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 to Dramatically Improve Your Healthcare Experience in South Florida

healthcareIn an ideal world, medical care would revolve around you and your own preferences, adhering to your particular needs and wishes – fitting into your schedule and routine, unhindered by problems such as an unwavering medical professional who views healthcare choices in black and white. Reality is far from perfect though, and the majority of us tend to submit to doctors’ orders without any concept that there might be a better-suited choice.

With some knowledge, however, patients can, in fact, take a more proactive stance regarding their healthcare. Recognized as “person-centered care,” it involves medical professionals working in collaboration with patients and any other family or care providers they define, taking into consideration the patient’s preferences, values and goals, and making use of that information as a guide throughout all areas of care.

There are a few helpful steps we could all take to achieve a more individualized degree of care:

  • Think about your healthcare objectives, and write this information down to share with your medical practitioners. And, ask that medical personnel include these goals in your health records.
  • Become well-educated in your own health conditions and needs, and just how they’re impacting your everyday life. As an example, are you having to deal with challenges with any sort of routine activities of everyday living, such as taking a bath or getting dressed? Are you struggling with particular types of movements, such as lifting or bending? An excellent assessment tool is available here.
  • Be sure that discussions with medical professionals are two-sided. Fully engage in a conversation to ensure your concerns are addressed and that you understand any potential side effects or other risks of treatment recommendations.
  • Should you have a number of medical doctors (for example, a primary care doctor and one or more specialists in a variety of practices), confirm that communication is taking place among all. This could necessitate requesting that documentation be shared between providers, and then following up to ensure that’s been accomplished.
  • Include a trusted family member, friend, or professional in-home caregiver, such as Responsive Home Care provides, in all healthcare appointments. Having another individual around to jot down notes, answers to questions, and any other pertinent information helps make sure that no balls are dropped.

For additional advice, and for a partner in care to help make certain the elderly and their loved ones have a voice in their care needs, contact Responsive Home Care’s South Florida home care experts. We’ll provide accompanied transportation to treatments and appointments, pick up prescription medications and run other errands, cook healthy and balanced meals, and so much more. Call us at 954-486-6440 for help and support.

How Can You Protect Your Senior from Hospital Delirium?

Home Care Sunrise FL

Home Care Sunrise FL

Hospital delirium, also sometimes referred to as hospital-induced delirium, impacts approximately 7 million people throughout the United States each year. Among those people who enter the intensive care unit, regardless of the reason, 30 percent will develop this condition. For those who do, there is a 30 percent greater chance that they will experience long-term and even permanent decline in cognitive functioning and double the risk of mortality. Though this condition can and does occur in people of all ages, older adults are at the highest risk.

This condition is a sudden and very noticeable change in cognitive functioning or mental status for a person who is in the hospital. Though there is the perception that only very old or already impaired people are the only ones who become delirious in the hospital, this is not the case. In fact, seniors who are in relatively good health and have not developed cognitive difficulties outside of the hospital can still develop delirium when undergoing treatment. This makes it absolutely essential that you pay close attention to your parent’s health, wellbeing, and condition while in the hospital so that you can detect if they are starting to develop delirium and get them the proper treatment and home care services quickly as possible.

The fortunate news is that approximately 40 percent of cases of delirium are completely preventable and others can be made far less impactful. Some ways that you can help protect your parent from hospital delirium include:

  • Stay with them. Be with your parent as much as possible while they are in the hospital. This will help keep their minds stimulated and reduce anxiety, depression, and isolation that increase the chances of this condition developing. Create a care network of friends and family who can spend time in the hospital so that your parent is alone as little as possible
  • Monitor their basic needs. Some of the greatest risk factors for developing hospital delirium are actually some of the most basic of needs. Lack of sleep, dehydration, and malnutrition can make your parent far more vulnerable to this condition. Unfortunately these can be overlooked by medical staff who often rely on a patient asking for things rather than offering them. Monitor your parent and make sure that they drink enough, eat enough, and get enough sleep. Ask that the medical staff not enter their room at night if at all possible, and make sure that there is as little light in the room at night as you can to help them get enough sleep
  • Keep them active. Your parent may not be able to get up and walk around during their time in the hospital, but there are other ways that you can get them active. Encourage them to sit up in bed rather than lying flat all the time. Play games with them that stimulate their mind and encourage cognitive processing and memory skills. Encourage them to move in ways that they can, such as tossing a ball back and forth with you or even waving their arms and dancing to music that you play quietly on your phone or other device.

A home care provider can be a valuable asset if your parent has recently spent time in the hospital. Having this type of home care provider available when your parent transitions into care back at home and throughout at least the first few weeks of being at home dramatically reduces the chances that your parent will be readmitted to the hospital. This gives them fewer opportunities to develop delirium, protecting them from the potentially catastrophic impact on this condition.

If you or an aging loved one are considering in-home Home Care Services in Sunrise FL to provide companionship, compassion and motivation, please contact the caring staff at Responsive Home Health. Call today 954-486-6440.