Finding Quality Senior Care: First Understand Medicare vs. Medicaid

Seniors usually do not plan ahead for senior care.  Anyone in the senior care industry already knows this fact and I remember one time a larger senior home care franchise group shared with me that they had paid a significant amount of money to an advertising agency to research how seniors plan for senior care.  The answer? They don't plan for it at all! 

This means that the loved ones of a senior - their spouses, children and relatives, are quickly searching for the right senior care option after a medical emergency happens. Where should the senior go for rehabilitation after a stroke? What option is right for them? A nursing home? Assisted living community? Senior home care?

The very next question that is asked is what does Medicare cover? 

Family members must first understand the difference between Medicare and Medicaid and learn which option their parents or another relative they are assisting to find care currently has a coverage plan.

All seniors in the U.S.A. go onto Medicare health insurance but, if they qualify, on the basis of having a very low income and few assets (usually under $2,500), then they will receive Medicaid health insurance.

The biggest difference between Medicare and Medicaid is that Medicaid WILL PAY FOR ONGOING CARE IN A NURSING HOME. Medicare DOES NOT PAY for ongoing senior care.

Learn about the differences between Medicare and Medicaid and plan ahead for your senior care option.


Seniors Behind $300M Heist

They’re calling it Ocean’s 64, the Old Man Heist, and dubbing them “Dad’s Army.”

On Easter weekend this year, a three-day banking holiday, nine thieves made off with one of the largest heists in Britain’s history. In a scene some are comparing to the movie The Italian Job, 73 empty safe deposit boxes were found in the vault at London’s Hatton Garden Safe Deposit. Their missing contents were jewels, gold, and diamonds worth about £200 million ($300 million).

Eight out of the 10 men arrested on suspicion of robbery were in court on May 19 and much was made of their ages — which combined is just shy of 500 years. The oldest of the defendants complained that they had trouble hearing what the judge was saying. Another, it’s been reported, limped so badly that prison guards had to help him to his seat.

I always said 80 is the perfect age to conduct a heist, but these men were no beginners. In fact, in the case of oldest suspect, 76-year-old Brian Reader of Dartmoor, Kent, it was a chance to make the heist into a family business, as son and fellow suspect , 50-year-old Paul Reader was supposedly part of the crew.

DAD'S ARMY': THE CHARGED MEN, AGED BETWEEN 48 TO 76

  • Hugh Doyle, 48
  • Paul Reader, 50
  • Daniel Jones, 58
  • Carl Wood, 58
  • William Lincoln, 59
  • Terry Perkins, 67
  • John Collins, 74
  • Brian Reader, 76

There’s no doubt it was a professional job, and The Mirror aptly nicknamed the thieves suitably cinematic names — Mr Ginger, Mr Strong, Mr Montana, The Gent, The Tall Man, Moped Man and The Old Man. The job was incredibly intricate and physically challenging. London's metropolitan police released pictures of the scene.

After the thieves entered a side door dressed as workers, disabled an elevator and rappelled down the shaft, while carrying an incredibly heavy and powerful Hilti DD-350 diamond coring drill to get through the vault and at the safety deposit boxes.

While we at Caregiverlist certainly don’t condone unlawful behavior at any age, after reading about so many senior scams and the variety of frauds perpetrated against the elderly, it sure is interesting to see the tables turn and read about some older gentlemen who continue to “work” beyond retirement.

Chefs Make Housecalls for Seniors

One of the reasons a senior may finally choose to move into assisted living is for the meals. The elderly who live independently may decide that by the time groceries are bought, pots and pans are put on the stove, food is plated and plates are cleaned, it’s just too much trouble to cook for one. Many times seniors will microwave some high-fat, high-sodium, prepared and processed food. Not good for nutrition and certainly not good for the soul.

Chefs for Seniors out of Madison, Wisc. has been getting a lot of press lately, and with good reason. Their mission? They want seniors to stay independent a little longer by offering a service dedicated to improving seniors’ lives through food (emphasis theirs.) They’ve recently been featured on NPR and in Senior Housing News. The family-run company staffs vetted, licensed, professional chefs to come to shop and cook for seniors, right in their own homes.

Whole, healthy, homemade food is of course preferable to industrial, processed, mass-produced food stuffs. But taking a meal is so much more than the simple act of eating. Taking every meal alone, no matter how nutritious, delicious, and convenient it may be, can be a lonely proposition for those who are used to communal meals.

Perhaps with Chefs for Seniors, the community is had in the making. Owners Barrett and Lisa Allman, as well as their son Nathan, seem to understand that the relationship between a seniors and their caregiver (in this case, the person preparing their meals) is important and consistency is an issue. Outside of special circumstances, the company tries to maintain that unique client/chef relationship.

“Routine is important for seniors, so we try to keep the same chef coming to their home every week,” Allman told Home Health Care News’ Jason Oliva.

The chef can visit twice a week, weekly, or bi-weekly, based on the senior’s need and preference. After an initial consultation, a senior-specific menu is prepared, a chef is assigned, and then the culinary friendship is forged.

Like many senior care services, this one was born from family need. Allman told NPR that the inspiration for Chefs for Seniors was his wife's grandmother. She entered assisted living ten years ago, when she could no longer cook for herself. The family knew she could have stayed in her own home longer if she had access to nutritional and tasty meals.

But don’t give up on senior communities. Many assisted living facilities have also discarded the notion of industrial food for their residents. Chefs like Carol Koty at Lockwood Lodge at Masonicare at Newtown are providing restaurant-quality meals to the seniors for whom they cook. Caregiverlist recommends you thoroughly check into all your senior care options, from in-home care, specialty care (like Chefs for Seniors), independent and assisted living, and nursing homes for your specific eldercare needs.

Japanese Seniors to Get 5 Million iPads

Apple and IBM are partnering with Japan Post to provide 1,000 seniors with free iPads for six months beginning in October. If successful, the program could increase senior users to five million by the year 2020. iPads will be equipped with IBM-produced apps specifically geared to the elderly such as reminding seniors to take their medication, help them keep in touch with family, and assist them in finding local senior services in an effort to improve the quality of life for Japan’s senior population.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and Japan Post CEO Taizo Nishimuro (who is almost 80 years old) announced the program in New York on Thursday. Japan’s elderly make up 25 percent of entire population. That’s about 33 million seniors. That number is projected to grow to 40 percent over the next 4 decades.

Japan Post Group, a government-owned postal service, bank, and insurer will train 400,000 of its employees on the iPads. They in turn will deliver the devices to the elderly. Currently, Japan Post service workers make elderly wellness checks and reports back to the senior’s family. This “Watch Over” program costs families $1,000 yen, or $8, monthly. It is not known if the iPad program will increase those costs.

“This initiative has potential for global impact, as many countries face the challenge of supporting an aging population, and we are honored to be involved in supporting Japan’s senior citizens and helping enrich their lives,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a press release.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the proportion of people aged over 60 years is growing faster than any other age group in almost every country. Between 2000 and 2050, the proportion of the world's population over 60 years will double from about 11% to 22%. The number of people aged 60 years and over is expected to increase from 605 million to 2 billion over the same period.


Mashable gave us a peek at the iPad interface which includes large buttons, an emergency call capability, and other senior-friendly and senior-empowering features.

Image: Mashable, Lance Ulanoff

The proposed iPad program certainly can’t take the place of a one-on-one in-home senior care, but for millions of independent older people, especially with those whose families distance care, I think it will be a great care supplement.

Celebrating Earth Day with Seniors

Here in Chicago, we awoke on Earth Day to a light dusting of snow on rooftops. This is April in the Midwest. Consider my plans to garden with my mother dashed. But not to worry — there are still plenty of ways to celebrate Earth Day with seniors and support the environment along with its protection.

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd around the world, and has been since United States Senator Gaylord Nelson held the first environmental teach-in on April 22, 1970   It is now, according to one of the original organizers Denis Hayes, “the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year.”

Senior caregivers are always on the lookout for special activities for their care recipients. I’ve culled some great ideas from around the web (along with a few suggestions of my own) and come up with some Earth Day undertakings to commemorate the day.

Plant Something
My original plan for today was to plant a tree. There are lots of reasons why planting and maintaining trees are especially good for our environment, not the least of which is that trees can help combat climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide while releasing the oxygen back into the air. Added bonus: trees conserve energy. According to Tree People, three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent.

Eat Sustainably
Shop locally for produce. Farmer’s markets will not only have great seasonable fruits and vegetables, you’re saving the greenhouse gasses it takes to transport food by truck and industrial agriculture causes massive topsoil erosion. Also, just for today, keep dairy and meat consumption to a minimum. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, meat production accounts for about 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the grains used to feed the livestock require an incredible amount of fuel and water. So just for today, consider going vegetarian (or close to it.)

Recycle
Today would be an ideal day to go through accumulated stuff — you know, the clothing, appliances and goods that are no longer used and donate them to a worthy group. Just make sure you double-check with family before you schedule a pick-up or drop-off. You don’t want to make the mistake of getting rid of a beloved family heirloom or valuable item.

Senior caregivers connect the elderly to their environment every day. A great caregiver will look for opportunities to celebrate special days like Earth Day. Look to your local Areas on Aging for ideas and events to celebrate the health of our planet.

Honor System Hopes to Marry In-Home Senior Care with Technology

In-home senior care is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. I know because I'm constantly looking at senior care industry trends. This week, there was a new name on the in-home senior care landscape: Honor.

Honor (www.joinhonor.com) recently received $20 million in funding to roll out it’s new service—a high tech way to connect seniors with senior caregivers. Honor is launching Contra Costa County, California this month and then plans to spread to the rest of the Bay Area. San Francisco is the fifth largest metro area for senior care employment.

Helping seniors age in place, at home, is at the core of CEO and co-founder Seth Sternberg’s mission. Like many of us, Mr. Sternberg was confronted with the challenge of long-distance care for his aging mother. He would fly into Connecticut, where his mother lives, hire a caregiver, and be clueless about the care his mother was receiving once he left for home. The idea behind Honor is that, not only could a senior (or their family) hire a caregiver Uber-fashion, but the app would help families monitor that care.

The Honor Frame is a device that sits in the senior’s home and allows a senior or their family to request a caregiver for as little as one hour per week, to help with the activities of daily living, including meal preparation, transportation, or simple companionship. Families can download the Honor app onto their smartphones in order to monitor the caregiver’s time, activities, and to provide feedback.

It will be interesting to watch how Honor approaches the challenges inherent to in-home senior care. We agree that technology can facilitate the connection between senior and caregiver, but building a team of caregivers is different than hiring in any other field because seniors who live alone are especially vulnerable to all sorts of elder abuse. The creators of Honor believe they can build a strong team of professional caregivers by offering them an hourly rate well above the industry standard—$15 per hour instead of the current average of $9.50.

In order to understand the challenges Honor is facing, perhaps we should take a look at just what an in-home care agency provides to a caregiver, their senior client and their family that a direct hire doesn’t necessarily offer. At Caregiverlist, we make sure our quality home care agencies:

  • posess a business license and required state licensure
  • fully vet all employees by performing a thorough criminal background check
  • offer and maintain training for caregivers
  • are responsible for paying all employee payroll taxes, as required by law. That includes unemployment insurance tax, Social Security tax, Medicare tax and State and Federal withholdings
  • provide Worker’s Compensation Insurance
  • carry Professional Liability Insurance and Fidelity Bond Insurance (aka “theft” insurance)
  • supply active management of the senior caregiver through a direct supervisor and a plan of care

As the population ages, their technology comfort level will increase. Until then, I’d love to take a look at Honor’s interface, knowing that seniors themselves will be using the software to request their caregiver.

We at Caregiverlist wish Honor the most success. We certainly believe in their philosophy, one that Sternberg recently told Forbes. “We do not honor care professionals in today’s world,” he said. “We should. And we should honor our parents.” We couldn’t agree more.

Age is Beauty

Youth is beauty. It’s what our society tells us and shows us, from 14-year-old model Roos Abels on Prada’s catwalk to the goofy twenty-year-olds on America’s Next Top Model. It’s fairly common to hear that a model’s career is mostly over by the time they’re 25.

But not always.

Carmen Dell’Orefice, 83, is commonly known as the world’s oldest working model. Although she began her modeling career at the age of 13 (when she posed for Salvador Dali!),  she admits that  to New You magazine that she’s “had more magazine covers in the last 25 years than I have had in my whole elongated career." Over the last few years, she’s made her mark on catwalks around the world, and closed this year’s max.tan show at Digital Fashion Week Singapore.



Céline has made iconic writer Joan Didion, 80, the star of their Spring 2015 campaign. Of course, the decision propelled the fashion house into the limelight, but I applaud anyone who recognizes the beauty of “mature models.” And besides, Joan Didion has always been one of the coolest of the cool girls and that doesn’t change just because you age.

Joan Didion for Céline. Photograph: Céline

Dame Helen Mirren is a relative whippersnapper at 69-years-old. She stars in her first commercial for the L'Oreal Paris' Age Perfect campaign. And yes, the product is designed to target older women, but still, it’s awfully nice to see that beauty is appreciated, even in older women.




Is this a temporary trend? Will older women continue to be celebrated in fashion and beauty? I hope so. As the population ages, the buying public will be an older one. With just about 26 million women over 65 in the U.S. alone, it’s just smart to sell to the demographic.

We at Caregiverlist are great believers in aging well. While exercise and proper nutrition won't give you outstanding cheekbones or a 5'9" frame, you can certainly be your best you at any age.

You Are What You Eat: Senior Nutrition

March is National Nutrition Month and an ideal opportunity for senior caregivers to make sure seniors are getting all the proper nutrition they need. It’s easier said than done. As we age, our bodies have a more difficult time absorbing key nutrients. Certain foods can lose their appeal — medications especially can affect appetite or change the way food tastes.

A nutrient-rich diet is more than essential for health maintenance, its a form of preventative medicine. A good diet can help keep common ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, and high cholesterol at bay. Key nutrients are essential to keep physically and mentally fit.

Unfortunately, according to a report released by AARP, more than 10 million seniors go hungry every day, and it’s likely that “proper nutrient intake suffers when individuals are food insecure.”  What money is available for food should go to the most nutritious foods available — whole, unprocessed foods that are nutrient-dense (and generally low in calories)  are key to senior health.

You can follow the Food Pyramid for Older Adults (Tufts University) or any balanced diet in order to get the proper nutrition. I think it’s key to get your nutrients from whole foods as opposed to relying on supplements. The elderly usually already take so much medication, who wants to take more pills?

The National Institute on Aging has recommendations for eating well as you age. They suggest you plan meals and snacks to include:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains
  • dairy products, especially low-fat or fat-free
  • protein in the form of lean meats and poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, and unsalted nuts
  • limited amounts of solid fats. Keep trans fats to a minimum
  • limited amounts of cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars

Don’t forget to keep hydrated with water or water-rich food such as melons, cucumbers, radishes (!), even if you don’t feel thirsty.



The NIA also suggests any seniors with high blood pressure or hypertension consider the DASH diet, which I previously wrote about here.

Caregiverlist knows senior caregivers are integral to helping the elderly to eat right and age well. You can learn basic caregiving skills by taking our 8-hour online Caregiver Certification training course provided by Caregiverlist Training University.

Short Films Highlight Ageism

Where will you be Sunday night? If you are like me and millions of viewers (43 million last year), you will be watching the 87th Academy Awards. Are you rooting for Birdman or Boyhood? Will Eddie Redmayne take Best Actor for channeling Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything? Who will win the Oscar for Best Actress? My money’s on Julianne Moore in Still Alice, in which she portrays a professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's.

Movies can be entertaining, informative, arresting. They have the ability to comment upon an aspect of society and, when done well, evoke great empathy.

Seniors experience ageism, discrimination, and prejudicial attitudes every day (I pity the fool who will condescends to call me “cute” when I hit 80.) Every year since 2011, the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) sponsors a short film competition (under 9 minutes) about the challenges faced by older adults when they are marginalized by a society that values youth above all things.
ALFA’s goal in sponsoring this Short Films on Ageism competition is to:

  • Demonstrate the destructive forces of ageism in society and/or
  • Raise public awareness of how ageism is expressed in direct or subtle ways and/or
  • Demonstrate how individuals can change their attitudes and behavior towards older adults.

Keith Rivers, principal/creative director at Workhouse Creative! won the 2014 ALFA Short Film Competition on Ageism with his short story documentary, Salt & Pepper.



Second place winner was A Father to Dye For , directed by Lena Nozizwe and starring retired history professor, Hulme Thamsanqa Siwundhla, Ph.D.



ALFA is the largest national association dedicated to senior living communities and the seniors and families they serve. Since 1990, ALFA has championed choice, accessibility, independence, dignity, and quality of life for all seniors.

ALFA is now accepting entries for the 2015 Short Film Competition. The submission deadline is 5:00 p.m. EST on March 30, 2015.

Seniors and Online Dating

Seniors are using technology in all its aspects to improve their lives. Cell phones can also be medical alert devices. Email is a way to keep in touch with family and friends far away. Skype is the video phone promised in yesterday’s sci-fi movies.

It’s no wonder that seniors are now one of the fastest growing demographics in the online dating game. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, US-based technology advisory company iTOK sent out a survey asking their members to discuss their online dating habits. Their findings? 1 in 5 seniors have tried online dating, with the largest group of respondents ( 36%) falling between 66 and 75 years old. And they’re not necessarily looking for lasting love, either. Seniors seeking companionship and casual relationships found their way primarily to Match.com, eHarmony, and OurTime (a dating site that caters to singles 50 and older). Fifty percent of iTOK responders were already married; 19% reported being widowed, 18% divorced, 11% single, and 2% currently dating.

Here’s their infographic:

AARP got into the game when they partnered with an online dating service and came up with HowAboutWe. As in, “How about we” take in a movie tonight? Take a baking class together? Although in my experience, most of the men seem to be under 40 years old. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. However, they are all so good looking according to their online profile photos, I have a hard time believing that a 32 year-old Javier Bardem-looking Jared would want to “hang out and hear bluegrass while drinking whiskey” with a 50-year-old woman. But perhaps I’m wrong. Certainly my Valentine’s-addled mind would love to think so.

At the risk of sounding alarmist, I might even run a background check on someone before I committed to a relationship. I know, I’m a hopeless romantic. There are a lot of scammers out there. I strongly advise to take care in all things — especially matters of the heart, where the head tends to lose.

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