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.

How Hearing Loss Treatment May Help Prevent Dementia

happy senior man wearing hearing aidAre you finding the need to turn the television up louder for a senior you love? Chatting more loudly? Repeating conversations your senior loved one missed hearing the first time? Hearing loss in older adults is not uncommon. But fresh research is pointing to a startling connection between hearing loss and an elevated risk for dementia.

How Hearing and Cognitive Functioning Are Related

There are several hypotheses that researchers are investigating to explain the link between hearing loss and dementia:

  • Reduced social interaction results in less mental stimulation and a less active and engaged brain.
  • An older brain shrinks more rapidly as the result of hearing loss.
  • The brain’s thinking and memory systems are affected when it has to focus harder to strain to hear and also to fill in the gaps when communication is missed.

It’s very important to determine the exact reason for this connection and to discover if treating hearing loss can help. The number of individuals who could be impacted is astonishing, with up to 37.5 million Americans currently having some level of hearing loss.

We already know that those diagnosed with hearing loss have a decline in cognitive functioning at a rate of 30 – 40% faster compared to those with normal hearing. Not only this, but hearing loss escalates the risk for additional health issues, for example, depression and falls.

The good news is that medical researchers at Johns Hopkins are presently working to determine whether treating hearing loss could actually minimize brain aging and prevent dementia. A study of almost 1,000 seniors with hearing loss is ongoing, and by as early as the coming year, we’ll have the information needed for a path forward.

If someone you love has difficulties with hearing loss, encourage them to get a checkup and to wear hearing aids if recommended by the doctor. Our care providers can even provide transportation for that checkup if needed.

Additionally, our dementia care specialists are readily available to help those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia to stay safe, comfortable, and involved with enjoyable and meaningful activities. We can also help with more effectively managing a number of the challenging behaviors connected with dementia, in particular aggression, agitation, wandering, sundowning, and more.

Just call us any time at 727-940-3414 for additional details on how we can help older adults live healthier lives at home. We offer a free in-home consultation to answer all of your questions and to develop a personalized plan of care to best meet your needs.

Commonly Deficient Supplements for Older Adults and How to Correct

Supplements for Older AdultsVitamins, minerals, and supplements – oh my! 70% of older adults are taking them; but are they really necessary as we grow older? After all, a healthy, balanced diet offers seniors necessary nutrients. But there are certain areas of deficiency which could make a case for the addition of a supplement. Be sure to seek the advice of the physician before making any changes, but with their recommendation or approval, consider the following:

Calcium

Aging bones are prone to breaks and fractures when calcium intake is insufficient. This is particularly true for post-menopausal women, with an astounding 50% of those over age 50 breaking a bone as the result of osteoporosis. However, men are also in danger of complications from calcium deficiency. A hip fracture in men, for example, is much more likely to be fatal than it is for women.

The best natural sources for calcium are leafy greens, salmon, kale, broccoli, and dairy products, but the majority of women over age 50 and men over age 70 aren’t getting adequate calcium from food alone. The NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements recommends 1,200 mg of calcium each day for women over age 51 and men over age 71, and 1,000 mg per day for men ages 51 – 70.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is calcium’s best friend. They work most effectively when taken together to enhance not only bone health, but the immune and nervous systems and perhaps the heart as well. Sunshine is the best source for vitamin D, but aging skin, combined with the danger of skin cancer, can cause roadblocks to obtaining adequate levels.

Recommendations are 15 mcg/600 IU per day up to age 70, and 20 mcg/800 IU per day for those over age 71. If vitamin D supplements are advised by a physician, they should always be taken with food for optimal absorption.

Vitamin B12

Deficiencies of vitamin B12 are also common in older adults, and even more so for people who take certain medications (especially metformin or gastric acid inhibitors). Without adequate vitamin B12, older adults tend to be more susceptible to developing anemia, nerve damage or neuropathy, balance problems, depression, confusion, poor memory, and dementia.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 2.4 mcg per day, which can be acquired through a diet high in clams and fish, liver, meat, poultry, milk, eggs, and fortified cereals. And unlike other minerals and vitamins, even high doses of vitamin B12 haven’t been found to cause harm, in accordance with the NIH.

Unsure which supplements are right for you or a loved one? Let one of Generations At Home’s caregivers help by enabling a visit to the doctor’s office to find out. Contact us at 727-940-3414 for more information about how we can help maintain wellness with professional in-home care in North Redington Beach, St. Petersburg, and surrounding areas.

The Keys to Happy & Healthy Aging

It has taken nearly 80 years and a variety of research studies to produce the result: a good genetic makeup and wealth really have very little to do with our degree of joy. The Harvard Study of Adult Development launched in 1938, looking into the lives of high-profile participants such as Ben Bradlee and John F. Kennedy. Over the years, it has been expanded to add inner-city residents along with offspring from the original Harvard elite, and the outcomes were unexpected, to say the least.

It was established that the most effective predictors of a long and happy life were not genetics, IQ, finances, fame, or social class but quite simply close relationships. Robert Waldinger, director of the research study and a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital as well as a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, shares, “The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.” 

Psychiatrist George Vaillant, who spearheaded the study from 1972 until 2004, shared in his book “Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development,” the factors that forecast healthy aging:

  •     The absence of smoking and alcohol abuse
  •     Physical activity
  •     Mature mechanisms in place to manage difficulties in life
  •     Sustaining a healthy weight
  •     Having a stable marriage

In a nutshell, self-care is crucial for senior health – both mentally and physically – and devoting time and effort to making your relationships the best they can be most certainly falls under that umbrella as well. As a matter of fact, subsequent scientific studies have uncovered that the satisfaction level men and women experience in their relationships is an even better determinant of what their physical health is likely to be later in life than physical factors like cholesterol levels. 

The research also upended prior thinking that our personalities are set in stone by age 30. Many people who encountered difficulties in their early adult years enjoyed fulfilling later years, while others excelled early in life but ran into challenges in later years because of mental health issues and alcoholism. 

The research study is ongoing, looking into its third and fourth generations, as researchers believe there is still more to understand, such as how to better regulate stress and whether a hard childhood makes a difference in middle age and later years.

Let Generations at Home’s compassionate caregivers help instill joy in an older adult’s life; reach out to us today! Our caregivers serve as friendly companions to engage in exercise, conversations, and enjoyable activities together, cultivating socialization and additional relational connections. You can reach us 24/7 at 727-940-3414 to arrange a complimentary in-home consultation to learn more.

Six Ways to Boost Senior Health and Wellness

Many individuals have left their New Year’s resolutions by the wayside by the end of January, but who says resolutions should only be made in the beginning of the year? There’s no time like the present to start a new goal or habit, particularly for seniors hoping to improve overall health. 

We have six tips you can implement today. Select one to begin, or jump right into all of them to attain the greatest benefit:

  1.     Make an appointment for a physical. As opposed to waiting for an injury or illness to contact the physician, a yearly check-up is a perfect way for older adults to stay on top of their own health and potentially prevent problems before they occur.
  2.     Get physical. With the doctor’s approval and recommendations at hand, kick off a new exercise routine – together! Working out with a senior you love allows you to motivate one another and function as accountability partners. Agree to sticking with it for a minimum of 21 days, after which it ought to be an ingrained, pleasurable habit you will wish to continue.
  3.     Stay connected. Help the older adult maintain friendships and contact with friends and family to ward off isolation and loneliness – something we have all become too familiar with throughout the pandemic. Offer transportation if needed for dinner dates, or with setting up technology to stay virtually connected.
  4.     Update vaccinations. Along with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, flu, pneumonia, and shingles vaccines must be up to date. With age comes an elevated risk for severe effects from these illnesses, so vaccinations become much more important.
  5.     Don’t forget mental health. A mental health provider can help determine if anxiety, depression, or other concerns should be addressed, offering both therapeutic tools and medication if needed. Staying mentally sharp through brain enrichment activities can also help with the natural cognitive decline that occurs in aging.
  6.     Monitor what you eat. If the fridge and pantry are full of empty-calorie or fatty foods, replace them with proteins, whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, and low-fat dairy products. An extreme change in diet can be overwhelming and hard to stick to, so start simple with one replacement at first – carrot sticks instead of potato chips, for example – and work up to an overall healthier diet.

Generations at Home is here to help older adults in achieving these and any other goals with personalized in-home care and companionship. From transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and fitness classes to grocery shopping and preparing healthy meals, all while giving socialization a much-needed boost, we’re empowering seniors to live their best lives every day. Email or call us to learn more about how we can help an older adult you love!

Caregiving for COPD: How to Best Communicate and Connect

happy-senior-man-holding-oxygen-mask-with-copdIt began with those in your inner circle, and it has gradually been spreading outward to close friends and acquaintances. Discussing your COPD diagnosis and knowing how to respond to the many questions that arise about it can be uncomfortable – for you personally, and for those you’re speaking with as well.

Interestingly, you could find that the greatest challenges come in communicating with your primary caregiving partner – the individual who is closest to you. Family caregiving for COPD can raise a number of emotions. The person on the receiving end of care may feel insecure and self-conscious as a result of needing assistance, which could lead to feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration, just to name a few. The care provider may feel incapable of meeting all of the required needs, regretful for mistakes made, and downright worn-out from attempting to manage someone else’s care needs with their own.

There are a number of key strategies to improve communication with your caregiving partner:

  • Make sure you are both fully informed about COPD, the corresponding symptoms and treatment plans, and its typical progression. The doctor can offer resources for both of you to more fully understand what you are facing.
  • Don’t beat around the bush. Clearly and honestly state your feelings and needs.
  • Listen to your partner – and let them know they’re being heard. Nod, maintain eye contact or use other nonverbal indicators to demonstrate you’re listening.
  • Be assertive without being controlling. Your emotions are valid and deserve to be shared in a constructive way without lashing out at the other person.
  • Avoid argumentative words and phrases, for instance, “You never…” or “You always…”. The individual is probably going to become defensive and hurt feelings will intensify.
  • Remind yourself that no one is a mind-reader. If you’re assuming your caregiving partner knows what you are thinking or how you’re feeling merely by your actions, it opens the door to misinterpretation.
  • Maintain empathy and respect for one another. You both are facing new and evolving challenges, and will both make mistakes. A little grace will go a long way.

It’s also a smart idea to call a time-out if emotions start to escalate. Take a break from one another and focus on calming activities, such as listening to music, reading, exercising, or writing in a journal. When you both feel calmer, try the conversation again.

At Generations at Home, we understand the stress that can develop when battling a chronic health issue like COPD, and we are available to help. Our friendly caregivers make great companions to talk with and spend time with engaging in enjoyable activities. We work with family caregivers to make certain they have time required for self-care, while enriching the lives of the older adults for whom they care. Reach out to us any time to find out more about our home care services in Pinellas County, Florida.

Your Guide to Starting Family Caregiving: How to Best Care for Someone with a New Diagnosis

family-caregiver-talking-with-senior-womanIt may have been suspected, or maybe broadsided you out of the blue. Mom has just received the official diagnosis for a progressive disease that is going to make independent life difficult. While there are a number of unknowns, one thing is for sure: she’s adamant about remaining at home – meaning you will have some decisions to make on how to provide for the care she’ll need and what starting family caregiving looks like.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with what to expect next, these tips can certainly help.

  • Learn as much as you’re able in regards to the disease. The older adult’s physician can provide you with resources and educational materials to help you know what to anticipate and also to increase confidence in your family caregiving role.
  • Prioritize organization. Create a folder to keep important paperwork: prescription details, test results, contact information for doctors’ offices together with the pharmacy, and any other pertinent medical information. Start a journal to help monitor any changes in condition or concerns that arise, as well as the details surrounding those changes.
  • Put aside past hurts. A new diagnosis could cause old family dynamics to resurface. If unsettled issues are interfering with your ability to provide the best care, turn to the support of a professional therapist to work through them.
  • Establish boundaries together. Talk to the senior about how much and what sort of assistance would be beneficial. It is normal to want to step in and take control, nevertheless, it’s vital for the senior to maintain as much independence and control as possible.
  • Take proper care of yourself, too. Your personal health and wellness are incredibly important. And, the level of care you provide can be compromised if for example, your own needs are not being met. Prioritize and designate time each day for self-care by seeking out and accepting help from others.

It is vital to know about the risk for depression and caregiver burnout, and to take the appropriate steps immediately if you begin to experience red flags including:

  • Increased anxiety, agitation, and irritability
  • Retreating from social interactions
  • Lack of interest in once-enjoyed pastimes
  • Resentment
  • Lack of appetite
  • Issues with falling or staying asleep
  • Challenges with focus and concentration
  • Fatigue

Locating a dependable care partner provides time to see the doctor for a checkup to rule out any other potential health issues, to talk with a therapist to effectively work through the numerous emotions involved in caregiving, and to relax and recharge.

The caregiving team at Generations at Home is here with additional resources for family caregivers, in addition to skilled, dependable respite care services that enable for a healthier life balance. Contact us for a free in-home consultation to find out more about home care in Tarpon Springs and the surrounding areas.

This Year’s Flu Season for Seniors: Your Guide for What to Know

senior-woman-showing-bandage-on-armWhile COVID-19 still dominates our overall health concerns, it is important to bear in mind that other illnesses can be just as dangerous, particularly for older adults. Flu season for seniors is upon us, and it is time to ensure that the older adults you love are protected.

There are a number of different flu vaccines available, some that are better suited for older adults. These include:

  • High-dose vaccines
  • Adjuvanted vaccines
  • Intradermal vaccines
  • Nasal spray vaccines

Typically, adults over the age of 65 are encouraged to receive either a high-dose or adjuvanted shot, but seek advice from the physician for his or her recommendation.

If a senior loved one is reluctant to receive a flu shot, here are a few fundamental reasons to educate them on why it is so important:

  • The immune system weakens as we grow older, making it more challenging to recover from infections.
  • Serious complications due to the flu tend to be more frequent in seniors.
  • 85% of flu-related deaths and up to 70% of flu-related hospitalizations occur in those over the age of 65.
  • Secondary infections, for example, ear and sinus infections, bronchitis, and even pneumonia, can develop from contracting influenza.

In addition to receiving a flu shot, seniors can boost their immunity through:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet that contains foods rich in vitamin C, D, and zinc, as well as lean proteins and complex carbs.
  • Staying physically active with regular exercise each day. 30 minutes per day is ideal, and can be broken down into smaller portions throughout the day.
  • Keeping the environment clean and sanitized. A HEPA filter will also help with improving indoor air quality.
  • Improving sleep habits, aiming for eight hours of sleep every night. Implementing a routine at bedtime that includes calming activities, limiting technology and TV, and keeping the bedroom dark and cool are all methods to help.

Keep in mind that following COVID-19 safety recommendations can help with preventing other illnesses as well. Wash hands frequently, practice physical distancing, wear a face covering, and avoid large crowds.

Generations at Home’s caregivers are here to help! Let us provide transportation and accompaniment to doctors’ appointments and to receive a seasonal flu vaccine, in combination with our full range of in-home care services. We are available to also prepare healthy and balanced meals, motivate seniors to engage in regular exercise, and much more. Take the first step towards improving health and wellbeing for a cherished older adult by calling us at 727-940-3414 to request a free in-home consultation for in-home care in Clearwater & throughout Pinellas County.

The Post-Pandemic Importance of Strength Training for Older Adults

older disabled adult strength trainigAs we’re finally easing our way out of this pandemic, we’re finding out more information on how it has impacted the elderly – both physically and emotionally. We know older adults have been at a greater threat of serious side effects and death from the COVID-19 virus; however, the impact of 15 months of physical distancing and social isolation is likewise worrisome.

Dr. Jonathan Bean of the New England Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center in the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System has observed a “significant decline in functioning” in both his senior patients and his own mother. While she had been able to walk using the assistance of a walker, be involved in conversations, and take part in other activities of daily life independently pre-pandemic, her self-care and cognitive abilities have diminished dramatically.

Physical therapy Linda Teodosio confirms, explaining, “Immobility and debility are outcomes to this horrific pandemic that people aren’t even talking about yet.” She is observing a substantial increase in both chronic disease exacerbation and falls – very likely because of poor lifestyle choices brought on by the pandemic, such as unhealthy food choices and less exercise.

As a result, increasingly more older adults are in need of physical therapy and other rehabilitative services. Several health plans are attending to the matter by following up with seniors to check on their wellbeing and also to help connect them to the services they require to regain their strength. Surprisingly, up to 20% of an older adult’s muscle tissue could be lost simply by not walking for as few as five days, according to physical therapist Sabaa Mundia.

Before leaping into a different exercise regimen, however, it is vital that seniors first schedule a consultation with the physician for a complete exam and recommendations on safe, ability-appropriate physical activity. Then make a plan to assist the seniors in your life to follow a healthier lifestyle which includes plenty of exercise.

Let Generations at Home assist the seniors that you know stay as physically active and engaged as possible to stay strong post-pandemic. Our professional caregivers are always readily available to provide the encouragement and motivation to help seniors make physical exercise a routine element of each day. We can also provide transportation and accompaniment to exercise classes, the gym, the pool – wherever and whenever an older adult wants to go. Sometimes, just adding in a daily walk with one of our friendly care providers can make a world of difference in how older adults feel!

Call us at 727-940-3414 for a complimentary in-home consultation to learn more about how we can help.

Study Reveals a Distinctive Progression of Dementia in Latinos

senior with dementia hugging caregiverA new study sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association is revealing some surprising results in the progression of dementia in Hispanic people. While further exploration is needed to fully understand whether these differences are the consequence of social/cultural nuances or the dementia itself, it’s worthwhile information for Latino families to know.

Daily Activities

One highlight of the study was the significantly faster decline in the ability to perform everyday activities, such as getting dressed, walking, and taking a shower, in comparison to other ethnicities. Andrea Ochoa Lopez, the University of Houston doctoral student who carried out the research, explained that the cultural dedication to caring for elderly loved ones could be a contributing factor.

“Some families want to start doing everything for their older members to try and remove some of the burdens and make their lives easier,” she mentioned. “But there is research showing that when cognition is declining, older people actually do better when they stay active. And there is also still stigma. They may not want their elder family member to be seen as ill or mentally unstable.”

Anxiety and Depression

While we realize that anxiety and depression are risk factors for dementia, a separate research study of 5,000 individuals showed a noticeably higher percentage of Hispanic people reporting these concerns: more than 25%, when compared with almost 16% and 11% in black and non-Hispanic white participants, respectively. Concentrating on the mental health of those with dementia is essential. Clinical psychologist Michael Cuccaro explains, “We have lots of great evidence that medications and talk therapy help, but minorities have the lowest rate of getting this help.”

Although more extensive research is required to better comprehend these ethnic differences in dementia, finding minorities to take part in studies has been an issue. Latinos currently make up less than 8% of present dementia scientific research studies – in spite of the reality that the prevalence of dementia in Latinos is as much as 50% higher than it is in non-Hispanic whites.

Families who want to learn about current Latino dementia research opportunities can go to the Alzheimer’s Association’s TrialMatch page to find out more.

At Generations at Home, our professional caregivers are extensively trained and experienced in helping seniors with whatever their particular challenges are, making life the best it can be. We achieve this by meeting with each older adult in his or her home before the beginning of services, enabling us to generate a customized care plan. We then diligently monitor the care plan ongoing to ensure that needs are always met thoroughly, both now and as needs change with time.

Whether the need is for a little help with meals and housework, transportation and companionship, or if more specialized dementia care assistance is necessary, Generations at Home has got the perfect solution. Call us at 727-940-3414 to arrange your free in-home consultation to find out more.