Rosalynn Carter's Caregiving Award

A friend invited me to the Carter Center's Winter Weekend which was held in Florida in February.  I was able to meet former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, and learn about all the work they both continue to do to try to make the world a better place for the rest of us.  President Carter decided he did not want to profit personally from his presidency (he would have been able to make millions by giving speeches, but he didn't go down that road).  He instead created the Carter Center which focuses on advancing human rights and alleviating unnecessary human suffering.  The Carter Center has nearly eliminated the guinea worm and river blindness in Africa and Latin America  - these are both conditions that can be prevented just by educational initiatives but had been overlooked by others.

President Carter also writes at least one book a year.  My Dad just sent me President Carter's most recent book, titled "A Remarkable Mother", about Lillian Carter.  She was a Registered Nurse and after her husband died, she invented a new life for herself.  She joined the Peace Corps at age 68 (she saw a TV commercial advertising "Age is No Barrier" and applied).  Then she worked as a housemother for the K.A. fraternity at Auburn University and later helped friends open a nursing home in Blakely, Georgia.  She kept on living life - and working - long after she was old enough to collect Social Security. 

Lillian discovered she had breast cancer which had spread to her pancreas in the summer of 1983 and passed away in October of that year.  She was fortunate to not have a long battle with the disease, and also fortunate to have a daughter-in-law who served as an advocate for caregivers.

Rosalynn Carter adopted caregiving as her initiative while at the White House and has continued to be a supporter of the needs of caregivers (she has written a few books, too, including some on caregiving).

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2008 Rosalynn Carter Caregiving Award.

Here is the scoop:

The purpose of the award is to recognize leadership in implementing innovative and creative partnerships between community agencies and caregiving researchers that bridge the gap between science and practice. The partnerships reflect best practices in providing effective caregiver supports to professional, family, and volunteer caregivers.

The award winning team will be announced at the RCI's Annual Conference, October 23 and 24, in Americus, Georgia.

First Lady Rosalynn Carter will present the team with a cash award of $20,000, to support efforts in implementing effective caregiver interventions at the community level.

For more information, visit:


Caregiving Stories

There is an old saying that something hasn't really happened until you've told someone else about it.

Caregiverlist offers a section for Caregivers to submit their caregiving stories because it is always interesting to learn how someone was led to caregiving as a career or became the chosen one in their family to provide the care.

Research indicates that the oldest daughter typically takes the role of caregiver for parents.  Sometimes a brother, sister or spouse needs care and someone becomes the caregiver out of necessity.

Last summer my cousin's husband fell off their roof while performing repairs (well, he actually fell from the ladder that fell from the roof).  Luckily, he only broke both shoulders.  As both of his arms had to be in a sling, this meant he couldn't feed himself nor provide his own personal care for bathing and toileting.  His wife worked during the day which meant he had to have family members and a paid Caregiver be there for him to help with meals and bathroom visits each day.  He told me that you think you understand what it must be like for those who are aging, but until you really need someone else to pull your pants down and wipe your behind, you have no idea how difficult it is to lose such a basic independence (he did however, develop some new skills during this time, including how to operate a tv remote-control with his feet)!

Caregivers provide much more than physical care and this leads to both challenges and closer connections.  Sometimes those needing care will allow a non-family member to get closer to them because they don't want their loved ones taking on the role of caregiver. And other times, someone needing care takes all their anger about their condition out on their caregiver.

Read about experiences other caregivers have had and share your own with us in our Caregiving Stories section.



Caregiver: The Movie

This movie was released the same week as "Sex and the City: The Movie", so no worries if you haven't heard about it yet.

The movie's focus is on a woman who leaves her country to work in London as a Caregiver and shows the realities of caregiving.

Caregiverlist also allows Caregivers to share their stories with us just to let us know we are not alone in sharing the challenges and fulfillment of caregiving.

You may read stories or submit your own here on our Caregiving Stories section.



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Checking Background Checks

What's in a Background Check?

This is something all of us should consider before assuming a background check is a stamp of approval that someone is "A-OK" for employment as a Caregiver.

Does the background check include a Social Security number match to the person?  Does the criminal history include more than one county?  Beware of any service that offers an "instant" check.  There are still counties that may not have instant updates to their information and good background check companies know this and take the necessary time to fact check (I always imagine Barney Fife from "The Andy Griffith Show" - it might take him a couple days to walk the arrest info over to the courthouse).

Keep in mind, too, that there are people who may have been arrested for shoplifting or theft who had the charges dropped in exchange for community service and the arrest will not show up on the information presented to an employer in a background check.

This is why even though a background check is nice, it is just as important to check other information, such as a regular employment history and both personal and professional references.

Background checks are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which allows convictions to be reviewed for the last 7 years.  However, some states have passed laws which do allow for reviews beyond 7 years if the individual will be working with children or seniors.

Caregiverlist provides you with background check laws by state.

The unfortunate reality is that people who are looking to take advantage of someone often look to work privately for a senior as they are betting that a thorough multi-state background check will not be done.  Some of these individuals are wonderful actors and can really make you believe their stories.  Senior Home Care Agencies offer an added layer of protection through their insurance coverage and active management of the Caregivers.


Veteran's Caregiver Benefit

Military Veterans who meet certain requirements qualify for a Caregiver to assist them in their home with what is commonly called "Activities of Daily Living" (ADLs is the lingo used in the nursing community).  This just means if they need help with meal preparation, eating assistance, bathing and dressing, Uncle Sam will pay for a Caregiver to help.

As some Veterans may have more medical issues, at an earlier age, due to injuries during service, this can be a welcome benefit.  You cannot have more than $80,000.00 in assets, excluding homes and cars, to qualify.

You can learn more about the details for qualification on Caregiverlist, including which wars qualify and download the Aide & Attendance application.

It isn't easy to find the details on this benefit.  The Senior Home Care Agency I owned provided home care services to Veterans, after becoming an approved provider.  As I had to meet with the Veteran's Administration to set this up, I had direct contacts at the VA Hospital.  They educated me on the process and how to best work with the bureaucracy.

As this is just one of many benefits which Veterans may not be aware of, a website was started in 1999 to help. provides answers in plain English. 

Remember, a "Surviving Spouse" also qualifies for this benefit and both the Veteran and the spouse can receive care services at the same time.

Seniors and Driving: Wishing to Drive Ms. Daisy

"How do I get them to stop driving?"  This is a question I was often asked by adult children when the Senior Home Care Agency I owned started caregiving services.

And there is no easy way to go down this road.

Even when a senior knows they shouldn't be driving anymore, due to a decline in their physical or mental capabilites, it is still difficult to actually make the transition.  Ending driving advertises to the world that you can no longer do everything you could do.  That is tough.

Many age-related diseases advance slowly, such as Macular Degeneration, Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease.  Sometimes it is only because an accident happens that an illness is discovered.  At the same time, if these diseases can be diagnosed early, the progression can often be slowed with proper medication and physical therapy.

My own Grandma Martha has Macular Degeneration and can no longer safely see well enough to drive at night.  I think with all the other challenges of aging, it really stinks to lose your vision (lutein is the vitamin supplement recommended for macular health if you are trying to prevent this one from happening to you).

So, definitely make sure the doctor checks for Macular Degeneration if vision loss begins to decline for a senior.

Many states have tried to pass laws to help manage the challenges of driving safety for seniors.  The Federal Highway Administration reports that drivers age 70 and older experience more motor vehicle fatalities than any other driving group, with the exception of drivers under age 20.

Caregiverlist provides you with the driving laws by state - many states require vision tests more frequently after a certain age and some states do require an in-person driving test at a certain age.  A few states also allow you to request a special driving test if you feel someone at any age is an unsafe driver (this is a way to get around the age discrimination issues).

And my best answer to the question of how to get Mom and Dad to stop driving is to say it is a luxury to have someone else drive you around - that is what the movie stars and CEO's have - a car and driver. And now they have earned the right to have this same luxury.

I would prefer a car and driver over a luxury vehicle right now, if I had that option, but in the meantime, a taxi cab does just fine! , ,

Gas: The New Affordable Luxury

"How much did you have to pay for gas?” is always the first question my Grandma Martha asks when I visit her.

I have always quickly changed the subject, having the attitude that there is no choice but to pay the price being charged.  And, since there are now taxes tacked on to gas, it is not possible to make a fair comparison to the prices she has paid over the last 70 years (Grandma Martha is 92 and still drives her car – she just passed her driver’s license renewal exam in April).

The thinking has always been that no matter how much money you make, there are certain little things you will always have enough extra money to buy – a candy bar or a cup of coffee at Starbucks, for instance.  Those are little luxuries we can all afford.

Gas, to fill the tank of your car, on the other hand, has always been a necessity. You pay your rent, you pay your utility bills and you fill your gas tank.

As the price of gas has doubled over the last four years, pay rates have not had the same increase.  This means the extra money that was spent on affordable luxuries is now needed to pay for gas.

Caregivers typically earn around $9.00 per hour. At 40 hours a week, this averages to $1,440.00 per month, before taxes are deducted.  This is something to remember when considering the cost for caregiving services. If driving is required, reimbursement for gas is necessary. In addition, if the location of the assignment requires excessive driving, reimbursement for mileage may be necessary to maintain a quality Caregiver.

The government reimbursement rate for mileage in 2008 is: 50.5 cents per mile. This is the reimbursement rate which the government estimates as adequate to cover all the costs of driving, from insurance to repairs to gasoline.

You can also research the best price for gas in your area.

And, if you are looking for a way to reward your Caregiver for a job well done, remember that any affordable luxury will be appreciated.

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