Bipartisan Task Force Seeks to Help Seniors Age in Place

Can senior housing issues stretch across the aisle? The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is banking on it by launching its new Health and Housing Task Force. Leading the effort are democrat Henry Cisneros, HUD secretary during former President Bill Clinton’s administration and republican Mel Martinez , HUD secretary during former President George W. Bush’s administration. Joining them in the effort are former Representatives Allyson Schwartz and Vin Weber.

The task force will look at how senior-friendly, affordable housing might reduce healthcare system costs and, at the same time, allow more seniors to age in place at home. Surveys show that most older Americans would prefer to age in their own communities rather than in institutional settings, such as nursing homes. However, the way things stand now, many homes are not equipped for safe, independent living and communities are ill-prepared to provide much-needed services like transportation for seniors who no longer drive.

At the end of the day, it’s all about potential Medicaid and Medicare savings. The current system won’t be able to sustain the growing elderly population. In-home senior care has proven much more cost-effective than institutional care, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to expand home and community based senior care.

“In 2011, only about half of Medicaid-covered long-term services and supports were provided at home or in the community, even though for most seniors, home and community-based care is preferred and often significantly less expensive,” said task force member Allyson Schwartz, a former congresswoman from Pennsylvania.

The Health and Housing Task force’s one-year effort will:

  • Seek cost-effective ways to modify homes and communities to make independent living for seniors available and safe. Finding potential funding sources will be crucial.
  • Bring attention to best practices on state and local levels for integrating housing, healthcare, and long-term services and supports. The task force will find programs that work and investigate how they can be replicated elsewhere.
  • Determine barriers to offering home- and community-based services and supports through Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Explore opportunities for further collaboration between the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services.

America is an aging nation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, projections show the population age 65 and older is expected to more than double between 2012 and 2060, from 43.1 million to 92.0 million. The increase in the number of the “oldest old” will be even more considerable— those 85 and older are projected to more than triple from 5.9 million to 18.2 million, reaching 4.3 percent of the total population. The “oldest old” are those seniors who tend to need senior care most.

Caregiverlist believes that a key element to helping seniors age in place is the well-trained, well-paid in-home caregiver. Let’s hope this bipartisan task force takes into account the issue of fair senior caregiver wages in order to help stem caregiver turnover in an effort to provide the best senior home care.

Venetian Holiday: Stress Relief Photo

One of life's great pleasures are laughter and good times with good friends. This week's photo was taken in Venice, Italy during such a time. Please enjoy and feel free to share the photo and inspirational quote with loved ones. At Caregiverliswe know the realities of caregiver stress. 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. We hope you have a great week. 

Seth Rogen's Hilarity for Charity and Home Instead Donate Alzheimer's Care

Hilarity for Charity and Home Instead Senior Care has partnered to provide more than 6,000 hours of care in-home support for more than 130 eligible U.S. and Canadian Alzheimer's families in need through the Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Relief Grant Program.

Seth Rogen and his wife Lauren Miller Rogen established Hilarity for Charity to raise money and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease among the younger people. Both became involved in the fight against Alzheimer's disease after Lauren Miller Rogen's mother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in her 50s.

In a press release, Ms. Miller Rogen said "My family is so fortunate to be able to provide the 24/7 professional care my mother needs. That care allows me to hold on to the precious moments I have with my mother so I can simply be a daughter and not just a caregiver. Our hope is that every family impacted by Alzheimer's disease can have those priceless moments, which is exactly why we created this tremendous program."

Home Instead Senior Care franchise owners pledged more than 37,000 hours of in-home care services, valued at $740,000. Grant recipients will be connected with a Home Instead franchise in their community, which will provide highly-skilled Alzheimer’s CAREGivers. Grants range from short-term in-home care 25 hours to long-term care, based on the needs of the family.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, friends and family of people with Alzheimer's and other dementias provided an estimated 17.9 billion hours of unpaid care in 2014, and nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high.

Until there’s a cure, there is care. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s other memory diseases can be exhausting and overwhelming. Respite care from a trained in-home caregiver can allow you to take a break and come back to your duties rested and refreshed. But in-home care is not inexpensive and programs like the Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Relief Grant can be a godsend to families who are struggling.

Sylvia Besson and her family received some much-needed respite care for her father. Home Instead CAREgiver Melissa Barnstable is one of the many in-home caregivers specially trained to work with Alzheimer’s patients. “I enjoy bringing clarity, enthusiasm, and kindness into their day.

For more information about the Alzheimer's Care Grant Program, including how you can donate or apply for future respite care grants, visit www.HelpForAlzheimersFamilies.com.

Easy Communication for Caregivers, Families Through App

Communication between caregivers and families of senior clients might not always sync up the way it should. The Carebridge app provides the ability to share information about a senior client with their families without needing to call them every time. 

When a user logs into Carebridge, they are immediately presented with the option to either create a new site or log into an existing site. When a caregiver creates a new site for him or herself or for someone else, he/she is presented with the option to pick a custom URL. For example, if a senior client is named Mary Smith, a caregiver could create the custom URL to be caring bridge.org/visit/marysmith if it has not already been claimed by another user. The caregiver can share this URL with anyone who needs access to the information. 

In oder to maintain privacy, the app offers three levels of security for the site a caregiver creates. Low privacy means that anyone with the URL can view the site created by the caregiver; medium privacy means that all visitors to the site must create an account and log in to view the information; and high privacy means that only people the caregiver invites to view the site can gain access. The privacy settings also address whether or not the site should appear in search results for the specific person's name.   

The site layout consists of five main areas: Journal, Guestbook, Photos, Planner and Tributes. Caregivers can use the Journal area to address any specific routine notes that family members may need to know, such as the last time a senior client took their medication or dietary restrictions. The Guestbook area and the Photos area offer an opportunity for loved ones to share moments with a caregiver's client. Grandchildren could stop by and write a little note to say hi or share a photo of a recent school project. The Planner area gives family members and caregivers alike a chance to arrange a client's schedule together. The Tributes area is for donations to the app creators to maintain the sites. Loved ones can submit a donation and write a tribute message regarding why they're donating money on that person's behalf. 

The CaringBridge 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

 

Elder Fraud on Better Call Saul

I love Bob Odenkirk. More specifically, I love Bob Odenkirk as lawyer-with-a-heart-of-gold Jimmy McGill in AMC’s Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul. After bottoming out as a criminal lawyer, Jimmy’s decided to try his hand, pretty successfully, at Elder Law.
Need a Will? Call McGill!

In last night’s episode “RICO”, our hero takes on Sandpiper Crossing, an assisted living facility that’s been bilking it’s senior residents out of their pension and social security monies by overcharging for goods and services ($14 for a box of Kleenex!) The reason this episode rings so true, unfortunately, is the story is altogether too believable. Great premise, great episode, great show.

Elder abuse and neglect can take many forms — physical, sexual, emotional, and financial. Of the four, the financial exploitation of seniors seems to be the most prevalent. Seniors are especially vulnerable to financial abuse because they are usually dependent on others for help and give access to their “helpers.” Many times, if the abuser is a family member, the senior doesn’t want to “get them in trouble” or are embarrassed by the abuse. We don’t know the actual extent of the abuse, since so much goes unreported, but the National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that 1 in 10 elderly Americans is abused or neglected each year.

Besides the obvious — taking money or property, abusers can forge the senior’s signature on documents, coerce powers of attorney, and use the older person’s possessions without permission. Of course, seniors are especially susceptible to scams.

The National Institute on Financial Issues and Services for Elders, a division of the National Council on Aging, gives these as signs of elder financial abuse:

  • Unusual or inappropriate bank account activity
  • Frequent checks for cash are written to a caregiver or financial professional.
  • The elderly person's living conditions are well below his or her financial resources.
  • Bills go unpaid or are overdue when someone is supposed to be paying them.
  • The senior transfers assets (like the title for their home) for no apparent reason.
  • Large, frequent gifts are made to a caregiver.
  • Personal belongings are missing.
  • Attempts are made by to isolate the senior from others.
  • Changes are made in a will
  • The older person takes out large, unexplained loans.

By 2050, 20 percent of the total U.S. population will be aged 65 and older. The fastest growing segment of America’s population is 85 and up. In 2010, there were 5.8 million people aged 85 or older. It’s vital that our senior caregivers are able to recognize the signs of elder abuse. All comprehensive caregiver training should include learning the types of senior abuse, legal requirements for reporting, and how to proactively protect a senior from physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse. And storylines like the one on Better Call Saul shine a spotlight on the problem and make it easier for us to recognize abuse.

Spring Peeking Through

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. This week's photo was taken alone the western coast of Ireland. Please enjoy and feel free to share it with loved ones. Many of us are eagerly awaiting the first signs of spring, like this flower finding its way out between the rocks. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. Have a great week.  

Discounts for Seniors

The poverty rate among seniors in America is already high and growing. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the poverty rate for Americans 65 and older rose (albeit slightly) from 8.9 percent in 2009 to 9.0 percent in 2010. The growing cost of food, housing, and especially medical care, which tends to increase as we age, adds to economic instability for many of our elderly.

Sure, Social Security is a net to help prevent seniors from abject poverty, but recent economic recessions have forced many older Americans, those without employment income, to live hand-to-mouth. In many instances, seniors deplete their savings to a point that they are outliving their money.

Former Caregiverlist Sherpa Vera Perekoteyeva, who is always on the lookout for ways to help seniors and their caregivers, passed along this link from MOGUL that lists discounts available for older consumers; some discounts apply for those as young as 50 years old.

While senior discounts won’t cure the ill of elderly poverty, every dollar saved is a win. Discounts can be had across the board of consumer goods and services. Many times the only prerequisite for savings (besides age) is you have to ASK for the senior discount.

Senior discounts for restaurants tend to be found in fast-food and chain establishments. Caregiverlist is a great proponent of aging well which includes nutritious eating. Remember  that you can find healthy dining options, even at fast-food restaurants.

Here are the top senior discounts for 2015 making their rounds on the web (caveat — this list is found on many sites all over the web; I have not verified these discounts, if you ask for them and are met with a blank stare, don’t shoot the messenger!):

RESTAURANTS:

  • Applebee’s: 15% off with Golden Apple Card (60+)
  • Arby’s: 10% off (55+)
  • Ben & Jerry’s: 10% off (60+)
  • Bennigan’s: discount varies by location (60+)
  • Bob’s Big Boy: discount varies by location (60+)
  • Boston Market: 10% off (65+)
  • Burger King: 10% off (60+)
  • Chick-Fil-A: 10% off or free small drink or coffee (55+)
  • Chili’s: 10% off (55+)
  • CiCi’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
  • Denny’s: 10% off, 20% off for AARP members (55+)
  • Dunkin’ Donuts: 10% off or free coffee (55+)
  • Einstein’s Bagels: 10% off baker’s dozen of bagels (60+)
  • Fuddrucker’s: 10% off any senior platter (55+)
  • Gatti’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
  • Golden Corral: 10% off (60+)
  • Hardee’s: $0.33 beverages everyday (65+)
  • IHOP: 10% off (55+)
  • Jack in the Box: up to 20% off (55+)
  • KFC: free small drink with any meal (55+)
  • Long John Silver’s: various discounts at locations (55+)
  • McDonald’s: discounts on coffee everyday (55+)
  • Mrs. Fields: 10% off at participating locations (60+)
  • Shoney’s: 10% off Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+)
  • Steak ‘n Shake: 10% off every Monday & Tuesday (50+)
  • Subway: 10% off (60+)
  • Sweet Tomatoes: 10% off (62+)
  • Taco Bell: 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)
  • TCBY: 10% off (55+)
  • Tea Room Cafe: 10% off (50+)
  • Village Inn: 10% off (60+)
  • Waffle House: 10% off every Monday (60+)
  • Wendy’s: 10% off (55+)
  • White Castle: 10% off (62+)

RETAIL & APPAREL:

  • Banana Republic: 10% off (50+)
  • Bealls: 20% off first Tuesday of each month (55+)
  • Belk’s: 15% off first Tuesday of every month (55+)
  • Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days (55+)
  • C.J. Banks: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
  • Clarks: 10% off (62+)
  • Dress Barn: 10% off (55+)
  • Goodwill: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
  • Hallmark: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
  • Kohl’s: 15% off (60+)
  • Marshall’s: 20% off every Tuesday (55+)
  • Modell’s Sporting Goods: 10% off
  • Rite Aid: 10% off on Tuesdays & 10% off prescriptions
  • Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday (55+)
  • TJ Maxx: 10% off every Tuesday (55+)
  • The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: up to 50% off (55+)
  • Stein Mart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first Monday of every month (55+)

GROCERY:

  • Albertson’s: 10% off first Wednesday of each month (55+)
  • American Discount Stores: 10% off every Monday (50+)
  • Compare Foods Supermarket: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
  • DeCicco Family Markets: 5% off every Wednesday (60+)
  • Fry’s Supermarket: free Fry’s VIP Club Membership & 10% off every Monday (55+)
  • Great Valu Food Store: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
  • Gristedes Supermarket: 10% off every Tuesday (60+)
  • Harris Teeter: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
  • Hy-Vee: 5% off one day a week (date varies by location)
  • Kroger: 10% off (date varies by location)
  • Morton Williams Supermarket: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
  • The Plant Shed: 10% off every Tuesday (50+)
  • Publix: 5% off every Wednesday (55+)
  • Rogers Marketplace: 5% off every Thursday (60+)
  • Uncle Guiseppe’s Marketplace: 5% off (62+)

TRAVEL:
Airlines:

  • Alaska Airlines: 10% off (65+)
  • American Airlines: various discounts for 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
  • Continental Airlines: no initiation fee for Continental Presidents Club & special fares for select destinations
  • Southwest Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
  • United Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
  • U.S. Airways: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
  • Amtrak: 15% off (62+)
  • Greyhound: 5% off (62+)
  • Trailways Transportation System: various discounts for ages 50+

Car Rental:

  • Alamo Car Rental: up to 25% off for AARP members
  • Avis: up to 25% off for AARP members Best Western: 10% off (55+)
  • Budget Rental Cars: 10% off; up to 20% off for AARP members (50+)
  • Dollar Rent-A-Car: 10% off (50+)
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 5% off for AARP members
  • Hertz: up to 25% off for AARP members
  • National Rent-A-Car: up to 30% off for AARP members

Hotels:

  • Cambria Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Clarion Motels: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Comfort Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Comfort Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Econo Lodge: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Hampton Inns & Suites: 10% off when booked 72 hours in advance
  • Holiday Inn: 10%-30% off depending on location (62+)
  • Hyatt Hotels: 25%-50% off (62+)
  • InterContinental Hotels Group: various discounts at all hotels (65+)
  • Mainstay Suites: 10% off with Mature Traveler’s Discount (50+); 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Marriott Hotels: 15% off (62+)
  • Motel 6: 10% off (60+)
  • Myrtle Beach Resort: 10% off (55+)
  • Quality Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Rodeway Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
  • Sleep Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)

ACTIVITIES & ENTERTAINMENT:

  • AMC Theaters: up to 30% off (55+)
  • Bally Total Fitness: up to $100 off memberships (62+)
  • Busch Gardens Tampa, FL: $3 off one-day tickets (50+)
  • Carmike Cinemas: 35% off (65+)
  • Cinemark/Century Theaters: up to 35% off
  • U.S. National Parks: $10 lifetime pass; 50% off additional services including camping (62+)
  • Regal Cinemas: 30% off Ripley’s Believe it or Not: @ off one-day ticket (55+)
  • SeaWorld Orlando, FL: $3 off one-day tickets (50+)

CELL PHONE DISCOUNTS:

  • AT&T: Special Senior Nation 200 Plan $29.99/month (65+)
  • Jitterbug: $10/month cell phone service (50+)
  • Verizon Wireless: Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan $29.99/month (65+)

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Great Clips: $3 off hair cuts (60+)
  • Super Cuts: $2 off haircuts (60+)

The serious issue of senior poverty won’t be resolved with 10 percent discounts. If you are in or near Chicago over the next few days, The Aging in America Conference will be held from March 23-27 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, where over 2,500 attendees from across the nation and abroad will discuss issues of aging and quality of life for older adults. On Thursday, March 26, from 9-10am, Paul Nathanson, JD, Special Counsel, National Senior Citizens Law Center will present Let’s Talk Senior Poverty: What Are We Doing About It? Learn more about ASA’s Aging in America Conference here.

Organize and Prioritize To Do Lists and Tasks In One App

Caregivers have a lot to balance between caring for their senior client and taking care of their personal lives. Particularly for caregivers who work with multiple senior clients, remembering and prioritizing every task can be difficult. The Centrallo app offers an organizational tool for important e-mails, to do lists, notes, etc. 

When users first launch the Centrallo app, it takes a minute to tap around and figure out all the different categories and how all the information is stored within. The first area within the app works as an inbox for important e-mails and information. When a user thinks of something they'll need to remember later on the go, they can create a new inbox note for later viewing. Every note and list item within the app offers the ability to attach a picture, an outside file or even a voice memo. Unlike other organizational apps, this feature allows users to store all pertinent information and files in one to do note and prioritize it for later use. For senior caregivers in particular, this app gives the ability to store an important document needed for a doctor's visit electronically or snap a photo while out and about to later share with a senior client's loved ones.

The other main area of the app consists of lists for users to create and use for themselves or share with others. Senior caregivers could again use this feature to share a to do list with loved ones of a senior client to note that they picked up a prescription but you're taking the client to a doctor's appointment, etc. The list area is slightly counterintuitive in that items cannot be marked as completed by tapping on the circle to the left of each item, but instead by swiping left on the line and selecting the check mark that appears. Once an items has been completed, it stays on the list screen but appears with a strike out line through it. 

Inbox items and list items appear on the priority screen when a user selects the star icon on the individual item. They also appear highlighted in read on the list screen for quick self organization when deciding which task to complete. Overall, the Centrallo app provides an organized way for caregivers to keep track of to do lists, important emails and upcoming appointments. 

The Centrallo 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

What Caring for My Mother Teaches My Children (and Vise Versa)

I’m part of the “Sandwich Generation,” a term that is used to describe those of us who care for their children as well as their aging parents. According to the Pew Research Center, 47% of American adults in their 40s and 50s are raising a young child or children (or financially supporting a child over 18) and have a living parent age 65 or older. Longer life expectancies and delayed childbearing means we baby-boomers experience the emotional, physical, and financial challenges of family caregiving across generations.

Since there’s just no getting around my double-whammy caregiving situation, I (uncharacteristically) try to keep an optimistic attitude and a little sense of humor when I feel pulled in so many directions at once. Caring for children is not all that different from caring for seniors and as care-recipients, they have a lot to learn from each other.

Patience, patience, patience
Are you trying to get out of the house on time? Start an hour early. Trying to decide on which cereal to buy? Be prepared to look at every box. Whatever time you think you need to complete a task, double it. That’s just the way it is. If you as the caregiver begin to show signs of stress and impatience, those in your care will respond with agitation and frustration. Those tasks that seem to take an interminably long time will take even longer. There have been times when I’ve been pushed to my limit, and here’s something interesting — if I raise my voice to my mother, she gets the same look on her face as my children do when I yell at them — and it’s not a good look. I’ve learned to breathe deeply, count to 10 (or 100), smile, and go scream into a pillow.

You can be active without being at a full-run
There’s nothing wrong with watching television or (more in the case of kids than of mom) playing video games. Sometimes we need that passive entertainment. But it’s important to balance those things with mind-engaging activities. Puzzles and games help with logic, thinking, and memory. Meandering strolls in the park not only help with your large motor skills (and I’m there to make sure you don’t fall!), but it gives us the opportunity to get away from all of life’s distractions, look at the world around us, and maybe have some great conversations.

Sometimes you need a little help
There’s no shame in asking for help now and then. It doesn’t mean you are weak or needy, it means that with someone’s help, you can do essential tasks quicker and safer.  Both children and the elderly need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) like bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene (I swear if he doesn’t do it more often, I’m going to floss my son’s teeth for him.) I stoop to tie shoes and a climb to reach things that are too high. My children feel no loss of dignity when they realize they need my help, neither should my mother.

There’s nothing that a hug won’t help
Hugs can’t fix everything, but many studies show that there’s a physiological change that occurs when someone gets a supportive touch. Hugs and hand-holding have been shown to help release a person’s oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, known as the “feel good hormones.” Touch has been known to lower blood pressure, lower the risk of heart disease, and alleviate anxieties and fears. And remember, as you are giving, so are you getting. Hugs work both ways.

I don’t know how much longer I will have to care for my mother, and my children will grow up and away from me before I’m ready. Yes, multi-generational caregiving can be exhausting and stressful, but it doesn’t last forever and I need to remind myself of that every day. I’ve chosen the child-rearing, parent-caregiving path (or it chose me) and strength of character is often determined by how one handles challenging situations. And when my “strength of character” threatens to bail (as it does for everyone), babysitters and professional senior caregivers are there to provide respite and help me keep sane.

Stress Relief Moment at the Beach

Many of us think of a beach when we think of getting away from the stresses of life. This week's photo was taken in the town of Tenby in Wales. 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. Enjoy the longer days and have a great week. 

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