Senior Caregivers Win $$ -- Contest Extended

Senior caregivers are unsung heroes. Professional caregivers allow the elderly to age in place longer, they make life in assisted living and nursing homes possible, and they provide the support and attention that's vital to a growing older population.

Caregiverlist wants to "show the love" to the professional senior caregiver. That's why we've decided to extend our summer photo contest to honor professional caregivers. Caregivers, Certified Nursing Aides, and Certified Home Health Aides may submit a photo of themselves with a senior client to the Caregiverlist Summer Photo Contest for Senior Caregivers.

Submit a photo of you and your senior client. Show us the special bond that makes caregiving so much more than just a job. Then invite friends and family to vote for you and your senior. Contest winners will be chosen based on popularity via voting. Caregiverlist will award $100, $50 and $25 Amazon gift cards to the top 3 voted pictures and free t-shirts to the runners-up The contest runs through Monday, August 31, 2013. Winners will be announced shortly thereafter. Our Caregiverlist Facebook page hosts the contest.

Caregivers may submit their photo on Facebook and vote for caregiver and senior photo submissions here.

You can vote for your favorite caregiver and senior photo here.

Good luck!


Julie and the Grandmas.

Caregivers also may always submit a job application on Caregiverlist to be considered for part-time, full-time and live-in caregiving jobs and find online caregiver training.

Seven Caregiver Trends

China's rapidly aging population (estimated to grow 35% by 2053), along with its urban single-child mandate, has forced the government to urge adult children to provide more emotional support to their elderly parents. Here, guest blogger Charlotte Bishop discusses the recent steps taken in China to encourage more active long-distance caregiving and it's international implications.

You may not have been following the news in China this past week, but China has enacted what may be the first law governing caregiving to older adults.  In a law called the "Protection of the Rights and Interests of Elderly People"  enacted this month caregivers are called to task.  The law states "Family members living apart from the elderly should visit or send greetings to the elderly persons."  This is not what I would consider a very enforceable statute, but it is a sober statement about what caregivers and their older loved ones around the world are increasingly seeing. 

AARP and a group called the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) have been surveying caregivers since 1997 and an analysis across the years show some interesting trends:

  1. the average age of caregivers has been steadily increasing from 46 years old in 1997 to now 50 years;
  2. the percentage of caregivers who are women still outnumber men, but the numbers have declined from 73% women in 1997 to the most recent figure of 67% women; (this has been generally consistent across caregivers of all ages)
  3. the average percentage of older recipients of care is growing - 24% of recipients 85 years of age and older to now 30% being that old or older;
  4. the proportion of caregivers who also hold a day job has been quite consistent during the years of these surveys;(from roughly three in four to four in five caregivers employed)
  5. across all ages of caregivers there is an increasing incidence of leaves of absence from their jobs reported by caregivers
  6. "burden of care" measured in hours of caregiving as well as actual activities was measured only in the most recent survey, but it was the older caregivers reporting the greatest burdens;
  7. as a counterpoint to this "burden," the older caregivers also were those most likely to use outside services to help in the caring; (older caregivers also were less likely to report help from friends)

Getting back to our China example, the law does say "should."  But it just may be that the authorities were seeing some of the same trends as we see here in the United States.  And what our surveys report pretty much squares with what I see as a geriatric care manager; older caregivers taking care of older friends or spouses shoulder a larger burden, and it ultimately takes its toll on the caregiver.  If you know an older caregiver, help them to find resources to take some of the load off; remember also that a large portion of that "load" may be guilt about not going it alone...so be supportive. 

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  Charlotte's blog is also the winner of the 2013 ALTY Award for "Best Senior Healthcare Article."  Please email your questions to ccbishop@creativecasemanagement.com.

If you need help caring for a beloved senior, Caregiverlist is here to help. Request Senior Home Care Agency and Assisted Living Rates and Services Near You: Submit Request. You can also read our recent news story about Chinese elderly and poverty here.

Sequester's Effect: Senior Hunger in America

On March 1, 2013, sequestration-fueled across-the-board federal budget cuts have had a profound impact on on the most vulnerable of our society, American seniors.

Nearly one in every 12 seniors over the age of 60 is “food insecure”, according to new research released this week in partnership with the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH). That number represents 4.8million seniors, double the number of elderly going hungry in 2001.

Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, estimates that the number of food insecure seniors is projected to increase by 50% when the youngest of the Baby Boom Generation reaches age 60 in 2025.

But even in the face of these staggering numbers, budget cuts have caused the vital programs for seniors in need, like Meals on Wheels, to cut back their assistance. In a new survey released by MOWAA, here’s how the budget cuts are affecting Meals on Wheels programs around the country:

  • Programs have been forced to cut, on average, 364 meals per week;
  • Over 70% are establishing or adding to existing waiting lists;
  • Programs have increased their waiting lists on average by 58 seniors;
  • 40% of programs responding have eliminated staff positions; and
  • One in six are closing congregate meals sites or home-delivered meal programs.


Credit: Meals on Wheels Association of America

Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of the Meals On Wheels Association of America, testified on June 19, 2013 at a U.S. Senate hearing on senior hunger and poverty. At that hearing Ms. Hollander explained that for every $1 invested in Meals on Wheels programs, Medicaid sees a $50 savings because seniors are able to remain healthy and independent in their homes as opposed to needing nursing home care.

Caregiverlist has long championed Meals on Wheels, the national organization dedicated to eradicating senior hunger in America through community-based programs. In addition to providing what could be a senior’s only hot meal for the day, Meals on Wheels, in many instances, provides the only opportunity for human interaction to many elderly shut-ins. To learn more about MOWAA or to locate a local Meals on Wheels program, visit the MOWAA website.

Senior caregivers are on the front lines of helping the elderly to eat right as a component of healthy aging. You can learn additional crucial caregiving skills by taking a 10-hour online Caregiver Certification training course.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers that care for the elderly know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers, professional caregivers and certified nursing assistants to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo features sunny hills of small Mexican town called Taxco, famous for its silver mines. We would like to thank you for caring for our loved seniors. Remember senior caregivers are needed, please refer-a-friend to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our Caregiver Career Center for additional career tools. 

 

Caregiverlist Caregiver Stress Relief Photo Mountains

"Anger is a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind."

Robert G. Ingersoll

Background Checks: The Home Care Agency Perspective

Background checks for senior care are required by quality home care agencies before they will employ a CNA, Home Health Aide, or senior companion. We spoke to our Home Care Agency Expert, Lewis Myers, owner of Right at Home, Maryland, to discuss the significance of a good and thorough criminal background check. 

Criminal background checks — how vital are they to the caregiver hiring process?

Right at Home believes background checks are extremely important.  They can be done inexpensively or they can be very comprehensive.  When we run a background we want a very comprehensive picture of the applicant’s past.  Therefore, we take additional steps, such as looking at all 50 states, when we run a background check.  If I were looking for care for my loved one, I would want to know exactly how the background for the caregiver was checked.  Further, the agency should be willing to share results of the check with their potential clients.  This may give the client an extra level of comfort as to the potential caregiver’s past.

Who buys the background check — the  caregiver applying for a job or the Home Care agency?

The answer to this question varies across the gamut of agencies. Some agencies initiate the background check, some agencies require the caregiver to do their own background check and verify it.

As a caregiver, can ask to see my background check if conducted by an agency? 

Of course the caregiver may ask to see the background check and we as an agency/employer will share the results with the employee.

I want to hire a caregiver. Can I request to see the background check of a caregiver you send to my home? 

The family member may request to see the background check for a caregiver.  During the employment process, we as the agency obtain consent from the caregiver to share the background check with a family to which the caregiver is assigned.  This is rarely an issue as our standards would preclude us from hiring a caregiver if there is even the slightest doubt as to the caregiver’s past.

Do background checks only cover crimes committed in the United States? How would I check on the background of an immigrant caregiver? 

Background checks generally cover crimes committed in the US. It would be extremely difficult to check on the background of an immigrant in their country of origin. However, this brings up a good point. Given the difficulty of making this check, it can be prudent to require that a caregiver is in the US for a minimum period of time prior to coming to work for the agency.

When a caregiver, aide or companion applies with their own background check, are they given any special consideration?

In terms of special consideration, we love to see that kind of initiative, providing the check is verifiable.  We also ensure that the check performed meets all of our criteria. We really like using (the background check offered on Caregiverlist.com). It enables us to integrate the hiring process, creating greater efficiency.

What's in the background check? How far back does the background check go? Read our background check FAQ for answers to questions you might have. And to see what your background check says about you, we've made it easy to purchase your own background check.

Home Care Financial Assistance: What Does the Future Hold?

Medicaid- and state-funded programs that pay for home-based services for elderly individuals who might otherwise require nursing home care have been, until recently, available in many states. However, many home  and community care programs find themselves on the chopping block due to state budget cuts.

New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he will have to close 105 of the city’s 256 senior centers if the state does not restore $27 million in funding. The senior centers are integral to keeping low income seniors living at home by providing hot meals, exercise classes to assist in healthy aging, and the opportunity to socialize.

The Illinois Department of Aging’s Community Care program, which pays for home health care workers for the elderly, has run out of money, according to WBEZ Chicago public radio report. Ironically, unless funding is restored, the state could find itself paying more for senior care if those elderly wind up in nursing homes.

Senior home care costs $15 - $25 per hour for hourly care and $150 - $350 per day for 24-hour live-in care. That compares to $180 - $400 per day for nursing home care. And that’s if you can find an available bed in a quality nursing home. A recent article by Philip Moeller in U.S. News and World Report delved into the shortage of space in nursing homes nationwide.

It’s no secret that seniors prefer to age in place, in their own home and community. Studies have shown that home- and community-based care can lead to better health outcomes. As the population ages, there will be a greater need for home- and community-based care. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that roughly 9.5 million people in the U.S. will turn 85 over the next 10 years. The question remains: How will an aging population on a limited income pay for the much-needed in home care?  

Lawmakers hold the key to finding and diverting money in their budgets to senior services. In Georgia, Patricia Lyons, who runs Senior Citizens Inc. and supplies Meals on Wheels to many Savannah seniors was prepared for the worst. She was looking at the elimination of much of the program when federal funding was scheduled to run out and the governor didn’t replace the money with state funds. She was worried that the most vulnerable of the city’s elderly would lose their lifeline. Her drivers not only delivered food, but checked to make sure the seniors were healthy.

Legislators agreed that the service was too important to cut and found funding by cutting other contracts in their budget. The Meals on Wheels program in Georgia was saved.

If you know Caregiverlist at all, you know that we are huge advocates of senior home care — we support caregivers, agencies and seniors alike. If you care about quality home care and want to see continued funding, we ask you contact your state legislature or your state’s Department on Aging and let them know how important it is to keep funding these programs.

Caregiving Jobs: A Career Path

Caregivers are a special breed. The work is hard, the hours are long, and the pay is usually minimum wage. The job is demanding and can be underappreciated. However, no one questions that the job of the caregiver is vital and the industry is growing at an exponential rate. The need for quality caregivers grows every day.

In-home caregivers directly affect the well being of others like few other professions. The bond between a senior and caregiver is akin to a familial relationship. This relationship is a growing trend as our population ages and the elderly look more to aging at home as opposed to a nursing home.

Many senior caregivers come to the profession by way of family caregiving. Some start their caregiving career as home companions, Personal Care Aides and  and Home Care Aides. The best way to get started on a professional caregiving career path is to work with a quality Senior Home Care Agency;  great agencies will provide additional training, support and benefits.

A lot of caregivers move on to become Home Health Aides and Certified Nursing Aides (CNAs) and work with Home Health Agencies. Certification requirements vary from state to state, but the federal government requires 75 hours of training, as well as a competency evaluation.

Some elder care workers go on to open their own Home Care Agency, as Caregiverlist’s own CEO Julie Northcutt did. There are choices to make: will you open a medical or non-medical homecare agency? Does it make sense to purchase an existing franchise or start an agency of your own? Of course, you will need to file for licenses and permits with your state’s governing agency. Many can send you a packet of information on how to get the process started. Of course, if you want to become a quality Senior Home Care Agency, Caregiverlist provides a very specific checklist outlining standards for safety and consistency in care.

Our recent Senior Caregiver Pay blog post received a lot of comments, most of them decrying the state of wages caregivers receive. We hear you. Rest assured that we are committed to caregiver advocacy and are hard at work developing affordable online caregiver training and certification that you can take at your own pace to make you a more attractive employment candidate to Home Care Agencies. Hopefully, Caregiverlist Certification will broaden your skill set and enable you to command a higher hourly rate.

The senior citizen population is on the rise and caregiving as a profession, need and concern is not going away anytime soon. Finding and properly compensating quality in-home caregivers is finally getting the national attention it deserves.  

Quartet is Latest Nursing Home Movie

Maggie Smith, our favorite dowager countess on PBS’ Downton Abbey, is on the big screen this month in Quartet, a film set in a home for retired performers, musicians, and especially opera singers.

Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut is the movie version of a British play of the same name that follows the residents of Beecham House as they prepare for their annual gala concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday. Ms. Smith plays a diva (what else?) with a caustic tongue and oversized ego, whose arrival at the home reunites her with her former colleagues.



Retirement home movies, if not trending, are proving to be very fashionable at present. Quartet comes on the heels of the wildly popular The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, an ensemble piece starring the aforementioned Dame Maggie Smith, along with Dame Judi Dench and Bill Nighy. That movie took place in an Indian retirement home and followed its residents and their (misguided) hopes and visions of an exciting and luxurious future. And while not finding quite what they expected, they find joy with each other in their less-than five-star accommodations.

Elderly actors in film are nothing new. Christopher Plummer is the oldest Academy Award recipient who, at 82, won a Best Supporting Actor award for his role in the 2010 film Beginners. What is a relatively new phenomenon is the advent of the elderly ensemble cast, where most, if not all, major characters are seniors — seniors who lead a rich and valuable lives. These ensemble pieces are very attractive to a movie-going population who is getting older as well. The movement is being called the “greying of the silver screen” and turn Hollywood’s obsession with youth on its head.

According to Nielsen’s National Research Group, the proportion of oldest moviegoers (65-74) has been steadily growing over the last few years. Great actors are no longer fading into retirement and are bringing their audience into the theaters with them.

Dustin Hoffman, himself now 75, discussed choosing the material, exploring aging and life’s “third act” in the February/March Issue of AARP The Magazine.

“During filming I was saying to everybody in the cast, ‘We’re all in the same act together.’ I always think it’s a three-act play and we’re in the second act—the third act being something that alters you, some infirmity or whatever. And somebody responded, ‘Maybe it’s a Shakespearean play with five acts.’ I liked that. Maybe I’ve got three more acts.”

AARP VIVA Radio Features Caregiverlist.com Today: 2pm Central Time

Senior care impacts everyone, including Americans who speak Spanish as their first language (or preferred language).   A recent estimates shows more than 50 million Americans enjoy a hispanic heritage and there are 3.7 million residents of Puerto Rico.  This makes people of a Hispanic origin the nation's largest ethnic or race minority.

AARP VIVA, a publication and radio show by the American Association of Retired Persons will highlight Caregiverlist.com's information and services today on their 2:00 p.m. show on VIVA Radio.

Medicare and Medicaid questions and professional senior caregiving options are concerns for all Americans and AARP VIVA Radio will explain Caregiverlist's useful tools for seniors and professional caregivers today.

We hope all those speaking Espanol will be able to listen!  Just turn your dial to or go to AARP VIVA Radio online.

 

Senior-Proofing the Home

Aging in place is an option more in the senior population want to pursue. There’s no place quite so comfortable as one’s own home and community. However, according to AARP, nearly one-third of all Americans over 65 experiences a fall in the home. There are other safety issues that make staying in the home a challenge and the initial accident prevention costs might be off-putting. But in the long run, the costs can be far less to stay home and renovate than to move into Assisted Living.

Senior-proofing the home is much like childproofing the home. Both encourage you to do a room-by-room assessment of potential and hidden hazards. Both take into account the physical limitations their subjects may encounter. And in both instances, safety in independence is key. But do everyone a favor and, for the senior crowd, don’t lock the toilet seat.

Elder home-proofing suggestions abound on the internet, but the most thorough and comprehensive guide to home safety I’ve found comes to us from our friends at AARP. Their AARP Home Fit Guide goes into great depth discussing home livability, home safety and home maintenance to help keep the estimated 83% of seniors who would like to, age at home.

Fall prevention is a huge concern when it comes to seniors living alone. Getting rid of scatter or throw rugs throughout the home, lighting dim passageways, installing shower and toilet grab bars, keeping passageways clear of clutter and wiring, all contribute to fall prevention in the home.  If your home needs renovation, contact your state’s Department on Aging for information on available senior home modification services.

Senior safety is addressed outside the home as well as in. Make sure medication dosages are kept current. Visit the eye doctor to gauge general as well as peripheral vision.

Owning a good Medical Alert System, as we’ve written before, is vital. In addition to providing real help in case of an accident or fall, simply possessing such a device can contribute to peace of mind for older adults who live alone.

Occupational Therapists (OTs) can be brought to the home to conduct a full assessment to help maximize an accessible living environment. Also, look for a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) through the National Association of Home Builders to help with recommending home modifications to help age in place.

Taking preventative steps such as these, along with the help of a family or professional caregiver, can go a long way to help an independent lifestyle a viable senior option.

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