Labor Day and Minimum Wage: Will You Be Paid More?

It’s Labor Day once again and again I am reminded of the myriad of hourly wage workers struggling to make ends meet.

The federal minimum wage hasn’t changed—it’s still $7.25 an hour and has been since 2009. What has changed is what that hourly wage can buy you. Adjusted for inflation, $7.25 had a value of $5.30 in 2009. In 2013, that $7.25 is worth $4.87. The push has been to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, but even though the raise is championed by the White House, Congress has stalled in passing that legislation.

Local governments are taking it upon themselves to raise the minimum wage for hourly workers in their state or county. In 2013 and 2014, 10 states have raised their minimum wage. Connecticut, Hawaii, and Maryland have voted to raise their minimum wage to the proposed $10.10 an hour incrementally over the next few years. Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington, DC have voted on even higher future scheduled increases.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti plans to raise that city’s minimum wage to more than $13 an hour. Chicago and New York both support a $13 hour minimum wage.

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously in June to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour incrementally. However, franchise owners have challenged that legislation it is unfair to their business model. Franchises are considered part of a whole and if they have more than 500 workers nationally, they will be counted as a “large business” and are expected to increase their wages within 3 years. Small businesses will be given more time to increase workers’ wages.

One of the plaintiffs is BrightStar Care, a home-care agency.

Senior caregivers generally make more than minimum wage through quality home care agencies—typically franchises, but would likely see an increase in hourly pay if the minimum wage in their area increases. Based on a Caregiverlist Spring 2013 Caregiver Pay Survey, most senior caregivers report $10 as their hourly pay rate.

The majority of Americans are in favor of increasing the minimum wage, polls show. However, there is a group of dissenting voices who say that increasing the minimum wage will have very little effect on the poorest of society.

Labor Day, the national holiday observed on the first Monday of September, was first introduced by the Central Labor Union in 1882 to celebrate "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community. The working man’s holiday, the industrialized workforce demanded “Eight Hours for Work, Eight Hours for Rest, Eight Hours for Recreation.”

While we’re out picnicking and barbecuing on Labor Day, let’s remember all the working men and women who make our lives a little easier at just above the poverty line.

We’d love to hear from you if you are a senior caregiver or a franchise owner. How will the increase in minimum wage affect you or your business?

And on behalf of Caregiverlist, a happy end-of-summer!

Alzheimer's Caregiver Advice on Alzheimer's & Daily Companion App

For senior caregivers, working with clients who have dementia or Alzheimer's disease can be taxing and stressful. Seniors experiencing memory loss can become agitated, anxious or upset from situations that previously would have been part of their daily routine. When senior caregivers are experiencing issues working with their clients with dementia, they can turn to the Alzheimer's & Other Dementias Daily Companion app for advice and tips on dealing with specific situations. 

The main function of the app focuses on advice divided into 25 different categories, with many more subcategories. Caregivers can easily navigate through the topics ranging from Social Withdrawal to False Accusations and Paranoia to find advice relating to their specific situation. The descriptions under a topic include possible reasons for a senior client feeling that way and advice on how to remedy the situation or address the specific behavior and prevent it in the future. 

Another section of the app allows caregiver to seek emotional support from other caregivers by suggestions of support groups and ways to care for themselves. It suggests resources such as "10 Organizations Every Caregiver Should Know," and "8 Ways to Arrange Breaks form Caregiving." Managing caregiver stress plays an important part in overall caregiver health and well being. 

If caregivers don't see a category for the situation they'd like advice on, the app features an area where caregiver questions can be submitted to the app creator. Caregivers can also call a number for a 24-hour caregiver support line if they'd like to speak to someone immediately. If a caregiver worked through a particular issue himself/herself and would like to share advice, the app also features a spot for caregivers to share a story that will lend emotional support for other caregivers. 

The Alzheimer's & Other Dementias Daily Companion app is available for Apple and Android 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

California Caregivers: Must Know Risks Court Rules

Caregivers for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease must know the risks that come with the job, based on a ruling this month by the California Supreme Court. And knowing there are risks when caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease, seniors no longer need to worry about being liable for injuries they may cause their paid in-home caregivers. The California Supreme Court ruled in favor of the senior in the Carolyn Gregory, plaintiff and appellant, vs. Lorraine Cott, defendants and respondents, lawsuit. The decision ruled in favor of the senior, 5 - 2, verifying that the caregiver could not be compensated for damages.

 

This case and ruling provides all of us an opportunity to realize the advantages of working with a professionally licensed senior care company for senior care services.  And to understand the limitations for compensation for events we cannot control when this disease claims someone’s mind and body. Professional senior care companies maintain certain quality standards and provide benefits for caregivers legally hired as employees.

Here is the story:

In September, 2008, Carolyn Gregory, age 54, provided caregiving services for Lorraine Cott, age 88.  She was hired to assist Ms. Cott who had advanced Alzheimer’s disease. Now for the tough part of this story - just want to warn you - while the caregiver was washing dishes, which included a knife, the elder Ms. Cott came up behind her and began reaching toward the sink.  The caregiver tried to restrain her and in the process, the large knife she was washing fell and sliced into her left hand.  This caused the caregiver, Ms. Gregory, to lose sensation in her thumb and two fingers and to experience considerable pain.

The caregiver, Ms. Gregory, sued the senior for compensation for the damages to her hand, even though she did have coverage for the injury through her employer’s worker’s compensation insurance.  She sued for additional money for negligence.  The good news is that the caregiver did work for a senior care agency and had worker’s compensation benefits.  She wanted more compensation and the California Supreme Court denied this because of a legal doctrine referred to as the “primary assumption of risk.” From the California Supreme Court, when announcing their decision:

 

We have noted that the duty to avoid injuring others ―normally extends to 

those engaged in hazardous work.‖ (Neighbarger, supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 536.) 

―We have never held that the doctrine of assumption of risk relieves all persons of 

a duty of care to workers engaged in a hazardous occupation.‖ (Id. at p. 538.) 

However, the doctrine does apply in favor of those who hire workers to handle a 

dangerous situation, in both the public and the private sectors. Such a worker, ―as 

a matter of fairness, should not be heard to complain of the negligence that is the 

cause of his or her employment. 

Caring for a senior home care agency client who formerly worked in a bank, we discovered that sometimes, with no prior warning, she apparently thought she was back at the bank counter.  She would swing her arms out from side to side in front of her and we realized, after talking with her family, that this was her way of pretending to count out money.  We found a way to bring her some peace when these moments presented themselves - we gave her a large magazine and guided her to flip through the pages one-by-one until the urge fled away from her.

None of us know what path old age will lead us down.  The road may be smooth, with a sudden end, or bumpy with sharp curves and steep inclines. We just don’t know how our road ends.  But now we know if our mind becomes something we cannot control, we will not be responsible if our actions might hurt a caregiver.

In Alzheimer’s care, caregivers must know what they are confronting.  They must understand that this is a different type of memory loss which progresses at a different speed for each senior. Senior home care agencies, licensed by their state to provide senior care, do provide quality caregiver training and worker’s compensation insurance for caregivers.  This means if a caregiver should have an on-the-job injury, the worker’s compensation insurance provides for the medical care and recovery needs.  This is yet another reason why many states are requiring specific licensing and training requirements for senior home care agencies.

Caregivers working as employees for senior home care agencies receive active care management, training and support when caring for difficult clients.  Sometimes just having someone to vent to enables the caregiver to go back the next day with a fresh attitude and new tools to successfully assist the senior. Alzheimer’s disease delivers so many “moments’ for caregivers  - and remember, family members and professional caregivers often provide care for those with Alzheimer’s disease as it truly is the long goodbye.

I have shared previously that I had the gift of meeting former President Ronald Reagan, after he had Alzheimer’s disease.  He thought he knew me and I played along and winked at him.  I was having brunch at the “leftover tables off the breezeway” at a Santa Monica restaurant because I didn’t make reservations and had a former co-worker who was kind enough to give me a lift to the airport. However, she drove an old convertible car that didn’t have a big enough trunk for my suitcases.  Since we had already convinced the valet guy to just leave the car in the circle driveway, to keep an eye on it, we begged for a table and they told us they didn't normally seat people in this area but if we really wanted a table we could have it.

Funny how coincidences work out sometimes……..and then the former President came in and was seated with his nurse and two Secret Service agents, at the table next to us. I was so busy talking with my friend that I honestly did not notice them come in and sit down.  It was only after the waitress came in and served them a platter of fruit and said, in a really loud voice, while talking slowly, “here you go, enjoy your fruit”, that my friend said, she is talking to them like they are in an old folk’s home.

That is when I looked up and realized who he was, and apparently because of the surprise on my face, he thought he knew me.  He waved at me and then leaned over and told the nurse something and pointed at me.  That is when I winked to let them know I knew what was going on and everything was cool.  And I also held back tears.

We are all the same when it comes to old age.  A president was seated in the leftover area, with Ishtar and I, because we had no reservations, and an old car without a real trunk. His road to the end was 10 years long!  He was going for a walk on the beach each morning with his nurse and two Secret Service agents. And when it was time to go, just like my own grandfather, he did not want to get up and leave.  The agents (kind of cool to say that) told us that they never knew how long it would take before he would be ready. Even a former president would misbehave when it came to Alzheimer's disease and now in California, families and caregivers must be aware of the risks. President Reagan had senior caregivers for 10 years........a reminder for all of us to plan ahead for senior care.

 

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Former President Ronald Reagan  

Will Maine Senior Voters Say "Keep ME Home"?

Maine is a state with many unique distinctions. In 1641, the city of York became America's first chartered town. Eastport, the most eastern city in the United States, is the first city in the country to receive the morning sun. And the lobster! You can’t think of Maine without thinking about lobster. Maine provides almost 90% of the nation’s lobster supply.

Maine is the oldest state in the nation. According to projections, one in four Mainers will be over the age of 65 by 2030. It also has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation. Expensive to heat and difficult to maintain, seniors in the state of Maine find themselves on waitlists (typically 140 names long) for affordable housing.

Maine's Democratic House speaker Mark Eves has outlined a series of policy proposals to help the state's rapidly aging population live independently longer.

The "KeepME Home" initiative is a package of bills intended to create affordable, energy-efficient senior housing communities, increase property tax credits, and provide higher pay for in-home direct care workers.

In-home care, in addition to being the more prefered type of eldercare, can be more economical than institutional care. According to Muskie School of Public Service, MaineCare (Medicaid) spent an average of $558 per month for each client who received in-home care in 2010, compared to $4,150 per month for each nursing home resident during the same year.

According to Caregiverlist’s® Nursing Home Ratings and Costs, the average daily price of a single-bed in a Maine nursing home is $266.45 per day.

The proposed $65 million bond issue would help address senior housing concerns, home care, long-term care, transportation, and a myriad of other senior service shortages.

House speaker Eves may just be courting the substantial silver-haired voter demographic in his bid for a November re-election (he can’t submit the legislation unless wins.) However, committing yourself to fight for your state’s elderly to live in their homes longer, or move to an aging-friendly community, or not having to choose between paying the heat or buying groceries is an honorable quest for someone who can affect public policy change. 

Having Medicaid supplement home care agency wages for direct in-home workers — professional caregivers and C.N.A.s —  helps draw and retain quality caregivers since they may finally eke out a living wage. With the work they do, they certainly deserve a raise, their first in a decade. A politician championing that fight is worthy of consideration.

Improving quality of life for all citizens, creating jobs, spending money more efficiently — that’s a politician’s job. As the population ages, I expect more senior issues come to the forefront, with more proactive initiatives to benefit an aging population. That’s smart politics.

Summer Blooms: Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers provide companionship to seniors, as well as caregiving and caregivers must remember to "care for the caregiver" with this week's stress relief photo.  Colorful flowers are sometimes all it takes to brighten your day. This photo of summer flowers was taken in London, England.  Before we know it summer will be fading away into the colors of autumn. Please take a moment to enjoy, and feel free to share it with your family and friends. More caregivers are always needed as seniors in America are living longer. You can learn more about becoming a senior caregiver and apply for a job near you. Thank you, caregivers, for all you do, and have a great week. 

"Where flowers bloom, so does hope."  -Lady Bird Johnson

"The Genius of Marian" Shows Love Beyond Alzheimer's

Here are some startling latest Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures from the Alzheimer's Association:

  • More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Alzheimer's disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • In 2013, 15.5 million caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at more than $220 billion
  • Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women.

Pam White is one of those women. Her own mother, the renowned painter Marian Williams Steele, herself died of Alzheimer’s in 2001 at the age of 89. Ms. White was in the midst of writing a biography of her mother, entitled “The Genius of Marian” when she began exhibiting the signs of early-onset dementia. Because she was struggling with typing and other tasks, her filmmaker son, Banker White, began to videotape conversations with his mother with the hope of helping her continue her project.

What came out of those conversations is a film that captures big events and small, as Ms. White details and recalls the events of her life. It also catches the struggle of a loving family as they deal with the complex emotions of losing a loved one to the disease.

It was an audience favorite at the Tribeca Film festival and, by all accounts, is a remarkable film—both for its subject matter and the intimacy and love with which it’s displayed.

In December of 2012, Banker White wrote a guest blogpost for Maria Shriver’s Inspirational Stories for Architects of Change, describing the powerful process of filmmaking this incredibly personal project.

“I believe the story is deeply important and powerfully told and I trust it will resonate not only for those directly affected by Alzheimer’s disease, but for with anyone who has had to reconcile complicated emotions around aging and loss.”



“It’s a remarkable film, not only for the obvious affection with which it was made, but as art.” – John Anderson, INDIEWIRE

David Shenk, award-winning, national-bestselling author of six books, including what is commonly known as the “the definitive work on Alzheimer’s,” The Forgetting (2001), served as consultant on the film. His short video below, provides an engaging and informative introduction to Alzheimer's disease.


The film will air nationally for the first time on PBS’s POV on Sept. 8 and film screenings are available for communal viewing. I’m inking the television debut on my calendar and hoping that Caregiverlist will be able to host a viewing in the Chicago area soon.

CareZone App Organizes Care Plans: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

Senior caregivers need to remember various details about the care their senior clients receive, from which medications need to be taken when to dietary restrictions. Caregivers also need to remember appointments, important contacts and comfort preferences for each of their senior clients. If a caregiver works with multiple senior clients, they need to keep these details straight for each person they work with. The CareZone app allows caregivers to create separate private profiles within for each senior client to remember important care details.

The categories within the CareZone app include a journal feature, medications, calendar, to-dos, notes, photos & files and a broadcast option. 

The journal feature and notes feature both allow caregivers to jot down specific information or records of a day for future reference. The journal feature is better suited for ongoing observations, such as for monitoring symptoms of arthritis on a daily basis to later share with a doctor. Photos and files can also be used with this feature if the appearance of an ailment needs to be documented. The notes feature finds better use for one time thoughts to jog the memory at a later date. 

The broadcast option serves as a way to send a recorded message to up to 100 people at once, which could be used to share information with several members of a senior clients' family at once or to share a sweet message from a senior client to their loved ones. The medications section provides a log of medications for each client and sends out a reminder for each dosage. The contacts area allows users to share emergency contacts with the family of a client to plan ahead in case of an emergency.

The overall CareZone app structure is fairly basic but nonetheless serves as a useful tool for senior caregivers to assist in several aspects of caregiving. The private patient profiles particularly help caregivers who may work with multiple senior clients and need to keep care notes separate for each of them. 

The CareZone app is available for Apple and Android 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

Teriyaki Bowl Makes for Surprisingly Quick Dinner

Senior caregivers spend long hours at work and once they come home, the idea of cooking dinner from scratch can seem like a daunting and time consuming task. Many home cooks don't realize how easy making their own sauces from scratch can be nor how little time it takes. Myfamilydish.com shares with us their homemade teriyaki sauce recipe, which they say can be made in less time than it takes to pick up an order from your local Chinese restaurant. 

Teriyaki sauce from Myfamilydish.com

 

The basic ingredients for the teriyaki sauce include garlic, ginger, soy sauce, water, Mirin and vinegar. Health benefits of creating your own sauce include being able to control the specific ingredients that make up the final product. If you or a senior client have a dietary restriction limiting your daily sodium intake, then that need can be accommodated with a homemade sauce recipe by using low sodium ingredients or a salt substitute. In this particular recipe, take note of the amount of sodium in the soy sauce you plan to use before purchasing. 

Once the safe is made, combine your favorite Asian noodle with vegetables of your choice. Try broccoli, snap peas, eggplant or cabbage and add some cooked shrimp or chicken in for additional protein. Top with your teriyaki sauce and serve. The recipe overall shouldn't take more than twenty minutes for a healthy customizable dinner.

 

Nursing Home Staff Turnover Rate Affects Care

Aging-in-Place: there’s no doubt about it—when given a choice of where to spend their waning years, the majority of Americans, nearly 90 percent, want to stay in their own homes as they grow old. However, that’s sometimes not possible. Although the Census Bureau reports the number of American nursing home residents decreased by 20% from 2000 to 2010, falling from 1.6 million to 1.3 million, the fact is that many elderly need care they cannot receive at home.

Nursing homes used to (and perhaps still do) have an attached stigma. I grew up on horror stories about neglect, theft, and all sorts of senior abuse running rampant in facilities. Grainy “hidden camera” news reports showed the horrific institutions where the elderly were left to die alone. While I am sure that those situations still unfortunately remain, I also know from first hand experience that top-notch, quality nursing homes do exist.

Modern skilled nursing homes provide safe and comprehensive care that might be difficult to receive at home. As our Elder Law Expert, Ben Neiberger asserts in Tip Nine of his 10 Elder Care Tips to Make Senior Care Easier, nursing home placement isn't death sentence.

There are many factors that go into determining what makes for a great (or even good) nursing home. Caregiverlist's® Nursing Home Star Ratings are calculated utilizing the nursing home’s overall Medicare Star Rating, percent of short-stay residents with bed sores, Certified Nursing Aide hours per resident per day, and percentage of long-term residents whose need for help with ADLs has increased.

Nursing home staff turnover is another factor that determines quality nursing home care. Direct care staff, registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and certified nursing assistants (C.N.A.s) have an immediate affect on the quality of life for nursing home residents. The longer a caregiver stays on the job, the more they know their patients and are better equipped to provide the continuity of care they need. If a nursing home’s staff turnover is high, the caliber of care may suffer.

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) conducts an annual survey to collect data on staff turnover, retention, and vacancy rates in nursing homes nationwide. The 2012 survey shows the median turnover rate in skilled nursing centers for RNs was 50.0%, LPNs was 36.4%, and C.N.A.s was a whopping 51.5%. High C.N.A. turnover increases the odds of a nursing home being cited for deficiencies by 54 percent, according to a 2014 study published in February by the Journal of American Medical Directors Association.

States are beginning to take notice of nursing home staffing concerns and are putting systems in place to help retain quality workers. In Iowa, the Public Health Department has developed an online Prepare to Care course for direct care workers and is collaborating with the Caregivers Association to help nursing home workers sign up for health benefits. Ohio has instituted a Long-Term Care Quality Initiative to help raise the bar for long-term care staff.

One (of four) of AHCA’s Quality Initiative goals, whose deadline is March 2015, is to reduce turnover of long-term direct care staff by 15 percent.

Here’s hoping they achieve those lofty goals, for the sake of nursing home staff and residents alike.

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Adirondack Serenity: Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Unspoiled and clean mountain air is good for the soul. This week's photo takes us to the beautiful Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York.  It is a place to truly get away from it all. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers to take a moment to enjoy the photo and inspirational quote, and relieve a bit of the stress that we know is a reality. 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. Have a great week.

"Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind."  -Amit Ray

 

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