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 get to know one another and to develop a care plan to best meet the needs of an older adult for 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.

 

How to Help Your Loved One When Alzheimer’s Affects Sleep

If it feels like a senior with Alzheimer’s has completely rewritten the rules on when and how to sleep, you are not dreaming—Alzheimer’s affects sleep. For reasons that are not yet fully understood, a number of people with dementia experience changes to their circadian rhythm, leading to sleepless nights and drowsy days.

The progression of the disease is one contributing factor. Damage to brain cells causes increased weakness, making everyday activities and tasks exhausting. Medication side effects from commonly-prescribed dementia treatments can further exacerbate the issue.

Why a Good Night’s Sleep Is Crucial for a Senior with Dementia

Decreased sleep quality in dementia may lead to an increase in restlessness and delusions and can result in serious safety concerns, including the potential for a senior to wander away and become injured or lost. Not just that, but a senior loved one who is sleepy during the day will also be less likely to engage in healthy activities, such as spending time outdoors and exercising.

And, for a busy family caregiver who also needs rest, it is typically quite a challenge to meet all of the person’s care needs during the day and throughout the night as well.

Ways to Help

Try these strategies for a senior whose sleep patterns are disrupted:

  • Talk to the physician, first of all, for a review of medications. Changing the dosage timing every day may be all it will require to make a difference.
  • Maintain a routine like going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Limit caffeine, naps, and heavy meals later in the day.
  • Incorporate bedtime activities that are soothing, for example, a warm bath, reading, turning off the television, and playing quiet, calming music.
  • If wandering is a concern, a wireless bed exit pad can notify you as soon as the senior gets up so that you can assist.
  • Try placing a clock that distinguishes between nighttime and daytime near the senior’s bed.

You may want to encourage a senior to try sleeping on their side rather than the back or stomach as well. Recent reports revealed a possible link between side sleeping and much more effective clearing of brain waste, such as excess beta-amyloid. Note that this study was conducted on laboratory animals, and it’s unclear yet whether the results carry over to humans.

Responsive Home Care is available to help as well, with overnight caregivers who are awake and alert, looking after the older adult’s needs throughout the night, so you can get the rest you need. Our care team members are fully trained and experienced in creative, patient approaches to meeting the unique care needs of those with Alzheimer’s disease. Give us a call at 954-486-6440 to learn more about our specialized Fort Lauderdale elderly care offered throughout the greater metropolitan area.

How to Handle the Unexpected Emotions of Caregiver Anger and Resentment

ver Anger and ResentmentIf you were to list the top five emotions you experience in meeting the caregiving needs of your elderly parents, what would they be? Maybe you’d first think of emotions like love, compassion, and in some cases, even frustration or stress. Would anger make the list? In many cases, though family care providers might not wish to admit it, caregiver anger and resentment are very real.

The reality is that a large number of adult children grapple with the reality that their parents are getting older. Growing up, our parents might have exuded health, strength, and control, giving us an underlying impression that they would always be there for us. Watching a decline in their health upends that belief, that could leave us feeling let down, disillusioned, fearful, anxious, and yes – angry.

As the tide shifts and aging parents become the ones needing care, family dynamics may become complicated. And the negative stereotype within our culture towards aging informs us that growing older is something we must resist or deny – something that may have a direct impact on how both aging adults and their adult children handle age-related decline.

Add to that the increased stress experienced by individuals who are part of the sandwich generation – caring for children at home and aging parents at the same time. Approximately one out of three adults with elderly parents believe their parents require some degree of care as well as emotional support.

So, how might you shift to a more positive mindset? The most crucial step is coming to a place of acceptance. Laura Cartensen, Stanford University psychology professor and director of its Center on Longevity, explains, “The issue is less about avoiding the inevitable and more about living satisfying lives with limitations. Accepting aging and mortality can be liberating.”

Honest, open communication is also essential. Family caregivers and their parents should share their feelings in regards to what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be improved. Oftentimes, just understanding the other person’s perspective makes a huge difference. For instance, a senior parent may voice annoyance with being reminded to put on his/her glasses. An appropriate response may be to clarify the reason for the reminders – because of a fear that the parent may fall, for example. A compromise can then be reached.

Concentrating on the quality time your caregiving role affords you with your aging parents, while handling your parents’ needs with your own, is key. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by selecting a trusted care partner to assist. Call Responsive Home Care at (954) 486-6440 for more information about our services.

Tips for Respecting Elders in How you Speak to Them

Watch what occurs at your next family get together when a new mom places her infant in someone’s arms. The individual is likely to transition instantly into baby mode: a high-pitched, sing-song voice, exaggerated facial expressions, and overly-simplified speech. Of course, this is quite normal and actually beneficial to a baby’s growing brain.

Hopefully, however, when that baby’s great-grandfather enters the room, loved ones refrain from reacting similarly and are better at respecting their elders. Yet it happens so frequently, and can be so damaging to the elderly, that there is a term to describe it: elderspeak.

A recent research study by Susan Kemper, a professor specializing in gerontology at the University of Kansas, matched elderly listeners with younger speakers. In spite of the seniors’ instructions just to listen without interrupting while the younger people spoke to them – thus leaving no suggestion to the speakers that they were having any challenges understanding what was being said – in a great majority of cases, the speakers resorted to elderspeak.

It’s worthwhile to note as well that older adults regularly refrain from using elderspeak with each other. Studies have shown that for a great many older adults, elderspeak conveys superiority and a cold attitude.

Why It’s Harmful

Simply put, elderspeak can be considered belittling and patronizing. It conveys beliefs of inferiority and incompetency to older adults, instead of the admiration and respect they deserve. While typically well-meaning and meant to convey endearment, it frequently has the reverse effect.

What to Do Instead

  • Thoughtfully consider how to address the elderly in your life. Many older adults find terms like “young lady,” “honey,” or “dearie” to be offensive.
  • Use caution when modifying how you communicate with an older adult in accordance with individual need. For example, speaking clearly and slowly while facing a senior loved one with hearing loss is helpful. A high-pitched voice, however, can actually further distort the words. An older adult with memory issues can better follow the conversation if it’s broken down into simple, short sentences and yes-or-no questions. This can easily be accomplished without resorting to baby talk.
  • Don’t forget that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, as each person has unique preferences and challenges. An open and honest conversation with the person about how precisely they would like to be addressed and spoken to is the ideal path to ensure you’re engaging with them appropriately.

At Responsive Home Care, we place a great emphasis on respectful interactions with each and every senior in our care. Contact us at (954) 486-6440 for an in-home consultation to learn how we can help promote independence for older adults with personalized in-home support.

How to Address One of the Leading Caregiver Struggles: Caregiver Dread

One of the most common caregiver struggles is caregiver dread.

What are your first thoughts as soon as you wake up in the morning? Are you looking forward to what your day holds, or would you prefer to crawl back under the covers and remain there? If you are feeling more dread than delight as you think through your caregiving tasks for the day, you are not the only one. In fact, caregiver dread is one of the most common caregiver struggles we help families with each and every day.

Distinctly different from anxiety, depression, and even burnout, caregiver dread is a heavy, exhausted feeling of duty. It stems from feelings of overcommitment as well as the need to escape from obligations. While feasible to muscle through and carry out needed tasks in spite of these feelings, there are methods to conquer them instead – and restore the joy that comes from making life better for someone you love. To begin with, try these techniques:

  1. Release the guilt. Meeting the care needs of a person can feel unimpactful, mundane, and just downright difficult. It requires selflessness, which can feel burdening. Yet dreading the daily tasks you’re obligated to do in no way is a reflection of how you feel towards your loved one. Acknowledge to yourself that your role is not easy, and it is okay to wish you could be doing something else.
  2. Deliberately search for joy. The little pleasures each day holds may be diminished by the difficulties. Make the effort every day to find five small things which make you smile. Keep a journal of each day’s finds and refer back to it at the conclusion of every week. Engage all of your senses as you look for the day’s joys: the smell of freshly brewing coffee; the beauty of the sunrise; the sound of your cat purring; the invigorating feeling of a hot shower.
  3. Set boundaries. Schedule time daily to spend on things that you enjoy apart from the senior loved one in your care. Plan and look forward to this time when your caregiving responsibilities begin to weigh you down. An established and trusted care partner is vital to ensure that nothing impedes with the important time of looking after yourself.

Remind yourself that the work you are doing in caring for your senior loved one is extremely important. Yet also keep in mind that no one can do it all, and in order to provide the very best care for the senior and for yourself, frequent breaks from care tasks are essential.

Connect with our experts in elder care in Fort Lauderdale and nearby areas at (954) 486-6440 to arrange for regular respite care services and release the stress of caregiving dread. We’re here for as much or as little assistance as you need to help you enjoy quality time together with a family member and also to rediscover joy in your own life as well.

 

Taking Care of Elderly Parents After the Pandemic: The Shift We Can Expect

Employers may now have a different perspective on those taking care of elderly parents post-pandemic.

If there is a single positive after-effect regarding the pandemic, it is the appreciation generated for the plight of family caregivers. Managing work and home life is without question a tremendous challenge for those taking care of elderly parents. As Lindsay Jurist-Rosner, CEO of Wellthy, explains, “Caregiving went from a silent struggle to being in the spotlight overnight.”

Businesses were suddenly thrown into the fire of navigating a world of balancing the safety of staff along with the need to uphold productivity. Here is what we discovered – and what we can expect in the future:

    • More telecommuting. Individuals who began working from home in the last year have, in some cases, demonstrated their ability to be much more productive. Because of this, it is predicted that nearly 25 – 30% of the workforce within the United States will continue telecommuting at least several days a week this year.
    • Less stress. Doing away with the daily commute opens up extra time for self-care for family caregivers, while enhancing peace of mind. This is particularly true for those who relied on public transportation and were wary of compromised health safety. To further boost mental health, many employers are offering subscriptions to mindfulness and meditation apps.
    • A corporate culture of caring. Working from home has opened up the personal elements of our lives to employers. Zoom meetings share our living spaces with each other, including the appearance of pets, children, and other household members. As a result, the workplace has started to become more humanized, resulting in a more empathetic working environment.
    • Emphasis on mental wellness. Along those lines, there is now greater awareness of the significance of attending to our mental health. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll shared that nearly 45% of adults experienced negative mental health affects as a result of the pandemic – and an even more substantial percentage in those who function as family caregivers for older family members. Many employers have started implementing ways to take care of the mental health of their employees, such as offering virtual adventures and trips to give the chance to relax and escape.

Let Responsive Home Care, who offers the best respite care in Weston, FL and the surrounding areas, further help nurture a better work-life balance with our dependable respite care services. Regular, ongoing respite care is key to the general wellness of family caregivers. Our skilled and compassionate home care team is on hand to help with anything from only a few hours every week up to and including 24/7 care. Call us at (954) 486-6440 to request a no cost in-home assessment to find out more.