Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers during the holidays to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo of beautiful Hawaii landscape, which provides a fresh and a serene space for caregivers to take a deep breath, or two, and feel energized. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for caring for our seniors and please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo Hawaii

"There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience." 

French Proverb

Value of Vitamins Questioned in Recent Studies

Senior care shifts can be long and arduous. Taking care of others is hard work and sometimes comes at the expense of taking care of ourselves. Everyone would like to think that there is an easy path — a magic bullet — to self-care. I know I’ve said, “I don’t need to go to the gym, I move mom from her bed to her chair five times a day. I go up and down the stairs all day doing laundry.” But really, that’s no replacement for a good workout with weights and the elliptical.

It’s the same with nutrition. We assume that a good vitamin or supplement can take the place of a healthy diet. Our friends at Scrubs Magazine take a look at recent studies to see if relying on vitamins and supplements is a good idea.

With life and work always seeming to get more and more hectic, it can seem like an easy fix us to turn to multivitamins and supplements to help maintain proper nutrition. But a few new studies suggest that these may not be the best way to go.

In fact, the debate on the usefulness of multivitamins and other supplements has been ongoing for years, and there’s never been a definitive answer. One new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine makes its opinion clear:

“The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided,” said an editorial that accompanied the study, according to USA Today. This statement was signed by two researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a British researcher and one of the journal’s senior editors.

An unrelated study that was published in the same medical journal found that multivitamins taken by heart attack survivors had no effect on the progression of heart disease.

However, studies have also found no harm in standard multivitamins, either directly or indirectly (through causing those who take them to eat worse or otherwise neglect their health).

On a related note, an editorial in The New York Times warns of the risks of giving vitamins and supplements to children. The piece is written by Paul A. Offit, chief of the division of infectious disease at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Sarah Erush, clinical manager in the pharmacy department at the same hospital.

The two point out that dietary supplements are not regulated as drugs by the FDA, and therefore not all of the reactions of specific drugs may be known. Additionally, the authors of the editorial point out that this presents even more of a problem when parents don’t reveal all the supplements their children are taking when they bring them to the hospital.

Of course, there are many on the other side who still endorse the use of vitamins and supplements, and it is unclear if the real benefit and/or risks of every supplement will ever be known.

Caregiverlist wants to know: do you take vitamins and supplements? Do you believe they can take the place of, or at least work in conjunction with healthy eating? Do you sometimes rely too much upon them for your daily nutrition?

Do you eat the same healthy meal you might serve to your senior charge? Let us know in the comments. Do you want to learn more about eldercare nutrition and exercise? Consider purchasing Caregiverlist’s online caregiver training and certification to give you the tools you need to be the best senior caregiver you can be.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers during the holidays to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo will bring color to any caregiver's life with this vibrant lily flower blooming. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for caring for our seniors and please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo Lily

"Talent is God-give; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful."

John Wooden

Senior Care Considerations During Polar Vortex

Since most of the United States is locked in the grip of a fierce “polar vortex”, or sub-zero temperatures, I thought it might be a good time to revisit special considerations of elderly care during this time of extreme weather. Here in Chicago, yesterday’s low temperature was -16F, with a windchill of -50F. Elsewhere in the Midwest and Plain states, all-time low temperature records were broken. Exposure to the elements could result in frostbite or hypothermia in just a few minutes.

The elderly are vulnerable during extreme weather, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who are prone to wandering. In New York state, an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease left her home and was found dead in the snow, not more than 100 yards from her door. So as the frigid temperatures make their way east and south, all the way down to Florida, be on guard for the special needs associated with the aged.

Older adults lose body heat more quickly than the young, and hypothermia can set in fast. According to Stay Safe in Cold Weather, by the National Institute on Aging, “for an older person, a body temperature colder than 95 degrees can cause many health problems such as a heart attack, kidney problems, liver damage, or worse.”

Certain medications can make it easier for the elderly to get hypothermia, so check with a physician if that’s a concern.

Keep the house warm by restricting open rooms. Shut their vents and doors to maximize heat in the living and sleeping areas. Close blinds and curtains to help eliminate drafts.

Food is fuel, so make sure the senior eats enough. Also, cold air is drier, so make sure they keep hydrated. Caregiver training recommends a senior drink 64oz. of liquid (preferably water) daily.

If space heaters are used for supplemental heat, be sure they are turned off before bed and when unattended and make sure a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector are nearby, as these are common concerns.

If your senior family member or client shows the following signs, call 911 immediately, as these are signs of advanced hypothermia:

  • moving slowly, trouble walking, or being clumsy
  • stiff and jerky arm or leg movements
  • slow heartbeat
  • slow, shallow breathing
  • blacking out or losing consciousness

As always, if you or a senior in your care needs special help, contact your state's Area Agency on Aging. Until this arctic weather passes (and it shall, just not soon enough!), Caregiverlist wishes all seniors and their caregivers to stay warm and safe.

 

Senior Health Care Costs Decrease Centers for Medicare Announces

The Affordable Care Act (also called Obama Care) has reduced the costs of prescription drugs and expanded access to preventative care for seniors across the country.  While the politicians have made hay, as they say, with arguing about all the downsides of the new healthcare law, the reality is that I have yet to meet a healthcare professional who will not say off the record that the new law is a step in the right direction and a must.  Certainly as with anything that was sorely broken, it will take time to heal and patch up our healthcare system.  Some things will need to be massaged and changed. But a geriatric doctor also told said to me once, "imagine if every senior had health insurance their entire life".  He told me that he was astonished at the number of seniors who had never had any healthcare until they turned age 65 and went onto Medicare or Medicaid.  After he finished medical school and began his practice he realized that the majority of seniors with acute health issues simply had the issue because there had never been preventive care for them.

As we move into year 2014, Caregiverlist with be highlighting the good news about healthcare for seniors to make sure everyone can take advantage of innovations in health care, medications and lifestyle guidelines that can make for a happier and healthier life.

Affordable prescription drugs are vital for seniors and the new healthcare law delivers this in addition to more preventive care screenings.

FREE Preventive Care Screenings for Seniors Under Affordable Care Act Include:

  • Mammograms
  • Colonoscopies
  • Flu Shots
  • Cholesterol Screening
  • Blood Pressure Screening

These preventive care tests can save lives - and over time will save money for the Medicare budget.  As a result of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans remain stable and strong.  The Center for Medicare Services announced that the average Medicare Advantage premium in 2014 is projected to be $32.60 and the average prescription drug plan premium in 2014 is projected to be $31 per month, keeping with the same rate for the past four years.

The deductible for standard Part D plans will decline by $15 in 2014, to $310 and since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, average premiums for seniors are down by 9.8%.  All good news for seniors.

Speaking of good news, apparently the happiest people on earth live in Denmark.  And guess what they have that may lead to this happiness?  Free healthcare and education, both provided for by their government.  If you don't have to worry about how to pay for healthcare or your college education, that takes away a couple of the largest issues we have in the U.S.A. Maybe once the new healthcare law becomes old news, we can give America's politicians something new to argue about and ask them to find a way to pay for everyone's college education but we'll stick to focusing on senior care.

Plan ahead for your senior care needs and understand the costs of senior care by visiting the Caregiverilst Nursing Home Directory which includes the daily costs of a single or shared room in a nursing home along with the Medicare and Medicaid acceptance.  Remember, too, as you celebrate the new year, that there continues to be a need for more senior caregivers and nursing aides so refer anyone who may be looking for a new job to the Caregiverlist Career Center.

Happy New Year!

Alzheimer's Prevention Tips Shared By The Brain Games App: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

Alzheimer's prevention requires an effort on the part of senior caregivers and their clients to keep their minds and bodies active as they age. No single cause of Alzheimer's can be found, though. The Brain Games app offers several valuable tips for seniors and caregivers on specific habits for daily life to help prevent Alzheimer's.

The title of the app is slightly perplexing as it highlights tips instead of actual games, but nonetheless provides useful information. The app features a very simple layout with the ability to pick a tip highlighted on a card and then flip it over to read more about it. Users can see that one of the first tips is to read a good book. If they flip the card over, they learn that reading draws on the imagination which forces the brain to make connections. Users then can easily move onto the next tip when they're done reading with a swipe of the screen. 

The free version of the app presents 11 tips for users, some of which include less common Alzheimer's prevention suggestions such as eating a protein based breakfast to fuel the brain and cutting back on alcohol. The app does lack depth in Alzheimer's education outside of these tips, though. Adding a section with information on how Alzheimer's develops and affects the brain would be useful for furthering caregiver and senior knowledge of the disease. This app is best used to offer tips and supplement information from other sources on Alzheimer's disease. 

 

The Brian Games App is available for free for Apple products.

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

November is National Caregiver Month

Senior caregivers, whether they be Certified Nursing Aides, Home Health Aides, professional and family caregivers, or the community at large, are vital to the care and keep of our aging American population.

November is National Caregiver Month, and is the perfect opportunity to thank those who have made it a priority to provide home and health related services to the elderly, including physical and emotional support and assistance with activities of daily living.

Family (or informal) caregivers provided services valued at $450 billion per year in 2012, according the the AARP Public Institute. In the United States, 65.7 million caregivers make up 29% of the adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged, and 50% have full-time employment outside the home.

Family caregivers cannot always fulfill all the needs of their senior loved ones. Future numbers are staggering — the aging population 65+ will more than double between the years 2000 and 2030, increasing to 71.5 million from 35.1 million (in 2000). That explains the incredible surge of senior care industry and the need for qualified professional caregivers.

The number of Senior Home Care Agencies has grown by 40% since 2008, according to a recent Caregiverlist employment index infographic. Caregiver jobs are filled at a rate of three to six hires per week, making professional senior care one of the hottest employment sectors in the United States.

The Administration on Aging (AoA), an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, works to ensure that older Americans can stay independent in their communities. Here are some of their suggested action ideas to show your appreciation for the caregiver in your life, in November and throughout the year:

Action Ideas to Celebrate Caregivers in November

  • Recognize caregivers in your community, in your organization and in your family. Host a get-together to honor caregivers in your family and/or community.
  • Locate a community care center or community space and organize a Caregivers Count awareness event.
  • Attend local town hall meetings and ask your representative what s/he is going to do to promote legislation that will help businesses develop more family-friendly caregiver policies.
  • Send an e-card to a caregiver. AoA offers free e-cards for caregivers.

  • Post on Facebook that November is National Caregivers Month and encourage your network to acknowledge caregivers in their families and communities.
  • Tweet about the importance of caregivers and resources available to caregivers.

We depend on professional and family caregivers. Give a shout-out to the caregivers in your life in the comments below.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo features an artist painting a fountain in the park. Thank you caregivers for caring for our seniors and please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on www.Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo Painter in the Park

"Forgiveness is not an occasional act: it is an attitude."

Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Words With Friends Encourages Mental Engagement: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

Finding new and fun ways to keep your senior clients using their brains can be difficult. Mental engagement in day to day activity is crucial for preventing Alzheimer's disease as well as dementia. The Words With Friends app offers a simple way for caregivers and their senior clients to play a game to exercise their minds. 

Words With Friends reflects the board game Scrabble in that players are provided with letter tiles that they must combine to create words to place on the board. Each word placed on the board must connect with another previously played word by using at least one of the same letters. There are various point values assigned to the letters based on how difficult it is to place them in a word. The player with the most points when the letters run out at the end of the game wins. 

The app features many different play options, which makes it ideal for any situation. Users can find their real life friends on the app and challenge them to a game. The app notifies you of when your opponent has made a move so that you can view the outcome and make your next move. There is also an option to play a random opponent if none of your friends are interested in a game, or the option to "pass and play" which is perfect for senior caregivers and their clients to use and play against one another. The first player makes their move and then hands the device off to the second player to make their move, and this continues back and forth until the conclusion of the game. 

For seniors, unscrambling and rearranging the letters in the game to create the words engages the mind to help keep it sharp as they age. Try playing a game or two with your senior clients, either against one another or as a team coming up with words to play against an outside opponent. 

 

The Words With Friends app is available free for Apple and Android platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

October is 'Protecting Older Americans from Fraud' Month

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:

Mail

  • 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.

Telephone

  • 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.

In-Home

  • 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.

Email

  • 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.

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