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What to Ask the Doctor as a Family Caregiver for Senior Parents

senior couple visiting a doctorOf all of the many responsibilities a family caregiver faces, perhaps one of the most daunting is managing medical issues. The National Council on Aging estimates that nearly three quarters of all seniors are identified as having a minimum of two chronic conditions, and are seeing on average four healthcare experts.

As your aging parent’s advocate, it’s very important to learn simple tips to communicate effectively with those from the senior’s medical team, and to come to appointments fully ready to address any and all concerns. The following four questions are a great place to start:

  1. Are all of these prescription drugs required? With most older adults taking several medications, you’ll need to keep a detailed list and examine periodically with the physician along with the pharmacist, both of whom should be able to ensure there are not any duplications prescribed by different specialists, or any contraindications between meds.
  2. If prescribing something new, what side effects should we be prepared to see? Weighing the advantages vs. the potential health risks for any new medication is a must, as there may be occasions when troublesome side effects outweigh any benefits available. And if the physician shares a blanket statement such as, “Most patients don’t experience any complications with this prescription,” make sure to follow up for more information about individuals who DO encounter problems.
  3. What is the simplest way to relieve pain and discomfort? We are all aware of the opioid epidemic, as well as the danger of addiction along with other considerations that come with taking prescription pain medications. However, unaddressed pain and discomfort may cause both slowed healing and considerable emotional stress, both for a senior loved one experiencing pain along with his or her caregivers.
  4. If this was your mom, what would you do? Inviting the doctor to step into your shoes is generally a very helpful method to gauge how you may wish to proceed. There may, in fact, be less invasive or aggressive ways to managing a challenge that you may want to check out first.

For more recommendations on making sure a loved one is provided with the best possible care, contact the home care professionals at Generations at Home. We’re available to help through:

  • Accompanying a senior loved one to medical appointments and procedures and making sure concerns are answered
  • Ensuring prescriptions are taken just as prescribed
  • Proactively monitoring for any changes in condition, such as medication side effects, and reporting them promptly
  • Planning and preparing wholesome meals and offering encouragement to stay physically active to improve health
  • And much more

To get started on an improved quality of life for a loved one, simply call us at 727-940-3414 to ask about an in-home consultation.

Beyond Losing 10 Pounds: Meaningful Resolutions for Family Caregivers to Inspire Hope

Senior woman backpacking and exploringIf you are one of the 8% of Americans who actually accomplish their New Year’s resolution goals, well done! However, if you are like the majority of us, you’ve given up well before even turning the calendar page to February. Although of course it is admirable to strive to improve ourselves by resolving to get rid of 10 pounds or eat healthier, for busy family caregivers, there are some truly meaningful, attainable goals that will improve life throughout the year.

Consider these recommendations:

  • Find joy. Taking care of another person is a labor of love, but can bring about challenges that make it hard to spark joy. Take time each day to pause and discover a reason to smile. Bring humor into the daily caregiving tasks to share laughter along with your family member. Take pleasure in the feeling of the sunlight shining through the window as you are sorting laundry. Call a relative who lifts your spirits for a brief chat.
  • See the bigger picture. Attempt to take one step back from the busyness of your to-do list, and view the overall effect your caregiving is making. Because of you, a senior loved one is able to continue living in the comfort and familiarity of home. Thanks to you, life is the absolute best it can be for your loved one. Your contribution is priceless and is making a significant difference.
  • Compartmentalize. It is really important to make mental wellness a priority, and one effective way to cope with the numerous different responsibilities associated with providing care is to be fully focused on the present. Visualizing different rooms for different concerns can be helpful; when you begin to worry about a planned surgical procedure a loved one is facing while watching a show along with your children, contemplate placing that concern in its appropriate room until later, and being focused on the present.
  • Be kind to yourself. It is easy to succumb to a pattern of wishing you could do more for a parent, or thinking about errors you have made which you wish you could change. Emphasize to yourself that you are human, and that you are performing essential work for the individual you love. Acknowledge the sacrifices you’re making, just like you would take note and appreciate them in another family caregiver.
  • Seek – and accept – support and help. Attempting to be a superhero who handles each and every thing independently can easily result in burnout and depression. Working with other people to assist the senior is the best method to be sure his / her needs are completely met, while helping you realize the healthy life balance you need and deserve.

Generations at Home is the ideal partner for family caregivers, offering highly skilled, professional, and compassionate care for older adults in accordance with each person’s specific needs. Allow us to help! Give us a call at 727-940-3414 and together we can develop a plan of care in order to make 2020 the greatest year yet – both for the senior in your care, as well as for yourself.

The 5 Things to Avoid When Caring for Alzheimer’s

When a caregiver comes out with an older woman for a walk, she always takes a plastic bottle with water.While there are some commonalities, Alzheimer’s disease impacts each individual uniquely. Our highly trained dementia caregivers know, for instance, that while one person may appreciate being outdoors, a different individual may be overloaded by so much sensory input and favor a quieter indoor environment. One person may enjoy a morning bath routine, whereas a bit of creativity is needed to help another maintain good hygiene.

We also recognize there are certain triggers that may often exacerbate the challenging aspects of Alzheimer’s disease. Family care providers should be especially careful in order to avoid the following when caring for Alzheimer’s in a senior loved one:

  1. Dehydration. Those diagnosed with dementia might not be in a position to identify when they’re thirsty, or may refuse when provided fluids. It’s crucial to ensure appropriate hydration to avoid further confusion and weakness. Plain water is the best, nonetheless, if rejected, try flavored waters, along with different types of cups or bottles.
  2. Isolation. Individuals diagnosed with dementia experience loneliness as much as anyone else, and without adequate social stimulation, can become increasingly agitated or paranoid. An established care provider, like those at Generations at Home, who are fully trained in dementia care, can offer appropriate socialization, giving members of the family a much-needed break from care.
  3. Sugar. It’s not unusual for those with Alzheimer’s disease to have a heightened desire for cookies or cake, along with other sugary snacks, but it also can produce additional irritability. Try offering a variety of healthier choices, like fruit, yogurt, or sugar-free treats.
  4. Sleeping pills. With the challenges of common sleep problems such as sundowning, it could be tempting for family members to supply sleeping pills to a loved one with Alzheimer’s to encourage a more restful night. However, these drugs raise the risk for falls and other accidents and contribute to fogginess and confusion. Talk to the senior’s physician for a natural sleep-inducing option.
  5. TV. Be mindful of what’s on TV; programs that contain criminal activity, violence, as well as the nightly news can instill worry and paranoia in those with dementia. It might be better to leave the television off and engage your loved one in alternative activities, including games, puzzles, reading together, exercising, and reminiscing – or choose to view movies you have carefully evaluated to make sure content is suitable.

Every member of our dementia care team is fully trained and experienced in providing person-centered, compassionate care to successfully manage the issues inherent with Alzheimer’s, and to increase total wellbeing. Contact us at 727-940-3414 for additional dementia care tips, and for an in-home consultation to find out how our specialized in-home Alzheimer’s care can make life better for your senior loved one.

St. Petersburg, FL Home Care: Top Ways to Avoid Caregiving Injuries

Nursing home – home caregiver helping an elderly man out of bed

Avoid caregiving injuries with Generations at Home’s expert services.

While the ultimate goal is to improve health and safety for the seniors they love, family caregivers, unfortunately, often end up compromising their own in the process. In fact, an astounding 94% of caregivers in a recent study conducted by Ohio State University reported musculoskeletal pain in at least one part of their body – and 66% reported this pain impacting their quality of life.

And know that a “caregiver” can represent anyone in the family who assists another person with daily activities. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, this means that 34 million Americans are at risk of becoming injured through the care they provide.

At Generations at Home, we know firsthand the degree of lifting, bending, and weight-bearing required in meeting the care needs of an older adult, which is why each of our professional caregivers is trained in techniques that safeguard both themselves and the seniors in their care. Injuries can result from even the simplest of tasks that require more physical strength than you may realize: shopping and running errands, cleaning the home, performing laundry chores, even cooking.

To help family caregivers reduce the risk of injury, we offer the following recommendations:

  • Let assistive devices do the lifting. For older adults with mobility issues, transfers, such as from bed to chair, represent one of the most common causes of injury to those caring for them. Not only that, but the risk of the senior falling and obtaining an injury are heightened. Caregivers should look into equipment such as a Hoyer lift to assist with safe transfers (but note that proper training will be required).
  • Exercise safe movement practices. We’ve all heard the adage, “Lift with your legs, not with your back,” but before lifting a finger, caregivers should take a quick assessment of their own physical status. If any pain is felt in any of the joints or back, it’s a sign that the body has been pushed beyond its capacity – and an alternative means of assisting the senior should be explored.
  • Seek help. The best way to avoid injury in caregiving is by knowing your limitations, and calling in professionals when warranted. The caregiving team at Generations at Home is fully experienced and adept in providing a full range of senior care assistance, allowing family members and seniors alike to remain safe and well.

Contact us at 727-940-3414 to request a free in-home consultation. We can perform a safety assessment of the home, provide resources to help in your caregiving journey, and offer the highly customized, expert in-home care services that allow families the opportunity to simply enjoy quality time with the seniors they love.

Important Facts and Figures to Know from the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2019 Report

Closeup of various reminders attached with magnetic thumbtacks on metal

Learn about the newest and most important information regarding Alzheimer’s Disease

The Alzheimer’s Association has released its 2019 Facts and Figures Report, and with a full 5.8 million Americans currently diagnosed with the disease – including one out of every ten seniors – it’s important for all of us to understand the latest developments in research and treatment options.

According to the report, the number of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is expected to explode from 5.8 million in 2019 to an estimated 13.8 million in 2050. And while the impact is greatest on older adults, the disease begins to create changes in the brain a full 20 years or more before symptoms are evident.

If you’re one of the millions of family members providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you’re well aware of the investment in time required: combined with other family caregivers, totaling 18.5 billion hours in 2018 alone. In fact, 83% of dementia care is provided by family and friends. And the impact on a caregiver’s health is significant, with nearly 60% reporting emotional stress and nearly 40% suffering from physical stress.

Risk factors have also been updated in this year’s report, and include:

  • Age: Not surprisingly, risk increases dramatically with age, from as little as 3% in the 65 – 74 age group, to 17% in those ages 75 – 84, to a whopping 32% for those age 85 and older.
  • APOE gene: Of the 3 forms of the APOE gene (e2, e3, and e4), which transports cholesterol in the bloodstream, the e4 form is linked to the highest prevalence of the disease.
  • Family history: Individuals with at least one first-degree relative (parents, siblings) are at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s, and the risk increases when shared lifestyle and environmental factors are at play (i.e. unhealthy eating or obesity).

Of significant importance is the finding that although healthcare providers are advised to regularly assess cognitive functioning for all seniors, only 16% of those over age 65 report receiving a routine assessment, and more than half have never received an assessment at all – in spite of the fact that 94% of physicians noted the importance of such an evaluation.

Per Joanne Pike, Dr.P.H., chief program officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, “Early detection of cognitive decline offers numerous medical, social, emotional, financial and planning benefits, but these can only be achieved by having a conversation with doctors about any thinking or memory concerns and through routine cognitive assessments.” Generations at Home remains committed to following the latest developments in Alzheimer’s disease, and to providing the exceptional, highly skilled care that allows for the highest possible quality of life at all times for those with dementia. Contact us online [KW3] or call us at 727-940-3414 for more educational resources related to Alzheimer’s, or to learn more about our specialized in-home dementia care services.