Health Concerns That Can Cause Negative Mood Changes in a Senior

Everyone goes through good days and bad days, and everyone is entitled to negative thinking or irritability every now and then. If you are caring for an older adult who appears to have fallen into a routine of continual negativity and complaining, there could be a reason for it. It’s worthwhile to explore whether or not a health issue may be the culprit for negative mood changes in a senior.

The following are several possibilities for chronic negative mood changes in a senior and how you can help.

  1. Urinary tract infections. A UTI’s classic signs and symptoms of pain, burning, and urgency to urinate may include additional side effects for seniors, including angry outbursts, irritability, confusion, as well as other alterations in behavior or mood. Speak with the physician to rule out a urinary tract infection if you observe these types of uncharacteristic behaviors.
  2. Pain. A recent research study discovered that participants who are experiencing chronic pain reported an increase in negative moods, including fatigue, anger, tension, depression, anxiety, and more. It’s worthwhile to share any of these mood changes with the physician, as these kinds of mood changes actually impact the effectiveness of pain management treatments.
  3. Dementia. Mood and personality changes are typical in dementia. It is crucial to understand that these changes are a symptom of the physiological changes in the brain, and are not a representation of the person’s own choices and decisions. There are medicinal and natural treatment choices that can help the person feel calmer and less agitated that you may desire to explore.
  4. Medication side effects. A number of medications – including those designed to help with mood, such as antidepressants – may cause troublesome mood swings. Medications for blood pressure, inflammation, and seizures may cause personality and behavioral changes in some people. Again, talk with the physician and go through the senior’s prescriptions to determine if the problem stems from one medication, or possibly the interaction of multiple meds together.

Negative mood changes in a senior can arise from loneliness or boredom, too. No matter the reason, constant negativity can be taxing for a caregiver’s personal sense of wellbeing. It is important to be able to step away from your caregiving role on a regular basis, and to make this time away a top priority. The senior will also benefit from the chance to spend time with different friends, family members, or a professional caregiver. These breaks are a healthy part of your caregiver/care receiver relationship – for both of you.

Responsive Home Care’s caregivers are wonderful companions to help brighten the mood of the older adults we serve. All of our care staff are fully trained, background checked, and experienced in a wide range of in-home care services for seniors. If you’re looking for an award-winning home care company in Ft. Lauderdale, FL or the nearby areas, contact us online or at (954) 486-6440 to learn how we can help someone you love, while allowing you the time you need to rest and rejuvenate.

Simple, Effective Strategies You Can Try Today to Improve Memory

Help seniors improve memory with these simple strategies.

Do you recall learning the order of colors of the rainbow as a child? A lot of us were introduced to Roy G. Biv to master this feat – one of many mnemonics we learn that, interestingly, often stay with us for a lifetime.

As we age, it’s expected to experience some level of memory impairment; and naturally, it’s even more pronounced when Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is a factor. Scientists are constantly aiming to locate effective ways to improve memory and cognitive functioning, and have observed some interesting findings on “old school” strategies such as mnemonics. Here’s what they have recently discovered:

Mnemonics

Mnemonics produces a link to a memory through a phrase, abbreviation, song, etc. This training yielded great results in increasing activity in areas of the brain that are affected by dementia, leading to improved retention of information.

There are a multitude of mnemonic strategies that are very effective in improving memory. For example, try mnemonic keywords. Mnemonic keywords are fun and creative ways to memorize words in another language. It involves selecting a word that’s much like the new word you want to learn, and visualizing an image that brings the two words together. For instance, if you’re wanting to remember that chapeau is French for the term “hat,” you might picture Charlie Chaplin along with his famous black hat. The “Chap” element of his name can trigger the initial letters in chapeau, and the memory will stick.

Spaced Retrieval Training

This strategy involves gradually increasing the amount of time between memory tests, and was shown to also be highly effective for those with dementia. Compared to mnemonics, however, there was actually a decrease in brain activity, which led medical researchers to determine that the information had been processed more efficiently.

This training method is very effective in increasing independence and minimizing anxiety for those with cognitive challenges. Choose a desired event or activity for the person to keep in mind, such as a lunch date with a buddy on Friday. Start by asking the person a question to establish whether or not the memory is already in place. If not, remind them they are having lunch with John on Friday. Wait 15 seconds, and ask the individual the question again. If the memory is in place now, increase the time to 30 seconds, and ask again, continuing to double the time and ask again. If the person does not remember after 15 seconds, keep repeating the process every 15 seconds several more times before determining that it is not an effective technique, at least not for this particular event or activity.

Both strategies are simple, drug-free approaches to incorporate into the treatment for someone during the early stages of Alzheimer’s, or even for anyone who is looking for approaches to improve memory.

Let Responsive Home Care provide additional resources and support for someone you love with dementia. Our creative approaches to help improve memory make the most of an older adult’s cognitive functioning, independence, and wellbeing. Contact us online or call (954) 486-6440 for more information about our home care assistance in Fort Lauderdale and the nearby areas.

 

 

Downsizing for Seniors with Dementia

Learn the benefits of downsizing for seniors with dementia.

You’ve come to the realization that the family home is just way too much for your mother and father to take care of. A smaller home became available just around the corner from you that’s ideal: a lovely flower garden in the backyard, a bright, cheerful kitchen, and no stairs to navigate. Now it’s time to begin the downsizing process. The only problem? Mom has dementia.

It’s not uncommon for seniors with dementia to struggle with change. Leaving the familiarity of home and moving into a brand new one can increase feelings of agitation and anxiety, but there are strategies to help ease the transition.

  1. Pace yourself. It’s natural to want to rip the band aid off and make the downsizing process as quick as possible for seniors with dementia. However, a better approach in this situation is taking time to discuss the upcoming changes with the older adult, one step at a time. Keep a consistent and calm demeanor, and empower the person to maintain as much control over the required decisions as possible.
  2. Maintain memories. Take pictures and/or videos of some of the items being donated or discarded and use them to create a scrapbook for the older loved one. This helps aging loved ones to revisit the items anytime they would like, and can also be used to spark conversations and reminiscing after the move.
  3. Create a system. Donating and discarding seniors’ possessions are necessary parts of the downsizing process. Again, include the individual in the decision-making process to the greatest extent possible. There will probably be specific items the older adult can’t stand to part with, which can be placed into storage if the new living arrangement can’t accommodate them. If there are items the senior rarely uses or sees, however, it might be easiest to have those removed before involving the person in the process.
  4. Set up the new home yourself. Arrange the senior’s most loved furnishings and items of comfort in the new living environment before bringing them in. Include photographs of friends and family near the bed, so they can see them when they go to bed and first wake up. Then bring the senior loved one in, and help with rearranging anything they’d like adjusted. This process will lessen the anxiety that may occur for someone needing to unpack and figure out the best locations to place items in a brand new environment.

Our Alzheimer’s care team is thoroughly trained, experienced, and highly skilled, and we are available to help through the downsizing process and beyond for seniors with dementia. Reach out to us at (954) 486-6440 or online for more information about our caregiver services in Fort Lauderdale, FL and the nearby areas.

Potassium May Lower Stroke Risk for Women

Learn how potassium may be able to lower stroke risk for women.

The banana you eat in the car on the way to work could be helping to reduce your risk of suffering a stroke! In a recent study of nearly 100,000 women ranging in age from 50 – 79, it was discovered that consuming a higher level of potassium resulted in a lower stroke risk for women by as much as 12%, and by 16% for the most common type – ischemic stroke. Not only that, but those with a higher potassium intake were 10% less likely to die from any cause.

It’s worth noting that blood pressure also played a role here. Those without high blood pressure showed even more promising results, a full 21% less likely to suffer from an ischemic stroke and 27% reduced risk of stroke altogether. This led researchers to suggest that those at risk of developing high blood pressure may benefit from increasing their intake of potassium to prevent future complications.

Great sources of potassium to help lower stroke risk for women include:

  • White beans
  • Bananas
  • Leafy greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Dairy foods
  • Meat

Remember, it’s important to consult your physician before making any dietary changes, including adding more potassium to your diet, as consuming too much can be dangerous, especially for the elderly and those with kidney disease.

Did you know Responsive Home Care offers meal planning and preparation services, in accordance with any prescribed dietary plan? We can help increase potassium in a senior’s diet to help lower stroke risk for women as they age.

There are a variety of other ways we can help improve quality of life for older adults, right in the comfort of home, such as:

  • Accompaniment to medical appointments and procedures, enjoyable outings – anywhere and anytime a senior needs or wants to go
  • Companionship for conversations, reminiscing, fun activities, exercising, and more to brighten each day and alleviate loneliness and isolation
  • Assisting with shopping for healthy food choices, picking up prescription refills, and more
  • Light housekeeping and laundry, to ensure a clean and organized home environment
  • Specialized care for those with chronic health needs, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, COPD, etc.
  • And so much more, according to each person’s individual needs

All of our services begin with a complimentary planning meeting in the senior’s home. This provides us with the opportunity to get to know the person and the challenges they are facing, and to create a customized plan of care to enhance safety, comfort, and independence.

Contact us online or call (954) 486-6440 to learn more about Responsive Home Care, the leading home health agency in Hollywood, FL and the nearby areas, and how we can make life the best it can be for someone you love!

Try These Creative Ways to Get More Fruits and Veggies Into a Senior’s Diet

Learn how to add fruits and veggies into a senior’s diet.

It’s no surprise that many seniors, just like anyone else, prefer carbs to carrots, making it challenging to guarantee that their nutritional needs are being met. The CDC shares that just one in ten seniors are meeting the recommendation of at least three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit every day. Many researchers have reported that seniors who do follow these guidelines reduce their risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic health issues, and subsequently live longer lives.

Maybe it’s time to think outside of the box to promote healthier eating habits in a senior’s diet. For example:

Make it crunchy. There are so many nutritious alternatives to greasy potato chips for a crispy snack or as a side to enjoy with a sandwich. Pick up a few for the older adult in order to see which ones they prefer: kale, sweet potato, beet, radish, green bean, eggplant, and much more. Or try freeze-dried fruit, another crunchy and nutritious alternative.

Make it smooth. If you’re looking to add a few superfoods to a senior’s diet, smoothies and sauces are great ways to do so. You can create a refreshing, delicious drink by blending a little spinach, yogurt, and fresh fruit. Or experiment with pureeing different vegetables to mix in with marinara sauce: zucchini, carrots, kale, bell peppers, etc.

Opt for convenience. Slicing, peeling, chopping, cooking – the numerous steps needed to prepare some vegetables and fruit make it easier to just grab a prepackaged snack. Try to find healthy alternatives that are just as easy to grab and enjoy, like ready-to-eat salads, baby carrots, or other cleaned and sliced veggies, individual cups of fruit, bananas, etc.

Freeze it up. Make your own simple, healthy frozen snacks by blending fruit with a small amount of juice or water, pouring into popsicle molds, and freezing until solid. These also make a wonderful multi-generational activity! Invite the family members over, let everyone choose their favorite flavor to make, and then spend some quality time together as you wait for them to chill before enjoying your personal creations.

Join a CSA. If you’ve never considered a CSA, now is an ideal time to explore this option. A CSA (community supported agriculture) is a subscription service for fresh produce from local farmers. Discover more and find a CSA near you here.

Responsive Home Care’s caregivers are skilled in preparing delicious, healthy meals based on each person’s individual preferences. We are available to pick up all of the ingredients too! Just give us a call at (954) 486-6440, or contact us online for assistance with enhancing a senior’s diet with the help of our elderly home care in Hollywood, FL and the nearby areas.

 

 

Solutions to Help Be a Better Senior Advocate For a Loved One

adult daughter and senior mother talking to caregiver

Advocating for a senior loved one is easier with home care help.

Trusting someone you love to the care of someone else is not easy, particularly for an older member of the family. Whether at home or in a facility, you’ll have questions you need answered. You will also want to be an excellent senior advocate to proactively address any potential problems and also to immediately resolve problems that do develop.

For example, review the following common situations and how to be a better senior advocate should they occur with an older adult you love:

  • You’re concerned about challenging behaviors. In the event the older adult is prone to wandering, aggression, angry outbursts, hoarding, or any one of an array of other difficult behaviors, you might feel embarrassed or ashamed. Though you may prefer not to talk about the issue, it is a good idea to share this openly with the care provider. More likely than not, they have experience with successfully working with an array of personalities and personal nuances, and will be able to incorporate strategies which will work best together with your family member.
  • You live far away. Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to remain close to a long-distance relative and to keep a finger on the pulse of how things are going. FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype with the older adult regularly to check in. If a family portal is available for the home care provider and family members to share comments and notes, make full use of this communication tool. And if you’re not able to visit in person, ask a friend or other member of the family who lives nearby to drop in routinely.
  • Your loved one has dementia. A senior with dementia may not be able to effectively communicate their wishes and needs. For example, a new caregiver might not know that Dad wears inserts in his shoes and she may put his shoes on each morning without them. Dad might not know how to communicate this need or could have forgotten about this need and start to become uncomfortable that day. Or he may act out because he is experiencing discomfort, which might lead to other issues. As the older adult’s voice, be sure to share even the smallest details about the person’s preferences with the care provider.

Responsive Home Care partners with families, working together to ensure the best quality of care and senior advocacy, through personalized services such as:

  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • Personal care for safe baths/showers, getting dressed, etc.
  • Running errands
  • Companionship for fun activities and conversations
  • And more

Contact us at (954) 486-6440 for a free in-home consultation to allow us to develop a care plan for your family or to learn more about our in-home respite care in Weston, FL and the surrounding area.

How to Build New Senior Friendships

Senior friendships can make the days a little brighter.

If you’ve ever observed young children at the park, you know how quickly friendships are formed. A small group might be playing hide-and-seek, and a newcomer dashes over with a breathless, “Can I play?” In most cases, the response is a resounding, “Sure!” and thus – instant friends. Read more

Is it Time To Consider Guardianship of an Elderly Parent?

Learn when to think about petitioning for guardianship of an elderly parent.

In an ideal world, our family relationships would all be positive and helpful. We would manage transitional times cooperatively, smoothly, and with virtually no disagreement. As our parents grew older, it would be a seamless process to fulfill their needs today and their needs in the future. Read more

The Importance of Advocating for Your Parent or Loved One

Medical professional talking to senior and her family caregiver

Advocating for a parent can be stressful, but our home health care services in Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding area can help.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Advocating for your parent or loved one is probably one of the biggest honors – and responsibilities – you will have as a family caregiver. It means fully comprehending the other person’s wishes and needs, and communicating those wishes to people who can help make sure they are fulfilled.

If the role seems intimidating and possibly more than you feel equipped to handle, there are a number of actions you can take to bolster the relevant skills you will need to be successful.

Observe. It may seem to go without saying, however with so many issues vying for your focus, it may be very easy to pay less attention than needed to slight shifts in a senior’s condition, behaviors, or mood. It’s beneficial to first make sure your own self-care needs are met so you’re sharp and well-rested. Then implement a system to take and share notes with any other members of the family or friends who are in close contact with the senior to detect any changes.

Communicate. Effective communication with medical, legal, or financial professionals is vital to successfully advocate for a senior. Since these professionals are extremely busy, keep your communication style clear, concise, and to the point. Bring notes so you’re certain to cover all the bases. Remain respectful, and keep in mind listening is just as crucial to good communication as speaking. And, thank the professional for hearing you out and for their assistance in coming to the best resolution.

Learn. Continue to educate yourself on the particular health condition(s) a senior loved one is navigating, along with aging in general, and legal/financial matters. While you find out more, it’s possible that subsequent questions will surface. If you can’t get the answers you require from one particular professional, try another trusted source until you have the understanding necessary.

Be tenacious. Advocating for an older adult member of the family effectively has been referred to as serving as “chief bulldog.” It means giving it your all, finding creative solutions to challenging dilemmas, always with the older adult’s best interests at heart. Be ready for frustrations to develop, and to have to advocate for exactly what your loved one requires!

Most importantly, maintain an optimistic mindset, and surround yourself with a strong support system, including the senior care team at Responsive Home Care. We are here to partner with you to ensure the absolute best quality of life for a senior you love. We also provide you with the chance to take a break from your caregiving role to recharge and refresh – something extremely important both for your loved one and yourself.

Give us a call at (954) 486-6440 any time and let us know how we can help provide home health care services in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the surrounding area! We offer a free of charge in-home assessment and the creation of a customized plan of care that will help ensure each of your care bases are covered!

Selecting a Geriatrician: Why Going to a Specialized Expert Matters

doctor talking with seniorIf your child suddenly developed an illness, who would you call? It’s a no-brainer; many parents have the number on speed dial for the pediatrician they have carefully selected to oversee the medical care needs of their children. Due to their specialized training, working with a trusted pediatrician ensures the best possible care.

Likewise, choosing a physician for senior loved ones who focuses on senior health care concerns is equally as essential. Yet unfortunately, the health care system as a whole has not placed a great focus on the distinct health care needs of older adults. Dr. Carla Perissinotto, geriatrician and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, explains her concern over this age-related health care gap, and how little professors in med school are focused on caring for senior patients.

In fact, reflecting on her own residency, she shares, “We literally did the same thing for forty-year-olds as we did for eighty-year-olds, and we’d treat all eighty-year-olds the same whether they’re dependent or independent, have limited life expectancy or complete life expectancy, and that just didn’t sit well with me.”

Fortunately, there has been a new push to provide med students with additional training in geriatrics, including an emphasis on a holistic approach to senior care – viewing the body as a whole. It is very important for seniors to have a reliable geriatrician who can manage and piece together the results of the often multiple specialists an older adult patient sees. In fact, providing additional education for anyone who comes in contact with seniors in a medical setting – from hospital receptionists to EMTs and triage workers to doctors and nurses – is essential to overcome ageism and ensure seniors receive the level of care they need and deserve.

Additionally, older adults and their family caregivers might want to look into the services of a geriatrician as their primary care physician. Not to be confused with gerontologists, who specialize in aging-related issues but are not medical doctors, geriatricians are board-certified physicians who have finished a fellowship in geriatric medicine and have also passed the Geriatric Medicine Certification Exam.

According to the American Society of Geriatrics, there are approximately 7,000 certified geriatricians in the United States. They recommend asking the following questions when selecting a geriatrician:

  • What training and certification have you received?
  • Do you accept my insurance coverage?
  • Will you work with all members of my healthcare team?
  • How is communication handled – texts about prescription refills, email appointment reminders, etc.?
  • What is your guiding philosophy?

Visit the geriatrician for an initial consultation, and evaluate additional details such as:

  • Is the office easy to access?
  • Is there lots of parking?
  • Is the staff respectful and courteous?
  • Does the geriatrician speak directly to the older adult?
  • Are questions answered thoroughly?

Don’t dismiss your gut feelings. If any warning signs are noted, you may want to consider searching further to ensure the geriatrician selected is an individual both you and your loved one are fully comfortable with.

At Responsive Home Care, our staff are thoroughly trained in providing respectful, specialized care for older adults within the comfort of home. Contact us any time at 954-486-6440 for help and support or to acquire more information about our customized Pembroke Pines senior care services and care throughout Broward County.

Does Having a Sense of Purpose Help Us Live Longer?

What motivates you to get up out of bed every morning? The answer is different for every single one of us, of course, but there is one commonality: it could allow you to live longer. Scientific studies are answering the question, “Does having a sense of purpose help us to live longer?” with a resounding “Yes!” as evidenced in Japan, the country with the highest life expectancy on earth.

Interestingly, there’s no word for our definition of “retirement” in the Japanese language. Instead, there is a focus on maintaining purpose and meaning beyond a person’s working years and defining themselves according to their current pastimes and passions.

So just how can we help older adults – and ourselves – stay involved with what ignites interest and makes a difference in the world around us? Below are a few inspiring ideas to get you started:

Cultivate a sense of compassion for others. There’s no shortage of suffering in this world, and there is something that all of us can do in some way to help lessen the struggles of somebody else. Have a conversation with the older adults in your life about who or what touches their hearts the most – homelessness, mental health, single parents, stray animals, veterans, etc. Direct that compassion into action by brainstorming ways to make a direct impact.

Prioritize family. With so many families living far away from each other, and even further separated recently as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, make a plan to close the gaps and bring family members closer together. Plan a backyard holiday gathering or family reunion. Commit to a video chat or phone call with a different member of the family weekly to reconnect and get caught up on their lives. Work on documenting your life story, and that of past generations, to share with children and grandchildren.

Redefine retirement. For a senior loved one who is already retired from one career, consider another. Is there an unrealized dream that could be explored, such as earning a degree in a different field of interest? Look into volunteer or part-time job opportunities that offer the opportunity to learn something new while serving others.

Take time to play. Meaning and purpose are found in lighthearted endeavors too! Sports, hobbies, art, music, travel, exploring nature, reading, and many other engaging and fun activities provide possibilities for self-expression and a more enjoyable life. Betye Saar, a 93-year-old artist, explains, “… the creative part of me is forever young.”

Responsive Home Care’s caregiving team is full of innovative ideas to help older adults continue to take pleasure in a life of purpose and meaning. Contact us any time online or call us at 954-486-6440 for additional tips and to find out more about our personalized senior home care in Pembroke Pines and the neighboring communities.

Are You Falling for These Common Hospice Misconceptions?

If you knew that a significantly better quality of life could be achieved for someone you care about, you wouldn’t hesitate to explore that option. Yet one of the most beneficial types of care – hospice care – is one that family members shy away from, because of many different hospice misconceptions.

Hospice is intended to help someone with a life-limiting illness obtain relief from pain along with other difficult symptoms, while benefiting from comfort as well as spiritual and emotional support. Hospice care is available around the clock, both for the person needing care along with family members. And, for anyone covered by Medicare, hospice care is available for a very low cost or possibly at no cost. Many additional insurance policies cover hospice care too.

Here are some of the top myths and the real facts you should know about hospice care:

Hospice is only needed at the very end of life. Lots of people mistakenly assume that hospice services are for a person’s last day or two, when in fact, the earlier hospice care is started, the better. The criteria for Medicare-covered hospice services are simply for a doctor to certify that the individual could die within six months. The hospice team and the doctor continue to monitor and modify this prognosis ongoing, either discharging the individual from hospice if improvement is noted, or recertifying if life extends beyond six months.

A person can no longer receive medical treatment while on hospice. While it is correct that typically aggressive treatments that won’t lead to a cure are discontinued, the goal of hospice care is to help an individual with pain and symptom management. Treatments designed to improve the person’s level of comfort are an integral part of hospice care.

Hospice takes place in a facility or at a hospital. Hospice care is available anywhere the individual and loved ones wish. In-home hospice care is readily available for individuals who opt to remain at home for a lifetime or in a facility setting, if preferred. Whatever the living arrangement, hospice care is brought to that individual – eliminating the need to go out to physician’s appointments.

Hospice care is a holistic approach to meeting the needs of the person receiving the care, in addition to his or her loved ones. Beginning care as soon as possible allows maximum time to take advantage of the resources, support, and comfort necessary for the most peaceful transition possible.

For answers to any other questions about hospice care, call Responsive Home Care at 954-486-6440. We can share additional information with regards to the benefits of hospice care and provide you with a free consultation to talk about the options that are available to you for in-home care in Plantation and throughout the surrounding areas.