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.

Shocking New Statistics for Medication-Related Senior Falls

woman speaking with a female medical professional via video chatWe’ve known for a long time that there are specific medications that increase the risk of senior falls. 20 years ago, only a little over 1/2 of older adults were impacted by that risk; yet now, that number has increased significantly – to a staggering 94% of seniors who are now in danger of falling as a result of medication side effects. In addition, deaths from such falls are taking place at more than twice the previous rate.

Researchers who identified this growing concern also found that between 1999 and 2017, senior prescriptions for medications that increase fall risk were filled more than 7.8 billion times. This consists of a spike from 12 million antidepressants in 1999 to greater than 52 million in 2017.

The analysis does not specifically identify these medications as the cause for fatality in the falls experienced, but indicates the requirement for additional exploration into the dosages being prescribed. Joshua Niznik in the geriatric medicine division at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine notes, “We’re starting to understand now that the dose of the medication that someone is on is really what we should be looking at probably with the greatest level of scrutiny, and that really has a strong correlation with falls.”

It is important for older adults and their doctors to work together to strike the ideal balance between managing the conditions that necessitate these medications and preventing additional complications from a fall.

Amy Shaver, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, and lead author of the research study, explains, “These drugs are all necessary medications, but there needs to be a conversation about risks and advantages, that pro-con conversation about: For this particular patient at this particular point in time, what can we do?”

Medications that are specifically connected with fall risk include those for depression, blood pressure management, seizures, psychosis, and pain, among others. Women are most often prescribed these types of medications, and those 85 and older are being affected by the highest spike in fall-related deaths.

One step seniors can take to help is to have the home assessed for fall risk, and to follow through with any recommended safety measures. Generations at Home is pleased to offer an assessment, scheduled at your convenience. We can also help with fall prevention through:

  • Making sure that prescription drugs are taken exactly as prescribed
  • Aiding in safe walking and transfers
  • Encouraging seniors to engage in physician-approved exercise programs to strengthen balance, flexibility, and strength
  • And much more

For additional information about our home care services and to schedule a complimentary assessment, reach out to us at 727-940-3414!

Beware of the Latest in Senior Scams: the “Sweetheart Scam”

Senior old elderly person learning computer and online pension and banking internet skills protect against fraudIt’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began; a year of fear, isolation, and loneliness for a great many older adults. Physical distancing has taken away the ability to provide the warmth and comfort of a hug or even an in-person smile in many cases. Yet humans are social creatures, and this diminished socialization has numerous seniors turning their attention to online sources for connection – such as dating websites.

While this may appear harmless or perhaps beneficial, there can be unknown dangers for older adults specifically, known as sweetheart scammers. Here’s what to look for to help keep the seniors you love safe from senior scams:

  • Flattery that turns into requests for financial help. Financial gain is typically the sweetheart scammer’s primary objective. The scammer will use a variety of strategies to achieve that end goal, including targeting weak spots like loneliness. Praising, flattering, and professing everlasting love and affection for a senior the scammer has not met often moves into a request for money.
  • Overwhelming attention. The scammer will hone in on an older adult’s loneliness and vulnerability, lavishing relentless attention. Pay attention to how much time the senior is spending on conversations and texts with the person. You’ll also want to notice if the individual has been declaring his or her love for the senior, particularly early in the relationship. Scammers move rapidly to get to their end goal in the shortest time possible.
  • No online presence. A quick Google search for the older adult’s new love interest can help you assess if the individual is real. In the event the search produces no information of any kind in regards to the individual, it should immediately raise a red flag. You can also run a background check to uncover any criminal convictions, marriage/divorce certificates, or other public records.
  • A fake photo. Google supplies a reverse image search feature (images.Google.com) which allows you to determine if the individual’s profile picture is in fact a stock photo or stolen from another person.

You might even want to consider logging in to your loved one’s email account to monitor activity and help the senior discern between actual relationships and scammers.

Above all, talk with the senior about the prevalence of online sweetheart scams. Take note of your loved one’s description of his or her new love interest and exactly how the relationship is progressing. Point out any warning signs and help your loved one understand the danger he or she might be facing.

Generations at Home is here to help with safe, trusted caregivers to provide older adults with the cheerful companionship that alleviates loneliness, isolation, and desperation. Give us a call at 727-940-3414 or fill out our online contact form for a free in-home assessment for more information.

How to Safely Enjoy Celebrating the Holidays with Seniors During COVID-19

senior man on video call

Think about the most ideal holiday season you are able to imagine. While that image will vary slightly for every one of us, it could include gifts, good food, lights, and traditions passed down through the generations. Yet what most certainly rings true for everyone is the happiness in spending time with the people we love.

Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us all to rethink how to safely enjoy celebrating the holidays with seniors. With a little bit of ingenuity and creativity, however, it’s quite possible to bridge the gap while making new memories with the seniors you love, even if you can’t be with them in person this season.

Our aging care professionals have compiled several tips to allow you to get started:

  • Adjust traditions. Consider the traditions that mean the most to you and your family, and how you can alter them to keep everyone safe. For instance, if everyone usually gets together each year to bake cookies, try using Zoom or a comparable platform to stay connected while making cookies from home. Choose a favorite recipe, have everyone log on at a specific time, and bake away while visiting and listening to some holiday music.
  • Don’t forego decorating. Seniors who live alone often look forward to having loved ones, especially grandchildren, visit to help with holiday decorating. Without in-person visits, older adults may not be motivated to bother with decorations. Again, using a software app like Zoom, plan a time for everyone to get together online and share the stories behind favorite decorations.
  • Enjoy the wonderful outdoors. If weather allows, plan short visits with seniors outside, safely socially distant and with face coverings. String lights on trees around the yard and decorate the front porch.
  • Send smiles. Pictures, cards, letters, telephone calls, small gifts, etc. will all mean a great deal to older adults who are missing time with loved ones. Coordinate with members of the family to take turns reaching out as much as possible in ways similar to this so that your older senior loved ones are flooded with expressions of love.
  • Share your feelings. There is nothing quite as heartwarming as hearing from someone you love about the impact you’ve made on his or her life. Take this time to convey your thankfulness towards the older adults you love for the difference they’ve made in your daily life, and be specific: “Grandma, your patience with me when I was a teenager taught me what unconditional love looks like, and thanks to you, I’m a more patient person with my own kids.”

Generations at Home’s St Petersburg home care providers are experienced and fully trained in improving wellbeing for seniors at home and follow stringent safety protocols for every person’s protection. Contact us at 727-940-3414 to learn how we can help make this holiday season the very best it can be for a senior you love.

Senior Care Tips to Safely Dispose of Expired/Unwanted Medications

Senior woman holding pills and reading the information on the labelWith so many seniors taking multiple prescriptions, and with health care professionals adding and changing medications and dosages to discover just the right solutions, it is crucial to understand what to do with prescription drugs which are no longer needed or which have expired. There are several options:

  • Check labels. The medication’s label or informational literature may provide instructions on how to safely get rid of the drug. You can also consult with the pharmacist for suggestions.
  • Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This is the preferred way to properly dispose of unwanted medications, and it is organized annually in locations across the country by the United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. Discover the location closest to you and the next date for the event.
  • Exercise care before flushing. Flushing prescription drugs down the toilet is typically not advised, but there are particular exceptions, listed in the FDA’s Flush List. Medications currently deemed acceptable to flush include:
    • Acetaminophen
    • Benzhydrocodone
    • Buprenorphine
    • Diazepam
    • Fentanyl
    • Hydrocodone
    • Hydromorphone
    • Meperidine
    • Methadone
    • Methylphenidate
    • Morphine
    • Oxycodone
    • Oxymorphone
    • Sodium Oxybate
    • Tapentadol
  • Camouflage when disposing. Many medications can be discarded with normal garbage, if guidelines are taken to prevent animals from unintentionally eating them or from anyone looking for drugs to locate and ingest them. The FDA suggests combining the prescription drugs with an undesirable substance – such as coffee grounds or kitty litter – and then placing in a sealed plastic bag prior to adding to your household trash bag.
  • Take off identifying information. Be sure to scratch out and/or shred any private information to protect the older adult’s identity and to safeguard against anyone who is unauthorized from finding the prescription container and getting a refill of the medication.

For more assistance with medications, including medication reminders to make sure older adults take prescription medications just as advised by the health care provider, reach out to the aging care professionals at Generations at Home, the experts in home care in Clearwater and surrounding areas. We’re also available to assist with a wide array of aging care needs in the home that improve wellbeing for senior loved ones, such as:

  • Assistance with personal care and hygiene needs
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Light household chores
  • Companionship to engage in enjoyable activities and conversations
  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
  • Running errands, such as picking up prescriptions and groceries
  • And a whole lot more

Give us a call at 727-940-3414 to let us know more in regards to the challenges a senior loved one is facing, for more senior care tips, and to request a free in-home consultation to allow us to share more about how we can help.

Which Home Care Options for Elderly Parents Are Safe Right Now?

Elderly disabled man with mask sitting in wheelchair, assisted by young female caregiver outdoorsFor the past several months, family caregivers have had to handle seemingly unsurmountable challenges in connection with the care of the older adults they love. With COVID-19’s particular dangers to senior citizens and people with underlying health conditions, such as COPD, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and others that are common in older adults, families have struggled with just how to best protect and keep their older loved ones safe.

To that end, some families made the very difficult choice to temporarily stop home care services in order to prevent having anyone outside of the family come into the home – meaning the family members were unexpectedly responsible for full-time senior care. Without a care partner, this alone is often incredibly stressful, but add to this the various other new responsibilities and concerns set off by the pandemic, such as shifting to working virtually, taking care of kids who could no longer attend school or daycare, and much more.

To say it is been a stressful time is an understatement, but now, with many different new safety protocols established, is it safe to once again bring in a professional in-home care company to help?

Generations at Home has continued to deliver safe, trustworthy caregiving services for seniors throughout the pandemic, in accordance with all recommended guidelines. When you are prepared to look into in-home care options for elderly parents, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Work with an experienced home care company, like Generations at Home, that has a well-thought-out COVID-19 plan in place – and ask for information regarding that plan.
  • Plan to be there once the caregiver arrives the first time to ease any concerns you may possibly have, such as making certain he/she is wearing a face covering, washing hands often, sanitizing surfaces, etc.
  • Speak to the older adult’s doctor about any concerning health problems and also to get suggestions for any extra safety measures that should be taken during caregiving visits.

The experts in senior care in St. Petersburg and surrounding areas at Generations at Home are always here to answer any questions you might have as well as share details about the steps we’re taking to safeguard the older adults in our care, such as:

  • Wearing face coverings and other personal protective equipment as appropriate
  • Properly sanitizing and disinfecting any items brought into the seniors’ homes
  • Making sure all care staff are healthy through wellness assessments and routine temperature checks
  • Engaging in safe social distancing protocol
  • And much more

Contact us at 727-940-3414 any time for more information on the countless benefits of professional in-home care, and how we can assist an older adult you love live life to the fullest – safely and comfortably within the familiarity of home.

When a Senior Falls: How to Help Regain Strength and Confidence

senior woman getting assistance from caregiverWhile circus clowns and comedians may stir audiences to laughter over such stunts as slipping on a banana peel, there is nothing funny when a senior falls, as seniors are at an increased risk for serious injuries that may result in a long rehabilitation process. Not only that, but there is a lesser known complication that oftentimes arises from a senior’s fall: a fear of falling again which can be significant enough to impact quality of life and health.

As the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy.” It is normal – and wise – for an older adult who has fallen to want to take precautions in order to prevent a subsequent fall. However, for some, the fear of falling prevents necessary physical exercise, bringing about reduced balance confidence and weakness, both of which can actually enhance the danger of falling again.

Instead, it is crucial for seniors to:

  • Strengthen muscles. Ask the doctor and/or physical therapist for recommended exercises to engage in after a fall. Building strength is an extremely important component to preventing future falls.
  • Assess the house. Walk through the older adult’s home to check for any clutter, cords, throw rugs, etc. which could cause a tripping hazard. Ensure there’s plenty of lighting and install grab bars in the bathroom and anywhere else supplemental support might be beneficial.
  • Discuss it. Older adults may feel embarrassed for having fallen; however, it’s worthwhile to talk about what happened in order to evaluate which precautionary measures should be taken to make sure that it does not take place again.

It is also helpful for seniors to create goals, with the help of a medical professional, and to start to work on achieving them. The goals should be practical and fairly easily attainable, however, to instill confidence, such as having the ability to walk up and down the stairs independently while holding the handrail in the next 2 weeks, or walking the full length of the backyard within 4 weeks.

Once an objective has been set, identify the steps needed to get to that goal. What types of activities will help strengthen the muscles needed to go up and down the stairs, or to take a lengthier walk? And in case the goal is not achieved, figure out what prevented the accomplishment, and what additional steps could be taken to set and reach a new goal.

Above all, be sure to provide encouragement and support to cheer an older adult on towards regaining his/her self-assurance and confidence and also to lessen any fear.

For more advice on preventing falls, or to arrange for a no-cost in-home safety assessment, reach out to the St. Petersburg, FL home care experts at Generations at Home any time at 727-940-3414.

Should You Schedule Elective Medical Procedures During the Pandemic?

masked senior man talking with healthcare professionalThe COVID-19 pandemic put our society on pause, including, among many other activities, appointments and elective medical procedures. In fact, nearly one-half of all adults either canceled or put off routine care and elective medical procedures since the coronavirus crisis began, leading medical professionals to become worried about the consequences.

Even as we tentatively aim for a new normal, it is essential to talk with your doctor about any procedures you might have been contemplating pre-pandemic, and to get answers to these particular questions that will help you measure the safety of following through with them now.

  1. Is the medical facility where I will be taken care of also treating COVID-19 patients, and are the same medical faculty who will take care of me also caring for the COVID-19 patients? If that’s the case, what safety measures are in place to guarantee my safety?
  2. What is the facility’s cleaning/disinfecting protocol?
  3. Will I need to be tested for COVID-19 before my treatment?
  4. Are medical personnel being tested for COVID-19? If so, how often?
  5. Do I have to wear a mask? Gloves? Any other personal protective equipment?
  6. Are there any items that are prohibited from being brought with me, such as books, clothing, a phone or laptop?
  7. May I complete paperwork beforehand?
  8. May I wait outside or in my car until I’m called in for my procedure?
  9. Can a relative or caregiver come with me?
  10. Is follow-up provided in person, or am I able to utilize telehealth?

Additionally, there are post-procedure considerations to think through. Many people face concerns with regards to the possibility of contracting COVID-19 after being in the hospital, so talk to your physician about the need to self-monitor for symptoms, along with recommendations on any extra safeguards you might take, such as avoiding contact with other individuals for a period of time, wearing a mask or gloves in the home when others are there, additional sanitizing measures to take, etc. Your health care provider may recommend taking your temperature and oxygen levels at home. In that case, make sure you obtain a thermometer and pulse oximeter.

Once you are satisfied with the answers you’ve received and with the assurance that the procedure is safe to schedule, get in touch with Generations at Home. Our transitional care services will help make sure everything is taken care of before, during, and after your procedure, including transportation, picking up groceries and prescriptions, helping you get settled in back at your home and monitoring for any variations in condition, and so much more. Reach out to us any time at 727-940-3414.

With the Pandemic, How Do You Keep Seniors Safe When Venturing Out?

senior woman outside with male caregiverAfter months of isolating, quarantining, and distancing from friends and family, many people are venturing out. Nevertheless, for seniors in particular, is it safe to think about going out?

Regrettably, there is no cut-and-dry answer, and a number of criteria must be considered to come to the very best decision for every individual. For example:

  • What health conditions is the older adult experiencing?
  • How difficult has it been for him or her to be separated from loved ones?
  • Is the incidence rate for the virus subsiding or spiking in your community?

As a family caregiver, the best place to get started is sitting down and having a one-on-one discussion with the older adult. If your senior loved one is unwaveringly and strongly set on a particular activity, such as seeing the grandchildren or going for a walk in the local park, make certain he or she thoroughly understands the possible risks involved.

Make sure you are up to date as well on the current news from trusted sources on any new precautions and/or recommendations. Look at this information as only one piece of your decision-making process, however, rather than an end-all perspective.

Secondly, broach the subject with the older adult’s medical doctor for a professional opinion and for advice about weighing potential risk factors against the benefits associated with increased socialization and engagement in the community. You might also wish to seek advice from other close relatives and carefully consider their input as well ahead of making the final plan on exactly how to proceed.

Above all, take ample time to make sure you are doing what is most beneficial for your loved one’s all around health and wellbeing, rather than making a snap decision that you might later regret. If you are still uncertain about what to do, it might be wise to refrain from heading out with the senior for the present time and revisit the matter at a later date. And keep in mind that you always have the opportunity to change your thinking if for any reason you are uncomfortable with your first decision.

Whether you and your family member are comfortable with the choice to go out and about, or make the decision to continue staying at home, you can count on Generations at Home to help with accompanied transportation, companionship, running errands including shopping for groceries, and a variety of other types of help and support, always in compliance with proper safety protocols. Contact us at 727-940-3414 any time for additional information, or to schedule a free in-home assessment.

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.