Seniors, caregivers and families can learn how sharing a senior's life story can benefit everyone in the family. Gloria Vanderbilt, socialite, heiress, artist, entrepreneur, actress and mother shares how she began the conversation about her life with her son, newsman Anderson Cooper in this new documentary.
Nothing Left Unsaid profiles Gloria's life and how she has navigated being in the spotlight since the day she was born. Her life story will leave you inspired to stay positive and keep on living, as she is doing, as you are aging, while appreciating the lessons learned along the way.
You can catch this documentary tonight, April 29th, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on CNN and it also will continue to air on HBO. You will not be disappointed.
Anderson Cooper, one of her 4 sons, shares that there were many things he did not know about his Mother until they began the deeper conversation. Begin to ask your senior loved ones about their life stories and go deeper to ask "why" to learn more about who they really are and how they became the person you know.
One really interesting item Anderson shared was that his mother earned more money than she inherited. He chooses to not inherit any money as he says he sees that many are not motivated to develop their passions when they do not have to earn a living. Gloria Vanderbilt continues to develop her passions and we compliment her for promoting this documentary and sharing her story with us at age 92. And also thank her for bringing us designer jeans with a little bit of stretch in them!
Anderson Cooper with his Mom, Gloria Vanderbilt
A rare form of Alzheimer's disease is passed on via a faulty gene, which strikes much before retirement years. Chris Graham's father died when he was just 42 years old and his aunt passed away at age 38. His brother now lives in a nursing home, at the age of 43. Now, Chris knows he is carrying the faulty gene too and will develop Alzheimer's disease.
Chris has decided to make the most of his life now, and has began a 16,000 mile bike ride across the U.S.A. and Canada to fund raise for dementia research. He started the bike ride in April, 2015, after discovering he had the faulty gene in 2010. He has lost four relatives from this disease, all passing away in their 40's.
One of four kids, he knew he had a 50-50 chance of inheriting the gene. He and his brother did inherit the gene while his two sisters did not. You read Chris Graham's blog posts on Alzheimer's Research UK.
As the number of seniors with memory loss continues to increase, as more seniors are living longer, having more professional senior caregivers has become a concern. Learn about how you can become a part-time or full-time caregiver or refer-a-friend to a caregiving job.
Memory loss has many forms and there are several types of memory loss and dementia. Seniors and their family members should visit a geriatric medical doctor in order to have a proper diagnosis of the type of memory loss in order for it to be treated in the most effective way.
Alzheimer's disease is just one type of memory loss, although it receives the most attention. I have always said that Lewey Body Dementia was the most difficult to care for, when I organized care for a senior home care agency. It would be especially difficult to live with Lewey Body dementia when you do not know this is what is causing the changes in your brain and behavior.
Late actor Robin Williams
One of the seniors we cared for when I worked at a senior home care agency had Lewey Body dementia and he would sometimes think he was somewhere other than in his living room. If the news on the television was reporting on a robbery, for instance, he might think he was at the scene of the crime and become violent. Out of caring for more than 500 seniors, he was one of the most difficult to safely care for and to staff a trained caregiver who could handle the changes in his personality.
Visual hallucinations and delusions are part of Lewey Body dementia.
Caregivers for seniors should always advocate for diagnosis for the type of dementia the senior is experiencing and this diagnosis should be by an experienced and trained professional - not just the family doctor the senior has been visiting for 30 years, unless they have been trained in testing and diagnosis of memory loss.
Robin Williams death is a reminder to us that it can make a difference to know which type of memory loss a senior suffers from as then everyone can better make sense of the behavior changes. Family caregivers can also take caregiver training courses to learn how to care for a senior as even in senior care there are many skills to learn that can make the aging experience better for everyone.
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.
The term “Assisted Living” is the most one of the most Googled senior living search trends. Although aging at home is the preference of many seniors, if there are no family caregivers available and no in-home caregivers, that solitude can be an awful thing. Those who have chosen assisted living report a high degree of satisfaction with their senior living choice.
However, Baby Boomers, those born post World War II — between 1946 and 1964, are defining a new way of aging. They are living longer and more actively so it makes sense that they would seek to establish a new kind of senior living dynamic. When living alone and aging in place is no longer a viable or preferred option, they are choosing to age in communities of their own design.
Marianne Kilkenny is one such advocate leading the charge in bringing forth a new aging community model. She created and founded Women Living in Community (WLIC) in 2007. What began as a simple website has grown into a movement. WLIC brings together individuals, families, and professionals who are changing the face of senior housing options. The vision is to move from the standard aging elder institutional settings like assisted living housing and nursing homes to communities where neighbors care for each other.
“Aging in Community is more than shared housing. It’s refocusing our outlook on aging from one that is medical and healthcare-centric to one that focuses upon community," Ms. Kilkenny writes on her website. "Wellbeing is more than healthcare; it’s emotional care and that kind of care comes from being surrounded by people we know, love and trust, not just by nurses and planned activities.”
Ms. Kilkenny has also authored Your Quest for Home: A Guidebook to Find the Ideal Community for Your Later Years. The workbook details the options for resident-created communities that might include co-housing and “pocket communities” where residents look after each other, care about each other, and support each other.
As with all senior living options, there are challenges to the model as well. Traditional assisted living provides planned activities. Unless a resident is proactive about getting yoga instructors to come to a central community location, or hire a van or bus to take groups on cultural outings, those perks won’t be available to those seniors who are unable to get out and enjoy these experiences on their own. More importantly, what sort of medical attention is available onsite?
I also think one of the keys to the success of these communities is to make sure they are multi-generational. If everyone in the community is aging together at the same time, how good is your brother’s (or sister’s) keeper when you are both in your 90s and need the same level of attention and help with the activities of daily living? And one of my biggest beefs with institutional aging settings is the age-segregation that naturally occurs.
I’ve always liked the idea of a Golden Girls kind of living arrangement where I wind up co-housing and cracking wise with a group of girlfriends (women generally outlive their male spouses.) Of course, these alternate retirement communities are not just for the ladies. NBC Nightly News filmed a shared housing model in Asheville, NC. featuring four women and one “Golden Guy”.
What do you think of this alternative to existing assisted living and nursing home models? Do you think this might just be the future of an aging society? What do you think would make this interesting atypical retirement community work even better?
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Mother’s Day is fast approaching and there may be people in your household deciding on a gift for mom — some are even treating their mothers early. If you are one of the many American woman who provide essential senior care for an aging parent, care for your own children, and work outside the home, now is the time to start dropping hints about what gifts would rock your May 10.
I’ll say it — I think those of us who spend the entire year caring for others deserve at least one day of some thoughtful appreciation. Numbers culled by the Family Caregiver Alliance estimates 33.9 million adult caregivers, or 16 percent of American adults provide unpaid care to a recipient aged 50 and older. That informal care is valued between $148 billion and $188 billion annually and an estimated two-thirds of those family caregivers are female. Mother’s Day is the perfect time for some serious payback.
While flowers and jewelry are always appreciated, if asked, consider giving these suggestions for special Mother’s Day gifts.
Mommy's Day Out
About 75 percent of caregivers who report feeling stressed emotionally, physically, or financially are women. When you are making less at work and spending more at home, the last thing you have is expendable income for movies, plays, or concerts. Those important outings are food for the soul. Tickets or gift cards good for nights out (dinner and a movie? cocktails and the opera?) for two makes a great present.
I know spa treatments are are pretty typical Mother’s Day gifts. But how about treatment for two? Mom and grandma can get a home visit from a mobile spas. It's especially decadent as they can bring massages, facials, and mani-pedis right to the home for no muss, no fuss pampering.
Help Around the House
Spring cleaning for family caregivers might mean cleaning two homes. What would make a great gift? How about a cleaning service, just once, for one or, what the heck? both places! Getting a break from my most tedious, back-breaking, time-consuming job would certainly make it to the best-of-the-best gifts list.
A Gift That Keeps Giving
Mother’s Day comes and goes and life gets back to it’s usual routine, but a “gift of the month” membership will make someone feel appreciated for 3, 6, and 12 months. The most popular of the gift clubs is the Wine of the Month Club, of course, but there is a Coffee of the Month Club, Cheese of the Month Club, even a Hot Sauce of the Month Club. Gift of the Month Clubs let the recipient know their contributions are acknowledged for more than just one day.
Can Somebody Else Do This?
Respite care can be for a weekend, a day, or even an hour. Family, friends, or neighbors can certainly provide respite care, but a quality home care agency can provide a fully vetted professional caregiver to step in and relieve some of that caregiver stress and help prevent caregiver burnout by providing support for a senior's Activities of Daily Living.
We at Caregiverlist® wish all the mothers and grandmothers out there a happy Mother’s Day. If you have some special gift suggestions, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.
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.
Hilarity for Charity and Home Instead Senior Care has partnered to provide more than 6,000 hours of care in-home support for more than 130 eligible U.S. and Canadian Alzheimer's families in need through the Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Relief Grant Program.
Seth Rogen and his wife Lauren Miller Rogen established Hilarity for Charity to raise money and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease among the younger people. Both became involved in the fight against Alzheimer's disease after Lauren Miller Rogen's mother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in her 50s.
In a press release, Ms. Miller Rogen said "My family is so fortunate to be able to provide the 24/7 professional care my mother needs. That care allows me to hold on to the precious moments I have with my mother so I can simply be a daughter and not just a caregiver. Our hope is that every family impacted by Alzheimer's disease can have those priceless moments, which is exactly why we created this tremendous program."
Home Instead Senior Care franchise owners pledged more than 37,000 hours of in-home care services, valued at $740,000. Grant recipients will be connected with a Home Instead franchise in their community, which will provide highly-skilled Alzheimer’s CAREGivers. Grants range from short-term in-home care 25 hours to long-term care, based on the needs of the family.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, friends and family of people with Alzheimer's and other dementias provided an estimated 17.9 billion hours of unpaid care in 2014, and nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high.
Until there’s a cure, there is care. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s other memory diseases can be exhausting and overwhelming. Respite care from a trained in-home caregiver can allow you to take a break and come back to your duties rested and refreshed. But in-home care is not inexpensive and programs like the Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Relief Grant can be a godsend to families who are struggling.
Sylvia Besson and her family received some much-needed respite care for her father. Home Instead CAREgiver Melissa Barnstable is one of the many in-home caregivers specially trained to work with Alzheimer’s patients. “I enjoy bringing clarity, enthusiasm, and kindness into their day.
For more information about the Alzheimer's Care Grant Program, including how you can donate or apply for future respite care grants, visit www.HelpForAlzheimersFamilies.com.
The poverty rate among seniors in America is already high and growing. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the poverty rate for Americans 65 and older rose (albeit slightly) from 8.9 percent in 2009 to 9.0 percent in 2010. The growing cost of food, housing, and especially medical care, which tends to increase as we age, adds to economic instability for many of our elderly.
Sure, Social Security is a net to help prevent seniors from abject poverty, but recent economic recessions have forced many older Americans, those without employment income, to live hand-to-mouth. In many instances, seniors deplete their savings to a point that they are outliving their money.
Former Caregiverlist Sherpa Vera Perekoteyeva, who is always on the lookout for ways to help seniors and their caregivers, passed along this link from MOGUL that lists discounts available for older consumers; some discounts apply for those as young as 50 years old.
While senior discounts won’t cure the ill of elderly poverty, every dollar saved is a win. Discounts can be had across the board of consumer goods and services. Many times the only prerequisite for savings (besides age) is you have to ASK for the senior discount.
Senior discounts for restaurants tend to be found in fast-food and chain establishments. Caregiverlist is a great proponent of aging well which includes nutritious eating. Remember that you can find healthy dining options, even at fast-food restaurants.
Here are the top senior discounts for 2015 making their rounds on the web (caveat — this list is found on many sites all over the web; I have not verified these discounts, if you ask for them and are met with a blank stare, don’t shoot the messenger!):
- Applebee’s: 15% off with Golden Apple Card (60+)
- Arby’s: 10% off (55+)
- Ben & Jerry’s: 10% off (60+)
- Bennigan’s: discount varies by location (60+)
- Bob’s Big Boy: discount varies by location (60+)
- Boston Market: 10% off (65+)
- Burger King: 10% off (60+)
- Chick-Fil-A: 10% off or free small drink or coffee (55+)
- Chili’s: 10% off (55+)
- CiCi’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
- Denny’s: 10% off, 20% off for AARP members (55+)
- Dunkin’ Donuts: 10% off or free coffee (55+)
- Einstein’s Bagels: 10% off baker’s dozen of bagels (60+)
- Fuddrucker’s: 10% off any senior platter (55+)
- Gatti’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
- Golden Corral: 10% off (60+)
- Hardee’s: $0.33 beverages everyday (65+)
- IHOP: 10% off (55+)
- Jack in the Box: up to 20% off (55+)
- KFC: free small drink with any meal (55+)
- Long John Silver’s: various discounts at locations (55+)
- McDonald’s: discounts on coffee everyday (55+)
- Mrs. Fields: 10% off at participating locations (60+)
- Shoney’s: 10% off Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+)
- Steak ‘n Shake: 10% off every Monday & Tuesday (50+)
- Subway: 10% off (60+)
- Sweet Tomatoes: 10% off (62+)
- Taco Bell: 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)
- TCBY: 10% off (55+)
- Tea Room Cafe: 10% off (50+)
- Village Inn: 10% off (60+)
- Waffle House: 10% off every Monday (60+)
- Wendy’s: 10% off (55+)
- White Castle: 10% off (62+)
RETAIL & APPAREL:
- Banana Republic: 10% off (50+)
- Bealls: 20% off first Tuesday of each month (55+)
- Belk’s: 15% off first Tuesday of every month (55+)
- Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days (55+)
- C.J. Banks: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
- Clarks: 10% off (62+)
- Dress Barn: 10% off (55+)
- Goodwill: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
- Hallmark: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
- Kohl’s: 15% off (60+)
- Marshall’s: 20% off every Tuesday (55+)
- Modell’s Sporting Goods: 10% off
- Rite Aid: 10% off on Tuesdays & 10% off prescriptions
- Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday (55+)
- TJ Maxx: 10% off every Tuesday (55+)
- The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: up to 50% off (55+)
- Stein Mart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first Monday of every month (55+)
- Albertson’s: 10% off first Wednesday of each month (55+)
- American Discount Stores: 10% off every Monday (50+)
- Compare Foods Supermarket: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
- DeCicco Family Markets: 5% off every Wednesday (60+)
- Fry’s Supermarket: free Fry’s VIP Club Membership & 10% off every Monday (55+)
- Great Valu Food Store: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
- Gristedes Supermarket: 10% off every Tuesday (60+)
- Harris Teeter: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
- Hy-Vee: 5% off one day a week (date varies by location)
- Kroger: 10% off (date varies by location)
- Morton Williams Supermarket: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
- The Plant Shed: 10% off every Tuesday (50+)
- Publix: 5% off every Wednesday (55+)
- Rogers Marketplace: 5% off every Thursday (60+)
- Uncle Guiseppe’s Marketplace: 5% off (62+)
- Alaska Airlines: 10% off (65+)
- American Airlines: various discounts for 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
- Continental Airlines: no initiation fee for Continental Presidents Club & special fares for select destinations
- Southwest Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
- United Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
- U.S. Airways: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
- Amtrak: 15% off (62+)
- Greyhound: 5% off (62+)
- Trailways Transportation System: various discounts for ages 50+
- Alamo Car Rental: up to 25% off for AARP members
- Avis: up to 25% off for AARP members Best Western: 10% off (55+)
- Budget Rental Cars: 10% off; up to 20% off for AARP members (50+)
- Dollar Rent-A-Car: 10% off (50+)
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 5% off for AARP members
- Hertz: up to 25% off for AARP members
- National Rent-A-Car: up to 30% off for AARP members
- Cambria Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
- Clarion Motels: 20%-30% off (60+)
- Comfort Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
- Comfort Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
- Econo Lodge: 20%-30% off (60+)
- Hampton Inns & Suites: 10% off when booked 72 hours in advance
- Holiday Inn: 10%-30% off depending on location (62+)
- Hyatt Hotels: 25%-50% off (62+)
- InterContinental Hotels Group: various discounts at all hotels (65+)
- Mainstay Suites: 10% off with Mature Traveler’s Discount (50+); 20%-30% off (60+)
- Marriott Hotels: 15% off (62+)
- Motel 6: 10% off (60+)
- Myrtle Beach Resort: 10% off (55+)
- Quality Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
- Rodeway Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
- Sleep Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
ACTIVITIES & ENTERTAINMENT:
- AMC Theaters: up to 30% off (55+)
- Bally Total Fitness: up to $100 off memberships (62+)
- Busch Gardens Tampa, FL: $3 off one-day tickets (50+)
- Carmike Cinemas: 35% off (65+)
- Cinemark/Century Theaters: up to 35% off
- U.S. National Parks: $10 lifetime pass; 50% off additional services including camping (62+)
- Regal Cinemas: 30% off Ripley’s Believe it or Not: @ off one-day ticket (55+)
- SeaWorld Orlando, FL: $3 off one-day tickets (50+)
CELL PHONE DISCOUNTS:
- AT&T: Special Senior Nation 200 Plan $29.99/month (65+)
- Jitterbug: $10/month cell phone service (50+)
- Verizon Wireless: Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan $29.99/month (65+)
- Great Clips: $3 off hair cuts (60+)
- Super Cuts: $2 off haircuts (60+)
The serious issue of senior poverty won’t be resolved with 10 percent discounts. If you are in or near Chicago over the next few days, The Aging in America Conference will be held from March 23-27 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, where over 2,500 attendees from across the nation and abroad will discuss issues of aging and quality of life for older adults. On Thursday, March 26, from 9-10am, Paul Nathanson, JD, Special Counsel, National Senior Citizens Law Center will present Let’s Talk Senior Poverty: What Are We Doing About It? Learn more about ASA’s Aging in America Conference here.