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 for assistance from a caregiver in Fort Lauderdale, Florida or the nearby areas!

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.

 

 

Time Management Tips for Family Caregivers

Family caregiver writing notes

Learn these time management skills for family caregivers.

It’s easy to feel like there’s no way to fit all of your duties as a family caregiver into 24 short hours. Family caregivers are often overloaded with daily care tasks: Housework and laundry. Personal care and hygiene. Planning activities that are purposeful and enjoyable for the older adult. Planning and preparing meals. Medical appointments. Shopping and other errands. And all of this is in addition to meeting the needs of your own household, children, spouse, and if there’s any time left over, yourself!

Take time to pause and take a deep breath, and then consider implementing these tried-and-true time management pointers to help each day run more smoothly.

Prioritize

Begin the day by prioritizing your tasks by logging them into categories, such as what must be done today, what you’d like to complete today, and what can hold off until a later date. This permits you to dedicate your full focus to the most important needs and set aside the rest.

Implement

Procrastination is so easy to fall into! Now that you have a plan in place for the day, jump in and accomplish the tasks that need your attention. Nevertheless, bear in mind that self-care should always be a top priority. Surround yourself with a powerful support system that allows you the time away needed to ensure your own health is not being compromised.

Define

With your list of duties for the day at your fingertips, choose who is best suited to manage them. Perhaps you are the best person to aid a senior loved one with showering and getting ready for the day, while a neighbor may be able to take the older adult to the doctor and out for lunch afterwards.

Remember to keep in mind that you are doing impactful and important work. It is easy to get swept up in the daily details and lose sight of the big picture and the fact that all you do for the senior you love is contributing to a lasting and positive impact.

Bearing that in mind, allow yourself some grace on the days when things don’t go as scheduled, as will definitely be the case from time to time! When a setback or crisis arises and your to-dos are left undone, know that tomorrow is a new day and the tasks are going to be there whenever you are ready to tackle them again.

Responsive Home Care’s caregivers are experienced, fully trained, and ready to help you in meeting each one of a senior family member’s needs – giving you the time away you need for a balanced and healthy life. Call us at 954-486-6440 or contact us online for a free in-home consultation for more information about our in-home care in Fort Lauderdale and the nearby areas.

Watch for These Signs That Could Point to Mobility Issues in Seniors

Senior man walking up stairs using a hand railing

Learn the signs of mobility issues in seniors.

Benjamin Franklin was definitely right: An ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure. When it comes to detecting and addressing mobility issues in seniors, prevention is a must. Falls in seniors lead to 3 million emergency room visits, 300,000 hip fractures, and 32,000 deaths each year, according to the CDC.

Avoid a tragedy in the future by looking out for these warning signs of increasing mobility issues in seniors:

  1. Experiencing dizziness. Dizziness and problems with balance can arise from a plethora of factors that ultimately cause difficulty with mobility. It’s important to learn why these issues are taking place and address them right away.
  2. Struggling to sit or stand. Notice whether the senior finds it hard to either stand up from a seated position or to sit back down. Do they require something to hold onto for support?
  3. Skipping physical activity. Another warning sign is a senior loved one who previously participated in some degree of exercise but now is choosing a more sedentary lifestyle. Exhaustion or weakness can result in problems with mobility.
  4. Steering clear of stairs. An older adult who seems to be getting around just fine but is avoiding going up or down stairs may be fearful of falling because of mobility changes.

One simple and effective option to determine mobility and fall risk in older adults is the TUG (Timed Up and Go) test. The test should be performed on a regular basis. Here is all it will require:

  • Place a stable chair against the wall.
  • Mark a distance of 10’ from the wall.
  • Have the senior sit in the chair.
  • When you tell them to go, start a timer, and have the person stand, walk towards the ten foot mark, turn around, come back and sit down again.

Be sure to stand close by the senior as they perform the test in case they need extra support. Track the outcome over a period of time and share with the person’s doctor for guidance. Find more information about the test as well as a downloadable one-page evaluation sheet here.

If you note any signs of mobility issues in seniors, it is time to start the appropriate conversation with the senior about getting help. Let the person know you’re concerned, and schedule an appointment for a check-up with the physician. The implementation of some simple mobility aids might make an enormous amount of difference in maintaining safety and independence.

Reach out to Responsive Home Care for additional fall prevention strategies for older adults, and also to learn about the countless ways our respite care in Weston, FL and the nearby areas can improve quality of life for a senior you love.

Should You Rethink the Way You Approach Caring for a Loved One?

senior man hugging caregiver

You may have doubts about others caring for a loved one, but here’s why it’s important to let others help.

“You can make it, but it’s easier if you don’t have to do it alone.” – Betty Ford

We all realize that no person is an island, something that especially holds true when caring for a loved one with dementia. Nonetheless many family caregivers falter with regards to asking for or accepting the help they need. As a result, stress is exacerbated, as there’s little if any time for self-care – something that is essential for any person in a caregiving role.

Why are we frequently so resolved to tackle such an extraordinary undertaking independently? Here are several common reasons and why we must rethink them:

  • I am doing just fine on my own; I don’t need a break. To put it simply, science disagrees! A research study shared in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry revealed that a certain stress hormone was depleted in caregivers whose stress was chronic and prolonged – such as in providing Alzheimer’s care independently – while those who engaged in just two days per week of respite care achieved a rise in the hormone as well as a brighter outlook and elevated mood.
  • Mom would never want someone else taking care of her. Many of us would balk if we were told that someone was coming over to give us a bath. But having someone come and assist with housework and meals is a good approach to introduce a new caregiver, working your way up to additional necessary services once the caregiver is known and accepted. The phrasing you utilize tends to make a significant difference as well. Having a “salon day” sounds far more inviting, for instance.
  • No one else could take care of Mom like I will. While you are certainly not replaceable, the purpose of enlisting help is certainly not replacement, but respite. A senior with Alzheimer’s can benefit through the socialization provided by someone other than yourself, while you gain the benefit of a much-needed break – ultimately allowing you to provide better care to the older adult when you return.
  • It’s too time consuming to try and find a caregiver I will be able to trust. At Responsive Home Care, we background check and professionally train each one of our caregivers, confirming key character traits such as reliability, kindness, flexibility, and so much more. Responsive Home Care is insured and bonded, for your additional peace of mind. We also carefully match each older adult with the ideal caregiver who will be most compatible. Lastly, if an older adult’s primary caregiver is sick or on vacation, we will provide an equally qualified replacement caregiver.

If you’d like to explore in-home respite care for a senior you love with Alzheimer’s, connect with Responsive Home Care for caregiver services in Fort Lauderdale, FL or the surrounding area. Our professionally trained, experienced, creative, and compassionate caregivers are available to help you reduce stress, improve life for the senior you love, and provide you with the opportunity for self-care. Contact us at (954) 486-6440 to set up a free in-home assessment!

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.

Are You Experiencing a Lack of Caregiver Appreciation?

caregiver appreciation

Lack of caregiver appreciation can lead to burnout or depression.

As soon as you woke up this morning up until the end of an exhausting day, you have given your all to your older family member. You provided assistance with showering and dressing, prepared nutritious meals, cleaned the house, all while making certain a senior loved one was happily involved in enjoyable activities, made it to their 2:00 hair appointment, and picked up groceries and prescriptions afterwards. And while you are not doing any of these things for a pat on the back, a simple “thank you” would be nice – but is almost never offered as a sign of caregiver appreciation.

If you are feeling a lack of caregiver appreciation or completely unappreciated altogether, you’re not alone. This is a frequent occurrence in caregiving for a number of reasons, and if not addressed, can cause caregiver burnout or depression. These strategies can help.

  1. Learn the skill of self-appreciation. The work you are doing is extremely important, and you deserve to be rewarded for it. Choose something each week that you’re going to do for yourself for a job well done. It could be as simple as one hour spent reading on the porch swing or a dessert from your favorite bakery. You can also plan for larger rewards, such as a long weekend getaway, by engaging respite care services from a dependable care partner like Responsive Home Care.
  2. Try to understand their perspective. There are a number of reasons a senior may not be expressing gratitude for the work you are doing. Someone with dementia or another chronic condition could be fully focused on their own struggles or the day-to-day tasks close at hand which are typically now more challenging. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes can help you accept that a lack of verbal appreciation doesn’t automatically equate to true ungratefulness.
  3. Start modeling appreciative behavior. Let the senior see by example how good it feels to be appreciated by genuinely thanking them whenever the ability arises, no matter how small. If they fold and hang up the towel after their shower, clean off the table after lunch, or help with putting away groceries – be sure to thank them.

By providing home health care in Fort Lauderdale, FL and surrounding areas, we are always here to share in your caregiving duties, to alleviate stress and allow you plenty of time for self-care. Regularly scheduled time away is essential, and we’re here for as much or as little as you will need. While you’re taking care of yourself, we will help a senior you love with:

  • Companionship for conversations, games, puzzles, hobbies, exercise, etc.
  • Laundry and housekeeping
  • Meals
  • Medication reminders
  • Personal care (showers, baths, getting dressed, etc.)
  • Transportation to fun outings or appointments
  • And much more, according to each person’s unique needs

Reach out to Responsive Home Care for a complimentary in-home consultation and let us know exactly how we can help.

What Are the Symptoms of Chemo Brain, and How Can You Reduce Its Effects?

Could memory and focus problems be the result of chemo brain?

Confusion. Short-term memory problems. Inability to focus. Could it be Alzheimer’s?

Perhaps; however if you are a cancer survivor, there is another likely culprit that could be at play: chemotherapy. Known as chemotherapy induced cognitive impairment (CICI) or “chemo brain,” effects such as these can continue for months and on occasion even years post-treatment. 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