Connect Seniors with DO NOT CALL LIST

You've heard the stories about financial scams targeting seniors through telemarketing.  A senior can be the perfect target, especially if they are lonely and suffer from memory loss.

One way you can protect your senior relatives and friends from telemarketing calls is to add their phone number to the national "Do Not Call" list.

Just have the senior call the "Do Not Call" number from their telephone:  888-382-1222.  Or, have their Caregiver make the call for them.

 

Evaluating Nursing Homes

Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes are required to complete government inspections at least once every 15 months.  The government provides information on the results of these inspections on Medicare.gov.

The nursing home inspection information provides a nice starting point for evaluating a nursing home but they do not include information on many violations and incidents of abuse which may be reported.  You must visit a nursing home and question staff and family members of other residents to find out more information.

This week, the news media reported a group of teens working at a nursing home in Minnesota sexually abused and humiliated elderly residents with dementia.  This information will not be found on Medicare's website of inspection results for this nursing home, for example, yet it is valuable information to know if you are considering placement at this nursing facility.  Many caregivers who work for Senior Home Care Agencies have worked in nursing homes at some point in their career.  If you know a professional caregiver, ask them about the nursing homes in your area.  Caregivers also know other caregivers, expecially if they completed a nursing aide certificate, and can be a valuable resource for letting you know the inside scoop on the care at local nursing homes.

You may search the recent nursing home inspection reports on Caregiverlist's Nursing Home List.

 

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President-Elect Obama's Positions on Health Care Reform

As seniors analyze their Medicare options before the end of the year, it may also be a good time to learn more about
President-Elect Obama's positions on health care reform.  During the 2008 Presidential campaign, President-Elect Barack Obama announced a comprehensive health care reform proposal and laid out his positions on a number of other key health care issues.
Budget cuts will be necessary with the government's need to budget for the necessary economic booster programs and financial bailouts.  At the same time, President-Elect Obama's team has said they will be eliminating some of the government fat and favors implemented for special interest groups.  Many critics of the Medicare drug program have indicated that the prescription plans were somewhat out of whack because of the drug company's involvement through lobbying efforts (and when you try to understand why anyone would create a program with a "donut hole" as a term needed to explain coverage when a senior is left out of the prescription plan for a window of time, a red flag seems to go up that perhaps seniors best interests were not the only driver of this Medicare program).
Right now, Medicaid pays for long-term care in a nursing home, but not in the home (except in a few small population states which have recently developed home care programs).  Medicare only pays for caregiving in a nursing home and not in the home, yet statistics show most seniors prefer to stay in their homes for long-term care.  And, with the cost of nursing home care being from $150 - $350 per day, and home care costing from $18 - $25 an hour and providing one-on-one care from a caregiver, it may be time to look at how the government is allocating the funds for senior care.

The Kaiser Family Foundation prepared two reports to summarize President-Elect Obama's campaign health care policies and positions. They are based on information compiled from Obama's campaign Web site, speeches, campaign debates and news reports.  Check it out and let your voice be heard.

 

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Mini-Mental Exam Can Detect Memory Loss

In only ten minutes time, a mini-mental exam screens seniors for signs of dementia.  Referred to in the medical community simply as a "mini-mental", the official name is the Mini-mental State Exam and it is copyrighted by Psychological Assessment Resources (PAR).  Geriatric care doctors will give this exam to their senior clients to keep ahead of any signs of memory loss.

The mini-mental test asks questions about the time and place of the test, and incorporates math and language skills to test cognitive and memory abilities.  It asks questions like how many nickels are in $1.25 and if you can spell a certain word backwards.

Many times memory loss in seniors can be connected with an illness or with medications.  If properly addressed, senior memory loss can be slowed or reversed. Because of age-related diseases, seniors are more at risk for memory loss and should be sure their medical doctor is conducting a mini-mental at their annual check-ups.

If you are a caregiver for a senior, you can also find a variety of memory exercises at the Alzheimer's Store.

One of my Aunts suffered a stroke a few years ago and after being air-lifted to a metropolitan hospital,  she received excellent care and made nearly a full recovery.  Now she enjoys telling how in the days following the stroke, the doctor would check on her each day and ask her if she knew who the president of the United States was.  Each day, she would answer "George Bush".  Finally, she told him he needed to ask her something new.  He then asked her if she knew what the Gettysburg Address was, and............she began reciting it.  She had memorized it in grade school.  He told her she indeed knew it better than he did!

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Finding Quality Senior Care Products

When searching for information on senior care, it is also important, as Grandma would say, to consider the source.

The internet offers a senior care website that is written by folks who launched a baby website and another one by folks who recruited attorneys for a living previously  - they are both good enough websites but often miss the boat about the specifics of senior care issues because they just have never really had to swim in these waters for a living.  It makes a big difference.  This is a reminder of how important it is to make sure you understand the source of information you are reviewing.

Caregiverlist.com was created by professionals with years of experience in the caregiving industry and we provide information on quality senior care options and provide answers to the questions we are constantly asked while working in the senior care industry.

Another great resource, paid for by your tax dollars, which will help you find quality information, is the FTC's website called "Who Cares".   The FTC has created this website to help you find reliable sources of information on health topics important to you, whether you’re an older consumer or a family member, caregiver, or friend.

You will learn about quality senior care products and be able to avoid products reported as scams and frauds.

 

10 Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

Everyone has their own story of how they discovered a loved one was experiencing memory loss.  One of my girlfriends tells the story of a family friend who picked her daughter up from school and said she thought the weather was cooling and it would be a perfect night to make chili for dinner.  So they went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients and went home to enjoy a dinner of chili.  The next night the Mom picked up her daughter from school and again said the weather was cooling and she thought it would be a good night to make chili for dinner.  She forgot they had chili the previous night.  When this happened a third time, the family began to compare notes and realized something was not right. 

The Alzheimer's Association offers many wonderful educational programs to help seniors and family members understand how to best deal with this disease - knowledge is power, especially when you have the luxury of early diagnosis. 

The 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease, courtesy of the Alzheimer's Association:

1) Memory loss

2) Difficulty performing familiar tasks

3) Problems with language

4) Disorientation to time and place

5) Poor or decreased judgment

6) Problems with abstract thinking

7) Misplacing things

8) Changes in mood or behavior

9) Changes in personality

10) Loss of initiative

 

 

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Obama's Grandmother Passes

Regardless of your political choice for president, you can share in the sadness of Barack Obama's Grandmother passing away just a day before the election.  Madelyn Payne Dunham, 86, died peacefully in her Honolulu home on Sunday night, after battling cancer.  She chose to stay at home with care provided by a caregiver.

Hospice training teaches that emotionally, it is easier to go through the process of grieving when you are able to plan for the death and say goodbye ahead of time.  Barack learned this, he said, when he did not make it to his Mother's side before she passed away.  As he did not want that to happen again, he took time off from his historic campaign to visit his Grandmother a couple of weeks ago.

Still, death of a loved one is never convenient or easy, even with knowing ahead of time.  While visiting France one summer, I went to dinner at a small country restaurant.  The owners were a married couple who made the rounds to all the tables to chat with their guests.  Upon learning that I worked in senior care, they told me to be sure to visit the bathroom before I left.  There was a mural painted on the bathroom wall that included the 17th Century Nun's Prayer.  I later had my Mother write it in calligraphy and framed it for my Senior Care Agency's office wall.  Many caregivers who passed through the doors asked about it and requested a copy and now it is included as a resource on Caregiverlist.

 

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Advantages of a Senior Home Care Agency

Seniors needing additional care services provided by a Caregiver have the option of hiring a Senior Home Care agency to professionally provide the services or of finding a direct-hire Caregiver.

Caregiverlist.com only connects seniors with services provided by professional Senior Home Care Agencies.  This is because these senior care agencies meet the legal guidelines established in their states for providing senior home care and also meet Caregiverlist's quality standards.

Although it might seem like a cheaper option to go out and find a caregiver to provide the senior care services on your own, it rarely turns out to be the case once care begins.  When I owned a senior home care agency, over and over again we would begin care services for a client who first hired a caregiver on their own who did not work out because they either were not trained properly to provide the care, became burned out without management to vent to, started to charge the client for any services they deemed as "extra" from going to the grocery store to their travel time to get to the senior's house.  This is because senior care is very different from child care.  There is not a Mother and Father there at the beginning and end of each day to supervise the care needs and keep the checks and balances in place.   Seniors also are dealing with many emotions as they are accepting age-related illnesses, the deaths of friends and constant change.  Because of this, senior caregiving presents challenging days for a caregiver which can take an emotional toll.  Seniors may be resistant to care, too, even though they know the care is needed.  This resistance along with memory loss and emotional challenges all present the need for customized training and case management support.  I have seen situations where even wonderful caregivers can begin to take advantage of the situation when they do not have professional supervision and support.  Some seniors are difficult to care for - they may be unhappy, angry, pinching pennies and they then will take out all of their frustrations on the caregiver.  A professional senior home care agency knows how to step-in and professionally mange the care and the caregiver.  Agencies also have experience in understanding the best approach for each senior.

The senior home care agency fee will also take care of all payroll taxes, as required by law, and insurance coverages which will not be present in a hire-direct situation.

The news stories that you see about caregiver theft are not about caregivers working for senior home care agencies.  Senior home care agencies have proper systems in place to prevent theft and insurance coverage which requires them to implement policies and procedures for added protection.  A caregiver would never have access to a senior's bank account information nor the power to make purchases with the client's money.  A Supervisor would set-up systems for these purchases to be made by the home care agency and then billed to the client.

On Friday, the news media reported on a recent caregiver theft of $304,000 from a senior's estate - another hire-direct caregiver situation.  The Caregiver, Marilyn Fenderson, withdrew $304,000 from accounts the senior had intended to be for donations to three nonprofit groups in Sonoma County.  This caregiver was given power-of-attorney, another mistake which a senior home care agency would prevent.  Unfortunately, there are individuals who seek the hire-direct caregiving jobs in order to take advantage of these opportunities for theft.

Background checks come in many flavors.  It is good protocol to understand the various levels of background checks.  Run fast from a website that says they are providing "free" background checks as rarely will a free check absorb the cost of a multi-state criminal background check matching every past address of the applicant, along with name and social security number verification for past addresses.  Senior Home Care Agencies understand how to do background checks and screening which will go beyond the background check (if someone was given community service for a crime, which is very common for the first couple of offenses, it most likely will not show on their record)  and how to hire quality caregivers who will both provide care and protect a senior from anyone who would not have the senior's best interest in mind.  Caregiverlist also connects individuals seeking to work as caregivers with hiring senior home care agencies and other senior care companies in their area and explains all the necessary skills and requirements for working as a senior caregiver.

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