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.

The 6 Best Resources for Seniors and Caregivers to Navigate COVID-19

Identifying where to turn with regard to the latest, most reliable information on COVID-19, particularly as it pertains to seniors and people who care for them, is important – and can be difficult. With so many sources and different viewpoints on this important topic, we want to help make it simpler to locate what you need by sharing the following list of reliable resources.

  • COVID-19 Guidance for Seniors: The CDC’s COVID-19 Guidance for Older Adults web page contains a great deal of information, such as help determining who is at higher risk, symptoms, how to safeguard yourself, a checklist for your house, stress and anxiety coping recommendations, and so much more.
  • Coronavirus: What Seniors and People With Disabilities Need to Know: ACL provides information on what seniors and people with disabilities need to be aware of to reduce the risk of catching and spreading the virus, including warning signs, state-by-state regulations, and a thorough directory of federal and non-federal resources.
  • AARP Answers Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19: AARP keeps an ongoing bulleted list of the current information connected with COVID-19, plus what seniors should do to reduce their likelihood of contracting it and answers to several common questions.
  • Resources and Articles for Caregivers on COVID-19 Safety: The Family Caregiver Alliance offers caregiver-specific resources and articles to help family caregivers enhance the protection of the older adults within their care.
  • Extensive Frequently Asked Questions List on Caregiver COVID-19 Issues: DailyCaring, an award-winning website dedicated to caregivers, created a commonly asked questions page to supply answers to many questions, including safeguards to take when visiting an older adult’s home, simple tips to sanitize packages, proper handwashing techniques, and much more.
  • NAHC COVID-19 Senior Care Tips: The National Association for Home Care & Hospice advocates for the scores of older adults who receive in-home care, and also for people who provide that care. Their COVID-19 reference page provides articles, webinars, interactive tools, and much more.

For additional resources to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and for safe, dependable, in-home care to enhance wellness and comfort for the seniors you love, call on Generations at Home today. Following a stringent protocol to ensure the safety of the older adults we serve, we can help with a variety of important services, such as:

  • Grocery shopping and running other errands, to enable older adults to remain safe at home
  • Preparing healthy and balanced meals
  • Companionship to help relieve loneliness and stress through conversations, films, hobbies/interests, games, puzzles, and more
  • Keeping the house thoroughly clean and sanitized
  • Medication reminders
  • Specialized care for people diagnosed with dementia
  • And many more

Call Generations at Home at 727-940-3414 for a consultation within the safety and comfort of home, to find out how our home care services can help your loved ones.

Addressing In-Home Care and Financial Issues with an Aging Parent

Serious mature couple calculating bills to pay, checking domestic finances, middle aged family managing, planning budget, expenses, grey haired man and woman reading bank loan documents at homeFamily financial matters are often a forbidden topic, and the root of many different disputes, enhanced emotions, and misunderstandings. And for a good number of today’s older adults, who maintain a “Depression mentality” from years of saving for a rainy day and learning to “waste not, want not,” it can be difficult for them to grant access to finances to adult children, and to acknowledge the need to spend some of those personal finances on caregiving needs.

Speaking with an older parent about finances is most effective when started before the need develops, understanding it may take numerous conversations until an understanding can be reached. These discussion starters can really help:

  • “Dad, sooner or later, we are going to need to make some decisions with regards to the future. Now may be a good time to take a moment together and go over your wishes, and the financial side of making sure we can abide by those wishes.”
  • “Mom, I know you’re managing your finances just fine now, but what if something were to happen to your overall health that stopped you from paying your bills on time? It might be good to have a backup plan ready to go. Let’s take a moment and devise one.”
  • “Mom and Dad, you’ve always been so competent at handling your money and providing for us while we were growing up. We want to be sure to carry on that legacy, as well as to understand how best to help you both meet your monetary obligations if the time comes that you might want some help with that.”

It’s also useful to share real-life scenarios of a relative or neighbor who was exploited by identity theft, or a story from the media concerning the changing economy, stock exchange drops, modifications to tax laws, etc. This tends to jumpstart a discussion regarding your aging parents’ own retirement plans and any financial fears for the future, enabling you to come to a mutually agreeable resolution, such as talking with a financial advisor together.

First and foremost, be sure to maintain a sense of respect, never seeking to “take over” your parents’ finances, but to offer the reassurance and peace of mind that their financial matters will continue to be managed effectively. Ask your parents for advice, including them in the decision-making process. Daniel Lash, certified financial planner at VLP Financial Advisors, suggests, “Tell them what you’re thinking about doing so you give them the power to tell you what they think you should do. It’s like they’re giving you advice because that’s what parents are good at – giving advice.”

Generations at Home offers an in-home consultation that can help aging parents to know their choices for care, and to help mediate stressful conversations such as those related to finances. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 for in-home care for Tarpon Springs and the surrounding areas.

5 Tips to Avoid Financial Frustrations with Senior Parents

Senior woman with her daughter online purchasing togetherAmongst the most difficult to navigate issues for adult children are financial frustrations with senior parents. Finances are both exceedingly personal and a representation of your self-sufficiency, and adult children especially can often be met with reluctance when stepping into the financial arena with their senior parents.

However, for multiple reasons, such as the ever-increasing occurrence of senior scams and cognitive decline, it is important to make certain that the financial assets our senior loved ones have earned through the years are safeguarded, and that expenses are paid properly as well as on time. It is a concern which needs to be taken care of delicately and with diplomacy. Consider these tips for an easy transition to assisting a family member with finance management:

  1. The introductory conversation. Approaching the senior about the need for assistance with finances can be overwhelming. Maintaining respect for the older adult during the process is essential, making it clear that your objectives are not to “take over,” but to work together with the older adult to come up with a strategy for successfully managing finances.
  2. Organizing documents. As soon as you’ve established a viable financial plan along with your loved one, collect copies of all important documents into one conveniently-accessible location, including bank/brokerage statements, insurance policies, mortgage/reverse mortgage paperwork, Social Security payments, wills, etc.
  3. Accessing accounts. Work with a dependable financial planner or elder law attorney to get access to your loved one’s financial accounts to enable you to write checks on his/her behalf and perform any other necessary transactions.
  4. Including other family members. Regular meetings with other family members who may have a vested interest in the senior’s financial matters makes certain everyone is informed and on the same page, and may assist in preventing future conflict. Designate someone to take notes about any decisions made, and provide each family member with a copy.
  5. Planning for the future. As a senior loved one’s health or cognitive ability change over time, it’ll be important to have a strategy set up for additional action that may be needed, such as becoming Power of Attorney for the senior, as well as for end-of-life decisions, such as asset distribution.

If the senior is resistant to your help with his / her finances, it can sometimes help to bring in a trusted third party professional, such as a financial advisor – and sometimes even the senior’s primary care physician – who can help a senior loved one understand the importance of getting financial affairs in order now. Or, you may want to shelve the conversation for a little bit and revisit this issue later.

Contact Generations at Home for additional tips to help ease challenging conversations with the older adults you love, and to learn more about our dependable in-home care solutions for older adults.

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.

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.

You Are Not Alone: Study Reports Many Family Caregivers Fear Providing Inadequate Care

Senior woman and husband visit with doctor

A serious senior woman sits between her unrecognizable female doctor and her husband. She gestures as she speaks with her doctor.

“Absolutely Dad can move in with me!”

Family care providers are making this commendable choice more often, signifying the beginning of changes in lifestyle they can only fully understand once immersed in them. And even though the rewards of providing care for an older loved one are immeasurable, they are not lacking multiple challenges as well.

It may seem natural to manage everyday activities for a senior loved one; however, it’s much less instinctive than it initially seems. As an example, helping a senior in the shower or bath the wrong way can cause a fall. Inadequate incontinence care may cause skin damage and infection. Noncompliance with a recommended nutritional plan can bring about a number of health complications.

It’s not a surprise that in a current report provided by AARP, “Home Alone Revisited,” a lot of family caregivers reported stress over the chance of making an error in the care they provide. The report features answers from a study sent to over 2,000 family caregivers, who revealed that even though they believed their caregiving was enabling their family members to remain at home over a move to an assisted living or nursing home setting, they expressed concern over their proficiency to complete the tasks needed.

Participants in the survey identified that the most emotionally stressful part of caregiving is incontinence care. And, nearly ¾ of family caregivers surveyed are routinely undertaking medical duties associated with pain management – responsibilities for which they wished they’d been given better training and assistance from the senior’s medical care team.

Heather Young, dean emerita at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis (and co-author of the report) points out that, “Too often (family caregivers) are unprepared and do not get the support they need to assume these important roles.”

Asking for guidance and training in new tasks is vital for family caregivers. Those who partner with a knowledgeable in-home care provider, like Generations at Home, can decrease the trepidation and uncertainty in managing care at home successfully. Our caregivers are fully trained in the countless intricacies of aging care, and can provide family members with valuable guidance and education. We also offer trusted, reliable respite care services that enable family caregivers to step away from their care duties while knowing their senior family member will be safe and well cared for.

Call us at 727-940-3414 for a free in-home consultation 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.