Becoming a Certified Nursing Aide

Certified Nursing Aides provide the personal care services to seniors in nursing homes, assisted living communities and hospitals nationwide.  There is an ongoing need in the U.S.A. for more Certified Nursing Assistants.  But what is it like to work as a C.N.A. and be the person who provides the critical hands-on care for our nationâ's seniors? 

Guest Blogger Patrick Welch, a C.N.A. since age 16, shares his story about becoming a C.N.A. and working as a C.N.A. during his clinical trials training for all of the caregivers who are becoming certified as a nursing aide (you may apply for C.N.A. and Caregiver positions near you on Caregiverlist, the nation’s only career center for professional senior caregivers created by industry professionals).

Senior care:  everyone has their own story about their beginnings in this industry.  My own story as a C.N.A. began when I turned 16.  My Mom, who was the equivalent of a director of nursing at our local nursing home, decided it was time for me to join the working world.  If I wanted to drive I would need to be able to afford to buy gas for the car so he suggested I become a C.N.A. as she knew I would always be able to find a job.  I enrolled in a program my high school offered in conjunction with the local technical college, North Central, and was off on my two month long class to become a C.N.A.  The first thing I noticed when I walked into the classroom of approximately 20 students, was that I was the only guy.  That was the start of my life working and studying in all female environments, which is another story on its own.  We started off the first week more or less learning what is to be expected of you when working as a nurse aid and slowly progressed into a crash course into the healthcare world.  Seventy-five hours of classroom experience later, it was time for me to start my clinicals at Colonial Nursing Home.  

We all met at the nursing home and waited as our nurse aid instructor gave each student a resident they would be working with through the 45-hour clinical period.  When she came to me, she seemed to have something special in mind for me, I could tell.  As the only male in the group, and as she also knew that I had grown up around healthcare, indeed I was given an extra special case.  My resident was in the late stages of dementia, physically aggressive, incontinent, and enjoyed communicating with an extremely colorful vocabulary.  Luckily, I did not have to work with this individual alone, as this was during my clinical trial training, I had an experienced CNA helping me.  The C.N.A. school’s nurse aid instructor would go from student to student to check on their progress so she was also available for advice and guidance.   

The first few days went as well as they could and as the saying goes, I “milked and fed the cows”, cooked dinner for the family and just kept the house tidy so that my resident was able to finally go to sleep.  She would never be able to sleep if all the chores were not finished.  However, once the chores were finished, everything went downhill from there.  Her language became more extreme and so did her aggression.  When I was halfway through my clinical trials, I had an experience I have never forgotten.  I was helping this wonderful woman get ready for bed, putting on her night gown, helping with her peri-care, brushing her teeth and all that was left was helping her to the restroom so she could relieve herself before bed. It was like any other night, except for the part where she tried to stand up by herself; as she struggled to stand, she wanted to do it by herself, but I wanted her to be safe and started to help her stand up.  With what must have been the rest of her life force, she grumbled a few words to me that went something like “to hell with this,” and coincidentally fell back onto the toilet and fell unconscious – it seemed her time had naturally come.

For anyone considering a career as a C.N.A., just know there will be many unique experiences along the way of helping others that will leave you with many stories to tell but also you will finish each day of work knowing you made a positive difference in someone’s life.

Caregiverlist provides proprietary hiring tools for senior care companies and caregivers seeking work may submit 1 caregiver job application on Caregiverlist to be considered by multiple hiring companies in their area.  You may also research C.N.A. schools on Caregiverlist’s C.N.A. School Directory.

Remember, it is mandatory for senior care companies who are licensed by their state to maintain a minimum staff of Certified Nursing Aides (C.N.A.'s), based on the number of senior patients they are assisting with care, and because of this, there is a constant need for more C.N.A.'s to fill available positions.  The work can be rewarding but also difficult when you are dealing with seniors who may have memory loss or may not really be accepting of their age-related illnesses.  You may want to first take a practice C.N.A. exam to see if this is the type of work you would enjoy doing.

You can share your caregiver stories right in the Caregiverlist caregiver and CNA career center. 

Medicare Eligibility Age Removed from "Fiscal Cliff" Debate

Medicare health insurance is a national health insurance provided to seniors beginning at age 65.  Medicare pays for the basic health insurance needs of a senior and provides a sense of security as all seniors qualify for it (no rejections because of pre-existing conditions).  Seniors who have a very low income and nearly no assets can also transfer over to Medicaid, a program operated in conjunction with the federal and state governments.  Medicaid differs from Medicare in that it does pay for ongoing long-term care in a nursing home

Medicare was created when the life expectancy of an American was around age 72.  Today, a baby born in the U.S.A. can expect to live to be 100 years old.  The oldest senior, in fact, just passed away this month at age 116.  People are living longer and this means Medicare must pay for the health insurance for many more years than perhaps what was planned when the program was first developed.

As Congress debates the "fiscal cliff", one of the solutions was to delay the age until 67 for a senior to begin Medicare health insurance.

Today the Senate announced the White House was not in favor of moving the age requirement back for Medicare although the Republicans were holding on to this as a way to curb costs if they were going to finally give in to raising taxes on the very wealthy.

AARP, the association for American seniors, maintains a lobbying foot in Congress and keeps up on the latest developments as the debate continues.



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Caregiver Scholarship Awards Announced for Caregiving Coalitions

National Alliance for Caregiving announed the 10 winners of the scholarship award to attend the national conference for Caregiving Coalitions to be held in Chicago in March.

The Conference for Caregiving Coalitions award recipients are:

  • Community Caregiving Outcomes Alliance (Chicago, IL)
  • The Caregivers Coalition of Bergen County (Hackensack, NJ)
  • California Coalition for Caregiver (Los Angeles, CA)
  • "We Care" La crosse Caregivers Coalition (La Crosse, WI)
  • CaregiverU (Austin, TX)
  • Larimer County Caregiver Coalition (Fort Collins, CO)
  • Long Island Family Caregiver Coaltion (Port Washington, NY)
  • Coalition of Caring (Rochester, NH)
  • Caregiver Coalition of Northeast Florida (Jacksonville, FL)
  • CareGivers' Hope (Atlanta, GA)

The Caregiving Coalitions help advance senior care initiatives in their community.  As seniors live longer, the need for more creative senior care programs will continue.  You may learn about senior care organization and programs in your area through the Area Agency on Aging on Caregiverlist.


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Certified Caregiver Training for Senior Caregivers: What Are the Options?

Senior care has expanded to include professional senior care in the home which has prompted an entire niche industry to develop in the last decade.  Franchise companies have created thousands of locations across the country to better serve the need for professional senior care in the home.   

The growth in senior care has also created the expansion of new requirements for caregiver training.  Senior care requires understanding age-related diseases, the natural progression of the aging process and the dynamics of senior care within a family.  Senior care also may involve hands-on care requiring a caregiver to know how to safely transfer a senior, assist with meals and eating and assisting with personal care such as bathroom visits and bathing.

Safely caring for seniors requires understanding both the physical and emotional needs of the senior.  Because of this, state governments and the federal government have passed legislation to mandate minimum training standards for senior care and to implement certifications to verify training has taken place.

Certified Nursing Aides, or C.N.A.'s are required in each state of the U.S.A. for individuals providing the hands-on senior care in nursing homes, Assisted Living communities, hospitals and hospices.  In addition, often long-term care insurance companies require the caregiver to be a certified caregiver to insure that proper care will be provided.

Caregivers who work in the home can obtain the basic minimum caregiver training by taking a 10-hour online caregiver certification course.  There is no nationwide standard for non-medical caregivers nationwide.  However, many states are beginning to pass legislation requiring training, such as the state of Illinois which mandates at least 8 hours of training for senior caregivers.  This training was proposed by the National Private Duty Association (NPDA) to advance the standards of training for the industry.  The 10-hour certified training meets Illinois' requirement.

The next level of training for senior caregivers would be C.N.A. training or Certified Nursing Aide training which usually requires close to 100 hours of clinical work and passing a state C.N.A. exam.

You may purchase the Certified Caregiver Training course online and review  C.N.A. training programs in your area or take the sample C.N.A. exam to learn more.

Senior caregiving jobs are available nationwide as the senior care industry continues to grow and have immediate needs for part-time, full-time and live-in senior caregivers and nursing aides.  Read this story in U.S. News & World Report about the growth of the industry and need for more caregiver workers.


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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World's Oldest Person Dies at Age 116

Guinness World Records determined Besse Cooper was the world's oldest person in January, 2011, when she was just 115 years old (and today, on my sister's birthday, I was just teasing her about getting closer to age 40, but maybe 40 is the new 60 now)! Earlier today, in a nursing home in Monroe, Georgia, just 45 miles from Atlanta, Ms. Cooper passed away, as announced by her son Sidney Cooper. She was 116 years old. Now imagine for a moment if all of the Baby Boomer generation, predicted to live longer, live to be 116...even more debates about Medicare changes could be taking place in Congress as we figure out how to pay for senior care for all these years. Ms. Cooper, however, was still interacting with others and living life. She was reading books and watched a Christmas video and had her hair fixed, said her son, looking "ready to go". Last year on Cooper's 115th birthday, she celebrated with friends and relatives, enjoyed two small slivers of birthday cake and was serenaded by a musician from Nashville who sang "Tennessee Waltz." The Cooper family is still planning the funeral which will likely be held later this week. a funeral for his mother later this week. No reports yet if there will be any special studies of her body to figure out how her lifestyle and genetics led to a much longer life than most. The title of world's oldest person now belongs to 115-year-old Dina Manfredini, of Johnston, Iowa, reports the Guinness World Records. The oldest known person of all time was Jeanne Calment, a French woman who lived to be 122 years old and died in 1997.

Subaru Shares The Love with Alzheimer's Assn, Meals On Wheels

Subaru sells cars and trucks and now also donates $250 from sales to the charity of your choice (when you buy a Subaru).  Alzheimer's Association and Meals on Wheels are two groups that assist seniors and Subaru has added both of these charities to their "Share the Love" program.

Volunteering has been shown to deliver ongoing health benefits as it provides those who volunteer with fulfillment and a sense of purpose.

Both the Alzheimer's Association and Meals on Wheels are always looking for volunteers.  The Memory Walk is the main fundraiser each year, in cities across the U.S.A., for the Alzheimer's Association and you can be a board member to assist with organizing the event or recruit volunteers for your own team to walk in the Memory Walk.

Meals on Wheels delivers meals to seniors and through the meal drop-off program is often the only person some seniors see each day.  They also have fund-raisers and recruit extra volunteers around the holidays.

Senior care has been predicted to be the top employer in the coming decade - if you are a caring individual and interested in working in senior care, one way to enhance your resume is to begin volunteering with senior programs.  You can also take an online caregiver training course to become a Certified Caregiver.

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Medicaid Programs in Each State to Receive Increased Funding

The Affordable Care Act includes an expansion of Medicaid benefits for low-income Americans and while some states (and Governors) have voiced concern over the potential increase in costs of this expansion, an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation determined that Federal funds will actually deliver an advantage to states.

If all 50 states were to participate in the Medicaid expansion, their total projected costs in the 10 years through 2022 would increase by $76 billion, or about 3% nationally compared with current costs, the analysis shows.  The states would also benefit from a gain of $952 billion in federal funding to help pay for the coverage of an additional 21.3 million people.

This new healthcare mandate allows states to expand coverage for people whose household income is at or below 138% of the federal poverty level, which in 2012 is $15,415 for an individual and $26,344 for a family of three.  The federal government will pay for most of the costs, starting at 100% for the newly eligible in the first three years and phasing down to 90% after that.

Another positive outcome of health insurance for everyone is an expected overhaul of hospital emergency rooms as they no longer will be the pit stop for care for all those who do not have medical insurance and go there for acute care needs.

All seniors receive Medicare health insurance but if they have a very low income and minimum assets, they will qualify for Medicaid health insurance benefits which will pay for long-term care.  You can view the Medicaid financial qualifications as you prepare for long-term senior care.

Many senior caregivers have not had access to health insurance previously and under Obama care they will receive access to health care.





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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Senior Caregiver News Alert: Cholesterol Drug Recall

Seniors taking the cholesterol drug Atorvastatin should check to see if the recall of this medication is taking place in their area.  Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals has announced it is calling back the 10-, 20- and 40-milligram tablets of Atorvastatin at the retail level for select batches that may contain a foreign substance (small glass particles approximately less than 1mm in saize).  The company is proactively recalling the drug product lots out of an abundance of caution, their press release stated.

Review the cholesterol drug recall lots at the Ranbaxy website.

Senior caregivers may review senior care briefs and online caregiver training which includes skills for managing the emotional aspects of senior care - - - there is never a boring moment in the day of a caregiver, from drug recalls to memory loss to new ailments.

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