Caregiving Vitamins

Caregivers often monitor the medications of those they care for, and doctors typically prescribe vitamins to go along with the medications for seniors.  So what about making sure Caregivers are taking the right vitamins?

As more and more research has shown which vitamins are best for certain conditions, learning about the proper vitamin supplements at any age can lead to healthy aging.  Caregivers, especially, deal with lots of stress and proper nutrition, supplemented with vitamins, can be beneficial to avoiding a breakdown in the immune system.

Depending on your family history, you may want to find vitamin supplements for memory, bone and vision loss.  Talk to your doctor about what vitamin combination would be best for you based on the latest research.

One example is the results of a study from Johns Hopkins University which suggested that vitamins C and E taken together may slow down the progress of Alzheimer's disease.  While the study does not prove that vitamins C or E prevent Alzheimer's and more research would be needed to come to that conclusion, this is one of many studies which medical doctors use to guide their individual prescriptions for vitamins.

And, since Caregivers are already monitoring medications, it is easy to take their own vitamins at the same time.  Find out what vitamins are right for you as you take time to take care of the Caregiver!

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Gene Impacting Risk for High Blood Pressure Discovered

A gene that affects how the kidneys process salt may help determine a person's risk of high blood pressure, a discovery that could lead to better ways to treat the condition, researchers announced yesterday.  People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart attacks, heart failure, strokes and kidney disease.

Seniors with a common variant of the gene STK39 tend to have higher blood pressure levels and are more likely to develop full-blown high blood pressure, also called hypertension, University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers found.

They identified the gene's role in high blood pressure susceptibility by analyzing the genes of 542 people in the insular Old Order Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

The researchers confirmed the findings by looking at the genes of another group of Amish people as well as four other groups of white people in the United States and Europe.  About 20 percent of the people studied had either one or two copies of this particular variant, the researchers said.

The gene produces a protein involved in regulating the way the kidneys process salt in the body -- a key factor in determining blood pressure, the researchers said.  The findings could lead to the development of new high blood pressure drugs targeting the activity of STK39. Many factors are involved in high blood pressure such as being overweight, lack of exercise, smoking and too much salt in the diet.

The Lancaster Amish are seen as ideal for genetic research because they are a genetically homogenous people whose ancestry can be traced to a small group who arrived from Europe in the 1700s. In addition to genetic similarity, they also maintain similar lifestyles in their close-knit rural communities. 

And, it is also interesting to note that the Amish do not pay into Social Security as they also do not collect it because they take care of their seniors as part of their community - Mom and Dad live with their children or in a house next door to the children when they are unable to live on their own because of health issues.

NFL Begins to Help Former Players with Dementia

Frank DeFord reported on NPR this past week that former Baltimore Colts football star, John Mackey, suffers from dementia.  And, due to efforts by John Mackey's wife and other players and their wives, the NFL and the player's union have started the "88 Plan" (named after Mackey's old football number).  The 88 Plan assists players with dementia.

The NFL does not admit that perhaps head injuries in football and the helmuts that were worn back in the early days of the game, which were not as protective as today's helmuts, contributed to player's experiencing dementia, but at least they are willing to help now.

The NFL has also developed a comprehensive study of brain damage and dementia in players and the results will be revealed in 2010.

John Mackey's wife, Sylvia, also went back to work as a flight attendante when she was 56 to help make ends meet while caring for John, and to get the benefit of health insurance.  Finally, she had to place John in a nursing home to provide for his care.  Caregivers have even more challenges when caring for a physically large person, and former football players fit into this category.  And, when dementia starts when someone is younger, the challenge of financially providing for care is also presented as often they continue to be healthy physically.

The "88 Plan" has now been written into the NFL's labor agreement and provides up to $88,000 a year for nursing care or day care for ex-players with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or $50,000 for home care.  This will help both former football players who suffer dementia as part of aging and those who are not yet elderly.

Let's hope the NFL's move to provide for their employees who develop dementia will also spread to other industries to prevent financial devastation to families when memory loss develops - and remember that long-term care insurance, which can be purchased privately, also helps pay for these care costs.

And, cheers to Sylvia Mackey for successfully advocating for change in NFL benefits.

 

 

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Quality Hiring Practices for Caregivers

Professionally hired Caregivers have a few advantages over those who do not work for a quality licensed Senior Home Care Agency or senior living community.  And, so do the seniors who they serve.

As corporations carry insurance coverage for liability and provide a Fidelity Bond, they are required to follow certain procedures for hiring.  In addition, in order to provide quality care and maintain a dependable staff, they have implemented hiring practices which screen Caregivers for dependability, skills and trustworthiness.  Many systems must be in place to properly screen a Caregiver for hiring purposes and to actively manage a Caregiver to provide them with all the resources they need to deliver quality senior care.

Did you see the movie "Catch Me if You Can"?  Frank Abagnale is the star of the movie and a con-artist who poses as an airline pilot and medical doctor, to name just a couple of his disguises, to successfully steal from companies and individuals.  Frank served his time in prison and now advises companies and is hired to train the FBI on how to avoid scam artists.  Frank has also written a book called "The Art of the Steal" to advise companies and individuals on how to protect themselves.  (Tom Hanks acted in the movie and provides a testimonial for reading the book saying anyone with money in their pocket or in the bank should read it).  My business banker actually gave me a copy of the book and I have found it to be fascinating reading.

Caregiverlist promotes the need for professional background checks to be conducted on all Caregivers.  In addition, we provide information on background check laws in each state and try to educate consumers about the need for a multi-state criminal background check - - - many of the nanny websites and direct-hire caregiving websites that provide background checks simply do not provide multi-state criminal background checks - they just provide the good ol' social security name match and many of those are not even complete to include addresses where the person has lived, going back for at least 7 years.  I won't name names but if the background check is free, ask questions and click fast to another website that explains the depth of their background checks and discloses the costs.  That is especially true when you are hiring a Caregiver to come behind closed doors to assist your family.  You need to know who you are bringing into your home and who will have access to the senior's personal information.

Frank Abagnale's book provides solid information about hiring employees and putting controls in place to prevent improper conduct.  After owning a senior home care agency and hiring more than 1,000 Caregivers during that time, I agree that proper systems are necessary so that even an honest person is not tempted.  Caregiving is stressful and when a comfort level is developed with a client relationship, if proper systems are not in place, opportunities for taking advantage are presented.  Caregivers for seniors also need to be protected from false accusations by seniors with memory loss who can become paranoid.

Frank's book also mentions a study which found that 10 percent of employees would steal all of the time if given an easy enough opportunity, another 10 percent would never steal and 80 percent would steal if given the right motive.  That means companies must be concerned about 90 percent of their workforce and have systems in place which prevent the opportunity for theft from being offered.

This is why, especially with senior care in the home, a professional senior home care agency provides great value.  Senior home care agencies have created hiring procedures which keep people with dubious backgrounds out of their companies and they know how to do quality background checks and how to go beyond background checks with reference checks and interview questions which enable them to only hire trustworthy caregivers.  And, they coach clients and set-up controls so that invitations for theft and other improprietary activities cannot take place.  They supervise the caregivers and check-in on the client and caregiver to keep the care on track.  Career caregivers working for professional agencies receive benefits and want to maintain their employment and in my experience, will call immediately to report even activities by  a senior's family members which may not seem appropriate.  They also want proper system in place.  Senior Home Care Agencies, for instance, require Caregivers to call for approval before accepting any client gifts, even at the holidays, just to name one of the policies which protect both the client and the caregiver.

You may learn more about background checks on Caregiverlist.com and find the laws for background checks in your state which may over-ride the FCRA when senior care or child care is being provided.

 

 

 

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Peter Falk's Daughter Says He Has Alzheimer's Disease

Those of us who are old enough to remember the television detective series "Columbo", know the beloved actor Peter Falk, 81-years-old, who played Columbo.  Others may remember him as the Grandfather who narrates the story of "The Princess Bride" movie to his grandson. 

Catherine Falk is seeking a court's approval for a conservatorship of her father, who she claims no longer recognizes people. A hearing has been scheduled for late January.

Falk won four Emmys in his role as Columbo.  He was also nominated twice for Academy Awards for movie roles in 1959 and 1960.

The petition filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court states Falk lives in Beverly Hills with his wife and recently had hip surgery and requires constant care.  Earlier this year, there were incidents where Falk spoke or acted out of the ordinary and now this diagnosis explains it.  It is also reported that he requires full-time caregiving services at this time.  It is always more difficult for the family when care issues are not already decided prior to the development of memory loss.  Perhaps his daughter will be able to quickly reach court approval for his proper care needs.  However, the actor is married so there may be other issues to resolve.  This is a reminder to all of us to set-up a trust which will dictate our caregiving and financial arrangements should we be unable to manage them on our own.
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Cold Sore Virus Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

Last week, Science Daily reported that University of Manchester researchers have discovered the cold sore virus is a major cause of the insoluble protein plaques found in the brains of those diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

This discovery could lead to new medications and vaccinations for treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease.  This is welcome news for seniors suffering from memory loss.

The researchers believe the herpes simplex virus is a significant factor in developing Alzheimer’s Disease and could be treated by antiviral agents such as acyclovir, which is already used to treat cold sores and other diseases caused by the herpes virus.

Alzheimer's disease causes progressive memory loss and severe cognitive impairment. It affects over 20 million seniors (average age of on-set is in the 50’s) world-wide, and these numbers rise with increasing longevity. 

The underlying causes of Alzheimer’s Disease are still unknown and current treatments only assist in slowing the progression of the disease.

The research found most people with Alzheimer’s Disease are infected with the herpes simplex virus type 1 when they are younger and this virus remains in their peripheral nervous system.  The virus causes cold sores in 20 to 40% of those infected with it.  Evidence of a viral role in Alzheimer’s Disease would point to the use of antiviral agents to stop progression of the disease.

The team had discovered much earlier that the virus is present in brains of many elderly people and that in those people with a specific genetic factor, there is a high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

The findings of this research are published in the Journal of Pathology.  Professional and family caregivers assisting a senior with Alzheimer's Disease should discuss the findings of this new research with their medical doctor.

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Connect Seniors with DO NOT CALL LIST

You've heard the stories about financial scams targeting seniors through telemarketing.  A senior can be the perfect target, especially if they are lonely and suffer from memory loss.

One way you can protect your senior relatives and friends from telemarketing calls is to add their phone number to the national "Do Not Call" list.

Just have the senior call the "Do Not Call" number from their telephone:  888-382-1222.  Or, have their Caregiver make the call for them.

 

Longevity Secrets (or, How to Age Well)

Explorer and writer Dan Buettner has written a book called The Blue Zones which profiles the areas of the world where the most people have lived the longest - and lived those years with happiness and vitality.

More seniors have reached 100 years of age in these “blue zones”, which include towns in Italy, California and Costa Rica.  The book brings to light their lifestyles that seem to suggest why they are living longer.

The website also offers a Vitality Compass so you can find out how well you are doing with healthy aging right now.  This provides a great tool for both seniors and their caregivers.

Included in The Blue Zones top-10 list for healthy aging are growing a garden, eating nuts, drinking Sardinian wine (has the world’s highest levels of antioxidants), meditating and having a personal mission.

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Evaluating Nursing Homes

Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes are required to complete government inspections at least once every 15 months.  The government provides information on the results of these inspections on Medicare.gov.

The nursing home inspection information provides a nice starting point for evaluating a nursing home but they do not include information on many violations and incidents of abuse which may be reported.  You must visit a nursing home and question staff and family members of other residents to find out more information.

This week, the news media reported a group of teens working at a nursing home in Minnesota sexually abused and humiliated elderly residents with dementia.  This information will not be found on Medicare's website of inspection results for this nursing home, for example, yet it is valuable information to know if you are considering placement at this nursing facility.  Many caregivers who work for Senior Home Care Agencies have worked in nursing homes at some point in their career.  If you know a professional caregiver, ask them about the nursing homes in your area.  Caregivers also know other caregivers, expecially if they completed a nursing aide certificate, and can be a valuable resource for letting you know the inside scoop on the care at local nursing homes.

You may search the recent nursing home inspection reports on Caregiverlist's Nursing Home List.

 

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President-Elect Obama's Positions on Health Care Reform

As seniors analyze their Medicare options before the end of the year, it may also be a good time to learn more about
President-Elect Obama's positions on health care reform.  During the 2008 Presidential campaign, President-Elect Barack Obama announced a comprehensive health care reform proposal and laid out his positions on a number of other key health care issues.
Budget cuts will be necessary with the government's need to budget for the necessary economic booster programs and financial bailouts.  At the same time, President-Elect Obama's team has said they will be eliminating some of the government fat and favors implemented for special interest groups.  Many critics of the Medicare drug program have indicated that the prescription plans were somewhat out of whack because of the drug company's involvement through lobbying efforts (and when you try to understand why anyone would create a program with a "donut hole" as a term needed to explain coverage when a senior is left out of the prescription plan for a window of time, a red flag seems to go up that perhaps seniors best interests were not the only driver of this Medicare program).
Right now, Medicaid pays for long-term care in a nursing home, but not in the home (except in a few small population states which have recently developed home care programs).  Medicare only pays for caregiving in a nursing home and not in the home, yet statistics show most seniors prefer to stay in their homes for long-term care.  And, with the cost of nursing home care being from $150 - $350 per day, and home care costing from $18 - $25 an hour and providing one-on-one care from a caregiver, it may be time to look at how the government is allocating the funds for senior care.

The Kaiser Family Foundation prepared two reports to summarize President-Elect Obama's campaign health care policies and positions. They are based on information compiled from Obama's campaign Web site, speeches, campaign debates and news reports.  Check it out and let your voice be heard.

 

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