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.

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.