Value of Vitamins Questioned in Recent Studies

Senior care shifts can be long and arduous. Taking care of others is hard work and sometimes comes at the expense of taking care of ourselves. Everyone would like to think that there is an easy path — a magic bullet — to self-care. I know I’ve said, “I don’t need to go to the gym, I move mom from her bed to her chair five times a day. I go up and down the stairs all day doing laundry.” But really, that’s no replacement for a good workout with weights and the elliptical.

It’s the same with nutrition. We assume that a good vitamin or supplement can take the place of a healthy diet. Our friends at Scrubs Magazine take a look at recent studies to see if relying on vitamins and supplements is a good idea.

With life and work always seeming to get more and more hectic, it can seem like an easy fix us to turn to multivitamins and supplements to help maintain proper nutrition. But a few new studies suggest that these may not be the best way to go.

In fact, the debate on the usefulness of multivitamins and other supplements has been ongoing for years, and there’s never been a definitive answer. One new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine makes its opinion clear:

“The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided,” said an editorial that accompanied the study, according to USA Today. This statement was signed by two researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a British researcher and one of the journal’s senior editors.

An unrelated study that was published in the same medical journal found that multivitamins taken by heart attack survivors had no effect on the progression of heart disease.

However, studies have also found no harm in standard multivitamins, either directly or indirectly (through causing those who take them to eat worse or otherwise neglect their health).

On a related note, an editorial in The New York Times warns of the risks of giving vitamins and supplements to children. The piece is written by Paul A. Offit, chief of the division of infectious disease at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Sarah Erush, clinical manager in the pharmacy department at the same hospital.

The two point out that dietary supplements are not regulated as drugs by the FDA, and therefore not all of the reactions of specific drugs may be known. Additionally, the authors of the editorial point out that this presents even more of a problem when parents don’t reveal all the supplements their children are taking when they bring them to the hospital.

Of course, there are many on the other side who still endorse the use of vitamins and supplements, and it is unclear if the real benefit and/or risks of every supplement will ever be known.

Caregiverlist wants to know: do you take vitamins and supplements? Do you believe they can take the place of, or at least work in conjunction with healthy eating? Do you sometimes rely too much upon them for your daily nutrition?

Do you eat the same healthy meal you might serve to your senior charge? Let us know in the comments. Do you want to learn more about eldercare nutrition and exercise? Consider purchasing Caregiverlist’s online caregiver training and certification to give you the tools you need to be the best senior caregiver you can be.

Golden Globe Winners 2015: The Year of the Nursing Home Sitcom?

The Golden Globes 2014 are done — Bye Tina Fey! So long Amy Poehler! See you next year! — and I’m sure networks are already thinking about which shows and stars might make it to the red carpet in 2015.

This year, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and its star, Andy Samberg took home Golden Globes for Best TV Comedy and Best Actor in a TV Comedy, respectively. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show and watch it whenever I can but really, hasn’t the old “detective precinct” comedy been done before? (I’m looking at you, Barney Miller.)

If you want an original workplace comedy, well, place, I’d like to present a couple of comedies I’ve discovered recently.

Approximately 1.6 million Americans over the age of 65 live in institutions such as nursing homes. 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day and they can expect to live to 84 years old. This means that chances are, someone you know, or you yourself, may wind up in a nursing home or extended care facility. An aging population will increase demand, but costs and limited funding will make it difficult to provide the needed level of care. Now, doesn’t that just scream comedic situations?

The Netflix Original Series Derek stars Ricky Gervais in a “comedy-drama about a loyal nursing home caretaker who sees only the good in his quirky co-workers as they struggle against prejudice and shrinking budgets to care for their elderly residents.” Derek is a simple, sweet man who loves his job at Broad Hill nursing home, along with its residents. His best friends are his co-workers, including the nursing home manager. “Best of all is Hannah (Kerry Godliman),” says Derek. “She’s the manager here and she’s the nicest person in the world. She cares for everyone.” Hannah is a model senior caregiver. “People think care means 3 meals a day and a bed. But it means caring. And if you don’t care, you shouldn’t be in the job.” According to Derek, no one in his life treats him as well as the elderly in his charge. Even as he cuts their toenails or helps them manage through traffic, he considers himself the luckiest man in the world. Mr. Gervais is all but unrecognizable from his role as the abrasive David Brent in the UK’s The Office. Although filmed in the same mockumentary style, Derek has a broad sweetness that The Office certainly didn’t have.

In Derek, “Kindness is Magic”, but this trailer is NSFW.

HBO’s Getting On, is based on the British sitcom of the same name. The creators of Big Love present this new comedy set in The Billy Barnes Extended Care Unit of a fictional Long Beach hospital where many of the female patients suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Chicago veteran stage actress and Emmy winner Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne) is beleaguered Dr. Jenna James, Alex Borstein is eager-to-please nurse Dawn Forchette, and Niecy Nash is Denise “Didi” Ortley, the elderly caregiver I’d like to hire for myself, right now.

More than anything, this show gives a great and honest glimpse into the duties and responsibilities of a caregiver a long term care setting, dealing with red tape and always in fear of losing its Medicare reimbursement. In a hilariously literal game of “telephone”, nurses try to translate an elderly woman’s Cambodian with the translation department. Nurses are overworked and underappreciated and have to fill out the proper paperwork before simply doing what is needed.

“They say extended care is boring, which it is not. It is totally where the action is,” Dawn tells Didi, while bemoaning the lack of testosterone in the department. This is a sitcom that doesn’t shirk away from showing all the difficulties inherent in the eldercare industry, from the job of toileting to the responsibility of delivering news of the death of an 87 year old “baby sister”.

Check out this trailer. It too is NSFW.

Both are worth a watch for a true look at the life of caregivers and the elderly who rely upon them.

Have you seen either of these shows? Do you think they are realistic looks at caregivers and the caregiving industry?

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers during the holidays to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo will bring color to any caregiver's life with this vibrant lily flower blooming. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for caring for our seniors and please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo Lily

"Talent is God-give; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful."

John Wooden

Maspeth, New York Caregiver Wins Refer-a-Friend Monthly Grand Prize

Congratulations to the December monthly winner of Caregiverlist Refer-a-Friend and Win program - caregiver Stephanie Zhang from Maspeth, NY.

 

Stephanie referred her classmates, friends and family for caregiving jobs that are available on Caregiverlist.com, and she won a free stylish scrubs outfit and a pair of shoes, courtesy of Scrubs Magazine. Part-time, full-time and live-in senior care jobs are available as more seniors continue to live longer.

 

Senior care companies hire Professional Caregivers, C.N.A.’s, & C.H.H.A.’s weekly from Caregiverlist, the only Caregiver Career Center customized for the senior care industry. Build your professional caregiver resume, and apply for multiple caregiving positions near you online.

 

Refer-a-friend to Caregiverlist and get entered to win a free t-shirt, lapel pin and 10-hour online caregiver training program as a member of the Professional Association of Caregivers. A new winner is drawn weekly. One monthly GRAND PRIZE WINNER receives a Scrub of the Month (top, bottoms and pair of shoes), courtesy of Scrubs Magazine.

 

Meditation Can Change Your Genes (for the Better)

Caregiving exposes all of us to a constant flow of new information on the latest medical discoveries.  But when the discoveries lead to a free way to make a change for the better, it is worth taking a moment to learn more. 

Deepak Chopra has shared a new year's resolution idea for making a few changes that can change our genetic makeup for the better.  New research in a growing field called epigenetics studies how gene activity changes according to one's lifestyle and environment.  And guess what?  Identical twins have a similar read-out of genetics at birth, as we would guess, but by the time they become seniors, their gene maps have become very different.  Our genetic materials are not a one-time ticket we receive, it turns out.  We change the look of the ticket according to the movie of our lifestyle.

Thoughts, feelings and stress levels affect gene activity.  And some behavioral changes can be passed on to the next generation through "soft' inheritance.  Ouch!

Positive and negative events can potentially be passed on.

Research shows that meditation specifically alters genetic activity almost immediately.  Meditation increases the levels of a protein called telomerase, which has been linked to slowing down the aging process in cells.

Turns out the connection between mind and body truly is deeper than what we see. 

Caregiver stress is one of the top issues seniors and their families must deal with as a senior begins the need for more care.  Find a way to meditate for both good health and relaxation!

Remember, too, that more senior caregivers are needed as senior's are living longer while needing caregiving services.  Apply to a senior caregiver job or refer-a-friend.

Mint App Helps Caregivers Keep Track of Personal Finances: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

Budgeting and keeping track of the way we spend our money can be difficult. Checking our bank accounts shouldn't be shocking, but sometimes the swipes of our debit or credit cards add up in a way we didn't expect. Using the Mint app, senior caregivers can connect multiple bank accounts and loans to the app to monitor spending and create a personal budget to meet their financial goals in 2014. 

Mint asks new users for information on all applicable accounts, including checking and savings accounts, credit cards, loans, etc. It then creates a personal summary of the user's finances, which shows how their debts compared to their actual money in the bank. Users can then set various goals to pay off debts and test various monthly payment amounts to see how long it will take to break even. 

Mint also breaks down all charges to debit and credit accounts into various categories, including grocery, travel, fast food, restaurants, etc. to help users recognize exactly how they're spending their money. Caregivers can set goals for how much they'd like to spend on each category in a month, then see how their actual spending compares. This feature can be particularly useful for caregivers who help their senior clients shop for groceries and other items to monitor how much they're spending. 

Mint aso offers financial advice on how to make the most out of your investment and savings options to put you in the best financial situation long term and monitors users' credit scores. Overall, the app provides a very useful financial snapshot.

 

The Mint app is available for free for Apple products.

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

Scrubs to Beat the Cold

Cold enough for you? As bitter temps make their way across the country, Scrubs magazine has some suggestions on how to keep stylish and warm during the coldest months.

The Holly and the Ivy

How do you mix red and green without looking too much like an extra in Elf? By toning down these hues so they aren’t quite so “North Pole.” Instead, start with a deep wine red mock wrap top with contrasting black trim. Add a hunter green jacket worn open on top. Black or wine red scrubs pants finish the look.

 

From Day to Evening

Planning to wear your warm-up jacket all through your shift? Then why not choose one that’s a real stunner? Forget red and green. Go for a rich, royal eggplant instead. A snap front style lets you open and close the jacket throughout the day as needed for when you go from freezing cold to just mildly chilly. The shapely cut of this scrubs topper make it an elegant choice for the deep of winter. Wear it over black, white, gold, or green to match your mood.

 

Flip It Like It’s Hot

This is the find of the season—the cutest warm-up jacket on the market. This cardigan-style charmer has a Swiss dot pattern of white and blue on one side with blue and white pinstripes on the other. It’s a cozy, stretchy double face jersey knit for maximum snuggle factor. The waterfall lapels mean you never have to worry about losing a button or getting a zipper snagged. With patch pockets on the stripey side and the spotty side, we bet a lot of nurses are going to stuff these jackets inside and out with gear. Wear it over a crisp white scrubs top to look your best on every shift.

 

Sleek, Stylish and Sweet

And just perfect for Valentine's Day! While some warm-up jackets can be a little baggy, this one is definitely more sporty. The black knit side panels add shape and are visually slimming. Ribbed knit cuffs let you push up your sleeves and get to work right away. The “Unchain My Heart” print has a field of linked hearts tumbling against a black backdrop that appears to be sprinkled with snow flurries. Pair it with a shocking red or pink scrubs top underneath.

 

 

We at Caregiverlist feel that C.N.A.s, Home Health Aides and even companion caregivers should have the opportunity to present a professional image. Refer a friend to Caregiverlist and be entered for a chance to win a stylish set of scrubs (shoes, too!), courtesy of Scrubs Magazine, the nurse's guide to good living.

Refer a Friend to Caregiverlist

 Refer-a-Friend for a Chance to Win Prizes!

Simply provide us with your friend's name and email address and you will be entered into a monthly and weekly giveaway.

Monthly Grand Prize Winner: Scrub of the Month (top, bottoms and pair of shoes), courtesy of Scrubs Magazine.

Weekly Winners: A Caregiverlist t-shirt, lapel pin and a 10-hour online caregiver training program as a member of the Professional Association of Caregivers.

Senior Care Considerations During Polar Vortex

Since most of the United States is locked in the grip of a fierce “polar vortex”, or sub-zero temperatures, I thought it might be a good time to revisit special considerations of elderly care during this time of extreme weather. Here in Chicago, yesterday’s low temperature was -16F, with a windchill of -50F. Elsewhere in the Midwest and Plain states, all-time low temperature records were broken. Exposure to the elements could result in frostbite or hypothermia in just a few minutes.

The elderly are vulnerable during extreme weather, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who are prone to wandering. In New York state, an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease left her home and was found dead in the snow, not more than 100 yards from her door. So as the frigid temperatures make their way east and south, all the way down to Florida, be on guard for the special needs associated with the aged.

Older adults lose body heat more quickly than the young, and hypothermia can set in fast. According to Stay Safe in Cold Weather, by the National Institute on Aging, “for an older person, a body temperature colder than 95 degrees can cause many health problems such as a heart attack, kidney problems, liver damage, or worse.”

Certain medications can make it easier for the elderly to get hypothermia, so check with a physician if that’s a concern.

Keep the house warm by restricting open rooms. Shut their vents and doors to maximize heat in the living and sleeping areas. Close blinds and curtains to help eliminate drafts.

Food is fuel, so make sure the senior eats enough. Also, cold air is drier, so make sure they keep hydrated. Caregiver training recommends a senior drink 64oz. of liquid (preferably water) daily.

If space heaters are used for supplemental heat, be sure they are turned off before bed and when unattended and make sure a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector are nearby, as these are common concerns.

If your senior family member or client shows the following signs, call 911 immediately, as these are signs of advanced hypothermia:

  • moving slowly, trouble walking, or being clumsy
  • stiff and jerky arm or leg movements
  • slow heartbeat
  • slow, shallow breathing
  • blacking out or losing consciousness

As always, if you or a senior in your care needs special help, contact your state's Area Agency on Aging. Until this arctic weather passes (and it shall, just not soon enough!), Caregiverlist wishes all seniors and their caregivers to stay warm and safe.

 

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers during the holidays to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo is of a tropical fountain somewhere warm and peaceful. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for caring for our seniors and please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo Fountain

"The world is a book and those who do not travel, read only one page." 

St. Augustine

Alive and Well App Provides Wellness Tips to Support New Years Resolutions: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

 

The beginning of a new year brings New Years Resolutions to improve our lives. Eating healthier, exercising and keeping better track of budgets rank among the more common resolutions. Senior caregivers can incorporate wellness into their daily lives in 2014 using the Alive and Well app, which offers resources and tips to develop an overall healthy lifestyle. 

The home screen of the app shares a "Health Tip of the Day" which range from a suggested food to include in your diet to explaining the correlation between aging and lifestyle. To ensure healthy aging, the tip suggests seniors exercise and maintain a healthy diet. The app also features coupons and specials for the Alive and Well store, which is based in Ohio. Users can purchase items at the physical location or online for shipment if they live in a different part of the country. They offer gluten free, organic and vegan items for caregivers or their senior clients who may have dietary restrictions. 

Another portion of the app breaks down recipes into user-friendly categories such as Time Savers, Easy, Elegant Entrees, Macrobiotic, Delectable Desserts and Low Fat & Low Calorie. Once you select a category, you can browse through all the recipes until you find one that suits your needs. There is a vast variety of recipes featured- from Curried Split Pea Soup to Sauerkraut and Tempeh Skillet.

The various parts of the app connect well together and allow the overall user experience to flow. Even though the app is created by a store, it features wellness first and advertising for their products as a secondary thought, which leaves the main focus on living a healthy lifestyle.

 

The Alive and Well app is available for Apple and Android platforms.

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

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