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Why Nonverbal Communication for Alzheimer’s Patients is Often Better Than Words

Senior woman spending quality time with her daughter

When communicating with a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it is helpful to use a range of nonverbal communication methods.

Connecting with a cherished older adult struggling with Alzheimer’s, especially in the middle and later stages, is often discouraging – both for you and also for your loved one. Brain changes affect the ability to listen, process, and respond appropriately to conversations, and it’s up to us to put into action new methods of communicating to more effectively interact with a senior loved one with dementia.

What’s promising is, it is easier than it may look. We already communicate nonverbally in a variety of ways:

  • Physical contact
  • Posture and body movement
  • Eye contact
  • Facial expressions
  • Gestures
  • Personal space

Take a look at these techniques to include nonverbal communication in your interactions with a senior loved one:

  • Offer support through caring touch. If your family member is comfortable with touch, hold and pat the senior’s hand, rub the senior’s back, place an arm around his or her shoulders, and share warm hugs.
  • Look the person in the eye. Eye contact expresses interest in the senior, even when no words are spoken.
  • Recognize personal boundaries. Refrain from overwhelming the person by allowing adequate personal space, and making sure you are at the same level as the person, never towering over the senior. Your face should be at eye level.
  • Always keep a relaxed, patient and confident attitude. Quash any anger, annoyance or impatience, and focus on maintaining a peaceful and pleasant look on your face when communicating with your loved one. If this proves to be problematic because of challenging behaviors, step away briefly and practice deep breathing or other relaxation strategies, such as:
    • Square breathing: Use a finger to draw the shape of a square in front of you. When tracing the first side, breathe in deeply for a count of three; for the next side, hold your breath for one second; for the third side, breathe out for a count of three; and for the fourth side, hold your breath for one second. Do it again as necessary.
    • Relaxing phrase repetition: A couple of examples to get you started: This will pass, and everything is ok. I can handle this. I am secure and well.
    • Distracted thinking: Practice concentrated refocusing. Try saying the alphabet backwards, stating as many state capitals as you can, or singing the words to a popular song.

Learn more creative methods of effective Alzheimer’s care by getting in touch with Generations at Home. Our care providers are specially trained in the most current Alzheimer’s care techniques, and we’re always available to assist a family member with dementia to remain safe and calm, and to enjoy life to his/her greatest possible potential. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 at any time for assistance.

How Seniors Can Use Technology to Comfortably Age in Place

elderly woman is using a smartphoneWhether you’re looking to tune a guitar, learn a new language, or simply add cats’ ears to a selfie, there’s an app for that! And for seniors who choose to age in place, technology can be a key component in enhancing safety, comfort, and overall quality of life.

Take Amazon’s Alexa, for instance. While its current benefits for seniors are countless, including the ability to track glucose levels, make medical appointments, and research information related to a particular health condition, it’s actually poised to delve even deeper into the health care arena – perhaps even detecting heart attacks and helping doctors obtain accurate diagnoses.

Here are some additional technology solutions you might want to consider for a senior you love:

  • Home Security: A motion-detecting security system offers peace of mind related to crime prevention, but often can do so much more, such as alerting when sensing smoke, broken glass, or temperatures in the home that are too high or low, just to name a few. They’re also beneficial for those with dementia who may be prone to wandering, to alert to a senior’s movements in and around the home.
  • Telehealth: Save a trip to the doctor’s office by utilizing one of a variety of apps that allow for remote consultations from board-certified physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists, many of whom are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Fall Prevention: One of the top contributors to senior falls is insufficient lighting. Smart lights use motion detection to boost lighting in areas of particular concern, such as between the bedroom and bathroom, or on outdoor walkways, when triggered by a person’s movement.
  • Fraud Protection: Senior scammers are relentless and constantly evolving their tactics. Older adults can enhance protection through apps that keep an eye on financial activity and neighborhood crime activity, reduce robocalls, catch any usage of a person’s Social Security number, and more.
  • Health Care: A variety of health care needs can now be met from the comfort of home, including video chats with doctors to avoid a trip to the office, prescription ordering, and medication management to ensure meds are taken at the correct times and in the correct doses.

Contact Generations at Home for more tips on improving life at home for seniors – whether through technology, our professional in-home care assistance, or both! We’re always available to help set up and explain technological options, and to provide the tried-and-true, hands-on assistance in the home that empowers older adults to live their best lives. Call us any time at 727-940-3414 for a free in-home consultation and let us know how we can help!

Common Medication Prescriptions Linked to Increased Risk of Alzheimer’s

Senior citizen female holding bottles of prescription medicine sitting in a wheelchair.

Generations at Home’s medication reminder services ensure seniors take the right medications at the right time.

They’re already known to cause a number of short-term side effects, such as memory loss and confusion, but new research links some of the stronger anticholinergic drugs (such as those prescribed for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and overactive bladder) to a markedly increased risk for dementia.

The study involved two groups of seniors: 59,000 patients with dementia, and 225,000 without. About 57% of those with dementia, and 51% without, were given at least one (and up to six) strong anticholinergic medication. Taking into account other known dementia risk factors, the results were an astonishing 50% increased risk of dementia in those who were taking strong anticholinergics daily for three or more years, with the greatest risk to those who received a dementia diagnosis before age 80.

It’s important to note that there was no correlation discovered between dementia and other forms of anticholinergics (such as antihistamines like Benadryl and GI medications).

While these findings do not prove anticholinergics as a cause for dementia, at the very least, “This study provides further evidence that doctors should be careful when prescribing certain drugs that have anticholinergic properties,” according to Tom Dening, study co-author and head of Nottingham’s Center for Dementia. Dening also stressed that those currently prescribed these medications should never cease taking them abruptly, which can cause even more harm.

If it’s determined that these medications do in fact lead to dementia, an estimated 10% of all seniors currently struggling with dementia may be able to attribute the condition to anticholinergics.

The recommendation is for anyone concerned about this potential link to talk with his or her physicians to weigh the benefits against any potential risks, and to explore alternative means of treatment when possible. For example, those taking medications for help with sleeping – something that has become increasingly common in older adults – can consider behavioral changes and a more therapeutic approach over insomnia medications.

And regardless of the medications a senior takes, proper medication management is key – something that’s easier said than done with many older adults taking multiple medications in various doses at varying times of the day. Generations at Home’s medication reminder services are perfect to ensure seniors take the right medications at the right time – every time.

Our specially trained and experienced dementia care team is also on hand to provide creative, compassionate, effective care strategies to help minimize the challenging aspects of the disease, leading to a higher quality of life for both seniors and their families. Contact us at 727-940-3414 any time 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.

 

Wandering and Alzheimer’s: Why It Happens and How to Help

dementia care experts

Wandering is a common side effect of Alzheimer’s disease.

Of the many effects of Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps one of the most concerning is the individual’s tendency for wandering as well as the potential dangers that may occur if the senior becomes disoriented or lost. Wandering can take place when the older adult is:

  • Scared, confused or overwhelmed
  • Trying to find someone or something
  • Bored
  • Seeking to keep a familiar past routine (such as going to a job or shopping)
  • Taking care of a basic necessity (such as getting a drink of water or going to the bathroom)

The objective is twofold; to help keep the senior safe, and to make certain his / her needs are fulfilled to attempt to prevent the need to wander to begin with. Try the following safety measures in case your senior loved one is likely to wander:

  • Be certain that the residence is equipped with a security system and locks that the senior is unable to master, such as a sliding bolt lock above his or her range of vision. An assortment of alarms can be bought, from something as simple as placing a bell over door knobs, to highly-sensitive pressure mats that will sound an alarm when stepped upon, to GPS devices which can be worn, and more. It’s also a great idea to register for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.
  • Conceal exits by covering up doors with curtains, setting temporary folding barriers strategically around doorways, or by wallpapering or painting doors to match the surrounding walls. You could also try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes dissuade people in the earlier stages of dementia from trying to exit.
  • Another danger for individuals who wander is the additional risk of falling. Look over each room of the house and address any tripping concerns, such as removing throw rugs, extension cords, and any obstacles that may be obstructing walkways, adding extra lighting, and placing gates at the top and bottom of stairways.

It is important to keep in mind that with supervision and direction, wandering is not necessarily an issue. Go for a walk together outside anytime weather permits and the senior is in the mood to be mobile, providing the extra advantage of fresh air, physical exercise, and quality time together.

While often tricky to manage, the dementia care team at Generations at Home has been specially trained to be equally watchful and proactive in deterring wandering and to utilize creative strategies to help seniors with dementia stay calm and happy. Email or call us at 727-940-3414 for more information!

 

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.

Flying Solo? Here’s Why It’s Vital to Partner with Professionals for Dementia Care.

daughter visiting her senior mother in hospital

Learn how in-home dementia care from our St. Petersburg home care experts can provide needed respite.

Although millions of older adults are struggling with the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease, a far greater number of family members are struggling with caring for them. Surprisingly, nearly 75% of family caregivers are managing their senior loved ones’ dementia care needs on their own, with only 26% reaching out for professional care assistance.

Unsurprisingly, families want to do all they can in order to satisfy their loved ones’ needs, but dementia caregiving can cause an exceedingly high level of both mental and physical stress. This takes a toll on the caregivers’ own health and wellbeing in the long run, particularly once the disease progresses. And many members of the family assume there’s an all-or-nothing approach: either oversee their loved one’s needs in the home, or confront moving him or her into residential care.

Generations at Home, fortunately, has a solution that is good for seniors with dementia along with their family caregivers: the addition of a professional in-home dementia caregiver to provide as much or as little respite care as necessary. Here is why we believe that dementia care at home is best:

  • Highly trained care. Because our care providers are both skilled and experienced in the many complex facets of Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia, they will proactively address and more effectively manage even the most difficult of behaviors, including wandering, aggression, sundowning, and more.
  • Enhanced safety. The possibility of accidents is increased for those with dementia. Even something that appears as uncomplicated as assisting your loved one into the shower or onto the toilet can cause a dangerous fall risk. Skilled care providers know how to watch out for and avoid falls, keeping both you and your family member safe from harm.
  • Sustainable aging in place. Very often, family caregivers become so stressed attempting to meet all of a senior loved one’s needs in combination with their own that a change to a residential dementia care facility seems inevitable. However, partnering with a professional dementia care provider opens up the possibility of long-term, beneficial care in the home.
  • Ease of mind. Knowing your senior loved one is in qualified hands enables you to take a breath, relax, and step away from the pressures of caregiving for the much-needed breaks that decrease stress as well as the potential for caregiver burnout and depression.

It’s better to look into in-home dementia care possibilities as early in the disease as you possibly can, to allow for an even more seamless transition and to be sure that your loved one gets the most beneficial care from the very beginning. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 to inquire about a consultation from the comfort of home, where we can create a highly customized plan of care which will increase quality of life for your senior loved one today, and also as needs change in the future.

The Newest Breakthroughs in Curing Alzheimer’s

microscope with lab glassware, science laboratory research and development
Ground breaking research is honing in ever nearer towards the eradication of Alzheimer’s disease

The first, interestingly, is a drug utilized to manage HIV. Scientists have discovered that the genetic blueprint in Alzheimer’s patients is altered as the disease advances, very similar to the genetic shuffling that occurs in individuals with HIV. The idea is that placing a halt on the movement of the specific genes can possibly prevent the progression associated with the disease.

As stated by lead scientist Jerold Chun, “For the first time, we can see what may cause the disease. We also uncovered a potential near-term treatment.”

Subsequently, researchers at Mount Sinai have discovered that medications used to lower blood glucose in diabetics, such as metformin, might have a direct impact in the reduction of the plaques and tangles linked with Alzheimer’s disease. While this may be helpful immediately for diabetics with Alzheimer’s who are already taking this medication, further research is needed before testing on Alzheimer’s patients without diabetes as a result of the potential for dangerously low glucose levels and other negative effects. Encouragingly, the study outcomes add an additional piece to the puzzle of dementia.

These findings “…point us to the biological mechanisms that are being affected by those drugs. Hopefully, now we can find drugs that would have similar effects on the brain without changing the blood sugar levels,” remarked Vahram Haroutunian, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

With as many as 6 million Americans currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and a predicted increase to 14 million diagnoses over the next 40 years, it is vital for medical scientists to acquire ground on more fully comprehending the root cause, effective treatment options, and eventually a cure for this disease which has certainly become an epidemic.

The Alzheimer’s care experts at Generations at Home continue to track these and other advances, while offering the finest quality home care that enhances general wellbeing while providing family members necessary peace of mind. Our caregivers are fully trained and exceptionally skilled in helping manage many of the more complex facets of Alzheimer’s disease, such as wandering, aggression, sundowning, inappropriate behaviors, and much more. And our aim is always to make certain seniors with dementia have the ability to live life to its fullest potential, while remaining secure and comfortable at home.

Contact us online or call us at 727-940-3414 to find out more or to ask about resources to help you and your family member navigate the journey of Alzheimer’s.

A Hospital Visit for Thanksgiving? It’s More Common Than You Think for Seniors!

senior man eating in hospital bed

Avoid a hospital visit for seniors this Thanksgiving with these tips.

Even though we might imagine a Norman Rockwell-worthy Thanksgiving gathering, with the entire family relishing quality time together and Grandma’s classic food, the truth for a lot of families consists of something unanticipated: a visit to the hospital. The fact is, studies illustrate that emergency room visits for older adults jump an astounding 10% – 20% during the holidays.

While pinpointing the actual reasoning behind this increase is challenging, it isn’t surprising that one component could be members of the family who have not spent time with an elderly relative within the months prior to the holiday season, going home and identifying that their loved one’s condition has deteriorated.

Dr. Tamara Kuittinen of Lenox Hill Hospital explains, “It’s an issue of out of sight, out of mind for many people. If you haven’t seen your mom in 6 months, you may not be fully aware of the aging process and her health in general.”

There are lots of proactive steps that family members may take in order to prevent a holiday emergency situation:

  • Record key contact information for your loved one’s primary care physician and other specialists. Include all prescribed medications by each doctor and any drug allergies or other issues. Calling the correct physician for guidance about your worries is a great first step over an emergency room visit, unless of course the senior is having a genuine emergency.
  • Talk with your loved one about assigning a health care proxy, who’s able to serve as a voice in making health decisions in the event that your senior loved one is not able to do this. Ensure a living will is in place.
  • Check in with the older adult regularly all year. For families who live at a distance, it can be important to enlist the assistance of your loved one’s neighbors or friends to visit the senior regularly and to keep you updated with any irregularities they see.

An established in-home care agency in St. Petersburg FL, like Generations at Home, is the perfect year-round solution to make certain seniors continue to be healthy and well, and that any variations in condition are addressed immediately – making sure the holiday season stays as festive and pleasant as it should be. Just some of the countless ways we are able to help are:

  • Planning and preparing nutritious, delicious meals, in compliance with any dietary limitations
  • Providing accompanied transport to medical appointments and procedures, exercise programs, and fun outings
  • Examining the house for fall hazards and suggesting adjustments to ensure safety
  • Helping with safe ambulation and transfers
  • Personal care such as bathing, showering, and using the restroom
  • And so much more, according to each person’s individual needs

Call us at 727-940-3414 to request a free in-home consultation for more information on ways that we can help increase safety and overall well-being for your senior loved one.

Tips for Aging for Seniors Without Children

Senior woman with laptop

This strong and self-reliant genre faces a number of unique issues in aging.

Are you a “solo ager“? This is the new term being passed around to describe baby boomers who do not have children. This strong and self-reliant genre faces a number of unique issues in aging, chiefly who to designate as guardian and decision-maker in case they become unable to do so themselves. In her book, Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers, author Sara Zeff Geber, Ph.D. outlines several options to consider:

  1. Dig through your support system. Typically, a solo ager’s spouse would be the natural option for guardianship and also to make critical decisions associated with health care, but it’s important to have a minimum of one and preferably two younger alternative options. Consider siblings and their children, close friends, and neighbors, taking into consideration whether or not each person holds matching values and is also someone you can fully trust to make decisions in accordance with your wishes.
  2. Hire a qualified professional guardian. Professional guardians, also referred to as private guardians or professional fiduciaries, have become more popular than ever for solo agers. If thinking about this option, it is vital that you interview several candidates to ensure they will have the required knowledge and experience, and don’t forget to inquire about references. Consult your attorney for recommendations, or perhaps the National Guardianship Association or Professional Fiduciary Association in your state.
  3. Accept a court-appointed guardian. If a solo ager has not yet selected a guardian and is suddenly not able to make care-related and/or financial decisions, a probate court will designate a guardian to handle his or her affairs.

When you are checking out potential guardians, gather answers to questions such as:

  • How long have you been in practice?
  • Have you been certified by the National Guardian Association?
  • Have you been bonded and insured?
  • What will be the succession plan if you predecease me?
  • Are background checks performed on all of your employees?
  • What is your understanding of the particular medical conditions I’m facing?
  • Exactly what are your fees, and how often will I be billed?

After your guardian option has been determined, ensure that your attorney updates your existing (or creates a brand new) durable power of attorney or advance medical care directive, will, and durable power of attorney for finances.

If you require any more help and support in planning for long-term care needs, contact the St. Petersburg, FL home care professionals at Generations at Home. We’re able to partner with seniors to generate a plan of care to make sure that needs are fully met now and will keep on being met effectively as needs change in the years in the future, always with respect to each individual’s wishes. Call us at 727-940-3414 or contact us online to learn more.