English Rose: Stress Relief Photo

A beautiful flower is a small thing, but one of the special things in our world worth noticing. This week's photo was taken in the gardens of Hever Castle in England. We invite you to take a moment to relax and enjoy the photo and inspirational quote and share it with loved ones. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. 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. Have a great week. 

Bracing for the Elder Boom in America

The image of a typical nursing home, right or wrong, inspires fear in the hearts of many seniors. They picture dark, dank living spaces, rife with an uncaring, or worse, malicious staff, and, perhaps most of all, they fear becoming isolated and forgotten. It’s no wonder, then, that the idea of aging in place, at home, is a popular option for elders in America. And as the baby boom gives way to the elder boom, we realize that whatever viable options are put in place for seniors today will become our aging options in the not-too-distant future.

In her book, The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, 2014 MacArthur Fellow Ai-jen Poo discusses the need to provide an environment whereby the increasingly aging population can stay in their own homes if they choose. But finding a competent careforce will be the primary challenge. Tackling that imminent problem is Ms. Poo’s primary focus.

Living longer is a good thing, as long as there are systems in place to care for the aged. By 2035 there will be 11.5 million Americans over the age of 85, more than double today's five million. Right now, those who need long-term care, nearly 79%, live at home or in community settings, not in institutions, and 90% would prefer to age at home. Currently, the lion’s share of home care is provided free of charge by informal or family caregivers.

This dynamic is unsustainable according to demographics and to a changing society, as Ms. Poo points out in the book. Whereas the women in the family were traditionally expected to provide care for aging parents, dual-income American family households means there is no one at home full-time to absorb those duties. Households with fewer children and more elderly begins to look a little like something from Roald Dahl’s imagination.

The answer, clearly, is a vital, supported profession senior care workforce. Ms. Poo fights for the rights of domestic workers across the nation. Fair wages along with comprehensive senior care training would go a long way to help stem the high caregiver turnover rate and provide consistency for seniors, their families, and for the workers themselves. But paying for in-home care is already a challenge for most seniors and their families. Ms. Poo proposes that this nation needs to face and tackle these challenges now, so that all seniors and their families have access to the care they deserve.

Ms. Poo recently worked with the Department of Labor to include senior caregivers in federal minimum wage and overtime protections (which has since been delayed.). She is a vital part of Caring Across Generations who believe that this country has “an unprecedented opportunity to bring care back home—where we feel most safe and secure, and surrounded by love – and to create much needed jobs in the process.”

The Age of Dignity provides a positive roadmap to becoming a more caring nation while addressing our fraying safety net and the limited opportunities for women and immigrants in the workforce.

 

 

File Taxes Using TurboTax App

Filing taxes can be difficult when given several different forms from jobs and banks to describe your financial activity in 2014. Senior caregivers who work independently also may need to file their taxes as self employed. Instead of manually filling out a tax form yourself, caregivers can use the TurboTax app for a guided step by step process to complete their tax forms correctly and to avoid error. 

When the TurboTax app launches, it initially displays a screen that asks for an overall financial picture of your life in 2014. Were you single or married, did you have any dependents, own a home or a business, etc? Place a check mark in the box for all that apply so the app knows which sections to focus on as they take you through the tax filing process. Based on your selections, it will suggest which version of their products and which form you should use to file. The basic Federal Tax edition of their filing is free to all users.

Once users create an account, the app will begin to guide them through filling out the tax form by asking targeted questions. Caregivers should gather all of their tax forms together before they begin this portion of the app so that they can fill it out quickly. What is your occupation? Do you have a W-2 form? If so, enter the information from the form as requested into the system. TurboTax makes it easy by telling you which boxes on the W-2 to find the information needed for each box in app. If you instead have a 1099 form for self employment, TurboTax has a spot for that as well. 

TurboTax continues after wage information to ask about investments, health insurance, deductions, etc. The key to getting the most out of your taxes is to think back at your financial activity over the past year and make sure you include any dependents, interest on student loans, charitable donations, etc. Luckily the TurboTax app asks the questions that caregivers may not think to ask themselves to complete their 2014 taxes. 

The TurboTax 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

Seniors and Snow Removal

Winter Storm Linus dragged its blanket of snow across the North and Northeast portions of the United States earlier this week. Many spent long hours digging out and when, as we here in Chicago experienced, city snowplows couldn’t get to side streets, many of us were trapped in the middle of the road, tires spinning. It’s then that we had to rely on the kindness of strangers to help shovel us out of a mess.

Even for the hale and hearty, navigating treacherous sidewalks, getting from point A to point B, prove to be quite a challenge. Major municipalities like Boston, Chicago have city ordinances that make it a finable offense to neglect clearing snow and ice from property sidewalks.

Most city ordinances require snow removal within a certain period of time (usually within 3-4 hours of snowfall ending) and for a minimum path size in order to accommodate pedestrians, people in wheelchairs, strollers, students walking to and from school, individuals with assistive devices and, ironically, seniors.

These senior homeowners are the same who are compelled to clear their own sidewalk or face considerable fines. The snow that Linus dropped was wet and heavy and fell intermittently all day. Shoveling is hard work and can take a quick toll on the body at any age, but especially if that body is older.

According to a study that appeared in the January 2011 issue of the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, cardiac-related injuries accounted for only 7 percent of the total number of cases, but they were the most serious. More than half of the hospitalizations and 100 percent of the 1,647 fatalities occurred while shoveling snow  Patients 55 years of age and older were 4.25 times more likely than younger patients to experience heart attack symptoms while shoveling snow, and men were twice as likely as women to exhibit cardiac-related symptoms. With that in mind, Consumers Advocate has an extensive list of reviews for medical alert devices. When used properly, they can alert the proper authorities whenever it detects a medical emergency.

The City of Chicago provides a volunteer snow-shoveling service called the Snow Corps, which seniors and those with disabilities can contact by calling 311, filling out an online Service Request, or by contacting their Ward office.

Some programs like the Snow Sergeant program in Lansing, MI pair screened and pre-approved High School students needing community volunteer hours with local seniors who need snow removal services.

The Chore Corps Program in Madison, WI is operated by Independent Living, Inc., a local not-for-profit multi-service organization. Following snow storms, volunteers shovel sidewalks and driveways for seniors, allowing the seniors to safely enter and exit their homes.
The volunteers also provide a meals-on-wheels service for independent living seniors.

Caregivers are urged to discourage seniors from clearing their own sidewalks when it would be dangerous for them to do so. Instead, keep them safely inside, warm and well-fed, and contact local authorities for needed support in order to prevent incurring any fines. Living independently is preferred by most seniors, but there’s nothing wrong with getting a little assistance.

Winter Walk: Stress Relief Photo

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 of the week. There is something very peaceful about a snowy walk in a park. This week's photo was taken in the Italian Gardens of Hyde Park in London, after a rare snowfall. Please enjoy and feel free to share it with loved ones.Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. Have a great week. 

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