Senior Caregiver and C.N.A. Pay

 

Senior care has been identified as a top employer for the coming decade, as the large Baby Boomer generation moves into their retirement years and will live longer lives while needing more care.

Part-time and full-time senior caregiving positions are available as senior care companies hire new caregivers and Certified Nursing Aides each week in order to keep up with their staffing needs.  Seniors may quickly be discharged from a hospital or nursing home after a stroke or hip replacement and require more care.

Senior caregiving delivers fulfillment beyond a paycheck but at the same time, a paycheck is important.

Caregiverlist provides a detailed overview of caregiver and C.N.A. pay rates in their C.N.A. and Caregiver Pay Guide.

This comprehensive guide allows you to review caregiver and nursing assistant pay rates in each state.  You may apply for a caregiver job in your area in our Career Center and also create a customized caregiver resume.  Certified Nursing Assistants can apply for a Certified Nursing Aide job near them.

Seniors who are still active and are looking to earn some extra income may also consider becoming a companion caregiver.  Many times seniors with memory loss just require companion caregivers to keep their daily activities on track.

Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act

Obama Care, or the Affordable Care Act healthcare law has been upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States.  The controversy around the healthcare law was the requirement for all Americans to have access to health insurance and be required to have health insurance.  Right now, it is very difficult for small businesses to access affordable health insurance plans as most health insurance companies only want to insure large corporations with 75% participation by workers.  This has meant senior home care agencies have not been able to provide health insurance for senior caregivers............which has always seemd a bit odd - for someone to be paid to take care of a senior but yet not be provided with health insurance benefits for themselves.

In addition, all American seniors do receive health insurance via Medicare or Medicaid at age 65.  A geriatric doctor once said to me:  "if only all of these seniors had health insurance their entire lives, the costs of providing health care at 65 and above would be much less."  He said you have no idea how many seniors have never had health insurance prior to Medicare or Medicaid.

At the same time, those of us who are individually insured may pay as much as $350 per month with a $5,000 deductible.  This is how it works for those working for small businesses or self-employed.

Senior caregivers should have access to affordable health care - the only option should not be an emergency room.  Certainly provisions will be tossed onto the truck and off the truck as we iron out a better healthcare system in the U.S.A. which includes preventive healthcare.

You may read all about the Supreme Court's decision on this live blog.  It will be exciting to see American health insurance companies roll out preventive health care plans that reward people for trying to live healthy lifestyles and to have the security of knowing everyone has access to health care - not just seniors at age 65.

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Caring for Seniors During a Heat Wave

The first days of summer have brought with them record-breaking temperatures across the Eastern seaboard. Here in the Midwest, we’re bracing ourselves for another round of extreme heat. And according to recent forecasts, “The worst heat wave of the summer so far is just starting to cook over the Plains this week.” While we can all bemoan the possibility of long-term climate change, our primary concern is to keep our loved ones safe.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the elderly are among the most susceptible to heat stress for a variety of reasons. They don’t necessarily think of the risks of extreme heat. They may have pre-existing health conditions that make them especially vulnerable to the heat. They may be taking medications that “impair the body's ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.” And most importantly, they tend to under-hydrate.

The effects of heat exhaustion, the forerunner of the more deadly heat stroke, can show up in the elderly as headaches, dizziness, muscle cramps and nausea. If untreated, heat stroke can occur, when the body’s temperature rises to over 103°F. The body loses the ability to perspire and cool itself. The organs can begin to shut down and death or permanent disability are possible.

The most important action in keeping seniors comfortable and safe during a heat wave is to keep them hydrated. Dehydration is one of the most dangerous effects of extreme heat and can result in hospitalization. Common symptoms of dehydration include confusion, cracked lips and a dry mouth. Drinking non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated, non-sugary beverages will go a long way in keeping the dangers of dehydration at bay. However, if they are on water pills or are restricted in their water intake, they should ask their doctor how much they should drink while the weather is hot.

Keeping temperatures cool, while seemingly obvious, is also key. Air conditioning in the home, or getting the senior to a cooling center, is important in keeping safe. A fan alone will not help prevent heat related illnesses when the temperature is above 90°F.

It is recommended that senior welfare is checked twice a day during extreme heat. If you cannot do it yourself, Meals on Wheels, in addition to bringing food to the elderly, will check on their well-being. Check for available assistance through your State Agency on Aging. And if you live a distance away from your senior loved one, you might consider hiring a Home Care Agency so that someone is nearby, knows your loved one, and is ready to help.

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Posted by: Renata Jasinski Laszuk, Content Manager

National Nursing Assistants Week Celebrates CNAs

We at Caregiverlist.com recognize the important role that Certified Nursing Assistants play in the care of our elderly, frail and challenged population. We’ve made the advocacy and appreciation of CNAs one of the cornerstones of our mission.

We celebrate the 35th annual National Nursing Assistants Week from June 14-21. As our nation matures and more people choose to age in place, CNAs are a vital component to our health and well-being. We also recognize that Certified Nursing Aides provide as much as 80% of the direct care in nursing facilities.

CNAs are on the front-line of caring. They provide most of the hands-on interaction with their patients. They can be found in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices and private homes. Certified Nursing Assistants’ duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Dietary care and nutrition
  • Assistance with daily excercise
  • Aiding with personal hygiene
  • Administering medication and treatment per doctor’s recommendation
  • Providing emotional support
It’s a noble and challenging profession, and an employment sector that is guaranteed to grow in the coming years. If you are a family caregiver looking for a career, we can help answer your questions. If you are a companion or personal caregiver, consider CNA training to enhance your skill set and make you a more attractive employment candidate. And of course, if there is a Certified Nursing Assistant somewhere in your life providing care for you or a loved one, now is the perfect time to voice your appreciation for all they do.

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Posted by: Renata Jasinski Laszuk, Content Manager

Quality Senior Care: AARP Quality Checklist Includes Caregiverlist

AARP Magazine’s June/July issue includes an informative news story about the process of deciding when it is time for a senior to leave their home. The American Association of Retired People (AARP) magazine article includes “The Next Move: A Starter Kit”, highlighting Caregiverlist.com as a resource to use when checking for quality of senior care.  Senior care involves considering both the emotional and financial needs of the senior. Both sides of this coin are equally as important for seniors and their family members. AARP reports that people fare better when they live near what’s dear to them – friends, family and congregation.
Caregiverlist’s online tools, created by senior care industry professionals, make it possible to understand and evaluate the quality factors to consider when choosing senior caregiving services, nursing homes and assisted living communities.

Caregiverlist’s Nursing Home Directory enhances the data available from Medicare by applying the right labels on each nursing home and providing the daily costs of 18,000+ nursing homes nationwide.

Some nursing homes, for instance, only serve certain types of seniors or those with disabilities and some are divisions of a hospital and only accept hospital patients being transferred. Caregiverlist provides labels for nursing homes to make it easy to know if it can be a fit for a senior:

  • Hospitals
  • CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community)
  • Veteran's Home (Only Accepts Veterans)
  • Special (Only for Nuns, Seniors w/Hearing Loss, etc.)
  • Medicare:  Accepts as Payment
  • Medicaid:  Accepts as Payment

“Medicare will pay for short-term nursing home stays only,” says Caregiverlist.com CEO Julie Northcutt. As the former owner of a senior home care agency, she found that many seniors and their families do not realize this fact until a medical emergency happens.

“I have spent hours on the phone explaining to a senior’s family members what Medicare does and does not cover,” says Northcutt. As nursing homes have become an extension of a hospital stay, seniors many times are quickly discharged from a hospital to a nursing home. This is when panic sets in and a senior and their family wants to learn the specifics about which nursing home they will be transferred to when leaving the hospital.

“It is important to review the nursing home ratings and costs near you, before you will need one”, says Northcutt. “Remember that nursing homes are a rehabilitation center for seniors after a hip replacement, stroke or major surgery. Medicare will pay for the short-term as long as a medical doctor preapproves the need.”

Caregiverlist also allows users to compare nursing home costs and ratings from one state to another which is useful when it becomes necessary for a senior to relocate to be near a family member.

When evaluating senior care choices, the following options should be considered:

  • Senior Home Care Agency (provides one-on-one caregiver)
  • Nursing Home care (short-term care for rehab and long-term care for chronic needs)
  • Assisted Living
  • Hospice Care (at home or in hospice facility)

Medicare does provide Hospice care services when a senior has been diagnosed to have a terminal condition with less than 2 years to live. Seniors should also understand Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

  •  Medicare pays for only short-term nursing home stays and for short-term skilled home health visits when one of the following skilled certifications or licenses are required: Registered Nurse, Physical Therapist, Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Certified Nursing Aide. A senior must demonstrate they are rehabilitating from a major medical condition to qualify for skilled home health care.
  •   Medicaid is for very low-income seniors and will pay for an ongoing stay in a Medicaid-approved nursing home. Caregiverlist provides the “by-state” Medicaid financial qualifications.

The recent recession has resulted in lower tax revenues for state governments and some states have recently changed their financial qualifications for qualifying for Medicaid. However, the spousal anti-poverty law does allow married couples to allow one spouse to “spend-down” assets to qualify for Medicaid care while the other spouse maintains some savings and home and car ownership. This can be necessary, for example, if one spouse has Alzheimer’s disease and requires around-the-clock care which can cost $80,000 per year.

“Remember, former President Ronald Reagan had full time caregiving services for a decade,” says Northcutt.  This is why it is important to research senior care services ahead of time and evaluate quality standards to allow family members to be prepared. Caregiverlist’s nursing home directory shows the highest and lowest daily cost of a nursing home in each state along with the average nursing home daily rate.

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Affordable Care Act Closes Part D Donut Hole

The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hand down a decision regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in early July. While the most contentious aspect of “Obamacare”, and the focus of the Supreme Court’s vote may be the its "individual mandate" clause, which requires Americans to buy health insurance if they don't have it, there are other aspects of the PPACA that would directly impact this nation’s seniors. Not the least of which is the closing of the Part D “donut hole”.

So what is the Medicare donut hole in the Part D program? Jonathan Blum, Deputy Administrator and Director for the Center of Medicare at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does a fine job of explaining the donut hole on a post in his 2010 Healthcare Blog.

In a nutshell, the donut hole is the gap in prescription coverage for those participating in Medicare, which includes seniors and those with disabilities. People with Medicare can pay a monthly premium prescription drug coverage, known as Part D. A gap exists in coverage and limits supplemental payments past a certain dollar amount until another, higher dollar threshold is met.

In 2010, the deductible for prescriptions was $310. After that deductible was met, Medicare paid for 75% of prescription drug costs until the entire amount spent reached $2,800. After that, the “donut hole” occurred, and there was no supplemental coverage until the yearly out-of-pocket spending limit of $4,550 was reached.

In an effort to help, those who found themselves in the donut hole received a one-time tax-free rebate of $250 to help with prescription costs. In 2011, people on Medicare and in the donut hole automatically received a 50% discount on brand-name drugs. In 2012, drug discounts in the donut hole will rise to 75% and the donut hole is scheduled to close completely by 2020.

If the Supreme Court strikes down healthcare reform, we need to look at how the decision will impact our seniors and Medicare in general. Will the donut hole prevent doctors prescribing needed name-brand drugs? Will physicians have to bill Medicare patients for wellness visits, which are presently free of cost to the patient and helps perhaps prevent the need for costly prescriptions down the line?

Healthcare reform is sure to be a topic on everyone’s radar in the coming weeks. Because the nation’s aged are the fastest growing segment of the population, special attention should be paid to the consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision for our country’s elderly. No one should have to choose between quality of life — like the ability to pay for groceries and housing — and the ability to pay for needed prescription drugs.

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Posted by: Renata Jasinski Laszuk, Caregiverlist Content Manager

Healthcare Industry Sees Massive Job Growth

Caregiver jobs are growing and this growth will continue, as new federal data for the month of May revealed that the healthcare sector was responsible for nearly 50% of new job growth this past month.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has consistently shown the healthcare industry to be a major component of the economy, maintaining 14.3 million employees as of their May reports.    

Those contemplating a career change or new job opportunity may consider becoming a CNA or caregiver for a senior homecare agency.  Homecare agencies are in constant need of qualified caregivers as their client needs are consistently changing.  Caregiverlist’s Caregiver Career Center can be used as a tool to research training schools and required qualifications, as well as a resource to build a resume and apply for a caregiving job. 

The essential job functions of a caregiver are the following:

  • Assist with walking and light exercise
  • Plan and prepare meals, followed by clean-up
  • Monitor food expiration dates, make future meals
  • Make beds and change linens, as needed
  • Light housekeeping to include dusting and vacuuming
  • Assist with bathing, dressing and grooming
  • Assist with safe transfers and bathroom visits
  • Monitor medical conditions
  • Laundry and ironing
  • Take out garbage
  • Run errands (pickup prescriptions, dry cleaning)
  • Engage in physical and mental exercises
  • Provide medication reminders
  • Escort an appointments (hair salon, physical therapy, etc.)
  • Escort to religious services and events
  • Maintain calendar and organize mail
  • Engage in activities (games, memory books)
  • Companionship

If the essential job duties of a caregiver interest you and you wish to join the ever-growing healthcare industry, you may research training schools in your area.  You can learn more about the components of C.N.A. training here, as well as a comprehensive guide to becoming a C.N.A. here.

Additionally, you may take Caregiverlist’s Caregiver Training, which is a 10-hour online course that covers caregiving skills and includes exams to ensure understanding.  Caregiverlist further offers a CNA practice test, as well as background checks.

Once you understand the essentials of caregiving and have your resume ready, you can apply for a job and begin a new career in the healthcare industry!

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Posted by:  Angela Manhart, Caregiverlist Blogger

Alzheimer's Disease Intl. Requests Survey Participants

Alzheimer's disease impacts people around the world, yet research efforts have not easily been shared across country lines.  The World Alzheimer Report makes an effort to share information and research on the disease globally.

World Alzheimer Report 2012 will be launched on September 21, 2012, and as part of this launch, Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) is conducting a survey of people with dementia and family caregivers to learn about their experiences and opinions on stigma related to dementia. And if you live in Britain or Australia or New Zealand, the survey is for family "carers", as you call them.

The survey will be available for submissions through June 17, 2012. 

Click here to take the ADI Survey.  You may also learn about senior care solutions for those with memory loss on Caregiverlist.

Seniors Home Alone with Medical Alert Systems

In a previous post, we discussed the fact that Nancy Reagan recently fractured some ribs after a fall in her home. Accidents are shown to occur more frequently as we age, which becomes a problem — especially when one doesn’t have a phalanx of caregivers to make sure you get immediate medical attention.

Living alone is what most elderly do when they outlive a spouse. And while the familiar surroundings and routine can give much comfort, and the feeling of independence is desirable, family members may be a bit apprehensive to let their loved one live alone in case of emergency. So what is the solution for the senior who lives alone, doesn’t yet need help with ADLs (Activities of Daily Living), and needs the peace of mind that comes with knowing that help is readily available if needed?

First developed in the 1970s, Home Alert Systems were created to help those living alone at home and consisted of little more than a wireless transmitter that, when pressed, sent a preprogrammed message to emergency medical personnel. Technology has given rise to amazing strides in home medical alert systems. The basis of modern systems remains similar to that of their predecessors—a stationary console with speaker and microphone, and a transmitter worn as a pendant or bracelet. However, new systems are much more advanced and their technology has made them more powerful, and therefore more helpful, than ever.

Look for these new technological breakthrough features when deciding on a Home Medical Alert System.

For active seniors on-the-go, some medical alert systems come equipped with GPS tracking, enabling complete monitoring everywhere the user goes.

Automated medical dispensers dole out daily medication in the right amount at pre-programmed times.

Look for reliable systems that work with wireless phones. As more people switch from landlines to cellular phones, it’s important that systems that were designed to work with analog technology upgrade to true wireless capability.

Of course, no transmitter works unless it’s worn. Some systems deliver voice messages to users and caregivers if the user forgets to wear the device. Here again, technology fills a need. According to AARP, Philips Lifeline, “the market leader with 750,000 customers, recently released its new AutoAlert system, which detects falls automatically, summoning help without relying on its user to push a button.” It’s been shown to accurately detect 95% of home falls.

Once a senior gets too frail, nothing will take the place of a quality caregiver. Until then, technology is proving to up the ante in allowing seniors to live home alone.
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Senior Care Fraud and How to Prevent It

Caregivers for seniors must possess many skills, including keeping an eye out for new senior fraud schemes.  Last week, criminal charges were filed against four men who operated a fraud scheme in Pennsylvania that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from seniors in need of caregiving.  The men created a false homecare agency and sold hundreds of home care contracts – which were never fulfilled – to unsuspecting seniors. 

While the conspirators were eventually apprehended and charged, an occurrence such as this recalls the necessity of ensuring the quality and reputability of a homecare agency.  Caregiverlist’s Standards of Quality lists the criteria that should be continuously upheld by a senior care agency if it is a professional establishment. 

The following is a list of the basic standards for a quality care agency:

  • Business license and necessary state licensure (if required by the state where the agency is located)
  • Caregivers are "Employees" this means the Agency is responsible for paying all employee payroll taxes, as required by law:  Unemployment Insurance tax, Social Security tax, Medicare tax and State and Federal with-holdings)
  • Worker's Compensation Insurance
  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Fidelity Bond Insurance (this is sometimes referred to as "theft" insurance)
  • Active Management of the Caregiver through a direct Supervisor or Manager
  • Plan of Care
  • Criminal Background Check performed on all Employees
  • Training for Caregivers
  • 24-Hour On-Call Service
  • Satisfactory Survey Results

The majority of the seniors who were targeted were those who lived alone and away from any family members who could have possibly prevented the fraud.  The lack of familial support that was common among the victims is a reminder that, ideally, others should be involved in the process of seeking home care services.  The fraud additionally reinforces Caregiverlist’s suggestion that those seeking care should speak to at least three home care agencies before making their decision.  It is important to compare senior care options.  Caregiving is an extremely personal service, and family should be involved in the process to ensure a comfortable fit between the senior and the caregiver.   

The fraudsters further offered their “services” at impossibly low rates – around $2 per hour.  It is vital to be educated about the realistic costs of home care , which is typically $15-$25 per hour. 

Seniors without adequate family support and assistance are particularly vulnerable to fraud.  Vigilance and involvement from others helps protect these seniors in the process of reaching out for care services.  For more information, Caregiverlist’s Senior Care Fraud Alert page has information on how to report suspected fraud.

Posted by:  Angela Manhart, Caregiverlist Blogger

 

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