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Assessing the Mental Health of Seniors When You Live Far Away

Assessing the Mental Health of Seniors

Find helpful tips on assessing the mental health of seniors.

The fear and isolation as a result of have wreaked havoc on the wellbeing of older adults, with nearly one-half of seniors surveyed in a Kaiser Family Foundation stating that their level of stress and worry was negatively affecting their health. Even though it still may be risky to visit in person with senior loved ones, it is important to stay in regular and frequent contact and also to watch out for any changes or signs which might signify a mental health concern, such as depression. Assessing the mental health of seniors is possible, even from a distance.

As stated by psychiatrist Judith Feld, MD, MPH, “If a senior usually really enjoys a call with a grandchild, for example, but that seems to have changed, maybe you need to ask more questions, such as, ‘How can we be of help?’”

Other warning signs of depression to watch for include sleeping problems, reduced appetite, listlessness, and complaints about pain, which interestingly, is often one of the main symptoms of depression in older adults. Take note of anything that may seem abnormal for a senior’s personality and character.

It’s important to understand that depression is not simply an unavoidable aspect of growing older, and that it is a serious –  but treatable – condition.

Here are a few additional ideas to help you with assessing the mental health of seniors:

  • Keep the conversations organic and natural, without coming across as interrogating. Statements such as, “Tell me what’s been happening in your life this week,” will motivate a senior to open up significantly more than, “Tell me what the doctor said at your last scheduled appointment.” The goal is to be caring yet not condescending, being mindful never to attempt to parent your parents.
  • While seeing and talking with the grandkids on Zoom is a good way to boost an older adult’s spirits, make sure to allow for some one-on-one time for you to talk without children present.
  • Take notice of what’s going on in the background of your video chats for any additional clues, such as whether or not the home looks neat and well maintained, in addition to personal hygiene – unkempt, disheveled hair, as an example.
  • Take into consideration whether substance abuse could be a factor. A rise in alcohol consumption during the pandemic is happening in people of all ages, and may be very harmful if there are potential interactions with medications the senior is taking.

If you suspect depression or any other mental health issues in an elderly parent, make sure to connect with the physician immediately. Since you are most familiar with the senior, you may well be able to pick up on signs that the medical team misses during routine appointments, and it’s imperative to make your concerns known.

If you have any concerns, contact Responsive Home Care for additional assistance. We can act as your eyes and ears when you’re unable to be there in person, and provide a wide selection of customized services to enhance socialization and quality of life at home. Contact us at (954) 486-6440 for more information and to learn more about home care in Weston and surrounding areas.

How Do You Keep Senior Loved Ones Safe During the Pandemic and Still Get Out?

senior woman outside with male caregiverAfter months of isolating from family and friends, many people are now getting out and about instead of staying at home. Nevertheless, for seniors in particular, is it safe to think about going out at this time?

Unfortunately, there’s no cut-and-dry answer to keep senior loved ones safe, and a range of criteria need to be taken into consideration to arrive at the best possible decision for every single person. For instance:

  • What health problems is the senior encountering?
  • How challenging has it been for him or her to be separated from family and friends?
  • Is the incidence rate of the virus subsiding or spiking within your town?

As a family caregiver, the best place to get started is sitting down and having a one-on-one discussion with the older adult. If for example, your senior loved one is adamantly and fervently set on a certain activity, such as seeing the grandchildren or going on a walk at the community park, be sure he or she thoroughly understands the potential risks involved.

Make sure you are up to date as well on the most current news from trusted sources on any new recommendations and/or precautions. Consider this information as only one component of your decision-making process, however, as opposed to an end-all perspective.

Then, broach the subject with the older adult’s medical practitioner for an expert opinion as well as for assistance with weighing potential risk factors against the benefits of increased socialization and engagement in the community. You might also wish to talk to other family members and carefully consider their input as well before making the final choice on how best to proceed.

Most of all, take plenty of time to ensure you are doing what’s most suitable for your loved one’s overall health and wellbeing, rather than making a snap decision that you might later regret. If you’re still uncertain about what to do, it could be wise to try to avoid venturing out with the senior for the present time and revisit the matter at a later date. And remember that you always have the option to change your thinking if for any reason you are uncomfortable with the first decision.

Whether you and your loved one are comfortable with the choice to go out and about, or decide to continue staying at home, you can rely on Responsive Home Care to help out with companionship, grocery shopping, meal preparation and a variety of other types of assistance, always in compliance with recommended safety protocols. Give us a call at 954-486-6440 any time to talk to one of our live in caregivers in Hollywood, FL or the surrounding areas, or to schedule a no cost in-home consultation.

Tips to Manage Family Caregiver Stress

man relaxing listing to headphones

It can be stressful to serve as a family caregiver, so learning how to manage emotions is important.

Stress is bound to happen, and actually, not always a bad thing. After all, as the saying goes, “A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.” However, especially for family caregivers, the level of stress can rapidly intensify and be frustrating, and when not managed effectively, lead to big health concerns.

Try these suggestions to lower family caregiver stress and obtain a healthier and more relaxed lifestyle – both for yourself and those you love:

  • Alter your self-talk. Through the course of your day, you will probably find yourself entertaining thoughts such as, “I cannot accomplish this!” or “Everything is going wrong!” Stop when negative thinking starts to intrude, and say to yourself instead, “I’m able to take care of this, one step at a time,” or “Help is available whenever I require it.”
  • Take a break. Deescalate stress through any or all of the following strategies:
    • Breathe deeply (breathe in to a count of 4; hold for a count of 4; exhale to a count of 4; hold for a count of 4; repeat as needed)
    • Take a walk or take part in some other regular exercise
    • Pray or meditate
    • Play favorite music
    • Write in a journal
    • Contact a good friend
  • Try a stress-busting activity. There are a variety of pleasing activities that will divert your focus away from what was leading to stress and onto things more positive, such as creating art, reading, enjoying pets or children, doing work in the yard or on a DIY project – the possibilities are endless, and even as little as 10 or 15 minutes invested in the activity will help.

There are even apps especially developed with family caregivers in mind to help minimize stress and restore calm. Find five which can be particularly effective here from DailyCaring.

Caregiver stress is very common for individuals who feel as though they have no support system, and have to handle everything independently. Fortunately, we have an answer! Call Responsive Home Care for an in-home consultation to learn more about how we can share in your caregiving duties, enabling you to gain important time away to destress, with our services that include:

  • Planning and cooking wholesome meals
  • Assistance with personal care and hygiene
  • Taking care of housekeeping chores and laundry
  • Accompaniment to medical appointments and interesting outings
  • Companionship to brighten each day with conversations, games, puzzles, hobbies, etc.
  • Medication reminders
  • And so much more

Call us at 954-486-6440 for home care assistance in Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding areas. Learn how a partner in care can make a world of difference in eliminating stress and restoring a healthy life balance for family care providers.