The Keys to Happy & Healthy Aging

It has taken nearly 80 years and a variety of research studies to produce the result: a good genetic makeup and wealth really have very little to do with our degree of joy. The Harvard Study of Adult Development launched in 1938, looking into the lives of high-profile participants such as Ben Bradlee and John F. Kennedy. Over the years, it has been expanded to add inner-city residents along with offspring from the original Harvard elite, and the outcomes were unexpected, to say the least.

It was established that the most effective predictors of a long and happy life were not genetics, IQ, finances, fame, or social class but quite simply close relationships. Robert Waldinger, director of the research study and a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital as well as a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, shares, “The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.” 

Psychiatrist George Vaillant, who spearheaded the study from 1972 until 2004, shared in his book “Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development,” the factors that forecast healthy aging:

  •     The absence of smoking and alcohol abuse
  •     Physical activity
  •     Mature mechanisms in place to manage difficulties in life
  •     Sustaining a healthy weight
  •     Having a stable marriage

In a nutshell, self-care is crucial for senior health – both mentally and physically – and devoting time and effort to making your relationships the best they can be most certainly falls under that umbrella as well. As a matter of fact, subsequent scientific studies have uncovered that the satisfaction level men and women experience in their relationships is an even better determinant of what their physical health is likely to be later in life than physical factors like cholesterol levels. 

The research also upended prior thinking that our personalities are set in stone by age 30. Many people who encountered difficulties in their early adult years enjoyed fulfilling later years, while others excelled early in life but ran into challenges in later years because of mental health issues and alcoholism. 

The research study is ongoing, looking into its third and fourth generations, as researchers believe there is still more to understand, such as how to better regulate stress and whether a hard childhood makes a difference in middle age and later years.

Let Generations at Home’s compassionate caregivers help instill joy in an older adult’s life; reach out to us today! Our caregivers serve as friendly companions to engage in exercise, conversations, and enjoyable activities together, cultivating socialization and additional relational connections. You can reach us 24/7 at 727-940-3414 to arrange a complimentary in-home consultation to learn more.

Six Ways to Boost Senior Health and Wellness

Many individuals have left their New Year’s resolutions by the wayside by the end of January, but who says resolutions should only be made in the beginning of the year? There’s no time like the present to start a new goal or habit, particularly for seniors hoping to improve overall health. 

We have six tips you can implement today. Select one to begin, or jump right into all of them to attain the greatest benefit:

  1.     Make an appointment for a physical. As opposed to waiting for an injury or illness to contact the physician, a yearly check-up is a perfect way for older adults to stay on top of their own health and potentially prevent problems before they occur.
  2.     Get physical. With the doctor’s approval and recommendations at hand, kick off a new exercise routine – together! Working out with a senior you love allows you to motivate one another and function as accountability partners. Agree to sticking with it for a minimum of 21 days, after which it ought to be an ingrained, pleasurable habit you will wish to continue.
  3.     Stay connected. Help the older adult maintain friendships and contact with friends and family to ward off isolation and loneliness – something we have all become too familiar with throughout the pandemic. Offer transportation if needed for dinner dates, or with setting up technology to stay virtually connected.
  4.     Update vaccinations. Along with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, flu, pneumonia, and shingles vaccines must be up to date. With age comes an elevated risk for severe effects from these illnesses, so vaccinations become much more important.
  5.     Don’t forget mental health. A mental health provider can help determine if anxiety, depression, or other concerns should be addressed, offering both therapeutic tools and medication if needed. Staying mentally sharp through brain enrichment activities can also help with the natural cognitive decline that occurs in aging.
  6.     Monitor what you eat. If the fridge and pantry are full of empty-calorie or fatty foods, replace them with proteins, whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, and low-fat dairy products. An extreme change in diet can be overwhelming and hard to stick to, so start simple with one replacement at first – carrot sticks instead of potato chips, for example – and work up to an overall healthier diet.

Generations at Home is here to help older adults in achieving these and any other goals with personalized in-home care and companionship. From transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and fitness classes to grocery shopping and preparing healthy meals, all while giving socialization a much-needed boost, we’re empowering seniors to live their best lives every day. Email or call us to learn more about how we can help an older adult you love!

Is Your Loved One Taking a Medication That Mimics Dementia-Like Symptoms?

senior-couple-reviewing-medicationsConfusion. Disorientation. Memory loss. While these are definitely hallmark warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, they may also arise from taking specific medications. Rather than immediately assuming an inevitable diagnosis of dementia, review the following list of prescription medications that mimic dementia-like symptoms.

Pain Medications

Opioids in particular are reported to affect short-term memory. The good news is that the problem is typically remedied once pain medications are no longer being taken.

Acetylcholine Blockers

Prescribed to treat IBS, insomnia, bladder control problems, depression, heart problems, vertigo, Parkinson’s, along with other conditions, drugs with anticholinergic effects that block acetylcholine’s effects in the brain can cause memory disturbance, agitation, confusion, and delirium, among other significant health problems. An example is tolteridine.

Benzodiazepines

These prescription medications help treat both insomnia and anxiety, with sedative qualities that may also cause cognitive problems. Long-term usage of benzodiazepines may also be a risk factor for developing dementia. Examples include lorazepam (Ativan) and temazepam (Restoril).

Corticosteroids

Mood and cognitive changes, delirium, and psychotic symptoms are just some of the complications associated with corticosteroid use. One of the most common examples is prednisone.

Chemo Medications

Known as “chemo brain,” chemotherapy drugs impact some individuals in the areas of memory, focus and attention, and executive functioning. These changes might persist, even after ending chemo treatment.

Statins

Prescribed to reduce cholesterol, statins have a suspected link to memory and mental slowing and decline. While there are conflicting results from a variety of scientific studies, it is important to be aware of the possibility for cognitive complications.

It’s also essential to keep in mind that many prescription medications impact seniors differently than those who are younger. This is due to some extent to the decreased efficiency in an older person’s kidneys and liver, in addition to interactions with other medications being taken and a decreased cognitive reserve in the brain. Alcohol use can further exacerbate complications.

Be sure to speak with the physician before starting, stopping, or changing any medication, and about whether any cognitive complications you’re seeing in a senior could be the reaction to a medicine.

Generations at Home is also readily available to assist older adults in a variety of ways – medication reminders to make sure meds are taken just as prescribed, picking up prescriptions, transportation to doctors’ appointments, and keeping an eye out for any changes in condition and reporting them immediately, just to name a few. Contact us at 727-940-3414 for help and support any time throughout Pinellas County.

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.