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+
Senior citizens are easy prey for scam artists. From the Spring Break Grandparent Scam to the Medical Alert Scam and a host of others, the elderly are especially vulnerable to fraud schemes.
October is “Protecting Older Americans from Fraud” month, and the Better Business Bureau, in partnership with other agencies, suggest that families discuss with their senior family members how best to prevent their loss of money and security.
The BBB recommends these immediate steps:
- Help put the senior's phone number on the Do Not Call registry.
- Advise older Americans to never place outgoing bills in unsecured mailboxes.
- Urge them to tell suspicious callers that they are going to check with the BBB before agreeing to anything and do so.
- Tell unwanted solicitors to place the senior on the organization’s own do not call list, not to sell or share the senior’s information, and then hang up.
Senior identity theft, especially medical identity theft targeting the elderly, is nation's fastest-growing crime according to FBI statistics. Seniors living alone at home are not the only victims. Senior identity theft in long-term care, including nursing homes, assisted living, and in-home care are at risk of identity theft because their personal information is readily accessible by numerous individuals.
In addition to the action steps outlined above, the Better Business Bureau suggests you discuss the following common-sense practices with the senior in your life:
- Never pay money to win a prize or sweepstakes.
- Read all pages before considering the offer.
- Contact the BBB BEFORE responding to a product/service offer or charity appeal.
- Never give out credit card or bank account numbers to unknown callers.
- Ask for information in writing from charities.
- Be skeptical of high pressure or emotional requests and hang up.
- Never wire money to strangers.
- Report all questionable calls to the BBB BEFORE responding to the offer.
- Never hire someone who just shows up at your door.
- Get three estimates in writing.
- Make sure the company is licensed and insured.
- Contact the BBB BEFORE admitting an unknown person into your home or signing anything.
- Only give your personal email address to people you trust.
- Instead of clicking a link in an email, type the address into your browser.
- Visit the BBB’s website www.bosbbb.org to learn more about email “phishing”.
Caregiverlist previously blogged about senior scams during the holidays and the same advice holds true for all questionable dealings. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a scam or fraud, report it to your local police department and Department on Aging. You may help prevent others from becoming victims as well. And always perform a background check when hiring someone close to home.
Aging in place is an option more in the senior population want to pursue. There’s no place quite so comfortable as one’s own home and community. However, according to AARP, nearly one-third of all Americans over 65 experiences a fall in the home. There are other safety issues that make staying in the home a challenge and the initial accident prevention costs might be off-putting. But in the long run, the costs can be far less to stay home and renovate than to move into Assisted Living.
Senior-proofing the home is much like childproofing the home. Both encourage you to do a room-by-room assessment of potential and hidden hazards. Both take into account the physical limitations their subjects may encounter. And in both instances, safety in independence is key. But do everyone a favor and, for the senior crowd, don’t lock the toilet seat.
Elder home-proofing suggestions abound on the internet, but the most thorough and comprehensive guide to home safety I’ve found comes to us from our friends at AARP. Their AARP Home Fit Guide goes into great depth discussing home livability, home safety and home maintenance to help keep the estimated 83% of seniors who would like to, age at home.
Fall prevention is a huge concern when it comes to seniors living alone. Getting rid of scatter or throw rugs throughout the home, lighting dim passageways, installing shower and toilet grab bars, keeping passageways clear of clutter and wiring, all contribute to fall prevention in the home. If your home needs renovation, contact your state’s Department on Aging for information on available senior home modification services.
Senior safety is addressed outside the home as well as in. Make sure medication dosages are kept current. Visit the eye doctor to gauge general as well as peripheral vision.
Owning a good Medical Alert System, as we’ve written before, is vital. In addition to providing real help in case of an accident or fall, simply possessing such a device can contribute to peace of mind for older adults who live alone.
Occupational Therapists (OTs) can be brought to the home to conduct a full assessment to help maximize an accessible living environment. Also, look for a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) through the National Association of Home Builders to help with recommending home modifications to help age in place.
Taking preventative steps such as these, along with the help of a family or professional caregiver, can go a long way to help an independent lifestyle a viable senior option.
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.
senior, care, SandwichGeneration, family caregiving
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.
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.
senior, care, benefit