New Year's Resolutions for Senior Caregivers

It’s about that time of the year. The time when we look at our lives and think “How can I make next year better than this one? Am I leading the life I want to lead?” Some people absolutely hate New Year’s resolutions. What better way to heap more stress on yourself than setting unrealistic goals?

What if we don’t call them New Year’s Resolutions? What if we refer to these ideas as hopeful plans to achieve goals that will help both caregiver and care recipient? Start them in January if you’d like, but they’ll be just as relevant in July. Bookmark or print this page and use it as a reminder that life is a balancing act and just as you give (care), you must also take.

Take Care of Yourself
This is the biggest challenge facing both family and senior caregivers. Senior care is exhausting at best, so there is little time to look after your own well being. Don’t make that mistake. You know how in an airplane emergency, you must place the oxygen mask over your own face before you can help those around you? It works the same way with your health. You are an athlete and senior care is your event. Make sure your body is in its best condition by exercising, eating right, and taking some quiet meditative time to regroup.

Take a Respite Break
You just can’t do it all yourself. Nor should you. If you are a family caregiver, consider hiring a professional caregiver to provide a few hours (or days) break for you. If money is tight and you have a community of givers nearby, programs like Lotsa Helping Hands were created to provide friends, family, and colleagues a place to come together and coordinate needed support through a group calendar. Volunteers can provide a meal, furnish transportation, or plan a visit. But most of all, they can give you a break.

Take Some Training
Whether you are a family caregiver looking to learn how to maintain a clean, safe, and healthy environment specifically geared toward seniors, or a companion caregiver who wants to begin a path to professional senior care, formal training is a great place to start. Online training (like the kind Caregiverlist offers) allows you to learn at your own pace, on your own schedule. If you are a seasoned caregiving professional, maybe it’s time to take that next step and study to become a C.N.A. — and very much in demand.

Take Advantage of Technology   
There are a host of programs and applications that can help with self- or elder-care. From exercise and nutrition, to crafting, to ideas for caregiver stress relief, every Friday, Caregiverlist’s own Paige Krzysko reviews all things Tech to help with your senior caregiving. Be sure to give her a read.

Well, that’s my last post for the year 2014 — thanks for reading. From everyone at Caregiverlist, have a happy, healthy, safe New Year and I’ll be back with senior care news, advice, opinions (and sometimes just some general nonsense) in 2015.

The Dawn of a New Year: Stress Relief Photo

As the sun sets on 2014, Caregiverlisinvites you to take a moment and enjoy our photo of the week. The quiet beauty of snow and mountains can be revitalizing.This photo was taken in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, on the last day of 2012. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. Senior care training assists caregivers to better manage a senior's care needs and manage caregiver stress.  Have a great week, and Happy New Year! 

"Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors,
and let every new year find you a better man."  -Benjamin Franklin

 

Go Do Good: Volunteering Senior Care

We know there is a great shortage of senior caregivers. That looming need for qualified home health aide caregivers is a topic I’ll address in depth in a New Year blogpost, but for now I’ll address some of the abundant opportunities to help the elderly within your community.

Meal Delivery
I have a friend who works with a food pantry delivering meals monthly to homebound seniors in senior housing not far from her house. This month, she included in her deliveries a small three-dollar poinsettia. She said that the gratitude for not only the meal but the extra gift was immeasurable. She also said that the deliveries would have gone much quicker and easier with more hands. If you’d like to volunteer to prepare and/or deliver a meal to a senior, the Meals on Wheels program caters (pun intended) to seniors around the country through their local communities.

Relieve Isolation and Loneliness
According to the Census Bureau (2010), in Chicago, 1 in 3 householders over 65 years of age lives alone. Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly has made it their mission to make sure no senior lives in isolation if they don’t want to be alone. It’s a national network of non-profit volunteer-based organizations committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly. (They) offer to people of goodwill the opportunity to join the elderly in friendship and celebration of life. Contact your local chapter to investigate opportunities to visit an elder in person or by phone.

Share Your Skills
Many nursing homes and assisted living communities are always interested in hearing from potential volunteers to help with activities and programs. Usually after passing a background check, a TB test, and signing a confidentiality agreement, volunteers are welcome to help with social activities, lead arts, crafts, music, drama, and educational programs. While you won't be able to help withe Activities of Daily Living (that's reserved for trained professional caregivers,) you can share your expertise to help better lives. Technology can help bring long-distance family together, so sharing your computer knowledge can assist a senior in keeping connected. If you have video skills, help a senior center go viral! You have so much to offer share where it will be appreciated most.

As my meal-delivering friend said, “It’s amazing how much a little interaction brightens the day of the senior crowd.” Keep the great holiday feeling going all year long. Perhaps make it a New Year’s resolution to bring a little light to a senior’s life by volunteering just a little bit of your time.

And from me and Caregiverlist, Happy Holidays!

Holiday Warmth: Stress Relief Photo

The festive season is upon us. We are all busy with holiday preparations and getting ready to spend time with family and friends. This week's photo was taken at the historic Mayflower Pub in London, England.  It is some warm light on this, the darkest part of the year. Caregiverlisinvites you to enjoy the photo and share it with loved ones. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. 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. We wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a restful and happy week.  

"The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others' burdens,

easing others' loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts

becomes for us the magic of the holidays." -W.C. Jones

Seniors Should Be Wary of Holiday Scams

We at Caregiverlist bring this up every year: the elderly and their loved ones need to be extra cautious of holiday scam artists. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that up to 80 percent of scam victims are over 65.

According to the National Council on Aging, here are some of the more common holiday scams targeted to seniors:

Medicare Fraud
According to the Better Business Bureau, Medicare scammers ask for personal information such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, credit card or bank account numbers and promise in return free products and services to be paid for by Medicare and Medicaid. In October of this year, CBS MoneyWatch reported that the FTC shut down a scam in which millions of dollars were allegedly stolen from older Americans by callers who claimed to be working on behalf of Medicare. Those who gave their information saw hundreds of dollars in bank account withdrawals.

Beware the Nigerian Prince
Most seniors don’t have extensive experience with the internet and email, making them perfect targets for online scams. Oftentimes, there is a promise of lottery winnings or release of funds if the winner just pays an upfront fees. Scam artists collect bank routing and account numbers and, of course, the senior never sees dime one.

Dearly Departed Debt
In an especially onious scam, victims are found through obituaries. Victims are recent widows or widowers who are contacted and told that their deceased spouse had left behind thousands of dollars in debt. Usually flush with recent insurance money, the victim will seek to resolve the debt rather than face “financial ruin, eviction, and public disgrace.”

The Old “Grandparent Scam”
The Grandparent Scam is nothing new but the over the holidays, when many college kids find themselves back home over winter break, grandparents can find themselves on the receiving end of a disquieting call. “Often, the scammer will pose as a grandchild in college and tell the grandparent that they are in legal trouble or even physical danger,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote in a letter to colleges and universities across the state. “They will ask the unsuspecting grandparent to wire money immediately and, as a means of avoiding detection, ask the victim not to tell other family members about the situation.”

Why are the Elderly More Vulnerable to Fraud?
It may be that the part of the brain that detects suspicious looks and behavior becomes less active as we age. A study done by professors at UCLA has found that the area of the brain called the anterior insula diminishes the older we get, and “untrustworthy” faces can’t be distinguished from the trustworthy. Also, social neuroscientist Shelley Taylor of the University of California, Los Angeles, asserts that “Older people are good at regulating their emotions, seeing things in a positive light, and not overreacting to everyday problems.” However, this trait may make them less wary and more susceptible to scams.

So have that talk with your senior loved one or client and make them aware that, especially at this time of year, they can easily fall victim to fraud. If you or a senior you know has been the victim of a scam or fraud, report it to your local police department and Department on Aging. You may help prevent others from becoming victims as well.

Language Translation Made Easy for Caregivers

Senior caregivers with clients whose first language isn't English may have an easier time communicating with them in their primary language as they age. However, senior caregivers who are unfamiliar with the native language of their senior client may have difficulty communicating through gaps in language. The Google Translate app allows caregivers to translate back and forth between English and several foreign languages for clearer understanding. 

The Google Translate app accepts input via text or via voice entry. This makes it ideal for caregivers who may be struggling to understand a single word or phrase that their senior client is using in a foreign language. Instead of needing to spell it out into the app to look the word up, caregivers can simply hold the phone out and record what the senior client says. Then Google will translate the phrase into English. It also carries a handwriting feature, that can help translate handwritten text. Senior clients can write a word or phrase onto the box in the phone with their finger and google will display the typed text above. Then, users can hit translate to see the words in English.
 
Google translate doesn't work for total translation of longer blocks of text, though. It looks at each individual word in a sentence and translates it exactly word for word, meaning that the translation may be slightly off. However, it will provide the user with a general idea of what the phrase means. With 80 different languages in the app to chose from, Google translate offers basic translation services that caregivers can take advantage of to understand senior clients more effectively in a native language. 
 

The Google Translate 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

Modern Family: Rise of the Multi-Generational Household

“Grampa is coming to live with us.” “Mom, I’m moving back home.” A struggling economy and an aging society is creating a new living dynamic in American — the three- (and sometimes four-) generation home.

We know that people are living longer and, while long-distance family caregiving is still common, it is also expensive. Families may use senior home care agencies to provide professional care to assist their elderly relatives with activities of daily living. Costs can skyrocket in times of crisis when a son or daughter finds themselves scrambling to make last-minute travel plans and miss work. Senior care costs such as those for nursing homes and assisted living communities continue to increase,  and many families may find it more economical to take a parent or parents into their own home.

According to the Pew Research Center, 57 million Americans, or 18.1% of the population lived in multi-generational family households in 2012. That number has doubled since 1980. Why the uptick? Many factors come into play, but The Great Recession of 2007-2009 has had a huge effect in the change in living arrangements. Many families lost their homes in the collapse of the housing bubble, forcing them to combine households. Young adults aged 25 to 34 have become a new demographic; known as the “boomerang youth’, they find themselves returning to the family home when it’s no longer economically viable to live on their own.

I’m part of the “Sandwich Generation”. I care for my children as well as an aging parent. The time and effort (and money) I spend supporting two households could be minimized if I could just combine them. I might also be able to claim my parent as a dependent if I pay more than half of their financial support. As a dependent, my parent’s exemption will be worth $4,000 in 2015.

Multigenerational living is not a new concept by any means. In fact, prior to WWII, it was the norm. But prosperity and suburban sprawl gave way to the migration of the nuclear family. According to the Pew Research Center, in 1940, about a quarter of the population lived in a multi-generational home; by 1980, just 12% did.

The trend reversal has benefits that extend beyond the financial. If the grandparent is healthy, they can provide free childcare to the working parent(s). Many find that daily contact between grandparent and grandchild to be invaluable. And, of course, senior isolation is nonexistent. However, there are drawbacks.

The only way to make it work, according to many multi generational families who live together, is to find a space that provides separation and retrofitting existing living spaces to accommodate the elderly. This means building an addition to a current home to provide an “in-law” apartment, or adding an elevator to ease access to multiple floors.

Some builders like Lennar with their NextGen homes, are creating “homes within homes” — complete with bedroom, full bath, kitchenette, living room, laundry room and separate entrance.
Be prepared to see more of these types of living situations. It looks like I may have to give it a go in the near future. And while I’ve always dreamed of living on the Kennedy compound, I have a feeling my multigenerational family home will look a lot more like the Waltons.

Festive Lights: Stress Relief Photo

The holiday season is in full swing, and there are lights and celebrations all around, brightening December's darkness. It can also be a very stressful time of year for many. At Caregiverlist we know the realities of caregiver stress. This week's photo of holiday lights was taken on the busy Oxford Street in London. Caregiverlisinvites you to enjoy the photo and share it with loved ones.Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. Senior care training assists caregivers to better manage a senior's care needs and manage caregiver stress. Please remember to take a moment to yourselves and have a great week.  

"We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own."

 -Ben Sweetland

Caregiverlist Picks: Senior Care Movies Streaming on Netflix

If you read the Caregiverlist® Blog: Caring for the Caregiver with any frequency, you know I’m a movie fanatic. Over the years I’ve recapped quite a few movies that deal with Alzheimer’s and other memory loss diseases, aging, and even senior caregiver robots.

If you subscribe to movie streaming service Netflix, here’s your opportunity to catch some of those great movies and documentaries on the privacy of your own device. Here’s some of the titles you’ll find in December:

Alive Inside

This moving documentary shows the power of music on the mind. Social worker Dan Cohen uses music to reawaken memory in nursing-home patients afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Advanced Style

Another documentary, this movie follows seven New York City women in their 80s and 90s who refuse to become invisible in a culture that values youth. Photographer and blogger Ari Seth Cohen has been documenting stylish seniors in NYC since 2008 and has now brought some of his most eccentric subjects to life in this film. Reviews are divided, however, between viewers who admire these ladies’ outrageousness and those who feel the aged should be a little more dignified.

Quartet

Dustin Hoffman directs this film about a trio of retired opera singers as they prepare for their annual gala concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday. Maggie Smith is their estranged fourth arrives and refuses to participate. With Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins.

Robot & Frank

It’s nice when caregivers and care recipients share interests. Companion caregiver robots are already more fact than fiction, so the premise of this film is not so far out of the realm of reality. Set some time in the near future, elderly Frank’s son and daughter are concerned he can no longer live alone. Rather than place him in a nursing home, Frank’s son gets him a talking humanoid robot programmed to provide care. Lucky for Frank, a retired cat burglar, the robot’s talents extend beyond basic senior care. Be warned, however—some caregivers have found the ending a little bleak. With Frank Langella, James Mardsen, Liv Tyler.

Take some time out from watching holiday classics to enjoy some of these senior-related films. Do you have favorites that are not on this list?

Holiday Shopping Made Easier By Coupons and Deals in App

When holiday shopping, it can be difficult to find the perfect gift at the best price possible. For senior caregivers on a budget, the price of gifts can be an extra stressor. Instead of scouring through newspapers and endless e-mails looking for the best deals, the Retale app offers users sale information for several stores in one place. 

When users open the app for the first time and allow it to use their location, a menu opens up featuring suggested retailers including Target, CVS, Best Buy, etc. Users can scroll through the list and star their favorite stores for a more customized viewing later.  The app then takes users to a home screen showing all of the weekly ads for those stores in their area on one menu. The weekly ads look just like the ads found in a newspaper sharing all of the special deals in that particular store. The app goes a step further and shows the store name, when the add expires and how far the user is from a location of that store. 

For stores with multiple pages to their sales guide, users can swipe their finger left or right across the screen to flip through page by page. Caregivers looking for gift ideas for loved ones without a particular item in mind will benefit most from this set up as they can quickly look through the deals presented and see if any of the items will work as a present for a loved one. The largest pitfall of the app is the inability to compare store to store the cost of a single item, or to compare deals in a category such as electronics or kitchen appliances. For finding the best price on the web for a specific item, users are probably better off searching online. 

Caregivers can also use the app to view deals on groceries throughout the rest of the year or to find places nearby with deals when in an unfamiliar area. The app also allows users to create a shopping list before they leave for a store and use a scissors function to clip coupons from the ads for electronic storage. 

 

The Retale app is available for free 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

Log in