What is the Veteran's Caregiving Benefit?

The current administration is lobbying for better benefits for our veterans - especially with more and more servicemen surviving injuries in Iraq, while living with the loss of limbs and with ongoing needs for medical assistance and caregiving.  It seems the least we can do for these servicemen is provide for their care needs when they return home.  I know I am grateful I live in a country where, as a woman, I can wear what I want, and earn a living and grateful for the servicemen who protect us and provide for our freedoms.....I wish we could air-drop bikinis to the women in Afghanistan....but back to caregiving for the American veterans.

A question we are frequently asked is what benefits are available for retired veterans.  Here is the answer:

Veteran's of qualifying foreign wars do qualify for in-home senior caregiving services, with preapproval from a doctor and the proper documents submitted (doctors at a Veteran's hospital are your best bet for assisting with quick approval or you can also secure this benefit quickly upon discharge from a hospital with the assistance of the hospital social worker).

The veteran and their spouse, with financial assets of $80,000 or less (excluding home and cars) qualify for caregiving services in these amounts:

  • Up to $1,519 per month for a Veteran
  • Up to $976 per month for a Veteran's Spouse, even if the Veteran is deceased
  • Up to $1,801 per month for a Couple

    Any licensed senior home care agency that hires caregivers as employees and provides for all of their payroll taxes and insurances will qualify to provide for the care. 

    You may learn more about the Veteran's benefit, along with the forms to file, on this page of Caregiverlist.


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  • Enjoy Caregiving? Become a Certified Nursing Aide

    Do you enjoy providing caregiving services for a loved one or neighbor?  If so, you may want to become a Certified Nursing Aide and expand your employment opportunities while enjoying a fulfilling career.

    Certification is managed by the department of health in each state in the U.S.A.  You may usually find training programs through community colleges and in some states, nursing homes and hospitals offer certified nursing aide classes.

    Admission requirements for Certified Nursing Aides are typically:

    • Minimum age of 18
    • Reading, writing and math competency
    • English competency
    • Drug testing
    • Background checks

    The cost ranges from $500 - $4,000 and usually financial aide and grant programs are available.  Classes usually can be completed inm 1 to 3 months.  Usually part-time evening programs are available.

    You may learn more about caregiving job opportunities and find certified nursing aide training programs in your area on Caregiverlist.


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    Better Healthcare for Caregivers

    Ironically, senior caregivers, as the people on the front lines of providing the daily care needs, very often do not have robust health care insurance through their employers.  Caregiving can be physically and emotionally draining, much more so than many other careers.  Senior care corporations have the same challenges as other small businesses in the U.S. - difficulty providing for benefits for employees who make less than six figures a year and difficulty qualifying for group plans because of high turnover in employees and a high number of part-time employees (caregiver turnover is a necessary part of caregiving as senior clients get better or pass away).  At the same time, a little preventative care would go a very long way in helping caregivers manage a healthy lifestyle. Stress turns to distress when it is not handled positively and results in physical, mental and emotional health issues.  As stress comes with the territory of caregiving, effective health insurance to assist with combating stress should always be provided to caregivers.

    Following are some of the health effects of stress on the body.   As caregivers for seniors are assisting with end-of-life issues, along with the daily activities of living, it is important they are able to effectively manage the stresses that come with caregiving.
    • Disturbed Sleep (sleeping too much or too little)
    • Difficulty Concentrating
    • Appetite changes (eating too much or losing appetite)
    • Overacting to situations (easily angered or irritated)
    • Need to be alone (isolation)
    • Constant negativity
    • Moodiness and hypersensitivity
    • Loss of confidence
    • High blood pressure
    • Headaches
    • Breathing problems (anxious or can't catch breath)
    • Unmotivated and feeling tired constantly
    • Muscle tension and pain (the kink in your neck that doesn't go away)
    Studies show that the combination of one or more of the health effects of stress can lead to diseases such as substance abuse, heart problems, strokes, hypertension, ulcers, depression, skin problems, severe weight gain or weight loss, to name just a few.

    As the need for senior caregivers continues to grow along with the aging population, it is important our country considers the health care needs of all workers.  The New York Times/CBS news poll indicates wide support for a government run health care program.  Americans said they would be willing to pay higher taxes for a universal health plan.  It seems to make sense that the health care industry should be a fan of this new plan which would help them support their frontline caregivers better.

    Starbuck's founder, Howard Schultz, experienced the challenges of living without health insurance along with the economic hardships that come with it, as his father did not have a job providing health insurance.  He went down a very long and winding road to be able to provide health care coverage to Starbuck's employees and this continues to be a benefit he believes in, even when the shareholders protest because of the costs.

    Let us know what your health care benefits are as a caregiver - post your comments and join the conversation. 
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    The Cost of Caregiving for Alzheimer's Disease in Dollars and Health

    Many caregivers feel overwhelmed when a patient or loved one develops Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia.  More than 5 million Americans currently suffer from the disease, a number that’s estimated to grow substantially during the next couple decades as our senior population increases with the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. 

    By 2030, more than 7 million people ages 65 and older will have Alzheimer’s, according to an estimate published in the newly released Alzheimer's Association annual reportAngela Geiger, chief strategy officer at the Alzheimer's Association, worked with Fox News to identify other key points of this new report, several of which relate to caregivers. Those caregiving for seniors with memory loss can use these 10 factoids on Alzheimer's Disease to better care for their senior loved ones and senior clients.

    1) Alzheimer's disease is more than lost memories. Forgetfulness is a hallmark symptom, but the disease cuts deeper. "Your body forgets how to function," explains Geiger. In fact, Alzheimer's disease causes death, as its progression eventually prevents the individual from engaging innate abilities like moving and swallowing.

    2) Early diagnosis may garner better care. According to 2009 research in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia, people 70 and older who were told they had Alzheimer's or dementia by a doctor and were aware of it--or had family members who knew--tended to have more doctor contact and fewer days in the hospital. But early diagnosis, which can translate into a care plan that can have a significant impact on the quality of life of the individual and the family, is not always attained. "We know people don't know enough about early signs [of the disease]," including healthcare professionals, says Geiger. Mood and behavior changes, an early warning sign of Alzheimer's, often get misdiagnosed as depression, for example.

    3) Alzheimer's patients have higher out-of-pocket costs. People 65 or older with Alzheimer's disease or dementia pay 30 percent more in out-of-pocket healthcare costs than those without such disease, according to the new annual report.

    4) Total healthcare spending is radically higher in Alzheimer's families. Add up all the healthcare dollars spent by various payers--including Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers--on people 65 or older with Alzheimer's or dementia, and you get triple the burden of people without, says the new Alzheimer's Association report. "The costs get greater and greater as the disease progresses," says Geiger, and more consistent, specialized care is needed, typically resulting in 24-hour nursing home care.

    5) Additional medical conditions complicate matters. The majority of people with Alzheimer's or dementia also have at least one other serious medical condition, according to a January report by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. For example, 60 percent also have hypertension, 26 percent have coronary heart disease, 23 percent have diabetes, and 18 percent have osteoporosis. The presence of Alzheimer's or other dementia only complicates the management of another chronic disease. To properly control diabetes, notes Geiger, vigilant daily maintenance is required, from checking blood sugar to taking insulin to being extremely conscientious about food choices.

    6) Hospital trips become more frequent. Having Alzheimer's or another form of dementia at age 65 or older resulted in triple the likelihood of a hospital stay compared with people without such an illness, says the January Dartmouth report. And the frequency extends to caregivers, too. A 2008 Journal of General Internal Medicine study found that nearly 1 in 4 caregiver spouses of people with Alzheimer's or dementia required a trip to the emergency room or hospitalization.

    7) Family caregivers take a personal health hit. Multiple studies have found that unpaid caregivers for those who have Alzheimer's or other dementia are more likely to have higher levels of stress hormones, reduced immune function, new hypertension, and new heart disease than noncaregivers. Geiger stresses the importance of caregivers' efforts to alleviate their own stress: "We want to break down that isolation." She encourages caregivers to participate in local face-to-face support groups or, if they prefer, anonymously in online message boards.

    8) Family caregivers face a long haul. People with Alzheimer's and dementia typically experience a slow progression of the disease, so family caregiving is often a long-term prospect. A 2004 report by the Alzheimer's Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving found that at any one time, nearly a third of these caregivers have been at it for five years or longer and nearly 40 percent have been doing so for one to four years.

    9) Family caregivers do the job free. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that in 2008, 9.9 million caregivers--from children and other family members to friends and neighbors--provided 8.5 billion hours of unpaid care, which amounts to some $94 billion in value. On top of that, these caregivers pay an average of $219 per month out of their own pockets, according to the 2004 report by the Alzheimer's Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

    10) The states will feel an increasing burden. The annual report estimates that by 2025, the western states of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Alaska will experience an 81 percent to 127 percent growth in the number of residents with Alzheimer's Disease, as compared to year 2000. Also by 2025, California and Florida, where more than 500,000 residents will have the disease, will lead the nation in volume.

    You can also learn more about the costs of senior care and ways to pay on Caregiverlist's home page.

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    Assisting Seniors with Switch to Digital TV

    The switch to digital television has finally arrived, with the ability to access high-definition TV, or HD, presenting crisp and clear images and more channels.  The Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Copps says this takes us from the dinosaur age to the digital age.

    However, change is always more difficult after we have become accustomed to a regular routine and system.  What this means is that seniors are actually the last group to make the necessary changes to be able to receive digital television.  In addition, with age-related diseases and other natural effects of aging, such as vision and hearing loss, it is more difficult for seniors to learn how to use the new technology for their television.

    Local television stations are reporting non-stop telephone calls from older adults who have the new digital boxes but have not connected them properly.

    What can you do to help?  If you are a caregiver for a senior, make sure they are receiving their channels with their new digital converters in place and spend some time with them to show them what content the new channels offer for them.  My brother helped my grandma to convert to digital.  Living in the country, she has spent her entire life just watching NBC and CBS - no other channels.  We discovered that even though she now has access to hundreds of channels, she was still watching the same ones.  After showing her what she was missing, she is now taking in some new shows, although she did inform me that she has cooked for years and sees no need, at age 93, to watch the Food Network or any shows about cooking.  She cooked a big dinner every day for everyone who worked on the dairy farm so I understand.  But, as she is living alone, it helps to have a variety of television shows to choose from and there are even many shows with content providing exercises and other information for seniors to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.

    Other resources you can offer for seniors is to connect them to their local department on aging as many of the government funded senior centers have organized support to help seniors transfer to digital television.  Caregiverlist connects you with the department on aging resources in your state to help you find resources for senior loved ones.




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    National Nursing Assistant's Week

    Many caregivers are certified nursing assistants or certified home health assistants and have chosen a career in caregiving that pays more in fulfillment than in dollars.  These assistants have attended a professionally certified training program and passed a state exam to become a certified nursing assistant or certified home health aide (each state regulates the certification in their states, along with the titles).

    To recognize the ongoing need for quality caregivers and to help support the needs of nursing aides, the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants has created the Nursing Assistants and Direct Care Workers week for June 11th - June 18th.

    Take time this week to say thank you to a caregiver and to learn more about the profession you may visit the nursing association's website.

    You may also learn about the training for nursing assistants and find a training program in your area on Caregiverlist.

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    Health Care Jobs Still Growing

    Even though we continue to hear news of layoffs and downsizing, there is some good news out there for those looking for jobs. As health care spending has ballooned in the last decade, so have jobs.  More than 1 million new positions have been created in this sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  This sector of the economy has shown the most growth in jobs and this is predicted to continue.

    Anyone interested in a new job or securing employment with in healthcare can very easily start out by working as a senior caregiver.  Senior Home Care Agencies provide training and also offer a variety of positions, including part-time caregiving positions during the weekdays and during weekdays.

    As age-related diseases develop, a senior's care needs change and because of this, Senior Home Care Agencies are constantly hiring trustworthy, dependable and compassionate individuals to assist with the senior's Activities of Daily Living.

    You may learn more about employment and training as a senior caregiver on Caregiverlist, and apply for a senior caregiver position in your area.

    It is important to remember that Senior Home Care Agencies follow the licensing requirements of their states and provide for all payroll taxes and insurance and benefits for the caregivers, as required by law.  This will allow caregiver employees to obtain training, active management and support and build a track record of employment to assist with growing their career in senior care.

    Coping with Caregiver Burnout

    Enjoy Summer Fun By Managing Caregiver Stress

    Summer is finally here. While many people are firing up their grills, going fishing and pulling down their beach towels, it’s common for caregivers to feel exhausted and lack the desire to be social.

    Think you might be suffering from caregiver burnout? Read on to identify the symptoms, and discover tips to help you unwind and enjoy the season.

    Here’s ten ways to tell if caregiving is putting too much stress on you, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 

    • feeling overwhelmed
    • sleeping too much or too little
    • gaining or losing a lot of weight
    • feeling tired most of the time
    • loss of interest in activities you formerly enjoyed
    • becoming easily irritated or angered
    • feeling constantly worried
    • often feeling sad
    • frequent headaches, body pain, or other physical problems
    • abuse of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs

    Here are the Health and Human Services Department recommendations for reducing caregiver stress, so you can get back to enjoying the summer: 

    • Find out about caregiving resources in your community.
    • Ask for and accept help. Be prepared with a mental list of ways that others can help you, and let the helper choose what she would like to do. For instance, one person might be happy to take the person you care for on a walk a couple times a week. Someone else might be glad to pick up some groceries for you.
    • If you need financial help taking care of a senior relative, don't be afraid to ask family members to contribute their fair share.
    • Say "no" to requests that are draining, such as hosting holiday meals.
    • Don't feel guilty that you are not a "perfect" caregiver. Just as there is no "perfect parent," there is no such thing as a "perfect caregiver." You're doing the best you can.
    • Identify what you can and cannot change. You may not be able to change someone else's behavior, but you can change the way that you react to it.
    • Set realistic goals. Caregivers can break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time.
    • Prioritize, make lists, and establish a daily routine.
    • Stay in touch with family and friends.
    • Join a support group for caregivers in your situation, such as caring for someone with dementia. Besides being a great way to make new friends, you can also pick up some caregiving tips from others who are facing the same problems you are.
    • Make time each week to do something that you want to do, such as go to a movie.
    • Try to find time to be physically active on most days of the week, eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep.
    • See your doctor for a checkup. Tell her that you are a caregiver and tell her about any symptoms of depression or sickness you may be having.
    • Try to keep your sense of humor.

    Caregiverlist offers a wealth of resources for caregivers. Caregiverlist's Community section provides an opportunity for caregivers to share their story, and become inspired by stories submitted by other caregivers.


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    Insider's Guide to Becoming a Nursing Aide

    There are many different paths to becoming a caregiver.  Some senior caregivers first provided care to a friend or family member before becoming a professional caregiver.  Others may have worked in other industries which did not provide flexible schedules or personal fulfillment. 

    For those caregivers seeking to become certified in their state as a certified nursing aide or home health aide, Caregiverlist provides an Insider's Guide with tips and interviews from nursing aide schools, including the 6 Success Tips for Becoming a Certified Nursing AIde:

    1) Be proactive during the application process

    2) Prepare before the first day of class

    3) Be aware of the duties involved for Certified Nursing Aides

    4) Set aside time to focus on the program

    5) Apply early for financial aid

    6) Research job opportunities ahead of graduation

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