Breaking Stereotypes: The Male Caregiver

When thinking about family caregivers, what usually comes to mind is a middle-aged woman. But a new report from AARP stated that the percentage of male caregivers has gone up to 40% compared to 34% eight years ago. "Today, 40% of the 40 million Americans caring for a loved one are male." 

Both male and female caregivers are prone to same health problems that come with caring for a loved one, including stress and depression. One of the differences, generally speaking, is that male caregivers may be more uncomfortable with hands-on personal care, especially those who have not spent time in child-care. They also experience difficulty opening up when about their feelings of stress and pressure. 

To learn more about this topic, visit the AARP report, and for support as a caregiver join the PAC.


Movie of the Week: The Fundamentals of Caring

The fundamentals of caring follows the story of a retired writer looking for a new job after a tragedy. He takes a care giving course and is hired by an English woman to look after her son who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It takes a while for the caregiver and patient to connect, but after they do they embark on a road trip across the US. Through their road trip they learn how to cope with the negatives and how to focus on the positive, it tells a great story about love, hope and friendship.

Senior Caregiving: Assessing Needs in the Kitchen, Bedroom, and Bathroom


Most seniors want to age in place, according to AARP, but sometimes the biggest threat to that goal is their home itself. Keeping seniors safe at home requires making adaptations that reduce risk and help meet daily needs. Whether you’re moving an aging loved one into your home or helping them stay in their existing home, this guide will help you plan modifications in the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.


In the Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of your home, but for seniors with growing disability, it’s also a room rife with danger. Whether it’s a senior in a wheelchair trying to reach a pan on the back burner or a person with dementia eating expired food, it doesn’t take a house fire to land a person in the hospital. Ask these questions to assess your loved one’s function in the kitchen:

  • Can she plan, prepare, and serve meals independently?
  • Is she able to stand at the stove or sink for extended periods?
  • Can she access controls on the stove, sink, and other appliances?
  • Are cabinet handles and drawer pulls easy to use?
  • Does she understand and practice safe food handling?
  • Can she eat and drink without assistance?

Common kitchen adaptations include installing a stove with front controls and adapting counters, sinks, and appliances for wheelchair accessibility. Even if a senior doesn’t use a wheelchair, it may be more comfortable to sit while cooking. Cabinet hardware and kitchen utensils can be swapped out for ergonomic designs that are easier on arthritis. And of course, every kitchen should be equipped with working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.


In the Bathroom
The bathroom is where 80 percent of senior falls happen, according to reporting by the National Safety Council, and it’s not hard to see why. Between slick surfaces, low toilets, and high tubs, this small room houses a lot of hazards. Consider these questions as you plan for modifications:

  • Does the layout allow ease of movement?
  • Can she get in and out of the tub or shower without help?
  • Can she stand comfortably in the tub during bathing?
  • Are faucets easy to use?
  • Can she bathe and groom herself independently?
  • Does she have trouble getting on or off the toilet?
  • Is she experiencing incontinence?

All seniors benefit from non-slip flooring, a grab bar at the toilet, and a raised toilet seat. Redfin advises going further, suggesting that "Safety rails with textured grips, shower seats, transfer
seats, and roll-in showers are also valuable options to make bathing safer and easier for your loved one. A single lever for the faucet is usually easier to turn and operate than two separate knobs, so consider a new faucet head if necessary." In addition, caregivers should account for incontinence in the elderly and install nightlights for overnight bathroom trips and locate the senior’s bedroom nearby a bathroom.


In the Bedroom
The bedroom is a senior’s safe space, so shouldn’t it be safe? Prevent accidents while dressing and sleeping by asking the following questions:

  • Can she dress and undress independently?
  • Does she select clothing appropriate for the weather and occasion?
  • Is she able to get in and out of bed comfortably?
  • Is nighttime visibility adequate?
  • Are there clear, wide pathways through the room?

The biggest concerns in the bedroom are falls, incontinence, and dressing. Minimize bedroom furniture and secure area rugs and loose cords to eliminate trip and fall hazards and install nightlights or bedside lamps so the senior can see, even at night. If she frequently gets up to urinate at night, a bedside commode can help. If the bed is too low or too high for comfortable transfers, a bed rail or another adaptive device can aid getting in and out of bed. Seniors with balance problems benefit from a chair that allows them to dress while seated.


While these three rooms are the most hazardous in any home, they aren’t the only places that hold danger. Watch your family member as she goes through her daily activities so you can identify other areas where extra help is needed. Since seniors are often reluctant to admit when they need assistance, it’s up to you to stay aware of changing needs and adapt as necessary.

Image via Unsplash

Dashlane App Helps Caregivers Stay Organized

The Dashlane App helps busy caregivers keep track of passwords, usernames, and more. Dashlane is a free password manager application available for a caregiver's phone or tablet. Caregivers have too many passwords to remember, Dashlane gives them a secure way to store passwords.

Dashlane allows caregivers to:

  • Manage and store passwords 
  • Autofill Usernames and Passwords
  • Receive Security Notices To Protect Information 
  • Store Payment Information for Easy Checkouts
  • Generate Passwords 

COST:  Free

There is an option to upgrade to Premium for $3.33 per month. Premium allows caregivers to backup their account, sync passwords across multiple devices, and add more security features to protect their information.

By downloading Dashlane today you can get a 30 day trial of their premium features.

MORE FEATURES

After creating an account Caregivers can choose to store passwords from Facebook, online banking, and even Caregiverlist.com. Caregivers can check the strength of their passwords to make sure their online account are safe. Along with the password strength checker, Dashlane has a password generator to create secure logins.

Dashlane also offers secure credit or debit card storage, so Caregiver's can remember their card number online. Caregiver's can use Dashlane to store their username and password to their Caregiver Training University account for quick and safe access to their certificate.


Senior caregivers please give us your feedback on Dashlane!

Know about any additional caregiver Apps that excel at assisting with caregiving duties? Let us know.


Enter to Win: $25 gift card by sharing your caregiver certificate on Facebook or re-tweeting our Stress Relief Photo of the week on our Twitter! Click here for more information

Staying Alive vs. Living Life

My 100-year-old Grandma Martha may be nearing the end of her life. While she has lived a long life we are reminded that she is from a generation that really does not talk about death. Her generation had a life expectancy of age 75. 

Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter wrote an article for The New York Times this month titled "First, Sex Ed. Then Death Ed". She shares the statistic that 80% of Americans would prefer to die at home, but only 20% actually do. She notes that often people in intensive care units may be restrained and have no idea they are dying. You can read more of Dr. Zitter's articles on her website.

Grandma has a pacemaker which has extended her life. But she also has macular degeneration which has caused her to lose most of her vision. Losing your eyesight dramatically impacts your quality of life. Which lead her to tell her doctor to only give her a "2-year battery" for her pacemaker last year. How do we better plan for death?

How do we decide to say "no" to medical procedures which may extend our life but not improve a diminished quality of life caused by a health condition which cannot be cured? 

My father, at age 79, is also living life right now by volunteering in Ecuador. He just shared his whitewater rafting photos.


That's Dad in the back seat of the raft, hanging with the 20-year-old's.

My Dad is still living life, for sure. He has mentioned more than a few times that the adventure travel company assigned him a 26-year old lady from Argentina to accompany him to be sure he could manage. See, not everything about aging is negative! There are no right answers to some questions. We have to find the best possible answer for ourselves. The spirit of life pulls us forward. My Grandma still has the fight in her and we can see that and are assisting her to keep on going in all ways possible. 

She is still living life. With a whole lot of help from family members and doctors and nurses and nursing aides and caregivers and friends. She still has a very sharp mind and memory. But she also is living with pain each day, which we cannot take away.

Starting the conversation about how we would like to experience aging and what we would not want done to extend our life if the quality of life will not be there should become a part of our care plan for senior care. Medical technology has allowed us to do what could not be done before for physical care and we need to become modern enough to discuss the emotional components of aging and caregiving as well.

Senior care companies and senior caregivers can begin the conversation about death with adult children by sharing stories of scenarios of aging that are positive and negative. By talking about death we can spark new ideas and solutions to learn how to age in a way that truly allows someone to not only be alive but to be living life.

Professional Caregiver Training for Senior Care with P.A.C. Membership

How do you become a senior caregiver? As long as you naturally have a caring personality and an appreciation for the aging journey seniors are dealing with (a journey we all hope to be fortunate enough to make someday), then you just need to educate yourself on some proven skills that make caregiving a positive experience for both the senior and the caregiver.

The Professional Association of Caregivers assists you to learn the basic caregiving skills with an online course while keeping up with senior care industry news and you'll receive a t-shirt and lapel pin along with the training. You may also apply for a caregiving job on Caregiverlist to begin working as a companion caregiver.


"Nothing Left Unsaid" Documentary about Gloria Vanderbilt's 90+ Years Showcases How Families Benefit from Sharing their Stories

Seniors, caregivers and families can learn how sharing a senior's life story can benefit everyone in the family. Gloria Vanderbilt, socialite, heiress, artist, entrepreneur, actress and mother shares how she began the conversation about her life with her son, newsman Anderson Cooper in this new documentary.

Nothing Left Unsaid profiles Gloria's life and how she has navigated being in the spotlight since the day she was born. Her life story will leave you inspired to stay positive and keep on living, as she is doing, as you are aging, while appreciating the lessons learned along the way.

You can catch this documentary tonight, April 29th, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on CNN and it also will continue to air on HBO. You will not be disappointed.

Anderson Cooper, one of her 4 sons, shares that there were many things he did not know about his Mother until they began the deeper conversation.  Begin to ask your senior loved ones about their life stories and go deeper to ask "why" to learn more about who they really are and how they became the person you know.

One really interesting item Anderson shared was that his mother earned more money than she inherited. He chooses to not inherit any money as he says he sees that many are not motivated to develop their passions when they do not have to earn a living. Gloria Vanderbilt continues to develop her passions and we compliment her for promoting this documentary and sharing her story with us at age 92. And also thank her for bringing us designer jeans with a little bit of stretch in them!


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Anderson Cooper with his Mom, Gloria Vanderbilt

Alzheimer's Disease Treatment has had Little Progress since Dr. Alzheimer Identified Brain Plaques in 1906

Congress recently passed a budget bill in December, giving a few hundred million towards the research of Alzheimer's disease. 

While we are able to identify the existence of the same brain plaques Dr. Alzheimer found back in the early 1900's, we still are not sure why some people develop these plaques while others do not. 

Researcher Sam Cohen shares some of the facts around Alzheimer's disease research.  One reason Congress included research for finding a cure for Alzheimer's is because of the huge costs associated with full-time senior care for those with memory loss. Medicare does not currently pay for ongoing senior care needs but Medicaid, for low-income seniors, does.




Congress Approves $350 Million for Alzheimer’s Funding as part of 2016 Budget

More than 15 million caregivers assist a senior diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This month, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed into law legislation authorizing a $350 million increase for Alzheimer’s disease research funding in 2016’s budget.

Disease modifying drugs and a cure will be the best way to allow the U.S.A. to be able to effectively care for seniors with the current Medicare and Medicaid benefits. The Alzheimer’s Association supported a research study to find how much money will be needed to adequately care for the growing number of seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, finding Medicare spending will more than quadruple in the next generation to $589 billion annually in 2050. By this time, if no cure or improved treatments are found, more than 16 million Americans will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

However, research funding for cures for cancer, AIDS/HIV and heart disease exceed $2 billion each.  As someone in the U.S.A. gets Alzheimer’s disease every 67 seconds, this will also become an even larger economic issue for both American citizens and the government senior Medicare and Medicaid health care programs.

Women over the age of 60 are twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease than breast cancer.

Studying our brains will be the key to more than just a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which is another reason more money should be invested in this research.

Participation in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease is one step senior caregivers can learn more about along with joining Maria Shriver’s The Women’s Alzheimer’s Challenge to emphasize brain research.  Share your story as an advocate, caregiver and activist for Alzheimer’s disease care and research.

Senior caregivers may obtain caregiver training for activities to engage with seniors with memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease in the digital caregiver certification training program. More caregivers are needed to assist senior's who may need part-time or full-time senior home care. Join Caregiverlist to be considered for caregiving jobs in your area. Anyone with a caring and trustworthy personality can become a senior caregiver.


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