Caregiver Minimum Wage, Overtime Delayed

Home care workers who were looking to receive minimum wage and overtime protection may have to wait a little longer, as the Obama administration announced Tuesday that  it would delay enforcing the rule for the nation’s two million personal-care aides, home-health aides, and certified nursing assistants.

The rule is effective as of Jan. 1, 2015, but the Labor Department won't enforce it until June 30, 2015. After that and until December 31, 2015, it will be at the discretion of the department to take action against employers who don’t show a good will effort to implement reforms. The rule states that home-care workers would have to receive the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and time and a half when they work more than 40 hours a week.

Some senior home care agencies, along with Medicaid officials among others, have put pressure on the feds to delay minimum wage and overtime pay for home care workers, concerned that higher wages would translate into higher costs for the care recipient. The fear is that if home care costs increase, seniors and the disabled might be forced into institutional (nursing home) care. They also predict that smaller companies will be forced to hire workers part-time rather than full-time because of costs, in effect, causing wage loss among home caregivers.

Nonsense, say home caregiver advocates. Some states such as California and New York have already begun to implement changes, and they have the nation’s two largest Medicaid home programs. Twenty two states extend minimum wage to at least some in-home care workers, and 12 states have a minimum wage that is higher than the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Many home care agencies pay more than minimum wage, as well as overtime to its workers, even if it means seeing a smaller profit margin than their competitors who don’t. Those home care agencies believe that paying a higher wage results in a more professional and better trained workforce.

Home care workers have been excluded from protection since 1974, when the Department of Labor extended minimum-wage, overtime-pay to workers who perform "domestic service." At that time, caregivers for the elderly were, in the eyes of the law, providing “companionship services” and thus exempt from the wage protection — just like babysitters. Of course, as the population has aged, home care workers provide much more than simple companionship. The field has evolved to include other types of duties such as providing assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). These duties can include tube feeding, physical therapy, taking the correct medication and getting cleaned and dressed.

Senior caregivers are quite different from childcare workers, but the minimum wage affects both equally. Have you seen this Kristen Bell Mary Poppins parody? She doesn’t get those birds for free!


Caregiverlist believes that home care workers help the elderly age in place, at home, which is where most seniors prefer to age. We think that all senior caregivers deserve to be paid a fair living wage.

Do you have an issue you'd like to see tackled on this blog? Connect with Renata on Google+

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo features unique orchids, as a reminder for caregivers to take a moment to relief their daily stress and to celebrate who they are. Thank you for caring for our seniors and please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on www.Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo Orchids

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body."

Joseph Addison

 

 

Experiencing the Sandwich Generation (Part II)

In this second of two blog posts, contributor Renata JL talks about saving your sanity and creating a balance while living in the Sandwich Generation.

My mother is an eighty-something year old widow who is relatively healthy and vital enough to live on her own. I started my family a little later in life, so my two children are still in elementary school. That means that I am, many times, caught in the middle, caring for both ends of my family’s generational spectrum. Most of the time, I like to think that I handle the pressures of care with efficiency and aplomb. But sometimes, especially during a health crisis, I find myself stretched pretty thin. And I know I’m not alone. Welcome to the world of the Sandwich Generation.

The term “Sandwich Generation” was first coined in by journalist Carol Abaya in 2006 to describe the growing segment of society simultaneously caring for both their children and their aging parents.

In a previous post, I wrote about my aging mother’s unexpected trip to the hospital and my subsequent scrambling to make sure all of my responsibilities would be met. It turns out her hospital stay (with its requisite daily visits) was not the ideal situation, but between Medicare and her insurance, the cost of her care was minimal and she had the around-the-clock attention she required. As her release date approached, we were aware that Medicare would pay for the first 20 days in a Skilled Nursing Facility, so with the help of the Caregiverlist’s Nursing Home Star Ratings system, we were able to find her a quality Nursing Home in her area. When those initial days are complete, the real challenges of being a member of the Sandwich Generation begin.

There is, of course, the financial stress involved with caring for my children and my parent, while planning for my own retirement. In this economy, I fully expect that I will need to help support my children for a longer time. Couple that with spiralling living costs, and I’m not sure how much I will have left over to help cover the costs of caring for mom, whether through the costs associated with Assisted Living or Senior Home Care. While the financial costs and responsibilities are fairly cut-and-dried, the emotional stress is the one that can really take its toll. Resentments can easily build between siblings dividing responsibilities, children losing the attentions of a parent to grandparent, and the senior realizing their diminishing independence. There are things that I plan to do to help prevent, or at least alleviate some of the stress involved with generational caring.

Here are some suggestions I found helpful:

Don’t Go It Alone
According to AARP, 29% of adult Americans spend 20 hours per week on caring for their parent(s). This growing demographic means and increased presence on the internet. Web sites catering to the Sandwich Generation abound. Look to them for ideas and support. Sites like sandwichgeneration.org, and AARP have a wealth of information about resources and support.

Talk About It
Gather family together, including children, parents, spouses. If you have siblings (even those living distantly), request that everyone participate in the plan of action. Communication is key and my help minimize or prevent feelings of resentment. Encourage everyone to voice their concerns and work together to find solutions.

Don’t Forget About You
If you are the primary caregiver for both children and parent(s), it may be difficult to carve out time for yourself, especially if you work outside the home as well. Although it may be difficult, you must treat the care you give yourself with as much gravity as the care you give to others. If you are fatigued, depressed or fall ill, you won’t be able to care for those around you. This one rings especially true because, as you know, we here at Caregiverlist are big advocates of “Caring for the Caregiver”.

The future will be demanding, I’m sure. I feel a little like I felt before giving birth, knowing that I would soon be entrusted to care for another human being and not sure if I was up to the task. That worked out somehow — some days are more demanding than others — but with the help of my family, my community and Caregiverlist’s resources, I hope to rise to the challenge of my new caregiver role with as much grace as I’m able to muster.

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We at Caregiverlist, along with the rest of the world, were deeply saddened by the December 14th, 2012 events at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, CT. We offer our sincerest condolences to all those affected — family, friends, neighbors. This tragedy reminds us that, in the midst of all the challenges we face as part of the Sandwich Generation, we are truly lucky to have the ongoing opportunity to care for our loved ones.

Experiencing the Sandwich Generation (Part I)

In this first of two blogs, contributor Renata JL discusses the challenges faced by many like her — members of the Sandwich Generation.

My brother phones with the news that my mother’s been admitted to the hospital. She has the flu and I was going to visit her later in the day, after work, after the kids came home from school. My brother had (luckily) gotten there first. He’d found my mother disoriented and severely dehydrated, broken shards of glass around her bed. He’d cleaned her up enough to get her into the car and to the ER, where they promptly determined she’d need to be a guest of the hospital for at least a few days. The flu can be awful for anyone; at 82 it can be life-threatening.

My first reaction as I grab my coat to race to the hospital is one of gratitude that she’s going to be ok. She is in a safe place, being cared for by professionals. The second feeling is that of guilt. Why had I not gone to check on her earlier? I’d known she was sick. Was helping my son with his spelling words more important than my mother’s well-being? And then I think *expletive*, I’ve got to get someone to pick up the kids from school and do the grocery shopping I’d planned to do later that day. And what am I going to do about work? If I don’t work, I don’t get paid — my job doesn’t offer Paid Family Leave.

And so is the plight of the Sandwich Generation. The term “Sandwich Generation” was first coined in by journalist Carol Abaya in 2006 to describe the growing segment of society simultaneously caring for both their children and their aging parents (or other family members.) The combination of longer life-spans (the Journal of Financial Service Professionals finding shows tht at the beginning of the 20th century between 4% and 7% of people in their sixties had at least one parent still living. Today, that figure is nearly 50%) and later child-bearing has created a demographic whose parents are older while their children are still young. Combined with the phenomenon of smaller families (resulting in fewer siblings to bear the burden of care), those element can create a situation rife with stress, both financial and emotional.

According to AARP, 66 million Americans between the ages of 40-65 find themselves caring for multi-generation family members. The typical Sandwich Generation member is a 48-year-old woman. She maintains a paying job and spends an average of 20 hours a week providing care for a parent(s) and at least one child. And in these economic times, those children can be dependent for a much longer time.

While extended family care is not a new concept, the environment surrounding that care is completely different from historical care, as a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out. We no longer live in small villages, so care is not distributed throughout a community. In many instances, Americans are distance-caring for their parents. While I am fortunate to live in the same city as my mother, I have been living in denial. This latest health episode has shown me that changes need to be made. I’m not comfortable having my mother live alone with the sporadic support from her children. I think my sandwich just squeezed me a bit tighter.

Right now my mother and I both have time to assess our next steps. While she’s still in the hospital, she’s getting the care she needs. I arrange my schedule to see her every day, but my responsibilities are minimal. Her release is imminent, however, and I know I’m going to have to step up my game.

Next: How to best cope with the stress and that come with caring for a multi-generational family, and the resources available for support.

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Attitude of Gratitude: Grateful for Our Caregiver

Thanksgiving kicked off the holiday season and, as we batten down the hatches for yet another whirlwind period of feasting and folly, as part of our mission at Caregiverlist in “Caring for the Caregiver” we’d like to take this opportunity and thank those caring for those who cannot care for themselves. Here are some ways you can show your thanks during this holiday season:

Family Caregiver
The most prevalent of all caregivers, the family caregiver works tirelessly, perhaps at another job as well, to provide loving and caring home care for an elderly family member. Many times, the family caregiver will be overwhelmed, and the sometimes staggering responsibility makes it difficult for them to take time to care for themselves. This season is a good time to relieve some of the pressure and ask what they would like for you to do for them. Don’t just jump in and take over the caregiving — although that might be your first inclination — both the caregiver and the recipient of the care have a special bond and may prefer things handled a certain way. Perhaps the caregiver would appreciate if you could provide a meal or two, or come over to do a load of laundry. You can certainly offer respite time for the family caregiver to take care of personal needs, whether that be holiday shopping or just going out to gaze at the festive lights of the season.

Paid Home Caregiver
The bond between a home caregiver and senior is special because of it’s one-to-one nature. A dedicated in-home caregiver can be more like family to a senior than a paid helper. Give your sincere thanks to this person both verbally and with a thank you note, and maybe include a little holiday bonus cash or gift card. I think any amount would be appreciated. Caregiving is not an especially lucrative profession, many go into it because they enjoy making a difference in a senior’s quality of life.

Care in Assisted Living
The staff at an Assisted Living facility make life so much easier for you and your beloved senior. They might take care of laundry, light housekeeping, transportation, medical reminders and perhaps most importantly, provide access to activities. Many facilities have strict regulations prohibiting employees from accepting individual gifts. You can, however, provide something for the staff in the way of treats (sweet and savory -- think cookies, candy, fruit, bagel platters, coffee and tea for staff lounges ). Check to make sure there is a central area where staff can congregate. And although you must insist that no major individual gifts are given, a senior may say “thanks” with a gift from a candy box in their room or apartment.

Nursing Home Care
Just like an Assisted Living Facility, there are strict rules about giving gifts to Nursing Home employees, so the same rules apply. But because of the nature of round-the-clock and more significant level of care, there may be more staff and more shifts to think about treating. Also, skilled nurses and therapists may have separate breakrooms from those in support. This is where it pays to do a little investigating. Many nursing home facilities may set up a communal holiday fund to distribute equally among staff. Donations are kept anonymous and no one is compelled to contribute. This helps prevent the chance of a resident receiving special treatment due to monetary gifting. Also, if there is a special caregiver or two (or more) that you’d like to acknowledge — in both Nursing Home and Assisted Living facilities, send a note to the facility director or administrator. Many places rely on feedback such as this to administer bonuses, career advancements and special acknowledgements.

None of us are here to go it alone, especially as we grow older. Please join us at Caregiverlist and give special thanks to those who help care for the ones we love.

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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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Amy Poehler Champions California Domestic Worker's Rights

Amy Poehler, comedian, actress, writer, producer, mother, and possibly the coolest chick on earth, stars in a recent PSA supporting the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (AB889) which seeks to “end generations of exclusion from basic labor protections”. It includes caregivers, childcare providers and housekeepers, and provides overtime pay, meal & rest breaks and safer conditions for live-in workers. The PSA was created in collaboration with with the National Domestic Workers Alliance.



“Many people ask me how I balance it all and the truth is it wouldn’t be possible for me to do all those things without the help I get in my home every day,” says Poehler. “Every day, so many working women get to do what they do because there are wonderful people in their home, helping them. These workers, who inspire and influence our children, who take care of our loved ones and our homes, have been excluded from basic labor protections for generations. Please help us right that wrong and pass the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights this year. It’s time these workers were treated with dignity and respect.”

As Labor Day draws near, I am reminded of the blog post I wrote last year and Congress is no closer to passing the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act. It seems that President Obama’s directives are languishing in the Labor Department. If action on a federal level is proving so difficult, then perhaps action has to be taken on a state-wide basis. Maybe more impassioned pleas like the one from Ms. Poehler can help get the ball rolling.

We at Caregiverlist also believe that the better trained you are, the easier it will be for you to request more equitable treatment. Consider Caregiverlist’s 10-hour online certification training. Upon completion you receive a certificate and your name is added to the database registry of training certified caregivers.

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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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Google's Self-Driving Car Could Become Seniors' Chauffeur

It's a wonderful thing to see our beloved elders embrace technology. I've gifted my in-laws with a digital photo frame so they can always see their favorite family pictures. My mother Skypes with her family half a world away. And as our society ages, the gap between the population and the ease and familiarity of use with technology will narrow. Google, popular leader of all things digital, recently posted a YouTube video depicting its experimental self-driving car on the road in California.



What makes this test drive even more remarkable is the driver, Steve Mahan, who said that "95 percent of my vision is gone. I'm well past legally blind."

Google introduced the technology in 2010, hopes is now in talks with Detroit car manufacturers and car insurers in order to gauge the excitement and viability of their self-driving car project. They are looking to get the technology could be ready within the next decade. The car uses laser scanners, heat sensors and satellite navigation to "see" other vehicles. According to Auto World News, at a recent Society of Automotive Engineers conference, Google “sent out a message that an experimental project of self-driving cars for senior citizens and physically challenged can be made possible given a support from global car makers.”

Of course the implications for elderly drivers are far-reaching. This breakthrough would give untold independence to those who can no longer drive due to age or age-related diseases, such as Macular Degeneration or Parkinson’s Disease. Many more hours of development and testing are ahead, but according to Anthony Levandowski, product manager for Google's self-driving car project, the development of the self-driven car is more than cool and convenient, it has a moral imperative. He said it could eliminate a "huge chunk" of the more than 30,000 fatalities that occur in vehicle accidents every year in the U.S. "Every year we don't have this technology built, more people die."

We’ve discussed senior driving safety in previous posts and we always advocate hiring a qualified caregiver to chauffeur and run errands if mom or dad can no longer drive. And until Google’s self-driving technology is commonplace, 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.

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April is Stress Awareness Month

There’s no doubt that caregiver stress is a huge problem. It’s an unrelenting and sometimes underappreciated job. April is Stress Awareness Month and we at Caregiverlist invite you to assess the amount of stress you feel from the burden of caregiving and take steps to give yourself some much deserved relief.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health Caregiver Stress sheet, caregiver stress can take many forms. For instance, you may feel:
  • Frustrated and angry taking care of someone with dementia who often wanders away or becomes easily upset
  • Guilty because you think that you should be able to provide better care, despite all the other things that you have to do
  • Lonely because all the time you spend caregiving has hurt your social life
  • Exhausted when you go to bed at night
Even though caregiving can be extremely stressful, it can also be extremely rewarding. Providing care—being there for someone and truly making a difference in their life can be much more gratifying than the average job, but what if it’s only a part of what you do?

Six out of 10 family caregivers are otherwise employed. Many family caregivers of seniors are taking care of children as well. With so many areas demanding one’s time, it is no wonder that stress and stress-related illnesses are so prevalent among caregivers. The majority of family caregivers are women (approximately 66%) and women, according to studies, seem to be more affected by the stress of caregiving. Often, caregivers feel the need to do everything themselves.

Consider some sort of caregiver training to help you better deal with the responsibilities at hand. The more comfortable you are with a job, the more confidence you have performing those tasks. That can go far to alleviate stress. Taking advantage of respite care is also important, especially for the family caregiver.

Take the American Medical Association’s Caregiver Self-Assessment. This questionnaire “is to be completed by the caregiver when he or she accompanies the patient for an office visit. By using the self-assessment score as an index of caregiver distress, the need for supportive services can be discussed, and the physician can then encourage utilization and make appropriate referrals to community resources.” Take advantage of this wonderful program at your next doctor’s visit.
You can also access services under the National Family Caregiver Support Program, contact your local Area Agency on Aging.

We at Caregiverlist are staunch advocates of Caring for the Caregiver. Whether you are a family caregiver or a seasoned professional, we appreciate that you are on the front lines, day-in and day-out, providing an invaluable service. Remember, although caregiving can make you feel cut off from the rest of the world, you are not alone. We would love to hear your story. Let us know what makes you feel overwhelmed, how you cope with stress, and why caregiving is so important to you.

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