Sleep Better Using Natural Sleep Cycle App

Waking up in the morning after sleeping the whole night and feeling tired anyways feels like you've been cheated by nature somehow. Understanding your natural sleep cycles along with the proper amount of sleep you should get in a night helps senior caregivers feel more refreshed and prepared for the day. The Sleep Time app provides users with the ability to set an alarm to wake them up during the lightest part of their sleep cycle. 

When caregivers first create an account, the Sleep Time app tracks their sleeping patterns for the first few nights and establishes when the user is in their deepest sleep. The app uses movement detected by the phone to help determine this so users need to keep their phone on their mattress. The alarm portion of the app is set for a half an hour window. The app determines when you are in your lightest sleep cycle within that half an hour and wakes you up gradually then. 

A main page displays the current time and the alarm options for users to choose from. Users indicate if they've had caffeine, ate late, worked out, had a stressful day, consumed alcohol or are not sleeping in their bed before setting their alarm so the app can make informed conclusions about their sleep cycle. 

To help users who live in noisy environments fall asleep peacefully at night, the Soundscapes feature provides noise such as Gentle Waves for a user selected period of time. Additional Soundscape options are available in the paid version of the app. Users also may adjust volume level and settings such as whether or not to start a Soundscape when the alarm is set. 

Getting enough sleep contributes to stress relief as well as mental and physical wellness. For caregivers in particular, taking time to unwind and get full rest every night plays a big part in maintaining a stressful lifestyle. If you're having issues sleeping through the night or waking up tired regularly, try to avoid caffeine and other stimulants too close to bedtime. 

The Sleep Time 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

Sunday Dinner Pledge Encourages Family Meals with Seniors

We all know that good nutrition is one of the cornerstones of healthy aging. But for seniors living independently, it can be tedious (and lonely) to cook and eat healthy meals for one. Those who live in assisted living or nursing homes may take their meals with others, but have little choice in their mealtime companions.

In an effort to help promote meals with elderly family members, Home Instead Senior Care, a quality in-home senior care agency, is promoting the idea of establishing a regularly scheduled monthly sit-down dinner with family loved ones.

The Sunday Dinner Pledge is free and all it requires is that you pledge to bring back Sunday dinner with your senior loved ones at least once per month and discover how to make the most of being together. Sharing meals has been shown to help improve seniors’ quality of life.

Make that pledge by July 31 and the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation® will donate $1 to Meals on Wheels America (up to $25,000 total) for each person that commits to regularly scheduling family dinners at SundayDinnerPledge.com. Meals on Wheels can then help ensure other seniors will enjoy quality meals through their program.

Food Network celebrity Chef Melissa d’Arabian along with a dietitian for the Home Instead Senior Care network present easy, nutritious recipes, healthy food plans, and detailed shopping lists for those who may need meal inspiration.

The website also features 10 conversation starters to help eliminate those awkward dinner table silences. Topics include family name origins and what’s on your bucket list. Along with topics, the website includes Action Items to help prep for the next dinner.

“It’s not about making the pledge, it’s more about just spending time with your family,” Sheryl Brown, community resource coordinator of Home Instead Senior Care in Fremont, Nebraska told the Fremont Tribune. “It’s also a great way from an intergenerational standpoint for the younger kids to learn about the experiences and the lives of older Americans and family members we have living close to us. It helps bring family together when you can have those conversations.”

Caregiverlist agrees. Bring back the Sunday family dinner!

Come Sail Away: Stress Relief Photo

Memorial Day weekend has come. It is a time of remembrance and for many the start of summer, and all the joys that the season brings. This week's stress relief photo was taken in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Please enjoy and feel free to share it with loved ones. Caregivers provide companionship to seniors, as well as caregiving and caregivers must remember to "care for the caregiver." Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend, and have a great week.

"Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling. " -Margaret Lee Runbeck

Cartoonist Draws from Life of Senior Care

I love graphic novels. I spent summers at the lake reading Charlie Brown paperbacks. As the mother of an 11-year-old boy, I’ve seen my fair share of superheroes battling villains. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series made Jeff Kinney a household name (at least, in my household.) But as much as love those books, no graphic novel ever spoke to my adult reality. Until now.

The ever-fantastic New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast has produced a memoir of her life as a senior family caregiver. In Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant, Ms. Chast recounts the relationship she had with her parents during the final years of their lives, and with it she makes the exasperating, devastating, depressing, inevitable decline insightful and, yes, funny.

The only child to older parents, Roz Chast had heard stories about her family's perseverance through difficult lives including immigration, the Depression, World War II, and the Holocaust. Little wonder her parents just don’t want to face, or even talk about, death. Ms. Chast alone has to face that point when her parents were too old and frail to care for themselves in their Brooklyn apartment.

She tried to be the “perfect daughter” by coming in and cleaning, but her mother wasn’t receptive. As Ms. Chast puts it in her book, I wasn’t great as a caretaker, and they weren’t great at being taken care of. She shows the dichotomy of her feelings in a panel called Gallant and Goofus — Daughter as Caretaker Edition, where, on one hand, her Gallant says she “Treasures the time spent with her parents because she knows that soon, they’ll be gone,” yet her Goofus admits that “Mostly, when with her aged parents, wishes she were somewhere else.” Not only do I recognize this in the feelings I have toward my aging family, I also recognize that these are feelings my children will have some day toward me as well. Heady but funny stuff.

What follows is the requisite move into assisted living, along with her parents’ push-back, her mother’s decline as a widow, the double-edged sword of finding a great caregiver (shouldn’t a child be her parents’ best caregiver?), and, of course, the inevitable end, all handled with compassion (for her parents as well as herself) and humor. 

The best artists create in order to let us know we are not alone in our experiences and how we feel about them, especially if those feelings are difficult to confront. Roz Chast gives the reader an opportunity to see the universal challenges of caring for elderly parents in four-color panels.

The New Yorker as published a good number of sample panels on their site. Or you could just go ahead and buy the book. Read it for yourself, then leave it for your kids to read.

See Interruptions to a Senior's Daily Routine Through App

For senior caregivers and families of senior clients, the peace of mind that comes with knowing a senior living independently isn't having any problems isn't easy to come by. 24/7 reassurance that nothing unusual or alarming is happening doesn't come naturally. The new Lively technology places sensors on items in the home connected to a watch that seniors wear to allow caregivers and loved ones check in on their daily routine electronically. 

Lively technology centers around a watch for seniors to wear at all times. Whenever a senior using Lively opens a refrigerator door, tilts their pill box or takes a step, the sensors on their watch or on the items pick up and record the movement. The watch transmits the data it receives back to an app and a website that loved ones or senior caregivers can log into and review.

The tracking helps establish a sense of a senior's daily pattern so that if it abruptly changes, someone knows to check in if a few meals are missed or there's a significant decrease in the number of steps taken in a day. Family members or caregivers can also get alerts from the app or via text for notifications on change in behavior.

The app also provides reminder notifications to seniors to take their medication, and displays an icon of a pill and the word "missed" if a senior forgets a dosage. Caregivers or loved ones can log in and see a quick overview of location, steps taken, status of activities, etc. for a snapshot of how the senior's day is going.  

Another feature of the watch and the connected app allows seniors to push a button for emergency response if they fall or otherwise need immediate attention. A live operator responds to the call via telephone and also reaches out to up to three emergency contacts for the senior as well as dispatching emergency services, if needed. 

Another fun feature of the app gives loved ones the opportunity to log in and share a photo with a caption for the senior to see. The senior doesn't need to be incredibly tech savvy to find it though; photos uploaded into the app are sent via regular mail to the senior once a month. It provides a quick and easy way to share life updates and moments with senior loved ones. 

The Lively watch and app are provided on a monthly subscription basis. The base price starts at $49.45 for equipment and then includes various billing options for $35.95 or less per month. 

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

Sea of Poseidon: Stress Relief Photo

The sea is powerful, awe-inspiring, and beautiful. This week's photo was taken near the Temple of Poseidon, along the coast near Athens, Greece. 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 the care you provide 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, and an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.  

"Seek not good from without, seek it from within."  -Epictetus

Senior Caregivers: Check Food Expiration Dates!

I hate waste, especially when it comes to food. But while spring-cleaning my mother’s refrigerator and pantry, I was more than happy to toss those foods whose expiration dates have come and gone. However, because of my near-pathological hatred for throwing away food and the fact that my mother lives on a very fixed income and can’t afford to replace perfectly good food, I decided to do a little research and see which of the foods were salvageable.

The rule of thumb is that the more processed a food is, the longer you can extend its expiration date. While it might not be at its optimum for taste, it doesn’t necessarily prove hazardous. Those foods with lower-to-no water content (like dried pasta, crackers), dry formulation (like cake mixes), and shelf-stable because they have been heat treated (canned foods) can be safe well past the package expiration date.

Seniors should still be careful to make sure not too much time has passed, however. In an extreme case of ingesting food well past its prime, a grandmother in Italy recently sent herself, her husband, their son, and their grandchildren to the emergency room  with food poisoning after making hot chocolate with chocolate sachets that were purchased in the 80s — 25 years out of date.

Seniors should try to buy only what they will eat in a relatively timely manner. Sometimes seniors will buy more food than they can possibly consume because they don’t get to the grocery store as often, so they’ll stock up. While not an issue with sealed pantry goods, it’s not a great idea with meat and dairy (unless it’s well-wrapped and put into the freezer.)

Older people are at greater risk for serious foodborne illnesses because of their lower immune systems. Contaminated foods make you sick within a few minutes or up to a few days after eating. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, headache, fever, and weakness are some of the signs that you should see a doctor right away.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration has issued a booklet entitled Food Safety for Older Adults. In it, they cite the statistic that 48 million persons get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne infection and illness in the United States each year. Many of these people are children, older adults, or have weakened immune systems (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Senior caregivers can proactively help their senior care recipients by learning more about food safety. And if there’s any food in the house that’s been there from before the fall of the Berlin Wall, I think it’s safe to say, “Toss It!”

Summer Exercise Through Swimming App

Summer is right around the corner and with it comes the opportunity to get outdoors, enjoy the sun and get fit. Swimming offers an effective cardiovascular workout while being gentle on the joints. Senior caregivers and their senior clients can enjoy the activities together or senior caregivers can track time spent before or after work taking a few laps in the pool with the Speedo Fit app. 

The Speedo Fit app features swimming tracking and goals for beginners through advanced swimmers. When users first create an account, they set goals in the app for distance to swim. Beginners can choose to start off with a goal track called "Bathtub to 500m." It features weekly distance milestones that gradually increase until they hit the 500 meter mark. This may be a simple starting point for a more capable senior client or for caregivers new to swimming for fitness. The app also offers milestones and challenges for more experienced swimmers, such as "3K in 6 Weeks." 

The Swim Tips section of the app shares suggestions for how to improve a work out. The Swim Coach area features specific guided exercise plans designed to increase endurance and speed or improve technique. This section also provides informational videos on how to properly complete various strokes, such as the freestyle, backstroke or butterfly. It even includes an area devoted to tips for swimmers new to fitness swimming. The tips vary from pool rules and guidelines about which lane to use to what to bring with you and what gear to wear (googles, swim cap, etc.)

The Gear section expands on what's needed to get started as a new swimmer. Since the app is put together by Speedo, the gear area offers users the ability to view products and shop directly in the app. Caregivers can also take notes on what's presented in the app and shop for the items at a store of their choosing. 

Senior clients can use the app primarily for different stroke demonstrations and adapt to swim at their own pace. Even light physical activity can help seniors maintain mobility. Caregivers can accompany them to the pool and spend a little time doing a few laps on their own to help with stress relief. 

The Speedo Fit App is available for Apple 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

 

California Caregivers Still Waiting for Overtime Pay

Many senior caregivers in California are waiting for their promised fair wage and overtime pay.

Back in January, United States District Judge Michael J. Leon ruled that in-home care workers are essentially companions and thus exempt from the Department of Labor’s mandated minimum wage and overtime pay for hourly workers. This is great news for third party employers like the Home Care Association of America, who state that if wages go up, so must the cost of care billed to seniors and their families.

California has one of the most stringent overtime pay laws in the nation.  According to the Department of Industrial Relations, a California employer must pay overtime at 1.5 times an employee’s regular rate of pay for any hours over an 8 hour workday or over a 40 hour workweek. Double-time is paid for hours over a 12-hour work day or when an employee works the 7th day in a week. The minimum wage in the state of California, as of July 1, 2014, is $9 per hour (an increase from $8), and an increase to $10 per hour is scheduled for July 1, 2016.

As reported on LawyersandSettlements.com., more than 400,000 California caregivers are waiting for the ruling to be overturned. Until then, they are making 2014 wages with no overtime compensation.

It is an unfortunate debate, as in-home senior care workers make it possible for the elderly to stay at home and age in place. Even with minimum wage and overtime compensation, the in-home senior care industry saves families (and the state) money considering Caregiverlist’s® recent California Nursing Home Rating and Cost Index puts the average cost of a private room in one of the 1,320 nursing homes in that state at $257.57 per day, with some of the higher-end institutions charging over $400 per day. Of course, in-home senior care provides the one-on-one care that many elderly respond to best.

We at Caregiverlist, along with  the more than 400,000 caregivers, entreat California’s Governor Brown to fulfill his original commitment to treating in-home caregivers to the same benefits as all other hourly workers in California. The funds are already in the budget and cannot be used for other purposes. All of California’s in-home care workers anticipate the ruling to be overturned on appeal.

May Flowers: Bright and Beautiful

Flowers are a delight for the eyes and a sure way to brighten someone's day. This week's photo was taken in London, England. Caregiverlisinvites you to enjoy the photo and share it with loved ones. At Caregiverlist we know the realities of caregiver stress. 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 hope you have a great week.  

"If I had a single flower for every time I think of you,

I could walk forever in my garden."  -Claudia Adrienne Grandi

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