Caregiver Support Translates to Saved $$

Caregiver stress can have debilitating consequences on senior caregivers. Reports show that family caregivers tend to experience anxiety, loss of sleep, and become ill more frequently than their non-caregiving counterparts. An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease in 2014. Seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease require increasing assistance with basic activities of daily living (ADLs) such as eating, bathing, dressing, and toileting. These individuals eventually need around-the-clock care. Because of that, their family caregivers find themselves especially overwhelmed. When caregivers feel they can no longer cope, patients are more likely to be placed in institutional settings such as nursing homes.

Costs of Nursing Home Placement
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2014 the direct costs to American society of caring for those with Alzheimer's will total an estimated $214 billion, including $150 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Alzheimer's will cost an estimated $1.2 trillion (in today's dollars) in 2050.

Medicare covers short-term skilled care up to 100 days the first 20 days are covered at 100% and from day 21 to day 100 the patient (or their family) has a daily co-pay. Medicaid is a state/federal program that does pay the cost of nursing home care for eligible individuals, however the patient must meet income and resource requirements. 

Families’ and patients’ total out of pocket costs for nursing home care in 2014 is estimated at $36 billion.

Image Source: Alzheimer’s Association

If we can delay the nursing home placement of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, can substantial money be saved? If Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are aging in place longer, doesn’t that mean more stress (and its inherent problems) for family caregivers?

States are seeking to provide real and meaningful support for patients and their caregivers. Many states are looking to increase their funding for community-based programs to support individuals and families facing the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease, and in doing so, significantly reduce their state’s Medicaid costs. Recently, Minnesota determined it could save almost $1 billion in Medicaid over the next decade if the state adopted a new dementia caregiver support model, according to a study published Monday in the journal Health Affairs. That support model was introduced by a program called New York University Caregiver Intervention (NYUCI).

New York University Caregiver Intervention (NYUCI) is a counseling and support intervention for spouse caregivers that is intended to improve the well-being of caregivers and delay the nursing home placement of patients with Alzheimer's disease. The program also aims to help spouse caregivers mobilize their social support network and help them better adapt to their caregiving role.

The program consists of four components:

  • Two individual counseling sessions of 1 to 3 hours tailored to each caregiver's specific situation,
  • Four family counseling sessions with the primary caregiver and family members selected by that caregiver,
  • Encouragement to participate in weekly, locally available support groups after participation in the intervention, and
  • Ad hoc counseling, counseling provided by telephone to caregivers and families whenever needed to help them deal with crises and the changing nature of their relative's symptoms.The program is delivered by counselors with advanced degrees in social work or allied professions.

In addition, many states are seeking increased funding for the Alzheimer’s Disease Community Assistance Program (AlzCAP), which provides educational initiatives and caregiver respite programs. Paired with funded public awareness campaigns, the hope is that by addressing and getting in front of the challenges of the family caregiver, the length of time before placing a care recipient into a nursing home setting can be extended, saving everyone a lot of money.

What would help you, as a caregiver, reduce your stress and help care for a family member longer? If you or someone you know is overwhelmed with the task of senior caregiving, Caregiverlist® suggests you consider the possibility of hiring respite care from a quality senior home care agency.

New Chicken Soup Tackles Alzheimer's, Dementia Care

The numbers on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are staggering. More than 5 million American seniors are living with the Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. More than 60 percent of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers are women. In 2013, 15.5 million caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at more than $220 billion. It’s no wonder that the publishers at Chicken Soup for the Soul saw the need to provide support and encouragement with their trademark inspirational stories, culled from those at the front line of caregiving.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias: 101 Stories of Caregiving, Coping and Compassion by Amy Newmark is publisher and editor-in-chief of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Angela Timashenka Geiger is Chief Strategy Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. After sifting through thousands of admissions, they chose 101 of the best stories for their readers.

Chicago area resident Carrie Jackson became a caregiver to her father, Henry George Jackson Jr. while he was suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. She submitted some of her stories for publication and her essay describing a nursing home visit was chosen for inclusion. Life Matters Media was given permission to share an excerpt. Because of this experience (her father passed away in 2012,) Ms. Jackson in now a certified dementia practitioner.

Chicken Soup for the Soul always asks for story and poem submissions for upcoming titles, as they did for Chicken Soup for the Soul, Family Caregiving by Joan Lunden and Amy Newmark. That collection offered support and encouragement for family caregivers of all ages, including the “sandwich” generation caring for a family member while raising their children. Stories are by and about those who are both giving and receiving care.

The Chicken Soup for the Soul, Changing Your World One Story at a Time series began in 1993 by founders and motivational speakers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. They had a simple idea: that people could help each other by sharing stories about their lives. With over 250 titles and over 100 million books sold to date in the U.S. and Canada, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series continues to publish first-person stories to “soothe and provide comfort, just like their grandmothers’ cooking.”

Anyone who may have gained experience as a caregiver while caring for a loved one with memory loss may consider becoming a professional senior caregiver by receiving caregiver training and certification. They can then submit a job application to be connected with hiring companies in their area.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias will be released April 22, 2014. You can pre-order here. All royalties from the sale of the book will go to the Alzheimer’s Association.

For the latest numbers regarding Alzheimer’s disease, watch the following video from the Alzheimer's Association: Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures 2014

 

Word Search + App Provides Themed Puzzles for Cognitive Exercise: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

Senior caregivers and their clients may find that they tire of playing the same games over and over again to keep up cognitive activity. The Word Search + app provides a fun way for seniors to exercise their brains while completing themed puzzles.

Intellectual activity stimulates the brain and keeps it functioning in top shape. Just like physical activity is required to keep the body in shape, mental exercise is required for seniors to maintain a fit brain as they age. The Word Search + app provides 16 free categories of word searches with options to play on Easy, Medium or Hard levels. Categories range from Dog Breeds to Classical Composers to Ancient Civilizations and range from puzzles with six words to 12 words depending on the level of difficulty.

Words can be displayed horizontally, vertically or diagonally within the block of text. When a user finds a word from the bank below in the puzzle, they simply select it in the puzzle by sliding their finger along the letters of the word in the puzzle to highlight it. A timer also keeps track of how quickly a user completes the quiz, in case they would like to attempt to beat their own time in the future. 

In addition to simply finding the words, caregivers and their senior clients could learn from the words in the given categories. If seniors choose a specific category for the puzzle such as Artists, as they complete the search they will look for names of famous painters which could remind them of a favorite work or peak their curiosity about an artist that they've never heard of before. After finishing the puzzle, caregivers can help their senior clients look up any topics or people generated by the quiz that they would like to learn more about. 

 

The Word Search + app is available for Apple 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

App Focuses on Therapeutic Music for Seniors With Alzheimer's Disease: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

Working with senior clients affected by Alzheimer's disease and dementia can be very trying for senior caregivers and the families of their senior clients. Coro Health developed an app based around music streaming as a source of calming therapy. The programs within the app are split into to distinct categories- supportive music and sundowning therapy. 

The supportive music category has subcategories called energy, relax and sleep. Once users select the mood category, they can choose a genre of music from classical, country, instrumental, pop, etc. The app features popular songs that senior clients or caregivers may know, such as Here Comes The Sun by the Beatles. The segments are organized into program lengths of about an hour, to prepare senior clients to energize for a day or give them time to wind down and relax or fall asleep. 

The sundowning therapy category can be useful to minimize behaviors such as mood swings, agitation and paranoia that stem from confusion felt by senior clients during the evening. This category features an hour long program and a program that lasts almost two and a half hours. Unlike the supportive category, no further genre choices exist because the programs are designed specifically to calm seniors experiencing sundown syndrome. 

The streaming service is available for a monthly fee of $4.99, but the first three hours of streaming through the app are free so caregivers and their senior clients can try the service before they subscribe. 

 

The Music First app is available for free for Apple 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

Seth Rogen Talks Alzheimer's to Congress

Seth Rogen, comedic actor and self-described “lazy man-child” testified before a Senate hearing on Alzheimer’s research last month. His testimony, which was deeply heartfelt yet engagingly funny, tackled the need for more funding, more research and the need to de-stigmafy Alzheimer’s and other memory loss diseases.

Rogen gained first-hand experience with Alzheimer’s disease through his now- wife, Lauren Miller’s mother, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in her 50s. By the age 60, Rogen told the committee, his mother-in-law "After forgetting who she and her loved ones were...then forgot how to speak, feed herself, dress herself and go to the bathroom herself”

In an effort to raise funds, he and his wife established Hilarity for Charity, comic and music events designed to raise money and awareness of Alzheimer’s and other memory diseases among the younger generation. They also started HFC U, a nationwide program that encourages and supports college groups to “throw their very own Hilarity for Charity events to raise awareness and much needed funds for fighting Alzheimer’s Disease.”

“Americans whisper the word ‘Alzheimer’s’ because their government whispers the word ‘Alzheimer’s,’ and although a whisper is better than the silence that the Alzheimer’s community has been facing for decades, it’s still not enough,” Rogen said. “I dream of a day when my charity is no longer necessary and I can go back to being the lazy, self-involved man-child I was meant to be.” You can watch Seth Rogen’s opening statement (provided by C-SPAN3 coverage) below.

Golden Globe Winners 2015: The Year of the Nursing Home Sitcom?

The Golden Globes 2014 are done — Bye Tina Fey! So long Amy Poehler! See you next year! — and I’m sure networks are already thinking about which shows and stars might make it to the red carpet in 2015.

This year, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and its star, Andy Samberg took home Golden Globes for Best TV Comedy and Best Actor in a TV Comedy, respectively. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show and watch it whenever I can but really, hasn’t the old “detective precinct” comedy been done before? (I’m looking at you, Barney Miller.)

If you want an original workplace comedy, well, place, I’d like to present a couple of comedies I’ve discovered recently.

Approximately 1.6 million Americans over the age of 65 live in institutions such as nursing homes. 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day and they can expect to live to 84 years old. This means that chances are, someone you know, or you yourself, may wind up in a nursing home or extended care facility. An aging population will increase demand, but costs and limited funding will make it difficult to provide the needed level of care. Now, doesn’t that just scream comedic situations?

The Netflix Original Series Derek stars Ricky Gervais in a “comedy-drama about a loyal nursing home caretaker who sees only the good in his quirky co-workers as they struggle against prejudice and shrinking budgets to care for their elderly residents.” Derek is a simple, sweet man who loves his job at Broad Hill nursing home, along with its residents. His best friends are his co-workers, including the nursing home manager. “Best of all is Hannah (Kerry Godliman),” says Derek. “She’s the manager here and she’s the nicest person in the world. She cares for everyone.” Hannah is a model senior caregiver. “People think care means 3 meals a day and a bed. But it means caring. And if you don’t care, you shouldn’t be in the job.” According to Derek, no one in his life treats him as well as the elderly in his charge. Even as he cuts their toenails or helps them manage through traffic, he considers himself the luckiest man in the world. Mr. Gervais is all but unrecognizable from his role as the abrasive David Brent in the UK’s The Office. Although filmed in the same mockumentary style, Derek has a broad sweetness that The Office certainly didn’t have.

In Derek, “Kindness is Magic”, but this trailer is NSFW.

HBO’s Getting On, is based on the British sitcom of the same name. The creators of Big Love present this new comedy set in The Billy Barnes Extended Care Unit of a fictional Long Beach hospital where many of the female patients suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Chicago veteran stage actress and Emmy winner Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne) is beleaguered Dr. Jenna James, Alex Borstein is eager-to-please nurse Dawn Forchette, and Niecy Nash is Denise “Didi” Ortley, the elderly caregiver I’d like to hire for myself, right now.

More than anything, this show gives a great and honest glimpse into the duties and responsibilities of a caregiver a long term care setting, dealing with red tape and always in fear of losing its Medicare reimbursement. In a hilariously literal game of “telephone”, nurses try to translate an elderly woman’s Cambodian with the translation department. Nurses are overworked and underappreciated and have to fill out the proper paperwork before simply doing what is needed.

“They say extended care is boring, which it is not. It is totally where the action is,” Dawn tells Didi, while bemoaning the lack of testosterone in the department. This is a sitcom that doesn’t shirk away from showing all the difficulties inherent in the eldercare industry, from the job of toileting to the responsibility of delivering news of the death of an 87 year old “baby sister”.

Check out this trailer. It too is NSFW.

Both are worth a watch for a true look at the life of caregivers and the elderly who rely upon them.

Have you seen either of these shows? Do you think they are realistic looks at caregivers and the caregiving industry?

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.

 

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

The Alzheimer's Store Provides Quality Products for Families and Caregivers

Caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients or those with dementia or memory loss deal with a special set of caregiving needs. That’s something that our friends at The Alzheimer’s Store know all too well. They’ve made it their mission to bring to the senior care market a variety of products to make caring for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia easier and make the Alzheimer’s years just a little more safe and comfortable. Here, they discuss a popular product that makes life easier.

It’s Easier Than Ever to Celebrate Time with Loved Ones

Time is so precious. We often take it for granted. That at the fact that we’re naturally aware of the day and time or can easily find out at any given moment. It’s not so easy for Alzheimer’s patients. Caregivers and family members of those with Alzheimer’s are very familiar with the questions: “What time is it?” and “What day is it?” It can be taxing on both you and them.

Since our goal at The Alzheimer’s Store (ALZSTORE.COM) is to help ease the stress in caring for loved ones, we feature a wall clock that is large enough for Alzheimer’s patients to see from all areas of the room. Knowing the day and time reassures the patient and puts them more at ease, which in turn relieves stress for both caregivers and family members.

This high quality precision clock displays the time, day of the week and date clearly and automatically. It has a sweeping hand, as Alzheimer’s patients do not recognize digital, and a large day date and month. Both at home and in facilities, those who struggle with Alzheimer’s can take pride and comfort in knowing the correct day and date with this excellent reminder.


Wall Clock with Day & Date

We know caring for someone you love with this disease can be a roller coaster of emotions. Alzheimer’s affects more than five million people worldwide and is the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. In fact, my grandfather George was inspiration behind our dedication and commitment to helping others with Alzheimer’s. Nothing gives us more satisfaction that helping others care for loved ones; it helps us honor our grandfather’s memory.

We can’t say enough about the positive feedback we’ve been getting on this top-selling product. The Alzheimer's Store's continuously searches to offer quality products at the most affordable rate and we have not been able to find a more reliable timepiece. If you’ve purchased the clock or plan to, we’d love to hear your feedback! Email us and share your story at brittany@alzstore.com.

Senior caregivers may also find online caregiver training and apply for a senior caregiving job near them, as more companion caregivers are always needed to assist seniors with memory loss.

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 amber sunset. 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 Amber Sunset

"Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see." 

Mark Twain

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