Learn How to Feel 20 Years Younger: for Caregivers & Seniors

Senior caregivers may be in the right job for healthy aging, it turns out.  Recent research shows that just by sitting at a desk all day long, you increase your odds for heart attacks and other health risks.  Caregivers certainly don't sit all day long so that risk is not a problem.

Aging is a natural process that everyone experiences along with the gift of more birthdays to celebrate.  Healthy aging is the name of the game and senior caregivers who view all the ways aging can be unpleasant, especially for individuals who have smoked, eaten the wrong foods and stopped exercising, there is more of an incentive to take care of yourself.  Who cares how long you live if you aren't going to feel good, right?

Bob Greene, Oprah's personal trainer who has developed training programs and diets, now joins the conversation on healthy aging.  His findings aren't different from the Blue Zones or information from Dr. Andrew Weil, which is comforting.  It is a blend of common sense with mastering knowledge of healthy foods and exercises along with socialization.

What are the secrets for health aging?

  • Keep moving: exercise 30 minutes a day
  • Eat superfoods for good nutrition
  • Take vitamins
  • Skincare - use the right lotions for your skin type
  • Sleep well  - if this means buying a new mattress, do so
  • Socialize
  • Relax - and it is okay if that includes a glass of wine at the end of the day but do not over-indulge in alcohol

Bob Greene now packages his tips in a new book promoting that living by his rules will make you look and feel 20 years younger.  This is terrific marketing.  His biggest emphasis is on exercise - make it an appointment you can't cancel, he says.  Another way to persuade yourself to get moving is to learn about the costs of senior care, should you need extra help when you are older.  Find out about nursing homes and senior home care agencies in your area.  We hope you won't need them but insurance actuaries calculate most Americans will need caregiving services for at least 2 years of their senior lives.





Caregiver Jobs

Senior caregiver positions offer a diversity of opportunities for both caring individuals with no experience and those with professional training as senior caregivers.

Senior care companies hire caregivers with a wide range of skills and availability to work different schedules as sometimes care services must be provided around-the-clock for seniors on hospice services or with memory loss. Senior care companies hiring Certified Nursing Aides and Companion Caregivers include:

  • Hospitals
  • Assisted Living Communities
  • Nursing Homes
  • Senior Home Care Agencies
  • Hospices
  • Adult Day Care Centers

As the U.S. population continues to age, ongoing career opportunities for senior caregivers will continue.  In addition, the number of women over the age of 60 will dramatically increase and as women are the primary caregivers, this will impact how care will be delivered.

Volunteers of America will discuss women and aging on May 10, 2011, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  The discussion will focus on public policy to address the needs of America's women as they age and the resources that will be needed.

  • Women can expect to spend 18 years caring for a parent.
  • Women have a longer life expectancy than men on average.
  • 66% of baby boomers feel they have not adequately prepared financially for the future.
  • Nearly half of women caregivers (48 %) say the economic situation has made providing care more difficult.
  • 39% of current non-caregivers are not confident about their ability to cover the costs of their possible future care responsibilities.

The first step in understanding how to plan for senior care is to understand the senior care options and costs.  Medicare does not pay for long-term care in a nursing home nor in the home.  Nursing home costs can range from $125 to $700 per day, depending on the care services and the location of the nursing home.  Research senior care options, find the costs of care and begin your senior care plan.  Those interested in beginning a career in senior care can read the job description and apply for a senior care job near them.


Senior caregivers know that delivering quality care requires many skills.  Caring for seniors is not at all the same as babysitting.   First, seniors do not necessarily feel they must follow the guidelines given by a caregiver.  Second, seniors may be dealing with a variety of age-related diseases and it is important for the caregiver to understand the condition and symptoms and how to manage.  Third, the emotional care needs change as a senior deals with the aging process.

Training for senior care is ongoing, as there are so many different illnesses to keep up with along with new care techniques.  Certified Nursing Aides receive training through a school program which must be approved by each state's department of health.  Then the aides must pass the state nursing aide exam to receive their certification.

Caregiverlist, developed by senior care industry professionals, provides a 10-hour online training program for senior caregivers.  You may review the test modules and take the test at your own pace to learn the basic skills needed to provide quality senior care.  You may also find Certified Nursing Aide and Certified Home Health Aide training schools in your area in Caregiverlist's C.N.A. School Directory.

Undercover Boss Spotlights Senior Home Care

Undercover Boss, the television show on CBS Sunday nights, spotlighted a senior home care agency franchise company boss, Shelly Sun, CEO of Brightstar Care.  The show had Shelly work as an employee - a caregiver-in-training, for a few different clients.

She worked in a nursing home with a nursing aide and made calls to the home with a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).  Her husband, J.D. Sun, the co-founder of the company, also performed companion care for an elderly man in an Assisted Living community.

The caregivers they worked with were exceptional.  This really highlights how senior caregiving is only as good as the caregiver and senior care companies must hire quality caregivers in order to deliver quality care.

You may watch the video of the show - some of the funny moments were when Shelly had to change a diaper - apparently her husband is the primary caregiver for her twin sons and she was not thrilled to have to do this chore.  She also wasn't aware long, painted fingernails were not appropriate for assisting a LPN.  However, at the end of the show, the caregivers who were training Shelly were well rewarded for their dedication to their caregiving careers with free vacations and tuition for nursing school.

Caregivers can learn more about caregiver training and apply for a senior care job in their area if interested in working as a professional senior caregiver.

Equal Pay Day, Including Caregivers

Caregiverlist advocates for senior caregivers to receive the benefits of payroll taxes, training and ongoing management for support of the caregiving services.  By following employment law, caregivers and seniors are protected.  If there is an accident, worker's compensation insurance will pay and when it is time for the caregiver to retire, they will receive social security benefits as they have contributed through their paycheck.

This week, Equal Pay Day was celebrated on April 12th.  This day is chosen as it represents the number of days women must work in order to earn what a man did the year before.  The wage gap is even greater for women of color and women with disabilities, with women earning 77 cents for every dollar that men earn.

The majority of senior caregivers are women. 

What may start off as a relatively minor pay gap for women just entering the work force can grow over the course of a woman’s work history, especially when it is accompanied by other forms of compensation discrimination, such as in payment of bonuses or contributions to retirement accounts.  By the time of retirement, the real costs of the wage gap to a woman and her family is not just lost wages, but also lowered pensions and Social Security benefits.  This negative impact is even greater for single mothers, and households where a woman is the primary wage-earner.

In 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which overturned the Supreme Court’s interpretation of when a person must file a charge of wage discrimination. The Ledbetter Act restored the position the EEOC had championed for decades:  that the receipt of each paycheck representing a discriminatory wage constitutes a separate violation of the law, and that a charge of discrimination is timely if filed within 180 (or 300) days of receiving unequal compensation.

In signing the bill, the President said, “I intend to send a clear message:  That making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone.  That there are no second class citizens in our workplaces.”  As Lilly Ledbetter herself noted in an address to EEOC employees, when she began her quest for parity with her male colleagues, she did not want special treatment; she wanted only to be paid the same wages her male colleagues earned for performing the same work that she successfully performed for many years.  She simply insisted that she should be treated fairly.

Caregivers also should be treated fairly and well paid with full benefits.  Senior home care agencies provide active care management and payroll taxes for caregivers.  As the senior population continues to grow, jobs are available for caring individuals and you may apply for a job near you.


Medicaid Redesign in New York

Guest Blog Post By David A. Cutner, Esq.

Last January, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed a Medicaid Redesign Team and tasked it with reversing a decades-long crisis of overspending and waste in our Medicaid system. The Redesign Team made a variety of proposals, a couple of which would have been devastating to the elderly and their spouses, and to disabled children and their parents.

Fortunately, two of the most problematical proposals were not included in the State budget that was approved on March 30th, but there are some changes in the law that are significant for Medicaid planning.

Probably the most controversial proposal from the Redesign Team was to use the 5-year penalty period in connection with applications for community-based benefits, including Medicaid home care. Since February 2006, as required by Federal law, New York has applied the 5-year look back to Medicaid nursing home applications, and has penalized uncompensated transfers.

The purpose of the 5-year look back is to determine whether the Medicaid applicant has transferred assets that could have been used to pay for care. The penalty calculation involves dividing the amount or value of the transferred assets by the monthly regional rate of nursing home care, yielding a period of time in months during which the applicant is ineligible to receive benefits. For example, a $100,000 transfer divided by the current New York City regional rate of $10,579 yields a 9.5 month Medicaid penalty.

While superficially it might seem logical to apply the look back and penalty to community-based Medicaid, any attempt to do so would be extremely difficult to implement, and very detrimental to patient care in many cases. This is because home care patients have widely-varying needs, and Medicaid does not cover any living expenses. Happily, the Redesign Team's proposal was omitted from the budget.

Many people are unaware that, in New York, there is no look back or penalty for transferring assets when applying for Medicaid home care. This remains the law.

The other highly controversial proposal from the Redesign Team was the elimination of spousal refusal and parental refusal. By eliminating spousal refusal, many applicants would have been ineligible for Medicaid benefits until the couple had spent down virtually all of their savings (including the individual assets of the well spouse) and had contributed a substantial share of both spouses income. Similarly, parents would have been required to spend down all of their savings before their disabled child became eligible for benefits.

Fortunately, this proposal was not accepted either. Spouses and parents need not be forced into poverty in order to secure care for their loved ones. (However, they remain subject to claims by Medicaid for contribution if their resources or income exceed certain limits).

One of the Redesign Team's proposals that was enacted is a revised and expanded definition of an individual's estate for Medicaid purposes. The expanded definition is obviously aimed at giving Medicaid the ability to recover greater amounts from the estates of Medicaid recipients. The expanded definition includes interests that have traditionally never been a part of the probate estate of a deceased person. These include retained life estates, jointly held property, and interests in trusts.

The expanded definition is problematical in certain respects, and at odds with legal precedent. For example, a life estate is extinguished upon death, and the holder of the remainder interest automatically becomes the 100% owner. Similarly, if property is jointly owned with right of survivorship, the survivor automatically becomes the 100% owner. It will be interesting to see how the courts decide Medicaid's estate recovery claims when they collide with these long-established rules.

Until the courts provide clarity regarding the application of Medicaid's expanded definition of estate, Elder Law practitioners will want to carefully consider their use and choice of trusts in Medicaid planning. While grantor, income only, trusts have been extensively used in the past, it may be prudent to consider substituting a family trust where the grantor retains no rights in the trust whatsoever.

Budgetary constraints at the Federal and State levels are going to put continuing pressures on Medicaid benefits, making it increasingly important for seniors and their families to seek advice from an Elder Law attorney and plan ahead.  Understand the costs for senior care and plan for your care before you need it.

Contributed by New York Elder Law Attorney, David A. Cutner. www.lamson-cutner.com

Remember, Medicaid rules and benefits change by state. Learn about your particular state services.

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Correlation Between Social Connection And Health Recovery

Information is helpful when facing a health challenge, however, according to research and medical authorities, the most significant impact comes from personally connecting with others.

In a recent survey of more than 4,000 users, patients perceived health benefits and better care when using CaringBridge, which provides free websites that connect people experiencing a significant health challenge to family and friends. Ninety-one percent of CaringBridge users who faced or are facing a health challenge said staying connected helped make their health journey easier.

CaringBridge recently published a white paper titled “Making a Real Impact: The CaringBridge Phenomenon” describing the results of this research and the impact of staying connected during a health crisis. To download or read the white paper, click here.

Caregiver Interview Questions

Senior caregivers interviewing for jobs with senior home care agencies, hospitals, assisted living communities and nursing homes must remember to ask the interviewer questions.  This is because as an interview candidate, you are also determining if the company and job will be a good fit for you.

Asking questions will also impress your interviewer that you are both a professional and seeking a permanent position where you can grow your career.  Because you are caring enough to find out more information, you demonstrate you have an understanding of your skills and strengths and weaknesses in order to know what caregiving job position will be best for you.  This is when you can also learn about training opportunities to improve in areas where you do not have as much work experience.

Questions to Ask Caregiver Job Interviewers:

  • What are the qualities you are looking for in an ideal candidate for your caregiving position?
  • Do you have an example of a typical day on the job?
  • What do you like best about working for this company?
  • How would you describe your management role and style?
  • Why is this job position available?
  • What traning do you offer new hires?
  • What opportunities do you have for career growth?
  • What are the qualities successful caregivers at your company possess?
  • Do you have any concerns about my potential as an employee for your company?
  • What are the next steps for me to take after the interview in order to be hired?

Remember, too, that many interviewers like to kick off the interview by asking you to "tell me about your self" or asking "what experiences lead you to be a professional caregiver".

Think about your answers to these questions ahead of time .  Remember, they are trying to get to know you and your personality.  Be willing to open up and share a true story which will also convey your true colors and why you will bring compassion to your job as a caregiver.

You may learn about caregiver job descriptions and apply for a senior care jobs in your area, as senior care companies are constantly hiring to keep up with demand as seniors are discharged from hospitals and nursing homes, often on short-notice.










Stroke Therapy Tips for Senior Caregivers

Seniors recovering from strokes often will decide to receive physical therapy at home with a one-on-one caregiver assisting them while they are building back their movement capabilities.

A recent study, called the Locomotor Experience Applied Post-Stroke (LEAPS) study compared rehab methods to improve walking ability for stroke survivors and found that in-home physical therapy and exercise produced results comparable to a more sophisticated and costly treadmill program in a professional facility.

Nearly 800,000 Americans each year suffer a stroke, up to two-thirds develop difficulty walking, which translages to 4 million individuals who currently face a stroke-related walking deficit, says Pamela Woods Duncan, P.T., PhD., of Duke University.  She was the principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health-funded LEAPS study.

The difficulty in walking can then cause more difficulties for storke survivors, such as falls resulting in broken bones and a general decline in strength and health.

The trial specifically compared locomotor training that involved a body-weight supported treadmill, which suspends a patient over a treadmill in a harness and requires the assistance of several physical therapists plus gradual ground training, with a home-based program of strength and balance exercises with a single physical therapist.  A third group was wait-listed for therapy.

The study showed that home based therapy can be just as effective or more effective as therapy in an institutional setting.

Tips for Caregivers:

  • Ongoing movement exercises are vital during first 6 months of stroke recovery
  • Mobility therapy must account for fall prevention and support
  • Cognitive impairment may cause stroke survivors to misjudge distances when walking
  • Continued strength and movement therapy even after 6-months will result in improvements

Many seniors will move from a hospital to a nursing home after a stroke and then to a home care environment.




Senior Care Job Positions

Senior caregiving offers a wide variety of job positions for individuals who have caring personalities and for those with specific training as Certified Nursing Aides and Certified Home Health Aides.

Job opportunities for senior caregivers are:

  • Senior Home Care Agency Companion Caregiver
  • Senior Home Care Agency Certified Nursing Aide Caregiver
  • Senior Home Care Agency Certified Home Health Aide
  • Assisted Living Aide
  • Nursing Home Certified Nursing Aide
  • Hospital Certified Nursing Aide

Some states, such as New Jersey, have the designation for "Certified Home Health Aide", which just means caregivers who are working in the home with seniors must have a special training program to become certified.  Many senior home care agencies provide their own training school for this certification.

Caregivers can learn about training programs in their area and find out admission requirements.  Some employers will pay for certification and caregiver training.  Caring individuals may also apply for senior care jobs near them in order to gain experience and on-the-job training.

As employment opportunities will continue in senior care, as the large Baby Boomer generation ages, entering this field of work will guarantee secure caregiver employment opportunities.


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