Caregiving: Very Fulfilling Work

Unemployment rates have continued to increase in the last few months, with California reporting a 9.3 percent unemployment rate in December, 2008. January numbers for unemployment are also expected to be at high levels throughout the country.

For those looking for employment, the good news is that there are still plenty of jobs available for senior caregivers.  Senior Home Care Agencies hire both Companion Caregivers and Certified Nursing Aides or Certified Home Health Aides (the Home Health Aide designation and certification is available in some states but still does not exist everywhere).

The job description for a senior caregiver usually includes assisting with personal care, meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry, medication reminders, exercises, companionship and running errands or escorting to doctor's appointments.  For those seniors who are receiving hospice care or who are recoving from a stroke or hip replacement, more hands-on personal care may be required, including transfers from bed to wheelchair to toilet and assistance with bathing and eating.  Some seniors require mostly companion care because of memory loss.

Caregivers are usually assigned to individual senior clients, maintaining a regular schedule.  But as hospital stays have become shorter and more seniors prefer to stay in their own home with one-on-one care, Senior Home Care Agencies are constantly hiring Caregivers. Some senior care requirements will require no professional experience, other than a caring personality and other care assignments will require at least one year of experience.  In addition, background checks, reference checks and training must be completed before beginning a care assignment.

Caregiverlist provides information about senior caregiving jobs, including pay, benefits, training, interview tips and job descriptions - - just click on CAREGIVING JOBS in our top Nav Bar to learn more.

And, if you or someone you know is job hunting, submit an application on Caregiverlist to be connected with hiring senior care companies in your area for current and upcoming openings.

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Saving for Senior Care

With all the craziness in the financial markets of late, everyone is concerned about their savings - especially seniors who are living on a fixed income and who are perhaps watching their savings fall along with the market.

Here is the good news and bad news about senior care.  If you have "some money" you are going to need to foot the bill for any caregiving services.  But if you have no money, the government will take care of you for as long as needed, only this care will need to be in a nursing home.  But you will be fed and cared for as long as required.

Each state implements their own Medicaid program - Medicaid is the insurance program for very low income seniors.  Usually the state asset level for Medicaid qualification is around $2,000.00 in assets.  Caregiverlist provides details on each state's Medicaid program, complete with contact information, within our "by state" senior services section:

Find your state on Caregiverlist and learn about the Medicaid qualifications along with other senior services, including the senior driving laws, background checks and Senior Helpline.

 

 

The Aging of Benjamin Button

The Oscar nominations for this year are out and the movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" has socred nominations in several categories, including best picture.

The movie, adapted from the 1920's story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, follows a man who is born in his 80's and ages backwards.  By turning the wisdom of aging around, the movie offers much food for thought for those of us of all ages, including seniors.

Anyone who is a caregiver will definitely appreciate this story, and appreciate the acting (and of course, Brad Pitt is still easy on the eyes).  Check it out.

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An Historic Inaugural - Especially for Our Seniors

Our first African-American president will take the oath of office tomorrow in front of an audience that will include many seniors who can remember segragation and their grandparent's stories about slavery.

One of my dearest friends is African American and another is Chinese American and I cannot even imagine not having the opportunity to interact with other cultures or being segragated from someone of another race.  But today is also Martin Luther King day to remind us that it has taken much work to create opportunities for those from all backgrounds in this country.

It is also a reminder to us of the different viewpoints a senior may have because of the era that they lived in.  One of the biggest challenges for senior caregivers is to try to connect with the senior in a way that understands the senior's viewpoints and needs.  Sometimes it is very difficult for a younger caregiver to understand that a senior is not comfortable with their style of dress or jewelry or language - but when we take the time to think that we all go with what we know based on our environment and then think about the environment someone was in 50 years ago, we can better understand where they are coming from.  And then we can try to connect to them with sensitivity towards their thinking.

One of the greatest assets President-elect Barack Obama brings to the White House, according to those who know him well, is his ability to listen and connect with people from all walks of life and from all viewpoints.  This is definitely a skill we all need when dealing with someone much older or much younger than we are - I am sure in addition to his many other skills, President-elect Obama would also be a stellar caregiver!

 

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Dr. Sanjay Gupta: New Surgeon General?

Apparently Dr. Sanjay Gupta, of CNN fame, has accepted the job of Surgeon General.  And now the news media is talking about how appropriate this choice may be.

He is a medical doctor.  And he clearly knows what the issues are since he is on the front lines with daily news deadlines which also means he can communicate and hustle......probably all qualities that will serve him well as Surgeon General.  I think it is quite fine that the choice is not a government official.  It is kind of refreshing, actually.  Especially when you consider government officials came up with a "donut hole" for medication coverage for seniors.  That program would never had sold in the private sector. 

CNN's Dr. Gupta is known for promoting a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise for longterm health.

The grim reality is that many seniors do suffer mobility, breathing and heart problems because of years of unhealthy living.  Improper diet, smoking and lack of exercise have contributed to a decline in their health.  Advances in medicine have enabled them to stay alive with medications, oxygen and medical equipment, but this is at an added cost to Medicare and to taxpayers.  And it means family and professional Caregivers, at an additional cost, are needed to help them get through each day.  Certainly many seniors could not have prevented their medical issues.  But many other seniors perhaps could have limited their medical issues with a change in lifestyle (and this applies to all of us, at all ages, right?).

As a side note, there has also been new mentions of a "nanny issue" (a nanny was hired but payroll taxes were sort of not paid, which is an issue if you were the employer of the nanny who did not pay the taxes and may be taking an appointed government job) for one of Obama's nominees......another reason to realize the value of using a Senior Home Care Agency for senior care services - professional management will insure that taxes are taken care of as part of the payroll benefits, along with substantial insurance protections such as Worker's Compensation Insurance and Professional Liability Insurance......those who think they are saving some pennies by skirting taxes with a hire-direct caregiver should think at least twice before they go this route.  An uninsured Caregiver can sue their employer (the senior) for many things and no protections are in place.....and the IRS can hold the senior responsible if the Caregiver does not pay their payroll taxes (and if you are going to be appointed to a government job, senior caregivers are in the same boat as nannies when it comes to paying taxes).

 

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Our new "First Grandma" Marian Robinson

As the Obama's prepare to move into the White House, we have learned that Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, will be joining them.  Mrs. Robinson, age 71, finally retired from her job at a bank, to help with granddaughters Sasha and Malia during the presidential campaign.

As Caregivers know, juggling the needs of careers and children, along with senior care, can be daunting.  And likewise, running for president while raising young children also brings unique demands.  Fortunately for the Obamas, Grandma was willing to help out.

Healthy aging requires not only taking care of physical health with proper diet and exercise, but also staying socially and mentally engaged.  Marian Robinson provides a very positive role model for healthy aging - she kept on working beyond the typical retirement age and by staying involved with her family she now has a new job as "First Grandma" in the White House.  She won't be staying in Chicago where she would have less of a chance to interact with her daughter and granddaughters.

One of the biggest challenges for seniors besides health care, is isolation.  As people move around the country to follow careers, many times parents are left without any children who live near them.  It is very important for seniors to stay involved in weekly activities where they interact with others, especially if no family lives close by.

My own Grandparents lived just up the road from us, on the family farm.  The bus stop was a half mile from our house (it really was, I am not exaggerating), and we were dropped off at the bus stop each morning since the bus arrived really early as we were the first stop.  However, after school we had to walk home.  It wasn't a big deal because we just stopped in at Grandma's house on the way, where she always had a snack for us and she and Grandpa were ready to ask us about our day and provide their commentary (and teasing) on all.  It served my brothers and sister and me and our Grandparents well to spend the time together.

I read that Michelle Obama took two buses and a train to get to her high-school each day, so her commute out did mine, and clearly her mother and father did a lot of things right.  It is very cool that she continues to involve her Mother in raising her own children.  It will be nice for our country to have a "First Grandma" to bring the spotlight to a senior in the White House.

 

 

 

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Acupuncture Beneficial for Many Age-related Illnesses

Acupuncture originated in China more than 5,000 years ago and continues to be a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The acupuncture points provide gateways to influence, redirect, increase, or decrease the body’s vital substances, qi (energy) & blood, to help correct many of the body’s imbalances.

You are probably thinking "ouch" but actually, the needles used for acupuncture are very thin and delicate.  You will not even feel most of them go in if you have a good practitioner.  And once the needles are in, you still won't feel them except for feeliing maybe extra pressure in that area for a moment.  On one of my visits for acupuncture, I started to get up, thinking all the needles were out.  The ones I could see were gone but there was still one in my forehead, which I didn't realize was still there.  It is a very relaxing experience and not at all painful.

I saw a presentation on senior care in China recently and it was noted that most of their nursing homes offer acupuncture treatments for everything from stroke to memory loss to depression.  It is routinely provided as part of the senior's daily activities- grab breakfast and then show up for an acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture is beginning to be covered by more health insurance plans in the U.S. and offered in integrative medicine programs at hospitals and clinics.  In addition, more acupuncture research studies are being done to provide us westerners with the proof we seem to need before giving something new a try.  And much of this research is studying the benefits of acupuncture for age-related illnesses.  If it benefits the elderly in other countries, it can benefit the elderly in our country.

One national study showed half of 78 stroke patients receiving standard rehabilitative care, who also received acupuncture treatment recovered faster and to a greater extent, spending 88 days in a hospital or nursing home compared to 161 days for those without acupuncture treatment.  And guess what?  This saves dollars for insurance companies which is another reason acupuncture research is taking place and the reason there is a movement to incorporate it into health insurance plans.

I have found acupuncture to work amazingly well and to be the most cost-effective treatment for ailments.  I fell on my elbow a couple years ago and several months later still had a bump on my elbow along with shooting pain, at times, when my elbow hit something just wrong.  One acupuncture treatment later and the bump disappeared, along with the pain.  All for just $35 at my local college of oriental medicine.

As a caregiver, you may want to find out what acupuncture offerings are available in your area and if there are discounted pricing for seniors - the clinic near me does offer senior discounts.

 

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Look Good to Feel Good

The American Cancer Society provides a health tip to patients with terminal illnesses - take the time each day for personal care because research shows when you look good, you feel better.  I think we all have probably always known this as everyone feels a little better when they are dressed up and ready to head out to a party.

Doctors usually urge seniors to stay active and engaged each day and this is a reminder to Caregivers to make sure to assist loved ones and clients to shower daily, dress in clean clothes, put on makeup and style their hair.

It is also essential for seniors to get some form of exercise each day, as long as thier doctor approves.  If able, a special treat of a massage, manicure and pedicure also does wonders to make a person feel better.

Caregivers can even arrange for these services to be performed in the home if a senior is unable to go out.  Call your local salon or massage spa and ask for referrals to massage therapists and cosmetologists who visit the home - many do.

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World's Oldest Woman Dies at Age 115

The world's oldest woman, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, died on Friday, January  2nd, at the age of 115 years and 114 days. Maria de Jesus, of Portugal, died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.  She started the day with breakfast and then went to the hospital for swelling, her daughter said (and she did not elaborate beyond that so the exact details for cause of death or unknown).

The Gerontology Research Group at the University of California, Los Angeles, tracks supercentenarians and verifies birth dates through birth certificates and other documents.  Now the oldest person status falls to American Gertrude Baines, a 114-year-old daughter of former slaves who still has a very good memory and is healthy except for arthritis in her left knee.  She was proud to vote for Barack Obama and lives in a nursing home in Los Angeles.

Researchers say that definitely for these seniors healthy aging is in their genes - they chose parents who also lived long lives.

It is kind of cool to think that living to be 100 is no longer all that big of an accomplishment.  However, this means savings must last longer, along with good health and presents new challenges for health care and government, primarily making sure we have enough caregivers and enough money for the aging population!

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A Caregiver

The number of people aged 65 and older who have moved from one state to another in the last decade has increased by 65%, accrording to a national survey by one of the leading long-term care insurance providers.  Retirement brings many choices for living options, from relocating to a warmer climate to moving to be closer to family.  At the same time, with many advancements in medical care and the availability of more medications to treat age-related ailments, we are living better longer.

As the new year begins, it is a good time to talk about what type of living situation your senior family members would like if their care needs change.  Medical emergencies can always arise and it is added peace of mind to already have had the conversation with your loved ones about where they would like to receive care.  Do they wish to have care provided in the home and do they want to move to assisted living?  My mother's parents were more progressive and made the move to downsize and sell their home and move to be near my Aunt as they began to experience more health problems.  This was a welcome move as they lived hours away from the nearest family member.  Especially if you do not live in the same city as your senior relatives, you should discuss the plan for care and make sure everyone understands the senior's wishes.

My Grandma ended up being a caregiver to my Grandfather, who suffered from memory loss, for several years and she set the example for the rest of us to plan ahead, and, to be there in sickness and in health.

Happy New Year!

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