A New Disease That Mimics Alzheimer’s: LATE

An individual who exhibits memory loss, confusion, poor judgment, repetition, and challenges with performing daily activities has the telltale symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, right? As a matter of fact, what seems to be an obvious case of Alzheimer’s may in fact be a recently discovered dementia.

Known as LATE, or limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy, this condition presents with almost the same symptoms, but the root cause is another story. Rather than the buildup of amyloid plaques and tangles inherent in Alzheimer’s, LATE is distinguished by deposits of TDP-43 protein, as reported by Dr. Julie Schneider, associate director for the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

And TDP-43 protein troubles are in fact quite common in elderly people, with as many as one out of four older people over age 85 affected enough to cause obvious cognitive and/or memory problems. Nevertheless, it remains an under-diagnosed condition, which could lead to misdiagnoses, and consequently, inappropriate treatment plans.

The most up-to-date recommendations call for those who have been diagnosed with LATE to be removed from Alzheimer’s medication research, focusing research alternatively on establishing biomarkers to better detect LATE, to locate therapeutic intervention methods, and to increase testing to include a broader array of diverse populations, in an effort to increase both prevention and treatment.

Understanding the differences between both types of dementia is paramount to the best treatment, and per Dr. James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, “This evidence may also go some way to help us understand why some recent clinical trials testing for Alzheimer’s disease have failed – participants may have had slightly different brain diseases.”

Key aspects of LATE include:

  • Generally affecting older adults over age 80
  • A slower progression than Alzheimer’s
  • Typically only affects memory
  • May be accompanied by Alzheimer’s disease, which leads to a far more rapid decline

Whether Alzheimer’s disease, LATE, or some other form of dementia, Generations at Home offers the highly customized, skilled and creative caregiving that can help seniors live the highest possible quality of life where it is most comfortable: at home. Our care aides are thoroughly trained and experienced in helping those with dementia, along with helping family caregivers, to more fully manage the varying challenges experienced in each stage.

Call us any time at 727-940-3414 to inquire about further dementia care resources, find answers to the questions you have, or to schedule an in-home consultation to learn more about how we can help a family member you love with dementia.

How One Woman Uses Her Sense of Smell to Diagnose Parkinson’s Disease

You may not recognize her by name, but you’ve probably heard her story. Joy Milne has an exceptionally unique talent: recognizing Parkinson’s disease by using her nose. Her gift came to light when she detected what she details as an “overpowering sort of nasty yeast smell” in her husband of ten years. Subsequently observing other differences in her husband, in particular personality and mood shifts, he ultimately went to the doctor for medical help, and was given a diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

Upon walking into a Parkinson’s support group meeting, that identical scent permeated the room – although evidently only Joy was able to notice it. Actually, she was even able to pick up on varying levels of the odor – some whose odor was faint, while for other people, it was much stronger. With both her own and her husband’s medical backgrounds (she a nurse and he a physician), this finding was definitely meaningful and required further action.

Her story led her to assist Tilo Kunath, a Parkinson’s disease researcher at the University of Edinburgh, with the aim of developing a tool to offer earlier detection – and ultimately, treatment – of Parkinson’s.

While initially skeptical of the probability of Parkinson’s being found through odor, he was open to additional exploration after finding out about the success dogs were having in identifying the odor of cancer in individuals. He then designed a way to assess her skills, by giving her a random assortment of t-shirts – half which had been worn by someone clinically determined to have Parkinson’s, and the other half by those without the disease – and, her accuracy rate was astonishing. As a matter of fact, she missed the mark on only one of the t-shirts, worn by someone without Parkinson’s, but who in fact was later identified as having the disease as well.

Kunath explains, “Imagine a society where you could detect such a devastating condition before it’s causing problems and then prevent the problems from even occurring.” Dr. Thomas Hummel of the Technical University of Dresden’s Smell & Taste Clinic, said that while the idea is interesting, there are still an assortment of questions to first sort out.

Parkinson’s disease, in addition to a variety of other chronic health issues, can be more effectively managed with the help of an in-home care provider like Generations at Home. Call us at 727-940-3414 for additional information.

Will Hiring a Geriatric Care Manager Help My Loved One?

Smiling senior woman talking with advisor, sitting at the table.

A geriatric care manager can be a helpful partner in the care of a senior loved one.

Family care providers realize that navigating the journey of choosing appropriate care resources for a senior loved one can feel like trying to cross the ocean in a rowboat – blindfolded, and blindsided by the buffeting waves and winds. The probability of making it safely and securely to your destination are pretty slim without the recommended tools, and someone to show you the best way to utilize them.

That is where a geriatric care manager (also referred to as an aging life care professional) can step in and save the day. Geriatric care managers are specialists in the countless intricacies of the aging process, available resources, resolution of issues related to family dynamics, and more.

Readily available for short-term consultations up through and including full-time help and support, there are several key instances when a geriatric care manager is particularly helpful:

  • Distance separates both you and your family member. Residing in Washington while your aging parents are in Florida, even with today’s technology, makes it challenging to make sure they are thoroughly cared for and safe. A geriatric care manager can provide supervision of care, regular visitations, and help with decision-making.
  • A complicated behavioral issue is at play. When a senior is challenged by dementia or any other diagnosis that creates behavioral concerns, a geriatric care manager can be an integral part of the older adult’s care team, providing information about recommended specialists and helping to find a solution to alleviate troubling behaviors, which can include aggression, wandering, or sundowning.
  • The senior won’t open up about medical conditions. Elderly parents commonly want to protect their adult children from worrying, and as a result, withhold vital health information – but in many cases are open to speaking with a professional geriatric care manager about their worries.
  • There are living condition concerns. For example, if a senior loved one resides in an assisted living community that refuses to allow you to hire a private caregiver when additional assistance is needed, a geriatric care manager can provide detailed information regarding both the community itself along with your state’s relevant laws, and will help mediate a resolution.
  • You are just at a loss. Determining the very best care solution for a senior can certainly be challenging, and it’s common for members of the family to feel uncertain about what the best solution will be. A geriatric care manager can provide you with what your choices are, and what the advantages and disadvantages may be for each option.

If you are interested in finding a geriatric care manager to help improve care for a senior loved one, get in touch with Generations at Home at 727-940-3414.

How to Keep Motivating Seniors from Crossing the Line to Bullying

Married couple argumentAs a family caregiver, you no doubt encounter a range of emotions throughout the day: shared laughter over a joke with your loved one; worry over a health concern; and certainly, from time to time, frustrations. We want only the best for those we love, and when an older adult is resistant to doing something we know is best, it can be challenging to determine the most appropriate response.

The key is to offer motivation and encouragement, while being careful not to cross the line into bullying the senior. These tips are good to keep in mind:

  • There’s no one-size-fits-all. An approach that works on one occasion may be completely ineffective in another. If the senior refuses to take a bath, for instance, you may simply want to let the matter slide and try again tomorrow. Or, maybe reframing bath time into a soothing spa activity will hold more appeal. Incorporating humor may work well one day, while using a gentler, softer tone of voice may be the solution on another. Having a variety of strategies at the ready can help reduce frustration for both of you.
  • Empower the senior to remain in control. Have a heart-to-heart conversation with the senior during a calm, peaceful moment to solicit feedback on how the caregiving relationship is going, and what he or she would like to see changed. It’s important to then take to heart the older adult’s feedback and incorporate it into your caregiving approach.
  • Be mindful of incremental bullying. While we certainly would never set out to bully a loved one into compliance, it’s possible to gradually progress from encouragement and motivation into pushiness and forcefulness without realizing it. Take an honest look at your tendencies in communicating with your loved one, and then take steps to improve upon them if needed.
  • Remember the overarching priority. Above and beyond the many tasks required in providing care for a senior loved one, maintaining a healthy, positive and fulfilling relationship with each other is paramount. If you find that the frustrations of providing care are outweighing the benefits for either of you at any time, there’s always the possibility of exploring alternate care options, allowing you to place your focus on spending quality time together with the senior you love.

Generations at Home is the perfect partner for family caregivers. Our caregiving staff are fully trained and experienced in the many facets of senior home care, and can provide the assistance family members need to maintain healthy relationships with those they love. Contact us online or call 727-940-3414 and request an in-home consultation to discover the difference respite care can make in both a senior’s quality of life and yours.

Helping Seniors Find Meaning and Purpose in Everyday Life

senior home care in St. Petersburg

Seniors enjoy remaining active and engaged in the community.

Think of an average day in the life of a senior loved one. Ideally it provides a couple of positive and enriching experiences: savoring breakfast, participating in an enjoyable hobby or interest, visiting with a good friend or relative, watching a well-liked show on tv. Nonetheless, there’s a distinction between positivity and purpose; and the value of a life rich with significance and purpose is becoming more understandable, particularly in the life of senior loved ones.

Viktor Frankl, world-renowned psychiatrist and survivor of the Holocaust, shares poignantly, “What matters is not the meaning in life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.”

For anyone whose identity has been devoted to a job and raising a family, and who now are in a season of retirement and fulfilled family commitments, it can be difficult to find other meaning and purpose. At Generations at Home, we make it a priority to help seniors find their passions and funnel them into purposeful experiences, such as:

  • Volunteering. For a senior who loves working with children, tutoring, reading to, or mentoring kids at a local school is an excellent option. Other people may care greatly about helping veterans, and put together care packages of personal care products and snack food items to send overseas. And for animal lovers, delivering treats, blankets, and an affectionate heart to a pet shelter could be extremely satisfying.
  • Learning. It’s true: you’re never too old to master something new. Look into your nearby community college, library, or senior center to find classes or online programs of interest to your senior loved one.
  • Helping at home. Well-meaning family caregivers oftentimes take over household duties to relieve their senior loved ones from the chores they have taken care of throughout their lifetime. Unfortunately, this may have the adverse effect of leaving seniors feeling as though they are no longer useful. Engage the senior in tasks throughout the home that are within his / her expertise and interest, such as assisting with preparing meals, folding laundry, organizing nuts and bolts in a toolbox, etc.
  • Recording family history. Providing the next generation with the rich family history and stories experienced firsthand is a treasure that only seniors can provide. Help your senior loved one document his / her lifetime legacy in a scrapbook, writing, or video recording, and then share with family and friends.

And, get in touch with Generations at Home for the customized in-home support that helps seniors discover satisfaction and purpose, while remaining secure and comfortable within the familiarity of home. We’re able to supply transportation to interesting and enjoyable activities, help plan and implement ideas to accomplish right at home, or help with the various daily tasks throughout the house, such as cleaning and cooking, enabling friends and family to savor high quality time together. You can contact us any time at 727-940-3414.

 

Wandering and Alzheimer’s: Why It Happens and How to Help

dementia care experts

Wandering is a common side effect of Alzheimer’s disease.

Of the many effects of Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps one of the most concerning is the individual’s tendency for wandering as well as the potential dangers that may occur if the senior becomes disoriented or lost. Wandering can take place when the older adult is:

  • Scared, confused or overwhelmed
  • Trying to find someone or something
  • Bored
  • Seeking to keep a familiar past routine (such as going to a job or shopping)
  • Taking care of a basic necessity (such as getting a drink of water or going to the bathroom)

The objective is twofold; to help keep the senior safe, and to make certain his / her needs are fulfilled to attempt to prevent the need to wander to begin with. Try the following safety measures in case your senior loved one is likely to wander:

  • Be certain that the residence is equipped with a security system and locks that the senior is unable to master, such as a sliding bolt lock above his or her range of vision. An assortment of alarms can be bought, from something as simple as placing a bell over door knobs, to highly-sensitive pressure mats that will sound an alarm when stepped upon, to GPS devices which can be worn, and more. It’s also a great idea to register for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.
  • Conceal exits by covering up doors with curtains, setting temporary folding barriers strategically around doorways, or by wallpapering or painting doors to match the surrounding walls. You could also try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes dissuade people in the earlier stages of dementia from trying to exit.
  • Another danger for individuals who wander is the additional risk of falling. Look over each room of the house and address any tripping concerns, such as removing throw rugs, extension cords, and any obstacles that may be obstructing walkways, adding extra lighting, and placing gates at the top and bottom of stairways.

It is important to keep in mind that with supervision and direction, wandering is not necessarily an issue. Go for a walk together outside anytime weather permits and the senior is in the mood to be mobile, providing the extra advantage of fresh air, physical exercise, and quality time together.

While often tricky to manage, the dementia care team at Generations at Home has been specially trained to be equally watchful and proactive in deterring wandering and to utilize creative strategies to help seniors with dementia stay calm and happy. Email or call us at 727-940-3414 for more information!

 

St. Petersburg Home Care Tip: Rethink How We Look at Aging

Senior couple having fun riding motor scooter.
Older adults are able to enjoy and pursue new interests and activities, which can lead to a revived happiness for life.

A Google search for the term “aging” produces topics such as “coping with aging,” “what you can do about aging,” and even “the cure to aging.” The unfavorable connotations to getting old are, unfortunately, so embedded within our society that it is expected that by 2021, we’ll be purchasing over $300 billion in anti-aging products.

Even though it’s not hard to get caught up within the difficulties that could be realized in getting older – health problems, the passing of family and friends, and cognitive issues – what’s getting lost in the shuffle are the incredible benefits of aging. Consider, for example:

  • A recent study by Stony Brook University found that the elderly are happier generally, with reportedly diminishing feelings of anger and anxiety in later years.
  • Socialization and conflict resolution skills are superior in old age, in accordance with research carried out by the University of Michigan.
  • In a game targeted to induce and analyze regret, seniors out performed their younger counterparts with their capability to handle emotions.
  • And according to Cornell sociologist Karl Pillemer who questioned 1,200 elderly people, the opinion was that the last 5 or 10 years were in fact the happiest of their lives. “Many people said something along these lines: ‘I wish I’d learned to enjoy life on a daily basis and enjoy the moment when I was in my 30s instead of my 60s,’” Pillemer shares.

Not only that, but retired adults are able to enjoy and pursue interests and skills minus the time limitations of younger, employed adults, which can lead to a revived happiness for life, new social ties, and improved bonds with existing family and friends.

Generations at Home helps emphasize the benefits of aging in lots of ways. Rather than simply coming in and executing tasks that a loved one can no longer manage, we identify the person’s individual skills, empowering him or her to follow new pursuits with the support of a helpful caregiver.

Whether it’s studying a brand new skill or language, taking a visit to a long-desired destination, deciding to get physically healthier, or whatever a senior’s goal, we’re available to offer inspiration, transportation and accompaniment, and a number of other services to help seniors thrive and live life to the fullest. Help your senior loved one imagine and achieve brand new dreams! Get in touch with the St. Petersburg home care professionals at Generations at Home by contacting us online or calling us at 727-940-3414 and asking about an in-home consultation to find out more.

Tips for Aging for Seniors Without Children

Senior woman with laptop

This strong and self-reliant genre faces a number of unique issues in aging.

Are you a “solo ager“? This is the new term being passed around to describe baby boomers who do not have children. This strong and self-reliant genre faces a number of unique issues in aging, chiefly who to designate as guardian and decision-maker in case they become unable to do so themselves. In her book, Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers, author Sara Zeff Geber, Ph.D. outlines several options to consider:

  1. Dig through your support system. Typically, a solo ager’s spouse would be the natural option for guardianship and also to make critical decisions associated with health care, but it’s important to have a minimum of one and preferably two younger alternative options. Consider siblings and their children, close friends, and neighbors, taking into consideration whether or not each person holds matching values and is also someone you can fully trust to make decisions in accordance with your wishes.
  2. Hire a qualified professional guardian. Professional guardians, also referred to as private guardians or professional fiduciaries, have become more popular than ever for solo agers. If thinking about this option, it is vital that you interview several candidates to ensure they will have the required knowledge and experience, and don’t forget to inquire about references. Consult your attorney for recommendations, or perhaps the National Guardianship Association or Professional Fiduciary Association in your state.
  3. Accept a court-appointed guardian. If a solo ager has not yet selected a guardian and is suddenly not able to make care-related and/or financial decisions, a probate court will designate a guardian to handle his or her affairs.

When you are checking out potential guardians, gather answers to questions such as:

  • How long have you been in practice?
  • Have you been certified by the National Guardian Association?
  • Have you been bonded and insured?
  • What will be the succession plan if you predecease me?
  • Are background checks performed on all of your employees?
  • What is your understanding of the particular medical conditions I’m facing?
  • Exactly what are your fees, and how often will I be billed?

After your guardian option has been determined, ensure that your attorney updates your existing (or creates a brand new) durable power of attorney or advance medical care directive, will, and durable power of attorney for finances.

If you require any more help and support in planning for long-term care needs, contact the St. Petersburg, FL home care professionals at Generations at Home. We’re able to partner with seniors to generate a plan of care to make sure that needs are fully met now and will keep on being met effectively as needs change in the years in the future, always with respect to each individual’s wishes. Call us at 727-940-3414 or contact us online to learn more.