Senior Hunger in America

When I saw my mother this Mother’s Day, I made sure to ask all the right questions: Was she taking her medication? Did she get out to see friends often? Was she getting enough to eat? A quick check of her fridge assured me that she was in no danger of malnutrition, but it got me wondering — how many seniors can say the same? Her elderly neighbor, for example, would be actively fighting hunger if it were not for Meals on Wheels.

On May 8, 2012, TV Icons Linda Evans of Dynasty and Linda Gray of Dallas joined Congresswomen Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) at Capitol Hill for MoWAA’s second annual Mother’s Day Event, “Meals for Mom”. The Congresswomen are honorary co-chairs of the newly created National Alliance of Women Against Senior Hunger (NAWASH). Joining them were other members of Congress, who signed Mother’s Day cards for constituents, which were delivered along with nutritious meals by Meals On Wheels program volunteers in their Congressional districts.

The Meals on Wheels Association of America has made its mission to eradicate senior hunger by 2020. According to its latest research, 8.3 million seniors in the United States face the threat of hunger. The majority of those affected are women. For those living alone, and especially those without family, the volunteers for Meals on Wheels bring not only food, but may be these seniors’ only contact with the outside world.

Enid Borden, President and CEO of the Meals On Wheels Association of America, is calling for help in the form of volunteers and donations in order to help her reach her lifelong goal — making sure that no senior goes hungry, especially in this land of plenty. Check out the Meals on Wheels website to read about their initiatives and projects to check out the myriad of opportunities available for you to help.

In these times of government budget cuts, it’s more imperative than ever that we pull together as a community and make sure that no senior lives without proper nutrition or ever goes hungry.

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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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Spring Break Grandparent Scam

Spring break is notoriously known as a time when college kids travel to let loose and blow off a little steam. Parents know it, grandparents know it, and, unfortunately, so do unscrupulous scammers who use the opportunity to play on the sympathies of the elderly.

It’s known as the "Grandparent Scam". Scam artists will call a grandparent pretending to be a grandchild or friend of a grandchild, requesting money to bail them out of a tough spot—to help get out of jail, fix a broken car or otherwise get them out of trouble. They ask the grandparents not to tell anyone, and they always ask for cash in the form of wire transfers.

Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites have taken the scam to a new, frightening level. Scammers learn about a student’s travel plans through these sites, along with personal information such as names of family and friends, the college they attend, and their home town—information that convinces the senior that the call and the need are legitimate.

The Better Business Bureau has released a updated alert and offers the following tips to avoid the “Grandparent Scam” this spring break:
  • Students should share spring break travel plans with family members before leaving the state or country.
  • Students should provide the cell phone number and email address of a friend they are traveling with in the case of an emergency.
  • Family members should remind students to be cautious when sharing details about travel plans on social media.
  • If a grandparent or relative receives a phone call from someone claiming to be their grandchild in distress, BBB advises not to disclose any information before confirming the person’s true identity. Ask a personal question about their childhood that only close family would know.
  • If a grandparent is new to a social networking site such as Facebook, family should caution them not to reveal too much personal information.

Caregiverlist previously blogged about senior scams during the holidays and the same advice holds true for spring break’s Grandparent Scam. 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.

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San Diego Certified Nursing Aide (C.N.A.) Jobs

Certified Nursing Aides or Certified Nursing Assistants, can apply for a C.N.A. job in their area on Caregiverlist.com.  As new Assisted Living communities have opened their doors, and more seniors choose to age-in-place in San Diego, more C.N.A. job positions are available.

Senior caregivers interested in becoming a C.N.A. may find schools in the San Diego area providing Certified Nursing Aide training programs.

C.N.A. jobs include working in nursing homes, assisted living communities and for senior home care agencies or hospices.  Certified Nursing Aides provide the hands-on care and really are the main care provider for seniors with age-related illnesses or with hospice care services, which delivers high job fulfillment for C.N.A.'s.

Caesar Chavez Nursing School in San Deigo provides a 6-week C.N.A. training program that costs about $300.00. Admission requirements include passing a criminal background check, Tuberculosis Skin Test, fingerprint submission, background check and reading and English competency exam.  Check out a sample C.N.A. text to learn about the skills taught in a C.N.A. program.  Each state requires passing their Certified Nursing Aide exam to become officially "certified" as a nursing assistant.

Certified Nursing Aides and professional caregivers may view C.N.A. schools and a caregiver job description and apply for a C.N.A. job in their area.

 

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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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Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee for Caregivers

Senior caregivers usually have very busy schedules.  Professional caregivers have the added challenge of needing to be sure to arrive 5 minutes early for their senior care jobs.  As seniors will quickly become distressed if a caregiver is not on time, most companies require early arrival.

This means coffee-drinking usually comes with the territory of senior care.  In addition, sharing a cup of coffee with a senior also can be part of a daily routine.  And now that there is a Starbucks on nearly every corner of major cities, stopping in for a cup of joe can also be enticing, even when you weren’t planning to do so.

As everyone is focusing on new goals for the new year, there is good news that coffee does have some health benefits.

Coffee’s Health Benefits

·         Memory Enhancement:  3 or more cups of coffee a day can reduce the threat of Alzheimer's and dementia by up to 65%. Coffee releases a substance called GCSF which assists to clean away the plaque build-up that is present in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients.

 ·         Heart Health:  1 to 2 cups daily makes your blood vessels expand and contract better with each heart beat.

 ·      Fights Diabetes:  as coffee consumption goes up, diabetes risk goes down.  Drinking 4 four cups daily improves insulin's effects and reduces your diabetes risk by 1/3rd.

 ·         Prevents Strokes:  Drinking 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day may cut your stroke risk by up to 19%.

 ·         Reduces Cancer Risk:  Research is showing that coffee is a really potent weapon against cancer. For women, the latest research suggests drinking 4 cups of coffee a day may lower their risk of endometrial cancer by up 25%. Postmenopausal women who sip at least 5 cups a day may cut their risk of certain types of breast cancer in half.   For men, both caffeinated and decaf coffee may fend off prostate cancer. And for both sexes, 3 cups of coffee a day may help fight the most common skin cancer, basal cell.

If you received a new coffee maker for Christmas, or maybe have one of the Keurig K-Cup brewers in your office (which can definitely become addictive), this means even drinking 3 cups of coffee, or more, each day will be perfectly fine.  In fact, it will be good for your health according to this latest research.

Caregivers usually have coffee included as a free benefit by their clients, so drink up and enjoy and explore new varieties and flavors.

Remember that coffee is considered a “natural” drink and because of this, has advantages over other unnatural ways of obtaining caffeine, such as drinking carbonated soda pop (some people call it "pop" and some people call it "soda", I am from a soda drinking area, but just wanted to make sure you know I am referring to Diet Coke, Rootbeer, and you know, soda........we always have fun teasing our Minnesota cousins who ask for a "pop", which to us is the same as a spanking, not something you drink).

Enjoy a cup of coffee while studying for Caregiver Certification or obtaining your Certified Nursing Aide certification as you develop your career as a senior caregiver.  As senior care companies are constantly hiring new caregivers, you may also apply for a senior care job near you.  And remember, a cup of coffee a day, or 2 or 3 or 4, may keep the doctor away. 

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Wage and Overtime Protection Proposed for Home Care Workers

As the U.S. population ages, and the senior demographic expected to double in the next 20 years, home caregivers are going to be an increasingly invaluable resource to help the elderly age at home.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama, along with a, Department of Labor and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, announced plans to update the laws to extend minimum wage and overtime coverage for home health-care service providers. Currently, home care workers are exempt from the 1974 minimum wage law and are classified as “companions” even though 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.

“The care provided by in-home workers is crucial to the quality of life for many families,” Solis said. And President Obama stated that, “Today’s action will ensure that these men and women get paid fairly for a service that a growing number of older Americans couldn’t live without.”

Industry figures show that while the majority of home care aides employed by Senior Home Care Agencies are paid above federal minimum wage, many do not get paid overtime for a longer than 40-hour work week.

States’ regulations vary in their minimum wage and overtime provisions. Only 22 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. According to the administration, this initiative would “level the playing field” and ensure that home care that exceeds “companionship” would have the same legislative protection as other healthcare professions.

In my Labor Day blog post, I outlined the protective legislation challenges faced by home care workers. And while no one doubts the need for these professional in-home services, many question whether this proposed legislation will benefit the home health aide or the elderly client.

So tell us what you think. Is this a good move by the Obama administration to improve the quality of life for many home health care workers, even if it means higher costs for the aged and infirm? Or do you believe that this will be a detriment to in-home workers, forcing agencies to schedule maximum 8-hour shifts, eliminating full day-rates in order to prevent any overtime charges? And if you are an agency owner, are you afraid this regulation has the potential to drive an underground unskilled and unvetted workforce that a family would be forced to hire in order to save costs? Do you now pay overtime in order to keep a better-skilled workforce?

There will be a 60-day public comment period and the new rules may take effect early next year, so now is the time to make your voices heard.


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Caring for the Caregiver: Holiday Gift Ideas for the Family Caregiver

Holidays afford you the ability to show your family caregiver how thankful you are for the service they provide. They perform the tireless job so that you don’t have to. Here are some gift ideas to show you appreciate them and all they do.

Spa treatment. Give the gift of a massage, manicure, pedicure, facial—some or all of the above. Family caregivers are, by definition, always caring for others. The holidays are a perfect time to pamper them.

Dinner and a Movie (for two). No doubt the family caregiver deserves some time off, and nothing beats dinner and a movie—it brings to mind the best of date nights. A big complaint among family caregivers is the isolation they sometimes feel. Give gift certificates for two so the caregiver can do the asking.

Goodie Basket. When you’re working with a fixed income, as many family caregivers do, chocolate truffles, a nice bottle of wine or the occasional pomegranate are luxury indulgences. Put together a nice basket full of items the caregiver wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves. Build the basket around a theme like An Afternoon in Provence, Escape to Tuscany or a Chocolate-Lover’s Basket.

Medical Alert System. Sometimes a family caregiver is afraid to step away from their charge for even a few hours. The fear is that something awful could happen the moment the caregiver closes the door. A Medical Alert System affords the caregiver peace of mind that the elder loved one could get outside help during an emergency if they themselves are not present.

Cash or Gift Cards. Let’s face it, family caregiving is not a lucrative profession. Many family caregivers take unpaid leave or cut down on their work hours to help care for a senior loved-one. Gift cards and cash are well earned, always welcome and are always the right size.

Gift Certificates for Classes. Family caregivers often give up the outside activities that once gave them joy. What do they love (and miss) doing? Tennis? Yoga? A gift of a class will not only give them some much-needed time away from the routine of caregiving, but also give them a new social outlet.

Time. Give your family caregiver a few hours to themselves. If you can’t provide the respite care yourself, turn to a trusted Home Care Agency to provide a few hours of relief for the family caregiver. Family caregiver burnout is a real problem, no matter what time of year. You can give your family caregiver some downtime and breathing space with the gift of a reprieve.

And remember, these gifts are not only for the holidays...your family caregiver can use these thoughtful offerings all year long.




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Caring for the Caregiver: Family Caregiving During the Holidays

Family caregiving can be stressful during the best of times. Holidays can prove to be especially challenging for even the most stalwart of caregivers. And unlike decorating, shopping and wrapping, caregiving doesn’t afford the ability to step back at a point and say, “Well, at least that’s done!”

During holidays especially, there’s the added stress of juggling more activities and undertakings than usual. As family and friends find themselves caught up in the whirlwind of their own holiday activities, the family caregiver may feel more isolated in their responsibilities.

If you feel the burden is too much, now is the time to bring it up and discuss it with other family members. They may not realize just how much work goes into the care of a senior loved one. The trick is—how does one do that in a non-judgemental, nonconfrontational way?

Our friends at Lotsa Helping Hands are offering a free webinar –Caregiving During the Holidays– on Thursday December 15 at 2 pm EDT.

As you gather to celebrate with your family this holiday season, it is the perfect opportunity to sit down and have conversations about caregiving for aging parents or other loved ones—whether you have already started your caregiving journey or will be in the future. The webinar will be especially focused on “caregiving conversation starters.” This is a great opportunity to learn ideas for holiday caregiving and planning ahead as well as useful tips and features of Lotsa Helping Hands. You can register at www.lotsahelpinghands.com/webinar

This may also be the time to bring up the possibility of hiring respite care from a quality senior home care agency. Most family caregivers spend 20-40 hours per week caring for their loved ones. The holidays are a perfect time to gift yourself or someone you love with much-needed help.


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