Memory loss has many forms and there are several types of memory loss and dementia. Seniors and their family members should visit a geriatric medical doctor in order to have a proper diagnosis of the type of memory loss in order for it to be treated in the most effective way.
Alzheimer's disease is just one type of memory loss, although it receives the most attention. I have always said that Lewey Body Dementia was the most difficult to care for, when I organized care for a senior home care agency. It would be especially difficult to live with Lewey Body dementia when you do not know this is what is causing the changes in your brain and behavior.
Late actor Robin Williams
One of the seniors we cared for when I worked at a senior home care agency had Lewey Body dementia and he would sometimes think he was somewhere other than in his living room. If the news on the television was reporting on a robbery, for instance, he might think he was at the scene of the crime and become violent. Out of caring for more than 500 seniors, he was one of the most difficult to safely care for and to staff a trained caregiver who could handle the changes in his personality.
Visual hallucinations and delusions are part of Lewey Body dementia.
Caregivers for seniors should always advocate for diagnosis for the type of dementia the senior is experiencing and this diagnosis should be by an experienced and trained professional - not just the family doctor the senior has been visiting for 30 years, unless they have been trained in testing and diagnosis of memory loss.
Robin Williams death is a reminder to us that it can make a difference to know which type of memory loss a senior suffers from as then everyone can better make sense of the behavior changes. Family caregivers can also take caregiver training courses to learn how to care for a senior as even in senior care there are many skills to learn that can make the aging experience better for everyone.
America's "Oldest Old' are increasing. This term refers to those who are age 80 or older. Media attention recently has focused on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Medicare benefit program and how when it was developed in 1965, the lifespan for an American senior was age 75. This is why Medicare benefits begin at age 65. But today age 75 seems rather young.
Our retirement years are going through an evolution as we realize we are more likely to live to be 100 than just age 75. This requires more money to be saved and for a game plan for a fulfilling lifestyle. But a reality of aging is also the fact that the human body was not built to last forever.
Aging is a natural process, for those of us who will be fortunate enough to experience it.
Doctor Atul Gawande, who has written books such as "The Checklist Manifesto", now has written "Being Mortal" to start a conversation on how accepting the aging process and planning ahead for how you would like for your senior care to be, should become as common as creating an estate plan. While Medicare does NOT pay for long-term care, Medicaid, for low-income seniors with few assets, does pay for an ongoing stay in a nursing home for seniors who qualify for this level of care. Understanding the costs of senior care are as important as choosing the type of senior care you would like, since the government program most of us will be on (Medicare) does not pay for long-term care.
Americans currently do not plan ahead for senior care, a fact all caregivers know.
Read "Being Mortal" and share it with those you care for to begin the conversation about how you would like to grow old, while also addressing the realities of changes that will be a natural part of aging. Think about how seasoned travelers prepare for a vacation: a carry-on bag has a change-of-clothes should our bags be delayed, a copy of our passport is in our wallet....
Dr. Gawande is a gifted writer and his book is an enjoyable read, even though it deals with tough topics. Begin the conversation with your loved ones and with yourself about how you picture your screenplay for growing old. Then you and your caregivers will know where the extra change of clothes are located - and if we even want to bother with them.
Caregivers for seniors are needed. While 10,000 seniors turn age 65 every day, this is not the only reason more professional senior caregivers are need for part-time and full-time job openings. Social demographics have changed in the U.S.A. and couples are having children later in life and pursuing activities and careers which allow them to relocate from the town where they grew up.
Seniors are living longer. A child born in the U.S.A. today can plan to live to age 100. This also means many people will choose to relocate when they reach retirement age. When our lifespan was just 75 years old (when Medicare was created 50 years ago, the age of 65 was chosen because most people would only live another 10 years). Now that we have another 35 years to live after we retire, seniors are moving to new locations to enjoy their retirement years.
Caregivers are needed part-time when a senior may be recovering from a major surgery or rehabilitating from a hip replacement or a fall. Sadly, Alzheimer's disease has become a growing diagnosis and will continue to grow as the population of older Americans grows.
Another reason more caregivers are needed can be understood by reviewing just the care needs for those seniors with Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's Disease in the U.S.A.
- 1 in 9 Americans age 65 and older (11%) has Alzheimer's disease
- About 1/3rd of people age 85 and older (32%) have Alzheimer's disease
- 81% of people who have Alzheimer's disease are age 75 or older
Remember, our former President Reagan needed caregiving services for 10 years while living with Alzheimer's disease.
Caregiverlist advocates for quality senior care with caregiver training tools (online) and an interactive caregiver hiring platform for senior care companies.
Senior caregivers or anyone with a caring personality who would like to become a senior caregiver may apply for a caregiving job on Caregiverlist's Career Center and be considered for part-time and full-time caregiver jobs and C.N.A. jobs in their area. If you know someone who would enjoy working as a caregiver, you may refer them to Caregiverlist's Refer-a-Friend program and be entered to win free caregiver training.
Retirees who are looking for a part-time income along with doing work that can be very fulfilling, can also apply for a senior caregiving job as a companion caregiver. Read about the caregiver job description
and think about people who may be a good fit as all senior care companies are constantly seeking trustworthy individuals to train and hire as caregivers. These caregivers do not do hands-on care assistance (such as assisting with bathing, toileting, dressing, and assisting bed-ridden patients). Instead, they are companions for seniors who may be experiencing memory loss or loneliness. These caregivers keep the senior's day on track and sometimes escort them to appointments and activities.
The labor department has targeted senior care as the top industry for employment growth in the next decade and when you see all of the different senior care options, this prediction makes sense.
The "Caregiverlist" caregivers submit their recent pay rate upon applying for professional jobs on Caregiverlist's Career Center.
March, 2015, survey results are in and the average caregiver pay rate continues to be $10 per hour. Remember, all senior caregivers on Caregiverlist are professional caregivers employed with senior care companies paying all payroll taxes and benefits, as required by law. Employers contribute from $2 to $4 per hour for a caregiver's payroll taxes in addition to providing training, care management and support for the caregiver and the families receiving senior care.
For the second time during his tenure, Wisconsin State Governor Scott Walker is proposing to cut the state’s popular SeniorCare prescription drug program by requiring Wisconsin's seniors to first enroll in the federal government’s Medicare Part D prescription coverage.
The majority of elderly in Wisconsin like the system the way it is. Some 85,000 SeniorCare members across Wisconsin pay a yearly $30 enrollment fee as well as co-pays of $5 for generic drugs and $15 for name-brand drugs, with no gaps in coverage. Medicare Part D can cost $30-$40 monthly and many plans include deductibles.
Governor Walker’s office disagrees. "In some cases, SeniorCare deductibles are higher than Medicare Part D," Laurel Patrick, a spokesperson for Gov. Walker, wrote in a statement to 27 News, Madison, WI. "Also there is a provision under SeniorCare that requires some individuals to spend down their income, which means they need to pay for prescription drugs out-of-pocket in order to reach eligibility levels, that makes it less beneficial for many seniors."
The governor’s plan calls for seniors to first enroll in a Medicare Part D plan and SeniorCare would supplement coverage for any drugs not covered by the federal plan. His office estimates a $15 million, or 40 percent savings over the next two years in the state’s budget for the prescription drug program for low-income seniors.
Gov. Walker first proposed a similar plan in 2011. At that time, the proposal was dropped when it faced opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.
It’s interesting that when so many want less federal intervention and more statewide control, a state program with so much local support, especially when, during fall campaigns, elected lawmakers voiced their "commitment(ment) to fully fund SeniorCare."
Currently, Democrats Sen. Dave Hansen and Rep. Eric Genrich are launching a petition to drop the proposal. They suggest the Republican governor is "putting the interests of big pharma above Wisconsin's seniors." AARP also denounces the plan, urging Wisconsin members to contact state legislators to encourage them to remove the provisions from the governor’s proposed budget.
Medicare, the health insurance program for America's seniors, makes sure everyone in the U.S.A. receives health care as they age. Medicare does NOT pay for ongoing long-term care in a nursing home. However, Medicare offers all seniors the peace of mind of health insurance coverage and provides a few options which can be changed each year.
As Medicare's open enrollment ends in just a few days, here are items you should consider. You must be age 65 or above to enroll in Medicare health insurance.
First, Medicaid replaces Medicare for very low-income seniors. You may review the Medicaid financial requirements in your state on Caregiverlist's By-State directory.
October 15th through December 7th Medicare Open Enrollment allows all seniors with Medicare to change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for 2014.
Medicare has a separate plan for health insurance vs. drug coverage.
Medicare's website allows you to research the type of plan that will be the best fit for you plus they have added a feature that allows you to plug in the type of test or item you may need, such as diabetes test strips, to see if they are covered by your Medicare plan.
Or, you may actually call Medicare to receive help: Call 1-800-MEDICARE
Plan ahead for any long-term care needs by researching ahead of time the nursing homes in your area and choosing the ones with the highest ratings and most appropriate costs for your budget. Remember, Medicare may pay for a portion of nursing home care for up to 100 days and beyond this time period, you will need to privately pay for your senior care at a nursing home, assisted living community or with professional in-home senior care services. Request a plan of care for your area to be prepared and visit your state's nursing home costs and ratings guide.
Certified Nursing Aides assist seniors with the hands-on care needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle while coping with age-related issues and diseases. As America's population continues to live longer, we are also requiring more years of caregiving services. Hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, assisted living communities and senior home care agencies all hire nursing aides who have formally passed their state's C.N.A. exam and maintain a certificate in good-standing.
Federal law created the training requirement and designation for the nursing aide position, but each state implements their own nursing aide exam and may add additional requirements on top of the training required by the federal law.
Nursing Assistant hours vary from a minimum of 75 hours of course work to a maximum of 180 hours (Maine requires 180 hours of training for C.N.A.'s). The most common number of hours required are 75 and 120 hours. Review the hours of C.N.A. training required in your state and request information on C.N.A. classes in your area.
Caregiverlist's C.N.A. School Directory provides information on the costs and admission requirements to become a C.N.A. Employment opportunities are many for anyone with C.N.A. training and a caring and kind personality. Anyone looking for a fulfilling career could test the waters in the caregiving industry by starting out as a professional caregiver and applying with one job application in their area on Caregiverlist (multiple companies use Caregiverlist's hiring platform and often hire as many as 5 new caregivers and aides weekly).
Review an Insider's Guide to Becoming a C.N.A. and take a practice C.N.A. exam as you explore this career opportunity. Caregiver certification training consists of 10 hours of online training and can also provide an introduction to working as a professional caregiver.
Sweater weather, as we like to say, has arrived in many parts of the U.S.A. While it may still not be cool enough to create an appetite for chicken pot pie, this chicken salad brings in a flavor of fall with the addition of healthy and colorful cranberries. Senior caregivers looking for a new dish to serve their senior client can also use this recipe as a conversation starter.
Chicken Salad for Autumn Days
Contributed by Caregiver Sherpa Samantha Franklin
4 cups diced poached chicken, recipe follows
1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced or 1/4 cup sweet onion cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 cup prepared or homemade mayonnaise
2 teaspoons strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of sliced almonds
1/2 cup of cranberries
Keeping a healthy snack around can sometimes be a challenge, especially when dealing with the extra stress of caregiving. And since an apple a day keeps many bad things away, apparently, why not spice your apples up with just a couple of simple ingredients to create healthy apple sauce.
Caregivers can also use cooking as a way to engage with their senior client. As we are in the middle of apple season here in the Midwest, talking about memories that surround apples and autumn could lead to some interesting stories. Did someone in your senior's family bake the best apple pie ever? Do they still have the recipe? Or did they instead make an apple crumble or cobbler?
One of my former senior clients told a story about her family farm in Virginia where all the heirs of the 8 children who grew up on the farm still get together every October to do a weekend of apple butter making. They collect apples from the orchard on their farm and build a huge bonfire and cook the apples down all night long. Family members sign up for shifts to stir the apples. Then they go home with jars of apple butter made on their family farm.
Healthy and Easy Apple Sauce
3 Ingredients: Apples, Cinnamon or Apple Pie Spice, Apple Juice
The amount of each of the ingredients varies based on how many apples you use and how much spice you like. Use the below amounts as a starting point and then add more juice if you need a bit more moisture and more spice as needed to please your palate. No sugar needed!
1/4 cup Apple Juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Peel and core apples and slice. Add to sauce pan on stove top. Pour in 1/4 cup of apple juice and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Cook on medium to medium low, stirring and mashing the apples with a wooden spoon until completely cooked down to sauce.
Caregivers in the Los Angeles, California, area are invited to a special evening of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, along with a movie viewing and fellowship with other caregivers on October 1st. This event, honoring family and professional caregivers, is a special event sponsored by Clorox® as part of the debut of their new care kits. This means you will also receive a FREE GOODY BAG - - - we always love goody bags and can tell you this one is a really good one! Complimentary parking is included and a $5 donation will be made to the Beauty Bus, in the caregiver's honor, when a photo of the one they care for is shared at the event.
Caregiverlist's team attended the Chicago event and really enjoyed the documentary movie created by Ernesto Quintero, profiling his brother's journey with M.S. Ernesto's mother and siblings provide care for his brother who now cannot walk, eat or breathe on his own. Ernesto's Mom even went back to school for nurse's aide training and become a C.N.A. in order to properly care for both her husband and son. Clorox has debuted a home care clean-up kit that contains products without bleach and also includes gloves and just the right items for caregivers: hand sanitizer, stain remover, germicidal non-bleach spray and disinfecting and deodorizing spray. Maintaining a sanitary environment for the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom are very important in caregiving and are part of the caregiver basic training required in many states.
Spread the word to other caregivers about this event as you will also enjoy a roundtable discussion with the film maker and others in the caregiving industry after the event. Below you will find the invitation for this night where caregivers will be "caring for the caregiver
Let Clorox CareConcepts take care of, celebrate and honor you for caregiving. Join us for a “night off” to enjoy hors d'oeuvres, drinks and camaraderie with other caregivers. Enjoy pampering activities and a private screening of the documentary “A Sacred Journey” by Los Angeles-based filmmaker Ernesto Quintero that touches all of those who care for a loved one. A panel discussion (6:30 p.m. screening only) with experts and caregivers on "When Care Comes Home” will follow the screening, exploring the challenges and inspirational moments of caregiving.
Date: Wednesday, October 1
Time: 6:30 p.m. with panel discussion, 8:00 p.m. film only
Location: Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater, 611 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Transportation: Complimentary valet parking
RSVP: To RSVP@pdcpr.net or 708.305.5075 noting 6:30 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. showtime
Donation in Your Honor: Submit a photo or keepsake representing the one you care for and Clorox® CareConceptsTM will donate $5 to the Beauty Bus Foundation