Prisoners Caregiving for Prisoners with Dementia

 Aging brings many challenges, as senior caregivers know.  For those who are behind bars serving time, many times for crimes committed years ago, developing dementia brings a new challenge to caregiving.

Costs of caregiving can escalate as care needs increase, with around-the-clock care costing as much as $80,000 or more per year for private professional caregiving services or a nursing home.

Prisoners are now becoming caregivers for other prisoners with dementia, the New York Time reports.  The same challenges exist, except when they are locked in their cell, they are alone.  The good news is there is no chance they will become confused and “wander” and forget their way home.  The bad news is there is not anyone available to enter their cell and calm them when they are confused about the time of day and where they are and who they are seeing in the mirror.

View the video to see how prisoners are coping as caregivers.

Academy Awards Oscar to Oldest Recipient

Christopher Plummer received his very first Oscar Sunday night and at 82 became the oldest actor ever to win. Stepping onstage to a standing ovation, Mr. Plummer, all old Hollywood class, was charming and funny as he held the award and asked “You're only two years older than me darling, where have you been all of my life?"

The 84th Academy Awards saw Plummer win the award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Hal in “Beginners”. In the movie, he plays father to Ewing McGregor, and comes out as openly gay in his 70s after his wife of 44 years dies. After embracing his new life, he later faces a diagnosis of terminal cancer.

Best known as Captain Von Trapp in the 1965 Academy Award for Best Picture “Sound of Music”, Plummer performed many iconic roles on film, television and stage over his last 60 years in show business. However, it’s his later work that garnered him the attention of the Academy. He received his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 2010 for his work in “The Last Station,” but lost to Christopher Waltz for “Inglorious Basterds.”

Not the only octogenarian up for the same award that night, Max Von Sydow, also 82, was nominated for his role in the movie "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close", where he plays a mute survivor of World War II. Prior to Mr. Plummer’s win, the oldest Academy Award winner for acting was Jessica Tandy at 80-years-old for her performance in "Driving Miss Daisy".

In the press room when asked if the award was a beginning for him, Mr. Plummer replied, “Well, it is sort of a renewal, it's not a beginning exactly, but it has recharged me and I hope I can do it for another 10 years at least. I'm going to drop dead wherever I am, on stage or on the set. We don't retire in our profession, thank God.” (

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Find Caregiver Training Programs: Professional Caregivers and C.N.A.'s

Senior caregivers require training in delivering physical and emotional care to seniors and understanding signs of senior abuse and financial fraud.  As the senior care industry expands to add more varieties of care services, training to meet the needs of senior care plans becomse important to maintain quality standards.

Training for Senior Caregivers

Caregiver Certification:  10-hour online training course that teaches and confirms caregiver knows the basic skills required for caregiving.  Caregivers learn about effective communication techniques, how to report daily activities, safely assist with elimination and toileting, assist with personal care needs, promote and maintain mobility and how to be alert for signs of elder abuse.  Professional caregivers working for senior home care agencies may be required to complete a certain number of hours of training before being assigned to a client and this 10-hour online caregiver certification course meets these state training requirements in states such as Illinois.

Certified Nursing Assistant Training:  in order for consistent standards to be upheld in nursing facililities, hospitals, hospices and assisted living communities and for long-term care insurance companies, the Department of Health in each state has created a certification training program for nursing aides, also called nursing assistants.  To become a Certified Nursing Assistant, you must first attend a state approved C.N.A. program.  You may review Caregiverlist's C.N.A. School Directory to find nursing assistant programs near you along with their costs and admission requirements.  Once you have completed a C.N.A. training course, you must pass the state exam.  Take a Sample C.N.A. exam or a Practice C.N.A. exam to learn more.

American Red Cross Family Caregiving Program:  designed for those who care for the elderly, ill, or disabled at home. The program covers home safety, assisting with personal care (including bathing), healthy eating, and caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.  Visit the Red Cross website to learn more.

Companion caregivers working for senior home care agencies require only personal experience to be hired and then the company will provide additional training and they may take the online caregiver training to become a professional caregiver.


Stitches West: Knitting Brings Health Benefits

Stitches West, a knitting trade show for knitters and crocheters and those who would like to learn the craft is taking place this weekend in the heart of Silicon Valley.  It turns out that technology, sprouting out of Silicon Valley, has also transformed the crafting industry.

The Knitting Ranch, in the mountains of Colorado, brings together knitters from around the world to participate in virtual knit-alongs - - - no horses are needed - just yarn and needles as ladies log-in from their computer to see their instructor and other knitters.

Seniors are knitting in record numbers as technology has also allowed more boutque farms with llamas and sheep and alpacas producing wool that spinners are spinning into beautiful fibers and dyers are also in the game.  Square needles are now available for seniors who may have arthritis (we all develop some arthritis after age 50).

Caregivers and seniors can enjoy the many health benefits of knitting - which is being touted as the new yoga as a method for ridding your body and mind of stress.  Knitting also can be beneficial to keep the mind engaged and active which has been shown to both prevent memory loss and slow the progression of memory loss.

Knitters also form a community which is one of the top ways to maintain good health.  Just having others around to share in your day to day life has been shown to be a top way to maintain physical and mental health.  In the book Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania is profiled simply because the residents were enjoying good health and long lives, even though they were not necessarily eating a healthy diet (home-made Italian meals were the norm) and were not necessarily engaged in active exercise programs.  However, the town was a bit hilly and they did walk about the town as everyone knew each other in the community.  The town was settled by immigrants from the town of the same name in Italy.  Roseto has remarkably low rates of heart disease and has been studied by a physician and medical scientist, Stewart Wolf, and a sociologist, John Bruhn, who concluded that neither diet nor exercise nor genes nor location explains this anomaly of good health and long lives: it was a family- and church-based lifestyle, or culture of community.

Knitters enjoy the same communities, whether offline or online,  where they are engaging in conversation with other knitters and learning new patterns.  And they are sharing their new finds, from yarn to knitting bags, in blogs as well as at their local yarn store or knitting group.  Purls Just Wanna Have Fun is a blog by one active knitter. 

Caregivers also have communities, with the senior they are caring for and the health professionals they are working with and with other caregivers who can share in their daily joys and challenges.  Caregiverlist's Career Center provides one home for professional caregivers to discuss caregiving, continue caregiver training and keep up with senior care industry news such as nursing home daily rates and Medicare on



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Medicare Fraud: Houston Hospital Charged with $116 in Medicare Fraud

Medicare costs are being heavily debated in Congress and by  the presidential candidates.  Meanwhile, one of the largest expenditures of Medicare is in fraudulent claims due to inefficiencies in the current system which allows for this to happen.

Houston's Riverside General Hospital was identified this week as operating fraudulent Medicare services with an executive arrested for the scheme involving kickbacks to patient recruiters and the owners of homes for the elderly and disabled.

Mohammad Khan, age 63, was arrested and charged with seven counts: conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to pay health care kickbacks and five additional health care kickback charges.

Riverside hospital is not charged with any  crime.   However, they also somehow employed this executive who is called "doctor", yet is not licensed to practice medicine in Texas.  He has been arrested and placed in custody.

Caregivers, seniors and all medical professionals must be watchful for situations that perhaps just don't smell right.

A Houston Chronicle investigation last year documented the continuing flow of federal taxpayer dollars to for-profit mental health clinics, known as partial hospitalization programs, or PHPs, even though they require no license to operate in Texas and collect millions from Medicare.

Texas, Louisiana and Florida, which generate 76 percent of all PHP claims to Medicare, are states well-known as high-fraud areas to the dollar-doling federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Medicare fraud or any activities which could seem fraudulent, can easily be reported through the office of Inspector General hotline.  In order for more money to be availble to pay for actual senior care needs such as prescriptions and caregiving, it is important to begin to place a permanent dent into Medicare fraud.



Certified Nursing Assistant Careers

Certified Nursing Assistant programs are available for senior caregivers and provide training for the skills needed to become certified to work for nursing homes, hospitals, hospices and senior home care agencies.

Certified Nursing Assistants help with all the hands-on care for a senior.  The training is usually from 6 to 8 weeks and must follow with a successful score on the state Certified Nursing Aide exam in the state that is administering the test.

C.N.A.'s work for senior care facilities as many must maintain a minimum number of certified nursing assistants on staff at all times in order to maintain their licensure.  As some seniors who are patients of hospitals or hospices may need full care assisting with transfers from bed to wheelchair to toilet, a C.N.A. is required to perofrm the care services.

C.N.A. jobs deliver a rewarding career and the pay is more than minimum wage but because the pay is still usually between $10 and $18 per hour, it is very important to consider the benefits and the work environment. 

Research C.N.A. schools near you and apply for a caregiving job to gain experience as you consider this career.  Many women looking to rejoin the workforce after raising a family, who may not have any formal education or training, find work in the senior care industry fulfilling and a way to begin a career path.

Home-Based Businesses for Senior Clientele

An aging population was cited as the reason that “health care was the largest contributor to employment growth in the past two years”—surpassing manufacturing jobs, according to a recent Bloomberg report.

Senior home care and elder caregivers such as home health aides and Certified Nursing Aides certainly make up a bulk of those burgeoning jobs, but there are many services that would benefit the senior citizen community. For those who are especially entrepreneurial and motivated, many of these services can be established as home-based businesses.

Dual-income households are increasing, so many services for an older population will continue to be outsourced. The aging populace will provide great small business opportunities.

Consierge Services can be bundled into the category of Assisting with Daily Needs:

Personal chef services.
Prepare and deliver healthy meals. You can arrange to cook onsite or off. With training, you could learn to customize menus based on personal dietary needs.

Transporation. Drive clients to and from appointments.

Pet services. Help care for a senior’s beloved companion. Groom, transport, exercise or pet-sit.

Money management. Assist with the day-to-day tasks of paying bills, balancing checkbooks, filing medical claims and reconciling bank and credit card statements.

Special Services are not needed every day, but still provide much-needed assistance:

Downsizing and relocation services. These include but are not limited to packing and unpacking, setting up a new living space and, according to the National Association of Senior Move Managers, “to facilitate the physical and emotional aspects of relocation for older adults.”

Personal Trainer. The baby-boomer generation knows that the key to longevity is in part fitness. As a personal trainer, you can visit a client’s home, bypassing the need for any kind of studio. The National Federation of Professional Trainers is a good place to start to get information on certification. By that same token, massage therapy and yoga targeted especially to seniors are growing services.

In-Home Caregiver. As always, Caregiverlist is here to help you on your way to a rewarding career in home health care. Find answers to your home care questions in our Career Center.

Successful home-based businesses are built on passion and if your passion is helping a growing senior population, your choices are expanding. The Administration on Aging’s statistics show that the +65 segment of society is growing and this makes it an important future consumer sector.

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Judi Dench Battling Macular Degeneration

Judi Dench, the James Bond movie actress, known as the character “M” in the Bond movies – the wise chief British spy lady who James turns to back at the home office when he is in a tight spot – has announced she can no longer read movie scripts because of vision problems caused by macular degeneration.

Macular Degeneration can begin in one or both eyes and if caught early the progression can be slowed.  However, it does lead to blindness and can cause an inability to focus the eye.

Judi Dench said she is not retiring yet but currently has to have someone else read the movie scripts to her in order to learn her lines.  She is an Oscar-winning actress, winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in the 1998 film “Shakespeare in Love”.

Macular degeneration affects the small part of the retina in the back of the eye, called the macula, and causes problems with the person’s central vision.  It commonly begins impacting people who are 50 years or older and is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.A. and Europe.  Learn more about symptoms and treatments in Caregiverlist’s Macular Degeneration Care Brief. 

Caregivers can find online caregiver training to develop senior caregiving skills.


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Certified Nursing Aide Training Programs

Certified Nursing Aides must first attent a state-approved Certified Nursing Aide (or Assistant) school program.  Once the C.N.A. has completed the training program, which will include field work, they must pass the state C.N.A. exam to become a certified nursing aide in their state.

The C.N.A. training programs involve learning the skills to safely care for anyone, including seniors, who need nursing care.  It is usually the C.N.A. who assists with "hands-on" care for patients in hospitals and residents in nursing homes.

C.N.A. training programs can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months, depending on if the program is full-time or part-time.

Find Certified Nursing Aide schools in your area, along with their admission requirements and costs to consider if this training would be a fit for you.

You may also take a Sample C.N.A. exam or Practice C.N.A. exam to see exactly the information you are expected to learn as a C.N.A.

Senior care companies hire C.N.A.'s to care for seniors who have acute care needs and nursing homes and hospitals must staff a minimum number of Certified Nursing Aides based on the number of residents or patients they have at anytime.  You may apply for a C.N.A. or Caregiver Job in Caregiverlist's Career Center.


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Seniors Outliving Loved Ones

Cissy Houston’s tragic and devastating loss of daughter Whitney Houston reminds us that increasingly, our elder loved ones may outlive family and friends.

“Elder Orphans” are those seniors who have lived long enough to see their friends, siblings, spouse, sometimes even their children, pass away and are left behind alone. They are the seniors with no immediate family or friends to help care for them or to make important decisions about their care.

Smaller families, combined with the longevity rates enjoyed by baby-boomers, means that we may see a distinct decrease in family caregivers. Higher obesity rates among the young can result in shorter life expectancy and poor health. Therefore, this may be the first generation of American children to be less healthy than their parents.

Seniors who live alone are estimated at about 10 million. Of those, close to 15 percent are those who need care and have no family support. It’s been estimated that nearly 60% of nursing home residents don’t have anyone visiting them each year. That means that a significant portion of our elderly population have no one to advocate for them and no one to make sure their health care directives are carried out should they become incapacitated.

Unbefriended elders are a sad truth and why we need to investigate creative and proactive solutions to this burgeoning concern. One such program is Minnesota’s Unbefriended Elders Project run by Volunteers of America. The activities of this project include:
  • Locating estranged or lost family members of participants
  • Facilitating increased communication between participants and their primary care physicians/practitioners
  • Distributing participant HCDs to healthcare professionals and other professionals
  • Increasing network partners’ knowledge of HCDs and working with unbefriended elders
  • Developing and sharing a protocol for national replication of the project by Volunteers of America, as well as other agencies and organizations
  • Increasing public policy attention to the needs of unbefriended elders whose number will increase with the aging “baby boom” generation.
Estate Planners and Eldercare Lawyers can help you complete a health-care directive, to make sure your plans are honored in case you find yourself with no one to advocate on your behalf. Growing old alone is an uncomfortable thought and an outcome no one could wish for. However, with increasing numbers and visibility, society will have to place elder orphans on its radar.

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