Caregiverlist on Crain's Chicago Business: Women in Technology

Crain's Chicago Business reached out to find technology companies lead by women and invited Caregiverlist to weigh in on where the women in technology are and what opportunities are available.

ReadCaregiverlist's opinion, as a leader in developing technology solutions for senior care.

Caregiverlist provides the 'by-state' senior care optioins, the costs of care nationwide, including the daily costs of nursing homes nationwide, and the quality standards for senior home care.  In addition, a professional Caregiver Career Center, providing Certified Nursing Aide schools nationwide, 10-hour online caregiver training certification program, background check laws by state, job descriptions and a job application reaching hiring senior care companies.

 

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Find the Best Nursing Home: Costs and Ratings

Nursing homes are never the first choice for anyone.  However, they are often an extension of a hospital stay, as Medicare will pay for up to 100 days in a nursing home.  And when they are the next step after being admitted to a hospital, usually the decision for which nursing home to go to has to be made as fast as in one day.

Lookup the nursing homes in your area to understand their ratings, services and the daily costs.  While Medicare will sometimes pay for as much as 100 days of nursing home care after a hospital stay, the amount of the daily benefit can vary.  Sometimes a few more days are needed, especially if the senior is participating in rehab after a stroke or hip replacement.

Senior home care can also be an option with both hourly and 24-hour live-in services available.  Medicare also will pay for someone to come to the home for rehab, while a senior is showing signs of improvement - Medicare does not pay for long-term rehab in the home.

Learn about what Medicare does and doesn't cover and the Medicaid qualifications in each state too, as you plan ahead for your senior care.

Understanding nursing home ratings requires understanding what can and cannot be measured and rated appropriately.  The starting point is to know that health inspections are only made annually, at best.  The inspectors change, and this is also when the nursing home's staff is on their best behavior.

But some of the criteria in the inspection can be subjective.  For instance, one nursing home administrator in Minnesota told us they have had the same table in their laundry room for 20 years.  They fold and organize laundry on it.  Suddenly this year they were told it was in violation becaue where it was placed could cause someone to bump into it or fall. 

What can be measured, and what matters more, are things like the Certified Nursing Aide to resident ratio.  Registered Nurse to resident is nice to know but not as much of a factor because all nursing homes have a R.N. on staff.  It is the C.N.A. who provides the hands-on care and if they have more residents than they can easily get to each morning and evening, then care will suffer.

Learn about what criteria should be measured and considered in ratings and understand the costs of nursing home care before you need it.

 

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Caregivers: Share your Story and Win Prizes

Senior caregivers can share their caregiving stories and win prizes in honor of National Family Caregiver Month.  Anyone assisting a senior knows there are challenging days but also moments of kindness and wisdom which can really make you stop and think about your own life.

This senior housing website is offering both random prizes and an award for the stories which are voted the most popular.  It is estimated that as many as 30% of Americans are serving as a caregiver to a family member or friend.  This is more than 65 million people.  Emeritus Senior Living is a sponsor of the "share your story" program.

Caregivers can win a flip video camera or weekend getaway. Learn about the contest and submit your story.

You can also aply for a caregiving job on Caregiverlist, to work part-time or full-time and learn about caregiver training programs.

 

 

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Senior Care Sometimes Takes Lotsa Helping Hands

Caring for a senior family member in-home is a daunting task, and one that is rarely accomplished alone. But many family caregivers find it awkward or difficult to ask for help. And the last thing an overworked and overwhelmed family caregiver needs is to drum up assistance and coordinate support. If you are a family member or friend and someone you care about needs help juggling daily chores, there is something you can do for them.

To this end, I really appreciate what the folks at Lots Helping Hands have built.

Lotsa Helping Hands was created to provide a family’s ‘circle of community’—friends, family, collegues, the tools to help manage daily tasks. Co-Founder and CEO Hal Chapel saw a need to help alleviate caregiver exhaustion and conceived of a place where friends and family can come together and easily coordinate needed support—free of charge.

By utilizing an intuitive group calendar, a community member can schedule support by volunteering to provide a meal, furnish transportation, or offer a visit. The system automatically sends reminders to volunteers.

Begin by creating a community and posting activities for which help is needed on a calendar and invite members to join.

I’ve used this service recently and was pleased to realize that, while helping to lighten a caregiver’s burden by providing a few meals and trips to the doctor’s office, I was thrilled to be part of a collective—a caregiving “neighborhood”. And if that good feeling of helping is strong enough, maybe caregiving is a career path you should consider.

Cognitive Therapy for Seniors with Dementia

Memory loss, or dementia, can leave both the senior and family members suffering form loneliness, sadness and the challenges of daily living knowing forgetting will be part of each day.  New therapies are being researched, but integrating art as one therpy has proven to be positive.

Bob Tell, author of Dementia-Diary, A Caregiver's Journal, shares this guest blog post with us.

In March, 2010, I wrote a piece for my blog (http://caregiverchronicle.blogspot.com/) entitled "Can Painting Help Dementia Sufferers?" I was so impressed with this concept that I suggested to the person in charge of art for the library in Boynton Beach, Florida, that, considering the demographics in the area, she consider starting a program like this. Maybe it was budget considerations, but I never heard from her.

Now, along comes Cognitive Dynamics a website devoted to what they call "Bringing Art To Life." In my opinion, they are doing exciting work showing the potential of people with dementia to enjoy an enhanced quality of life and to find ways to express themselves that are not word-dependent.

See their video, "Bringing Art to Life in Beverly Hills" as well as their website and I bet you'll agree with me that they are onto something fabulous. And it's not just art therapy. Their program includes music, drama and poetry therapy as well as art. 

They describe their mission as:"To improve the quality of life of patients with cognitive disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease) and their caregivers through education, research, and support of innovative care models which promote human dignity, especially therapies employing the expressive arts."

So I suggest becoming familiar with the work of Daniel Potts, a Neurologist with a special interest in cognitive enhancement for dementia patients, and Ellen Woodward Potts, Co-author of A Pocket Guide for the Alzheimer's Caregiver, Managing Partner at Dementia Dynamics, LLC and instructor at the University of Alabama. These folks are shining a much needed light onto the darkness of our current knowledge of dementia.

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New Caregiving Game: Caregiver Village

Caregivers can now enjoy the benefits of online gaming.  By engaging in game playing, we are able to satisfy some of our daily human needs:  engagement, fulfillment and reward. 

The Caregiver Village delivers a community for caregivers to interact with others, journal about their experiences and play the caregiving game to solve a mystery, learn about challenges other caregivers are experiencing as you use your skills to help solve some of these problems.  And there is a little romance along the way as well, so you won't get bored!

Professional senior caregivers, or those thinking of becoming one, can also gain new caregiving skills in the village.  Learn all about why playing games can also be beneficial for your own health at the Caregiving Village.  If you would like to obtain more training as a caregiver, you'll also find tools for this.

CLASS Act: Long-term Care Insurance on Hold Now

Senior care can cost from $80 to $300 per day, when full service hands-on care is needed.  You can check out the daily costs of nursing homes nationwide and also learn about senior home care services in your area to understand the rates and services offered.

In an effort to help pay for senior caregiving services, former Senator Ted Kennedy championed the CLASS Act, a program which would allow working Americans to deduct money from their paycheck to go towards this benefit.  After working for a minimum of 5 years, anyone who qualified for needing care services would receive a benefit from $50 to $75 a day.

The CLASS Act was passed as part of the new healthcare law, with the Secretary of Health and Human Services given the job of outlining the specifics of the program, with a deadline of October, 2012.

Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, told Contgress last week that she does not see a way to make this new long-term care insurance benefit viable for everyone.  Medicare's cheive actuary, Richard Foster, wrote a memo to Congress in April of this  year, saying he feared a significant risk of failure as sicker people would tend to sign-up for the program, which would have voluntary participation.

Right now, if a senior does not own more than $2,000 in assets and has a very low monthly income, they will qualify for Medicaid care which will pay for nursing home care ongoing.  Otherwise, the senior is on their own to pay for senior care services.  It is possible for senior's with significant assets to "spend down" their assets paying for senior care services and then qualify for Medicaid.  However, this will become a financial challenge for the American government when more and more seniors, with the baby boomers aging, are expecting the government to pay for Medicaid nursing homes.

The CLASS Act was looked upon as one part of the solution to help pay for senior care needs.  Because tax payers are already on the hook for paying for Medicaid services, perhaps some of our financial wizards can come up with a long-term care program that would work for everyone. 

 

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Long-term Care Insurance for All: Included in Healthcare Law CLASS Act pays for senior and disability care

The CLASS Act (CLASS = Community Living Assistance Services), was established as a part of the new healthcare law.  As senior caregiving services are currently not paid for by Medicare, the health insurance program for all U.S. seniors beginning at age 65, the CLASS Act would be a way to pay for senior caregiving services.
The CLASS Act specifics have a deadline of October, 2012, with the Health and Human Services department outlining specifics.  We share the basic guidelines which have been established in this news story on Caregiverlist.  The daily benefit is expected to be from $50 to $75 and to qualify you must pay in to the long-term care insurance plan for a minimum of 5 years.
The National Alliance for Caregiving has reached out to Caregiverlist to ask us to share their advocacy efforts for the CLASS ACT.
From the National Alliance for Caregiving:
As family caregivers know all too well, paying for long-term care services and support can be prohibitively expensive and many of us are unprepared.  As a result, many caregivers spend thousands of their own dollars and countless hours helping ensure that their loved ones have the care they need.  The CLASS Act, which would establish a voluntary long-term care insurance program, would go a long way in helping families prepare for their needs and, ultimately, help to relieve many of the demands on family caregivers.  Please call today in to show your support today!
A CLASS Act Call-In
We are asking organizations across the country to call 855-218-2109 and tell the White House and the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act must be implemented.
To fix our current healthcare system, we must address how to pay for long-term services and supports. The CLASS Act is an important step because it:
  • Promotes personal responsibility.
  • Puts choice in the hands of consumers.
  • Provides supports for family caregivers.
  • Saves Medicaid money.
  • Does NOT rely on taxpayer funds.
To help our states, our families and people with disabilities, we must implement the CLASS Act.
Please call 855-218-2109 and follow the prompts. The message is simple: Implement the CLASS Act.
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Technology and Senior Caregiving

Not surprisingly, tech-savvy web users are increasingly turning to the Internet for information and tools to help facilitate their family caregiving needs.

e-Connected Family Caregiver: Bringing Caregiving into the 21st Century, released in January 2011 by the National Alliance for Caregiving and UnitedHealthcare, found more than two-thirds of family caregivers who already use some form of technology would find web-based senior care tools to be of great benefit.

The study revealed the applications with the greatest perceived potential and helpfulness included web-based systems for caregiver coordination, caregiving decision support and caregiver training simualtion.

According to UnitedHealthcare, “Caregivers were most receptive to technologies that help them deliver, monitor, track or coordinate their loved one‟s health care.” Most would welcome technology that would better allow them to care for their seniors at home.

The most requested services with the lowest perceived barriers include:

  • Personal Health Record Tracking: Caregivers reported that a website or computer software that could help them keep track of their care recipient‟s personal health records, including his or her history, symptoms, medications and test results, would be helpful to them.
  • Caregiving Coordination System: Caregivers indicated that a shared electronic log for their loved one’s doctor appointments and other caregiving needs would be helpful. With this tool, caregivers could request support in their duties, and friends and family members could sign up to help on certain dates and times.
  • Medication Support System: A device that reminds the patient about his or her prescription medications and dispenses pills when they should be taken. This device would also provide directions on how to take each pill and alert the caregiver when the dosages were not removed from the device within a certain time period.

“Caregivers know that technology can be used to help them understand their loved one‟s conditions and find resources and even support,” said Gail Hunt, CEO and president of the National Alliance for Caregiving.

And although more than three quarters of those surveyed said that they are most likely to trust a medical website, like WebMD or MayoClinic.com, for recommendations on caregiving technology, caregiving websites and caregiver forums on the Internet were also listed as credible information sources. You can read more about Caregiverlist’s mission to provide trusted caregiver support here.

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Elderly Driving Tests: AARP Defensive Driving Safety Courses for Seniors

Senior driving always comes under the spotlight after a major accident happens involving a senior.  However, just as some younger drivers are better than others, many older drivers are also perfectly capable of driving safely.

Aging does present some challenges, as eyesight may diminish if Macular Degeneration has developed or there is hearing loss or slower responses due to difficulty with movement caused by a stroke or arthritis.  As some of the age-related diseases, including memory loss, develop slowly and progress at different rates, it does make sense to check driving skills at least annually, once we are of an age considered "senior".  In the U.S.A., people qualify for Social Secuirty retirement payments at age 62 so that seems like a reasonable age to also start checking driving skills every year.

AARP (American Association of Retired People), now makes it a little easier to test driving skills, by offering a positive approach to this through a course called "Driver Safety Course".  And seniors who are veterans may take this course for free, as AARP's tribute to military personnel.

You may review the senior driving laws in each state - some state's do require in-person tests at a certain age.  Other states, such as California, were unable to pass such laws as some people considered this age-discrimination.  Instead, in California you can report anyone, at any age, as a dangerous driver and request a local law authority to contact them for an in-person driving review.  This law was passed after the elderly man accidentally stepped on the gas pedal, instead of the brakes, and plowed down several people walking through the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. Some people were killed and others were seriously injured.  The saddes part is the elderly man really did not mean to cause the accident and had to live with what happened.

Even though it can be difficult to confront a senior who may have issues with driving, by bringing up the concern for safety, you can begin the conversation.  Then rely on the laws in your area to take action if the senior no longer can safely drive.

You may locate an AARP Driver Safety Course in your area and mention "November's special Veteran's Promotion" to receive the course for free if you are a veteran.

You may also find some humor in all of this by viewing the television show South Park's episode called "Grey Dawn" when the senior citizens got behind the wheel and took over the town.

 

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