Learn the Top Medication Dangers for Seniors

Senior man sitting and looking at his medication despondantly

A recently available study of over 2,000 older adults reveals that an astonishing 87% take a minimum of one prescription drug, and a staggering 36% are taking five or more – together with 38% using over-the-counter meds on an everyday basis. Managing these medications in our older years can be extremely difficult, and there are a number of risks and dangers which can occur in the process.

As specialists in home care in Pinellas County, Generations at Home’s caregiving team helps seniors ensure meds are taken when and exactly how they are prescribed. It is also vitally important to be familiar with common problems older adults encounter with using their prescriptions, and how to overcome them. For example:

In some cases, signs or symptoms continue in spite of taking medications properly. Busy doctors may prescribe what’s known as a “starter dose” of a medication, which will require follow-up to determine if adjustment is needed; but oftentimes, that follow-up never occurs. Make sure to schedule a subsequent visit with the physician when a new medication is prescribed, and ensure the senior keeps that visit.

Adverse reactions could very well be even more serious than the condition being treated. Of particular issue are medications that impact a senior’s balance and thinking – escalating the likelihood of a fall or other dangerous consequences. Prescriptions to be especially on guard about consist of anticholinergics, sedatives/tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and opiates. Speak with your physician if any of these medications are prescribed for an older relative and cautiously weigh the potential risks against benefits.

Staying compliant with medication adherence can be a challenge. Remembering that one specific med needs to be taken with food, while another on an empty stomach, another with a full glass of water, one before breakfast and two at bedtime, can make it tremendously challenging to take prescriptions exactly when and how they’re prescribed. Enlist the services of a home care agency, such as Generations at Home, for medication reminders.

Cost may be prohibitive. When cost for a particular prescription is high, older adults may well be inclined to cut their dosage amounts to conserve cost – a very risky behavior. Seniors can instead consult with their physicians about generic versions of medications, or any other ways to keep cost at a minimum.

Be informed on potential interactions with other meds. Bring the full listing of all of the medications a senior loved one is taking to a health care provider or pharmacist with expertise in polypharmacy, who is able to make sure the drugs can safely be taken in combination with each other. Remember to include any over-the-counter medications taken routinely as well. For a quick online assessment, this drug interaction checker lets you enter all of a senior’s medications and view any concerns that may then be discussed with his / her health care provider.

Contact Generations at Home in Pinellas County at 727-940-3414 to get more medication management tips, as well as professional hands-on help with medication reminders, transportation to doctors’ appointments, and much more to assist those you love in staying healthy and safe.

Why There is Chronic Dehydration in Seniors and How You Can Help

Senior woman at home drinking hot drink and smilingDid you know…almost 50% of all older adults are chronically under-hydrated, as reported by a recent scientific study conducted at UCLA? Not just that, but older adults over age 65 represent the highest category of hospital admissions due to dehydration.

Dehydration can rapidly sneak up on seniors, who often have a lessened sensation of thirst, who may experience medication side effects that cause hydration problems, or who incorrectly think that drinking less will lessen incontinence issues.

Senior dehydration can be very unsafe, raising the risk for health issues such as:

  • UTIs
  • Kidney stones and/or failure
  • Blood clots
  • Seizures
  • Hypovolemic shock
  • And many others

Dehydration can be identified according to the following symptoms:

First stages:

  • Decreased amount/darker-colored urine
  • Dry mouth
  • Feelings of weakness, dizziness, and/or tiredness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Irritation

Advanced stages:

  • Confusion and disorientation, such as problems with walking
  • Low blood pressure and weakened, faster pulse and breathing
  • Stomach bloating
  • Sunken, dry eyes
  • Skin that is wrinkled without having any elasticity
  • Worsened muscle cramps and contractions, and/or convulsions

While we frequently pay more attention to hydration once the temperature is elevated, it’s essential for older adults to drink sufficient fluids all year long. A simple formula to ascertain just how much, on average, an older adult ought to drink every day is to divide the older adult’s body weight by three, and have him or her consume that many ounces of water. For example, if an older adult weighs 180 pounds, she or he would require a minimum of 60 ounces of water each day.

Try these tips to ensure the older adults you love stay healthy and hydrated:

  • Plain water is the best, but consider other types of fluids, such as soup, juice, fruits, and vegetables. That said, try to avoid sugary and caffeinated beverages.
  • Place bottled water, or a small pitcher of ice water and a cup, close to the senior to encourage him or her to sip on it during the day.
  • Test different temperatures. Perhaps a warmed cup of water would be more comforting than an icy one. You may even try warming up juice as well as other beverages to determine if they’re more appealing, or offer popsicles.

The experienced in-home caregivers at Generations at Home are adept in imaginative ways to help older adults stay hydrated, and in monitoring fluid intake to make sure adequate fluids are consumed each day. Contact us at 727-940-3414 to understand exactly how we can help enhance the health of older adults throughout St. Petersburg, FL, right in the convenience and familiarity of home.

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.

Accepting a Diagnosis Doesn’t Mean Giving Up

Daughter comforting senior motherIn Isaac Asimov’s opinion, “The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.” It’s a standard sentiment for many family caregivers when their loved one is diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as dementia. And though this may generate some level of comfort in thinking that life can go on as it always has, if only we refuse to admit this new reality, the truth, of course, is that accepting a diagnosis is a must to obtaining necessary support.

It’s understandable for a family member to wish to accomplish everything possible independently to give the care a loved one needs. Nevertheless, frequently at the crux of denial are feelings of guilt, helplessness, and in many cases incompetence in the power to “fix things.” And you will find major benefits to be achieved – both for your loved one and his or her family members – by dealing with the condition head-on, like the chance to enjoy time together, and to learn effective techniques to manage any difficulties being experienced now or as the condition progresses.

AARP provides some practical factors to consider for families struggling to accept a senior’s diagnosis:

  • It is possible to be TOO positive. Sustaining a warm disposition is wonderful, but may actually be dangerous if not tempered with a dose of reality. Typically, those with a chronic disease uncover relief in talking openly and truthfully in regards to what they are experiencing, and acceptance is key to delivering opportunities for such discussions.
  • Acceptance is certainly not giving up. Rather, acknowledging your loved one’s condition opens the door to learning practical strategies to regulate the condition, and to locating the supportive services that will allow for the highest possible quality of life.
  • Treasure the time you have together with your family member. Letting go of denial helps you switch your focus to implementing a brand new normal. There is something liberating about eliminating the elephant in the room, allowing for an unencumbered closeness with your family member.
  • Permit others to help. Facing a difficult diagnosis in a family member can be a formidable undertaking, plus it’s essential for family caregivers to ensure enough time is available on a consistent, regular basis for self-care. Accept any help offered by family, friends, your religious organization, etc., or contact an expert home care agency like Generations at Home. Remember that you can supply the very best care for your family member when you’re in good health, physically and emotionally.

Choosing a dependable care partner is key. Generations at Home can help with some of the more mundane aspects of care, to help you spend high quality time with the older adult you adore. Give us a call at 727-940-3414 for an in-home consultation for more information regarding accepting a diagnosis and scheduling care.

A New Approach to Chronic Condition Care: Let the Patient Take Control

Senior female patient discusses concerns about her medication with an unrecognizable home healthcare nurse.

Generations at Home knows what’s most important for chronic disease care.

When it comes to chronic diseases, older adults are the experts, hands down, with as many as three out of four seniors impacted by multiple conditions that are ongoing, require extensive medical treatment, and place limitations on activities. With the never-ending barrage of bloodwork and other tests, doctors’ appointments and procedures, and medications, managing chronic diseases can take both a physical and emotional toll, and can quickly become overwhelming.

Dr. Mary Tinetti, chief of geriatrics and internist at Yale School of Medicine, explains, “Once you get three, four, or five and six diseases, several things happen: Number one, almost guaranteed, trying to get one of these diseases under control is going to make one of the other diseases worse. Number two: The more we ask people to do, the more overwhelmed they get and the less they are likely to do.”

For these reasons, Dr. Tinetti has developed the Patient Priorities Care approach, with the goal to reduce the burden of treatment by empowering patients to voice their personal health care goals – identifying what matters most to them. A plan of care is then developed to best meet those goals. For instance, one person’s goal may be to improve quality of life in the short-term, while another person may seek to increase longevity of life. It also takes into consideration activities the person enjoys and how to find a way for him or her to continue to engage in them.

The Patient Priorities Care method builds upon the Minimally Disruptive Medicine strategy developed a decade ago, which also seeks to relieve the burden of chronic condition treatment, but which did not include the key aspect of including input from patients to understand what means the most to them.

Ultimately, what many older adults determine is that they want to minimize “unwanted care,” which they believe to require more trouble than the benefit they will receive, such as with diagnostic tests and procedures. To that end, seniors and their families can utilize these helpful resources for more effective, self-directed care, including a conversation guide, summary of health priorities, and more.

At Generations at Home, we’re fully committed to learning what is most important to the seniors in our care, and to providing the level of care that helps them to thrive and achieve their goals. It’s why our care is highly personalized, and always begins with learning as much as possible about each individual and what his or her goals entail – and then developing a plan of care to help achieve those goals. Call us at 727-940-3414 to learn more.

The Surprising New Recommendations Related to Low Blood Sugar and Senior Diabetics

Senior Couple Enjoying Meal At Home Passing Food Smiling

The latest recommendations from the Endocrine Society regarding the elderly and diabetes are surprising, to say the least: lower blood sugar isn’t always best. And for those who’ve been maintaining a regimen of finger pricks, insulin injections, and careful monitoring of food intake, this change of course may be a bit hard to swallow.

Known as de-intensification, geriatricians are now often taking the approach with older adults that the benefits to be gained by striving for strict blood sugar control aren’t outweighing the health risks inherent with aging and illness. When A1c and glucose levels are kept at very low levels in the elderly, for instance, it can lead to an increased frequency of hypoglycemia and even kidney failure.

With as many as one in three seniors currently diagnosed with diabetes, these new guidelines are poised to have a staggering impact on the treatment and management of the disease for older adults, requiring a shift in mindset for many.

And not surprisingly, many older diabetics are reluctant to embrace this change. In one patient’s words to Dr. Pei Chen, a geriatrician at the geriatric clinic at the University of California, San Francisco, “I’ve been doing this for 25 years. You don’t need to tell me what to do. I can handle it.”

The new guidelines recommend an increase in A1c from 7 to 7.5% for older adults who are in good health; and up to 8 – 8.5% for those with dementia, multiple chronic illnesses, or poor health. It’s important to note, however, that recommendations are highly individualized based on a variety of factors, and that at no time should high blood sugar be ignored in the elderly.

Generations at Home can help older adults adhere to doctors’ recommendations to manage diabetes and a variety of other conditions with professional, customized, in-home care services for seniors. Just a few of the many ways we can help include:

  • Grocery shopping to ensure the senior has plenty of healthy food options readily available
  • Meal planning and preparation in adherence to any prescribed dietary plans
  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, tests, and procedures
  • Encouragement to engage in doctor-approved exercise programs
  • Medication reminders to ensure prescriptions are taken at the proper time and in the correct dose
  • And more!

Contact us online or at 727-940-3414 to request a free in-home assessment and discover a healthier lifestyle for a senior you love.

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.

Tips to Prepare for a Visit with Your Doctor

Senior couple talking with doctor.

When attending a doctor’s appointment, it is best to come prepared by following these recommendations to make the most out of a visit.

On any particular day, a physician likely has somewhere around 20 patients to see – combined with telephone calls, paperwork, and various other administrative responsibilities. It leaves precious little time spent with each patient, which is why it’s imperative to take advantage of that time and ensure you properly comprehend the outcome of each appointment.

At Generations at Home, our caregivers offer transportation and accompaniment for seniors to medical appointments, and suggest the following approach:

  • Don’t be hesitant to ask questions. With such a time crunch, your health care provider may tend to communicate information to you rather quickly, and it’s up to you to hit the pause button to make sure you clearly comprehend everything that is being communicated and to speak up with any questions you might have, regardless of how small or seemingly unimportant you may think they are.
  • And, plan ahead of time for those concerns. It is often challenging to process everything being shared with you within the few minutes spent together with the doctor. Creating a list of concerns beforehand can help guarantee nothing slips through the cracks. Some questions to consider include:
    • What are the long- and short-term outcomes of my condition?
    • What could be the reason behind this condition?
    • Is there a remedy?
    • Where exactly can I find additional resources?
    • Will I require any medical tests?
    • What are the possible adverse reactions from those tests?
    • When will I be given the test results?
    • What treatments are available to help with my health problem?
    • What are the likely side effects of these medications?
    • Are there changes in lifestyle I should think of making?
  • Take excellent notes. Bring along paper and a pen, or use the notes section of your smartphone or tablet, and write down answers to your questions along with any other information the doctor provides. It can be beneficial to have a trusted friend or professional caregiver on hand throughout the appointment in order to make sure everything is understood.
  • Include other medical experts. Don’t forget that although the instructions supplied by the doctor are paramount, other individuals within the senior’s medical team can provide worthwhile insight as well: nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, dieticians, physical therapists, etc. Follow up with these professionals for extra assistance in carrying out the doctor’s instructions if warranted.

At Generations at Home, we are always here to help older adults through medical appointments and procedures in many ways, and to help carry out doctors’ instructions after returning home. We can provide transportation, medication reminders, preparation of meals that are in adherence with any prescribed dietary plan, and lots of other tasks to ensure the best possible health for seniors. Contact us at 727-940-3414 to learn more!

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.