Ways to Overcome the Challenges of Medical Tests for Older Adults

medical tests for older adults There’s often nothing “routine” about a routine checkup. You may arrive to your appointment perfectly fine, but leave with orders for blood work and other medical tests the doctor recommends to keep you as healthy as possible. These tests may be nothing more than a minor inconvenience for you, but for older adults, they can be challenging, for a number of reasons: transportation problems, mobility issues, thinner skin, fragile veins, cognitive difficulties, and more.

There are steps you can take to advocate for an older loved one to manage medical tests more easily. For instance:

  • Find out if tests can be performed in the senior’s home. Home health care is becoming an increasingly viable option for blood work and other tests.
  • If the person needs to have a test done outside of the home, call ahead to the facility where it will be performed. Find answers to any specific questions you may have about parking, drop-off location, the best time of day to arrange for the test, etc.
  • Providing a urine or stool sample can be difficult. Ask the doctor for any recommendations to make the process easier, such as a receptacle to place over the toilet rather than using a cup. Ensure the bathroom floor is clean and dry and that any throw rugs or bathmats are removed, and encourage the person to hold onto a grab bar during the collection process to prevent a fall.

How Can Home Care Help a Senior Who Needs Medical Tests?

An in-home caregiver from Generations at Home can:

  • Provide transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, tests, and procedures, while assisting with mobility support as needed
  • Take notes to ensure doctors’ orders are understood and followed
  • Pick up prescriptions and provide medication reminders so that meds are taken exactly as prescribed
  • Help the person to get settled safely back at home afterwards, and provide companionship and oversight to watch for any changes in condition that need to be reported
  • And much more

Also, many people feel more comfortable receiving assistance for sensitive medical matters from a trained professional. Our caregivers are skilled in discreet and respectful support with personal care needs, allowing family members to step back and provide the senior with privacy.

Contact us at 727-940-3414 to arrange for the support needed for someone you love. We offer a free in-home consultation to help you understand your options, so call us today!

How to Help with Loss of Appetite in Elderly Family Members

Loss of Appetite in Elderly After the indulgence of the holiday season, many of us decide to cut back on our calorie consumption. But when an older adult refuses to eat altogether, or is making unbalanced or unhealthy dietary choices, it’s important to determine the cause behind this behavior, and to know how to help them get on track with healthier eating.

What Causes Changes in a Senior’s Eating Habits?

There are several key reasons an older adult may stop eating or start making poor dietary choices – and ways you can help overcome them:

  • Side effects from medications. Schedule an appointment with the doctor for a full review of all meds being taken, and find out if one or more may be causing a loss of appetite or troubling gastrointestinal effects. See if the medication can be changed to something more tolerable or if the dosage amount can be adjusted.
  • Loss of smell or taste. Aging in general often leads to a dulling of these senses, which can affect the enjoyment of eating. Try experimenting with more flavorful and aromatic herbs and spices when preparing meals, such as garlic, thyme, and ginger.
  • Problems with oral health. Check with the dentist to see if dentures need to be refitted or if there are any other dental concerns that need to be addressed. You can also provide foods that are softer and/or cut them into smaller pieces. Ground meat, lentils, and beans, for instance, are easier to chew than a pork chop or steak.
  • Low vision. If the person is unable to see clearly, they may perceive foods differently and lose interest in eating. Vision problems can also make it difficult and even dangerous to prepare meals or pick up groceries. Offer to help with shopping and meal prep (or let us help!) and serve foods that are brightly colored and contrasted to the colors of serving dishes, placemat, tablecloth, etc. so they’re more easily seen.
  • Loneliness. This is a common problem among older adults, and can make mealtimes less enjoyable. Share meals whenever possible with a lonely senior loved one, invite friends and neighbors to join them, or contact Generations at Home for a caregiving companion to help.

Generations at Home is here for older adults struggling to maintain a healthy diet, for whatever reason. We can partner with you to ensure all the bases are covered in providing older adults with every opportunity to once again enjoy meals and establish improved eating habits. Call us at 727-940-3414 to find out how we can help.

How to Help Elderly Parents Be More Social During the Holidays

senior-man-sitting-at-dinner-tableHold onto your hats…the holidays are here! Though there are many people who flourish on the frenzied pace of parties and celebrations, there are an equal number of us who cringe at the idea of stepping outside of our comfort zone and into more intensive social requirements. It might simply come down to one main difference: extroversion vs. introversion. And it is important to know which category the seniors in your life lean towards more, so you can ensure the right type of socialization to help them feel most comfortable.

What Is the Difference Between Extroverts and Introverts?

The reality is none of us are entirely one versus the other. Imagine a continuum with introversion on one side and extroversion on the other. We all fall at one point along that continuum. The key characteristics of introversion include a more reserved, quiet, and internally-focused perspective, whereas extroversion involves a more outward focus: sociable, talkative, and action-oriented.

Psychologists believe we grow more introverted as we grow older, in a phenomenon referred to as “intrinsic maturation.” So just because a senior you love once really enjoyed and drew energy from highly social settings, you may notice they shift towards feeling more self-contained and satisfied with small, intimate social scenes or even just spending more time alone.

Knowing that socialization is essential to a senior’s health, how can you help a more introverted senior enjoy time together with family and friends, not only during the holiday season, but all year long? These strategies can help.

  • Stay near the perimeter. Instead of encouraging the older adult to be front and center in a social environment, find a quieter spot at the edge of the group, where they can visit with one or two people at a time.
  • Designate a buddy. Having one close and trusted family member, friend or caregiver to remain near the senior adds an amount of comfort and familiarity to what may seem like an overpowering setting.
  • Decide on a specified exit time. Talk with the senior about how much time might feel comfortable for visiting. If they prefer to stay for just an hour, for example, be sure to respect that decision and be prepared to leave when they are.

How Can a Caregiver Help?

A caregiver from Generations at Home offers the ideal opportunity for the one-on-one socialization that more introverted people need. Some of the numerous ways we can help include:

  • Attending holiday gatherings with the senior to ensure all of their needs are met in the most comfortable setting
  • Providing companionship at home for discussions and activities that are fun for the senior
  • Offering transportation and accompaniment to a small-group class or to learn a new hobby they’ve always wanted to try
  • And much more

Call our care team at 727-940-3414 to find more tips to help someone you love enjoy the greatest possible quality of life, and to find out how partnering with a professional caregiver can help.

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.