skilled dementia care team at Generations at Home. Our fully trained and experienced caregivers are adept in assisting with the more challenging components of dementia, and in determining when a senior might be in crisis and require medical help. Our dementia respite care services allow family caregivers the chance to rest and renew, understanding their loved one is incompetent and caring hands. Call us at 727-940-3414 to find out more.

The Illness We’re Overlooking that Many Seniors May Have

Doctor comforting senior adult

St. Petersburg, FL home care provider, Generations at Home provides senior mental health tips.

In one’s older years, it is common to be dealing with sleeping problems, fatigue, or loss of appetite. And frequently, they’re written off as exactly that. Yet, for as many as 8 million seniors over age 65, these symptoms are indicative of something significantly more than normal aging – they’re signs of mental illness. And just a small percentage of seniors are finding the available treatment that could considerably improve their overall wellbeing.

Mental illness is frequently unnoticed in seniors, for a variety of reasons. For a few, there’s a stigma attached to admitting to and trying to find help for mental and emotional concerns. For other individuals, the assumption is usually that the common signs and symptoms of mental illness and aging go hand in hand and ought to simply be accepted. And sometimes, mental illness symptoms mimic medication side effects.

Whatever the case, it is necessary for family members to locate medical care when they notice some of the following types of behaviors in their senior family members:

  • Anxiety
  • Personality or mood changes
  • Changes in desire for formerly enjoyed activities
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Difficulty with concentration and memory
  • Depression

Unfortunately, merely 7 percent of seniors age 65 and over who most likely have some type of mental illness are receiving treatment, as indicated by a report by the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Dr. Susan W. Lehmann, clinical director of the division of geriatric psychiatry and neuropsychiatry and director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Day Hospital at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine clarifies, “Indeed, compared with younger adults and middle-aged adults, adults over age 65 were much less likely to be asked by their primary care physician if they felt tense or anxious and were much less likely to be referred by their primary care physician for mental health specialty care.”

Fortunately, you can find effective treatment options for mental illness in older seniors. The first step would be to consult with the senior’s primary care physician, who can recommend the best medications and/or therapeutic options to consider. Generations at Home is also able to help by escorting the older adult to medical appointments and counseling visits, picking up prescription medications and providing reminders, and serving as a caring companion to share in conversations and to pick up on any changes that could indicate the necessity for further assistance. Give us a call at 727-940-3414 or contact us online to learn more.