This week we remember those lives lost in service to their country. 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. This week's stress relief photo was taken in the crypt of Winchester Cathedral in Winchester, England. The crypt floods during rainy times but remains beautiful, and shows the sculpture by Antony Gormley of a solitary man called "Sound II." This cathedral is also Jane Austen's final resting place. Please enjoy and feel free to share the photo and inspirational quote with loved ones. We hope you have a great week.
"Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure." -Jane Austen
Brain health may soon be proved to be the most important component of healthy living and aging, as our brains connect to all the other functions in our bodies. The human operating system is turning out to be greatly impacted by our state of mind. Researchers now say our brains are the most important organ, creating memories, driving emotions and controlling every movement in our bodies. Now you can be proactive about managing your brain health with an online brain check-up tool.
One of our favorite authors, Deepak Chopra, and his pal Dr. Rudi Tanzi, also have a new book coming out called "Super Genes, Unlock the Astonishing Power of Your DNA for Optimum Health and Well-Being", as a follow-up to their book "Super Brain" and you can pre-order it. This book discusses how 95% of disease-related gene mutations are fully deterministic and influenced by diet, behavior and other environmental conditions.
Cleveland Clinic's Six Pillars of Brain Health can help us preserve our memory and lower our risk for brain disease. The recent suicide of actor Robin Williams, who was suffering from Lewy Body dementia, we now know, reminds us how vital it is to be able to properly diagnose our health issues. However, some types of dementia are difficult to diagnose in the early stages. Especially when there is an early onset of Alzheimer's disease, it can be mistaken for schizophrenia, drug abuse and all kinds of ailments that add even more stress to the situation.
Keep Memory Alive is a non-profit organization created to increase awareness and raise funds for the research, management and treatment of brain disorders (they are located in Las Vegas and receive sponsorship money from Caesar's - it's good to know there are gambling dollars going towards something positive). The Cleveland Clinic's Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is supported by Keep Memory Alive and treats patients with:
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Huntington's Disease
- Parkinson's Disease
- Fronto-temporal Dementia
- Multiple Sclerosis
The Healthy Brains free brain check-up will help you manage your brain health and to be "mindful" of how to best care for your brain. When you take the Cleveland Clinic's free online brain check-up, you can also join their healthy brains research registry which also connects you to a community of people who are willing to participate in clinical research as we work to better understand how to treat illnesses impacting the brain. 6 Pillars for Brain Health
- Physical Exercise
- Mental Fitness
- Food & Nutrition
- Sleep & Relaxation
- Social Interaction
- Medical Health
Clinical trials are necessary to study better ways to treat memory loss. Right now, more than 70,000 volunteer participants are needed for more than 150,000 Alzheimer's Disease and dementia clinical trials. Participants are needed who are both healthy as well as those who already have a diagnosis of memory loss. Find clinical trial openings at Cleveland Clinic. Plan ahead for senior care needs or those of a loved one by learning about what Medicare and Medicaid cover and available care options near you.
Louisiana caregivers are called "Direct Service Workers" and receive this designation when working for senior care companies or as caregivers for the disabled.
The definition by the state of Louisiana of a Direct Service Worker is:
An unlicensed person who provides personal care or other services and supports to persons with disabilities or to the elderly to enhance their well-being. The caregiver is involved in face-to-face direct contact with the person and is compensated through state or federal funds. Functions performed may include, but are not limited to, assistance and training activities of daily living, personal care services and job-related supports. from LAC 48:1 Chapter 92 Sub-Chapter A 9201.
Louisiana private pay senior home care agencies will also hire caregivers who are trained as Direct Service Workers.
Senior caregivers may take an online caregiver training course to obtain the Louisiana DSW training.
Direct Service Worker training includes these topics:
- Abuse, Neglect, Misappropriation of Property
- Staff Ethics for Direct Service Workers
- Human and Civil Rights
- Confidentiality and HIPAA
- Person-Centered Planning, Personal Outcomes and Self-Determination Philosophy
- Incident Documentation and Reporting
- Documentation of Services
- Environmental Emergency Procedures
- Infection Control and Universal Precautions
Louisiana caregivers may take this online DSW Caregiver training and apply for a caregiving job in their area on Caregiverlist.
Memory loss has many forms and there are several types of memory loss and dementia. Seniors and their family members should visit a geriatric medical doctor in order to have a proper diagnosis of the type of memory loss in order for it to be treated in the most effective way.
Alzheimer's disease is just one type of memory loss, although it receives the most attention. I have always said that Lewey Body Dementia was the most difficult to care for, when I organized care for a senior home care agency. It would be especially difficult to live with Lewey Body dementia when you do not know this is what is causing the changes in your brain and behavior.
Late actor Robin Williams
One of the seniors we cared for when I worked at a senior home care agency had Lewey Body dementia and he would sometimes think he was somewhere other than in his living room. If the news on the television was reporting on a robbery, for instance, he might think he was at the scene of the crime and become violent. Out of caring for more than 500 seniors, he was one of the most difficult to safely care for and to staff a trained caregiver who could handle the changes in his personality.
Visual hallucinations and delusions are part of Lewey Body dementia.
Caregivers for seniors should always advocate for diagnosis for the type of dementia the senior is experiencing and this diagnosis should be by an experienced and trained professional - not just the family doctor the senior has been visiting for 30 years, unless they have been trained in testing and diagnosis of memory loss.
Robin Williams death is a reminder to us that it can make a difference to know which type of memory loss a senior suffers from as then everyone can better make sense of the behavior changes. Family caregivers can also take caregiver training courses to learn how to care for a senior as even in senior care there are many skills to learn that can make the aging experience better for everyone.
America's "Oldest Old' are increasing. This term refers to those who are age 80 or older. Media attention recently has focused on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Medicare benefit program and how when it was developed in 1965, the lifespan for an American senior was age 75. This is why Medicare benefits begin at age 65. But today age 75 seems rather young.
Our retirement years are going through an evolution as we realize we are more likely to live to be 100 than just age 75. This requires more money to be saved and for a game plan for a fulfilling lifestyle. But a reality of aging is also the fact that the human body was not built to last forever.
Aging is a natural process, for those of us who will be fortunate enough to experience it.
Doctor Atul Gawande, who has written books such as "The Checklist Manifesto", now has written "Being Mortal" to start a conversation on how accepting the aging process and planning ahead for how you would like for your senior care to be, should become as common as creating an estate plan. While Medicare does NOT pay for long-term care, Medicaid, for low-income seniors with few assets, does pay for an ongoing stay in a nursing home for seniors who qualify for this level of care. Understanding the costs of senior care are as important as choosing the type of senior care you would like, since the government program most of us will be on (Medicare) does not pay for long-term care.
Americans currently do not plan ahead for senior care, a fact all caregivers know.
Read "Being Mortal" and share it with those you care for to begin the conversation about how you would like to grow old, while also addressing the realities of changes that will be a natural part of aging. Think about how seasoned travelers prepare for a vacation: a carry-on bag has a change-of-clothes should our bags be delayed, a copy of our passport is in our wallet....
Dr. Gawande is a gifted writer and his book is an enjoyable read, even though it deals with tough topics. Begin the conversation with your loved ones and with yourself about how you picture your screenplay for growing old. Then you and your caregivers will know where the extra change of clothes are located - and if we even want to bother with them.
Finding the perfect recipe if you already know what you want to cook can be pretty easy in the age of the internet. However, as a busy senior caregiver, if you don't already know what you'd like to cook, finding a recipe can seem overwhelming with thousands of dishes to choose from. The BigOven app offers caregivers a large selection of recipes and suggestions to help narrow the choices down.
When users first open the app, they are greeted with a homepage set up with a feed of recent individual recipes and recipe collections to browse. Topics include Fall and Winter Soups, Recent Raves (4 and 5 star reviews), and Pantry Recipes (Make dinner with what you have on hand). Users can click on these categories to see all of the choices and pick one they'd like to make. If caregivers see multiple recipes they like, they can favorite them to come back to at a later time.
Users can browse other set categories such as Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinners in the Collections area of the app. Under Menus, users can drill down to the type of recipe they'd like to see with a few quick clicks. This area offers the best route for users who already know what category of meal they'd like to make, such as Slow Cooker or Kid-Friendly.
On the individual recipe pages, caregivers can also see how other users have rated the recipes. Most of the reviews also note how other users adapted the recipe by adding or substituting ingredients. As users favorite recipes, they can also add accompanying ingredients they may need to make the recipe to the Grocery List section of the app.
If caregivers know roughly what the menu will be for a meal and need a recipe or a basic reminder on how to cook an item in particular, they can search by name. A simple search for Asparagus brings up several different recipes for caregivers to choose from, ranging from baking or steaming and basic preparation to adding other ingredients.
One negative of this app, however, is the inability to filter for dietary needs such as low sodium or gluten free. If your senior client has a specific dietary need, use the search function to pull up recipes that meet those needs. When you type in the words "low sodium" into the search, a lot of recipes appear with those words in the title. However, when you search for "low sodium chicken," only five recipes match the search. For caregivers whose clients have severely restricted diets, this app may not work well.
The BigOven app is available for Apple and Android platforms.
Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discovers 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.
Memory loss can be both a concern and fear for everyone. Especially for senior caregivers who have witnessed someone experience memory loss. I had the opportunity to meet former President Ronald Reagan after his memory loss had progressed (he thought he knew me, but for sure we had never met). It was a reminder to me that we are all the same when it comes to aging.
This week, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) has launched a National Memory Screening Program.
National Screening Week is November 1 - 7 of this year.
The AFA is providing free, confidential memory screenings for people that have concerns about their memories. When necessary, individuals will be encouraged to have a follow-up exam by a qualified health care provider and may be directed to appropriate social services and community resources in their area.
The AFA is working toward eliminating the stigma and fears associated with dementia, and providing education for the public about memory problems and how to age successfully. The organization also hopes to alleviate fears for the people who do participate in the memory screening who are not currently showing any signs of memory problems.
Screening sites in your area can be located below.
National Memory Screening Locations
Memory loss has many forms and Alzheimer's Disease is just one type of memory loss. Now that we know late actor Robin Williams suffered from Lewy Body dementia, we can better understand how difficult the changes he was dealing with in his mind were during his last year of life.
Other types of memory loss include:
- Vascular Dementia
- Lewy Body
- Frontal Love Dementia (FLD)
- Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)
- Huntington's Disease
- Pick's Disease
- Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
- Parkinson's Disease
- Subdural Hematomas
- Brain Tumors
By identifying the type of memory loss, the senior can then be treated correctly. The progression for some types of memory loss, such as Alzheimer's Disease, can be slowed when treated with medications. Many clinical trials are in progress now, to study ways to better prevent Alzheimer's Disease.
Meditation is proving to be an effective way to change the structure of the brain and Deepak Chopra and Rudi Tanzi, both medical doctors, are researching how meditation may be able to prevent or slow down memory loss. The doctors co-authored the book Super Brain where they discuss new ways of using our brains to help exercise it more and create new pathways, which, research is showing, just might be a way to prevent memory loss.
Senior caregiving requires many skills. So many care needs surround the process of caring for a senior as they age. Not only are age-related illnesses advancing, but a senior has friends and loved ones who are passing away along with their own health issues.
This is why caregivers for seniors can greatly benefit from caregiver training. Family caregivers can also benefit from caregiver training. Simple tasks can become difficult when caring for a senior, such as assisting with toileting and repositioning from bed to chair. States are beginning to pass regulations to be sure professional caregivers are trained on HIPAA and elder abuse and are taught emergency safety skills and environmental safety skills. Learning effective communication skills are also a technique caregivers can be taught (and is valuable at any age).
Basic online caregiver training teaches senior caregiving skills and provides a convenient way for caregivers working with seniors in their homes to become trained. As more caregivers will be needed as America's population ages, anyone who may be interested in part-time work can take an online course to become a senior caregiver and apply for a caregiving job in their area.
Seniors usually do not plan ahead for senior care. Anyone in the senior care industry already knows this fact and I remember one time a larger senior home care franchise group shared with me that they had paid a significant amount of money to an advertising agency to research how seniors plan for senior care. The answer? They don't plan for it at all!
This means that the loved ones of a senior - their spouses, children and relatives, are quickly searching for the right senior care option after a medical emergency happens. Where should the senior go for rehabilitation after a stroke? What option is right for them? A nursing home? Assisted living community? Senior home care?
The very next question that is asked is what does Medicare cover?
Family members must first understand the difference between Medicare and Medicaid and learn which option their parents or another relative they are assisting to find care currently has a coverage plan.
All seniors in the U.S.A. go onto Medicare health insurance but, if they qualify, on the basis of having a very low income and few assets (usually under $2,500), then they will receive Medicaid health insurance.
The biggest difference between Medicare and Medicaid is that Medicaid WILL PAY FOR ONGOING CARE IN A NURSING HOME. Medicare DOES NOT PAY for ongoing senior care.
Learn about the differences between Medicare and Medicaid and plan ahead for your senior care option.