Hiring a Senior Caregiver for Family Member

Senior care can be very complicated, as it not only involves providing physical and emotional care but also requires family members to confront the realities of aging.  When the tables turn and adults must begin caring for a parent, it reminds all of us that this is part of the cycle of life.  As my uncle often would say, birthdays are good even if they mean you are growing older because the only way not to have them is to die.

Family members who become caregivers know the challenges of working as a senior caregiver at the same time as being a daughter or son or niece or nephew.  This is why many times family members will choose to hire an outside person to be a caregiver.  This is often a need out of necessity, when a senior requires around-the-clock care or develops memory loss.

Professional senior caregivers receive caregiver training to manage to the activities of daily living for a senior and to understand the emotional issues that come along with aging.  Basic caregiver training includes learning first aid skills and how to effectively communicate with a senior.  Many states are beginning to pass legislation to require licensed senior home care agencies to perform training that consistently meets minimum standards.  The state of Illinois began requiring 8 hours of training in 2008. 

Caregiver training modules that meet the minimum caregiver training standards include:

  • Duties of a Caregiver
  • Communicating with Others
  • Observation, Reporting and Recording
  • Providing Personal Care
  • Promoting and Maintaining Good Mobility
  • Elimination and Toileting
  • Infection Control
  • Environmental Hazards and Safety
  • Basic First Aid

The first step when becoming a senior caregiver for a family member is understanding the job duties and the necessary caregiving job skills.  You may take a 10-hour online caregiver course that meets the basic training requirements in states such as Illinois.

View the caregiver job description for professional caregivers as a starting point for becoming a caregiver.  Many times people who have worked as family caregivers will become professional caregivers as part-time caregivers for seniors with memory loss as this can be very fulfilling work.

Caregiverlist provides the daily costs of nursing homes nationwide which also allows family caregivers to understand the costs of senior care.








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Diabetic Seniors: Fraud Alert for Supplies

Diabetes involves many care needs, including supplies for glucose meters, test strips and lancets to prick the skin for blood sugar testing.  Seniors who need to monitor their blood sugar and take medication for diabetes may be targets by professional fraudsters.

The National Legal Resource Center (NLRC) has issued an alert for those seniors with diabetes to be aware of telephone solicitors who are really just looking to gain their personal information by pretending to be providers of "free" diabetic supplies.

What is the Diabetes Medicare Fraud Scheme?

Someone pretending to be from the government, a diabetes association or from Medicare will call the diabetic senior to offer "free" diabetic supplies.  The caller may offer a heating pad or foot orthotics in exchange for the senior's Medicare or financial information.  As the cost of these supplies can become an extra expense burden for seniors, many times there is temptation to accept the "free" items by exchanging the personal information to qualify.

Then the diabetic senior may receive items in the mail which they never ordered and the supplies are billed to Medicare under the person's Medicare number.  They are not free.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, advises you about what to do if you or your aging parent receives one of these suspicious calls:

  1. Do not provide your medicare number or other personal information to anyone over the phone when they call with an "offer".  Medicare and other legitimate agencies do not call to solicit sales of supplies.
  2. Report the Call:  1-800-HHS-TIPS
  3. Check your Medicare Summary Notice and Billing
  4. Refuse Delivery of Items You Did Not Order

If you notice any items on your Medicare summary which you are not familiar with, you should always call to question them.

Senior caregivers should also monitor suspicious calls and provide another set of eyes to review Medicare statements.




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Medication Management Podcasts for Senior Caregivers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the United Hospital Fund's Next Step in Care campaign have collaborated on a series of podcasts on medication management for family caregivers and health care providers. 

Designed to assist senior caregivers and family members think about the steps involved in medication management, the 6  free educational podcasts are free.

Medication management can be a challenge and especially difficult during transitions to or from a hospital or nursing home or Assisted Living community.  Short and long-term care needs can vary and the organization of medications is necessary to help caregiving services go smoothly. 

Medications can become confusing for people at any age, but then when you combine the switching in and out fo generic medications and changes in doses with memory loss, medication management is even more of a challenge.

Senior caregivers, clinicians and senior care companies may all click to hear the podcasts:

Helping Patients and Caregivers Take the Next step in Care:  Medication Management

Senior caregivers can find tools for caregiver skills and apply for a caregiving position in their area on Caregiverlist.


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Senior Caregiving Jobs: Employment High in Senior Care

Senior caregivers and Certified Nursing Aides will continue to find job opportunities with positions increasing along with pay.  The minimum wage increased in 8 states in January, 2012, and senior caregivers, even without professional experience, are usually paid above minimum wage and provided with training.

Caregivers for seniors can obtain part-time and full-time jobs with senior care companies.  View a job description and a video about the requirements and benefits of working as a senior caregiver or Certified Nursing Aide and apply for a caregiving job.

Caregiver pay can start at minimum wage or around $9 or $10 per hour, depending on which part of the country you live.  You may view the minimum wage levels in each state in Caregiverlist's "by-state" information section.

Caregiver training involves learning how to intereact with a senior with various age-related illnesses and understanding how to safely monitor changes in health.  Caregiver Certification can be obtained online as part of a 10-hour online course.

Many caregivers become professional caregivers because of personal experience caring for a loved one or family member.  Anyone with a caring personality who also can demonstrate a consistent job history can be considered as a senior caregiver.  Passing a background check is the first step in the process and you can purchase your own background check to confirm it is accurate before applying for a senior care position.

Registered Nurses first become Certified Nursing Aides as part of their R.N. training, which means anyone who would like to become a C.N.A. may advance, if they would like, to become a L.P.N. or R.N.  View Certified Nursing Aide schools along with their admission requirements to consider growing your career in senior care.


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Senior Caregiver Training Course

Caring for seniors involves many different skills.  Understanding how to communicate effectively and assist with Activities of Daily Living or ADL's. An online 10-hour course now provides caregiver certification and meets the training requirements for states where caregiver training has been set-up for licensed home care agencies.

The Caregiver Certification Course includes:

  • Duties of a Caregiver
  • Communicating with Others
  • Observation, Reporting and Recording
  • Providing Personal Care
  • Promoting and Maintaining Good Mobility
  • Elimination and Toileting
  • Infection Control
  • Environmental Hazards and Safety
  • Basic First Aid
  • Understanding Elder Abuse

Once the course is completed with quizes passed at 80%, a certificate of completion is granted.  This can be valuable training for family caregivers, as well as professional senior caregivers and assist with caregiver employment or be the beginning of training to find out if you would like to become a certified nursing aide.




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Minimum Wage Increases Today But Caregivers Already Earn More

Today the federal minimum wage increases to $7.25 per hour.  While each state offers their own minimum wage law, if it is less than the new federal minimum wage, they must now match this higher amount.  This means 13 states will increase their minimum wage to $7.25 today:  Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah.  

Four other states also increased their minimum wage in the month of July (some did it just before the federal deadline - a nice political opportunity for the state government to look better to employees by beating the Feds to this):  Illinois, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, with Illinois increasing their minimum wage to $8.00 per hour.  These other 3 states just matched the federal level of $7.25.  The old minimum wage was $6.55 per hour.

Which states pay the highest minimum wage?  Oregon at $8.40 per hour and Washington at $8.55.  Only 13 states, plus DC, pay more than the federal minimum wage.

Regarding the people who say this is going to put people out of work - - - - unless they are an actual business owner who can't figure out how to save 70 cents in another area, in order to keep their employees happy and able to pay for their basic costs of living, then take their feedback with a grain of salt.  And if it is a business owner who can't figure it out well, maybe he shouldn't be in business?  Employees are the backbone of any business, find away to pay them a fair wage or don't be in business.

Those of us who are business owners and have had more than 100 people working for us, know you can always cut costs someplace, and, if necessary, if you offer a great service, you can always increase your pricing to cover a necessary increase in costs, including increases in costs of living.  And one of the best ways to have great service is to have happy employees, which is worth a few cents.  

The good news?  Senior caregivers are paid more than minimum wage along with benefits by senior home care agencies nationwide.  Senior caregivers are usually paid from $9.00 to $14.00 per hour, depending on the area of the country.  Pay is more in New York than Alabama, for example, as the costs of living are more. In addition, caregivers who are certified as nursing aides or home health aides also receive higher pay when performing those duties.  In addition, many quality senior care agencies provide performance bonuses, incentives, ongoing training and support.

You may apply for a senior caregiving job in your area on Caregiverlist and also find the details on minimum wage laws in your state.



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Senior Caregiver Checklist After Hospital Stays & Doctor Visits

Patients of even the most meticulous at-home senior caregivers encounter hospital visits due to an unexpected fall or change in health conditions. A trip to the hospital or simply an appointment with a new doctor can be stressful for seniors, who often return home without a grasp of appropriate follow-up steps for senior care based on the new conditions.


This National Alliance for Caregiving checklist, which includes follow up questions for physicians and other professionals involved with senior care, is designed for patients and caregivers to help ensure a smooth transition from the hospital to at-home care. Both parties stand to benefit from a clear understanding of the senior’s condition and recovery plan.


1.      Do you understand your health conditions? Ask what is likely to happen with your health.                                                                         

Senior ___  Caregiver ___


2.      Do you know what problems to watch for and how to handle them? Ask what to do and who to call if you have problems.                      

 Senior ___  Caregiver ___


3.      Do you know what each of your prescriptions drugs does? Do you know how to take them, and what side effects to watch for? Ask who you should call if you have questions.


Senior ___  Caregiver ___    


4.      Do you understand how much of your prescription drugs, equipment and services will be covered by your insurance and what you will have to pay? Ask to speak to a social worker about possible resources to help with insurance payment.


 Senior ___  Caregiver ___


5.      Do you have written discharge instructions that you understand, your list of drugs, and a summary of your current health status? Bring this to your next appointment.


Senior ___  Caregiver ___


6.      Do you know what appointments and tests you’ll need during the next couple of weeks?                                                                   

Senior ___  Caregiver ___


7.      Do you have a doctor or healthcare provider to call if you have questions or problems? Write down the names and contact information.


Senior ___  Caregiver ___


8.      Are you worried about how you or your family is coping with your illness? Ask to speak to a therapist or find out about support groups, if needed. 


Senior ___  Caregiver ___


9.       Do you know what medical equipment you will need? Ask who to call if you have questions about equipment.


Senior ___  Caregiver ___


10.  Do you know which of the items below you will need help with and for how long? Bathing, dressing, grooming, using the bathroom; Shopping for food, making meals, doing housework, paying bills; Getting to doctors appointments, picking up prescription drugs. 

Senior ___  Caregiver ___


Seniors often require full-time care in the weeks following a hospital visit. Caregiverlist offers free resources such as a Medication Reminder Schedule and Simple Senior Care Plan to assist caregivers in providing quality care to senior clients. These tools are especially helpful for caregivers who start seeing a new patient, or have an existing patient whose care requirements change.


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Enjoy Caregiving? Become a Certified Nursing Aide

Do you enjoy providing caregiving services for a loved one or neighbor?  If so, you may want to become a Certified Nursing Aide and expand your employment opportunities while enjoying a fulfilling career.

Certification is managed by the department of health in each state in the U.S.A.  You may usually find training programs through community colleges and in some states, nursing homes and hospitals offer certified nursing aide classes.

Admission requirements for Certified Nursing Aides are typically:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • Reading, writing and math competency
  • English competency
  • Drug testing
  • Background checks

The cost ranges from $500 - $4,000 and usually financial aide and grant programs are available.  Classes usually can be completed inm 1 to 3 months.  Usually part-time evening programs are available.

You may learn more about caregiving job opportunities and find certified nursing aide training programs in your area on Caregiverlist.


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The Cost of Caregiving for Alzheimer's Disease in Dollars and Health

Many caregivers feel overwhelmed when a patient or loved one develops Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia.  More than 5 million Americans currently suffer from the disease, a number that’s estimated to grow substantially during the next couple decades as our senior population increases with the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. 

By 2030, more than 7 million people ages 65 and older will have Alzheimer’s, according to an estimate published in the newly released Alzheimer's Association annual reportAngela Geiger, chief strategy officer at the Alzheimer's Association, worked with Fox News to identify other key points of this new report, several of which relate to caregivers. Those caregiving for seniors with memory loss can use these 10 factoids on Alzheimer's Disease to better care for their senior loved ones and senior clients.

1) Alzheimer's disease is more than lost memories. Forgetfulness is a hallmark symptom, but the disease cuts deeper. "Your body forgets how to function," explains Geiger. In fact, Alzheimer's disease causes death, as its progression eventually prevents the individual from engaging innate abilities like moving and swallowing.

2) Early diagnosis may garner better care. According to 2009 research in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia, people 70 and older who were told they had Alzheimer's or dementia by a doctor and were aware of it--or had family members who knew--tended to have more doctor contact and fewer days in the hospital. But early diagnosis, which can translate into a care plan that can have a significant impact on the quality of life of the individual and the family, is not always attained. "We know people don't know enough about early signs [of the disease]," including healthcare professionals, says Geiger. Mood and behavior changes, an early warning sign of Alzheimer's, often get misdiagnosed as depression, for example.

3) Alzheimer's patients have higher out-of-pocket costs. People 65 or older with Alzheimer's disease or dementia pay 30 percent more in out-of-pocket healthcare costs than those without such disease, according to the new annual report.

4) Total healthcare spending is radically higher in Alzheimer's families. Add up all the healthcare dollars spent by various payers--including Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers--on people 65 or older with Alzheimer's or dementia, and you get triple the burden of people without, says the new Alzheimer's Association report. "The costs get greater and greater as the disease progresses," says Geiger, and more consistent, specialized care is needed, typically resulting in 24-hour nursing home care.

5) Additional medical conditions complicate matters. The majority of people with Alzheimer's or dementia also have at least one other serious medical condition, according to a January report by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. For example, 60 percent also have hypertension, 26 percent have coronary heart disease, 23 percent have diabetes, and 18 percent have osteoporosis. The presence of Alzheimer's or other dementia only complicates the management of another chronic disease. To properly control diabetes, notes Geiger, vigilant daily maintenance is required, from checking blood sugar to taking insulin to being extremely conscientious about food choices.

6) Hospital trips become more frequent. Having Alzheimer's or another form of dementia at age 65 or older resulted in triple the likelihood of a hospital stay compared with people without such an illness, says the January Dartmouth report. And the frequency extends to caregivers, too. A 2008 Journal of General Internal Medicine study found that nearly 1 in 4 caregiver spouses of people with Alzheimer's or dementia required a trip to the emergency room or hospitalization.

7) Family caregivers take a personal health hit. Multiple studies have found that unpaid caregivers for those who have Alzheimer's or other dementia are more likely to have higher levels of stress hormones, reduced immune function, new hypertension, and new heart disease than noncaregivers. Geiger stresses the importance of caregivers' efforts to alleviate their own stress: "We want to break down that isolation." She encourages caregivers to participate in local face-to-face support groups or, if they prefer, anonymously in online message boards.

8) Family caregivers face a long haul. People with Alzheimer's and dementia typically experience a slow progression of the disease, so family caregiving is often a long-term prospect. A 2004 report by the Alzheimer's Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving found that at any one time, nearly a third of these caregivers have been at it for five years or longer and nearly 40 percent have been doing so for one to four years.

9) Family caregivers do the job free. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that in 2008, 9.9 million caregivers--from children and other family members to friends and neighbors--provided 8.5 billion hours of unpaid care, which amounts to some $94 billion in value. On top of that, these caregivers pay an average of $219 per month out of their own pockets, according to the 2004 report by the Alzheimer's Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

10) The states will feel an increasing burden. The annual report estimates that by 2025, the western states of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Alaska will experience an 81 percent to 127 percent growth in the number of residents with Alzheimer's Disease, as compared to year 2000. Also by 2025, California and Florida, where more than 500,000 residents will have the disease, will lead the nation in volume.

You can also learn more about the costs of senior care and ways to pay on Caregiverlist's home page.

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Seniors Receive $250 Economic Recovery Payment

Most seniors who receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security benefits will enjoy a $250 check in May as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was recently signed by President Obama. 
But for some seniors, the money raises more questions than answers. It is important to communicate with them and make sure they understand that no action is required on their part.  Caregivers can assist by reviewing the information provided here and making sure seniors understand when to be looking for this payment to arrive.
Take a minute to review a dozen of the most commonly asked questions about the economic recovery one-time payments, as identified by Social Security Online, the official Web site of the U.S. Social Security Administration:
1) Who will receive a one-time economic recovery payment from Social Security?  Nearly 55 million Social Security and SSI beneficiaries will receive the payment.
2) When will the payments be received?  The government expects to process the checks at the end of May and also seniors should receive their payments the first week of June, 2009.
3) How will seniors receive their one-time economic recovery payment?  The payment will be made in the same way they currently receive their Social Security or SSI benefit.  If that payment is normally delivered by check, the stimulus payment will be sent the same way and if it is normally a direct deposit or debit card payment then that is how it will be delivered.
4) Are individuals who receive more than one benefit (Social Security and Veterans or Railroad Retirement benefits) entitled to more than one $250 payment?  No, individuals may only receive one payment.
5) If my spouse and I both receive Social Security or SSI benefits, will we each get a $250 payment?  Yes, each individual qualifies for the economic stimulus payment of $250.
6) If a senior became eligible for Social Security benefits in February, 2009, will they receive the $250 economic recovery payment?  No, only seniors who were eligible for Social Security, SSI, Veterans or Railroad Retirement benefits at any time during the months of November 2008, December 2008 and January 2009 are eligible for the one-time payment.
7) Do seniors need to do anything in order to receive the one-time economic stimulus payment?  No action is necessary.
8) Will seniors receive the one-time economic recovery payment if they have a delinquent federal debt?  The law requires the Treasury Department to offset the one-time payments to collect delinquent child support and debts owed to state and federal agencies.  The government will apply the payment towards the senior's debt to the government if they already owe a debt to a state or federal agency.
9)  Will the one-time economic recovery payment change the amount or delivery date of a senior's regular Social Security or SSI benefit?  No, the one-time $250 payment will have NO effect on the regular Social Security or SSI benefits and will be delivered as a separate payment.
10)  Will the one-time economic recovery payment count as income for SSI?  No, it will not.
11) Will the one-time economic recovery payment count as income when determining eligibility for Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug plan costs?  No, it will not.
12) What should a senior do if someone calls or e-mails them asking for personal information to process their one-time stimulus payment? Seniors should not provide personal information to anyone requesting it to process the one-time economic stimulus payment of $250.  To verify any phone calls from someone claiming to be a Social Security employee, you may call 1-800-772-1213 and you may always report suspicious activity involving Social Security programs and operations to the Social Security Fraud Hotline website or by calling:  1-800-269-0271.
You may visit the Social Security website for additional information about the economic stimulus and to have real time updates emailed to you.
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