Summer Olympics Showcases Older Athletes

Summer Olympics Brings Older Athletes

Every four years we find ourselves riveted by the spectacle that is the Summer Olympics.  Watching these athletes, these perfect physical specimens at the top of their abilities, vie for the gold makes for a thrilling couch-side activity. I justify my inertia because of my age. The Olympics are, after all, a young person's game, right?

The 2012 London Olympics have plenty of older and wiser competitors to watch, certainly a motivation for healthy aging. In this year's team USA, ten of the more than 500 athletes are over 44 year's old.

While not exactly AARP material, it's pretty amazing to see older competitors in a sea of teens and twenty-somethings.  Not surprisingly, gymnastics and the 200-meter freestyle are not events at which you will encounter older medal hopefuls (not yet, at least.) But if you watch equestrian and shooting events, you will see plenty of mature challengers. 

The 2012 London Olympics eldest statesman is Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan, who at 71 is the oldest Olympian in 92 years and, along with his 19-year-old mare Whisper (also a senior at 66 human years), will compete in the equestrian dressage event. This is Mr. Hoketsu's third appearance at the Games, making his Olympic debut in Tokyo in 1964. He also harbors some hope to become the oldest Olympian in history four years from now at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The title of oldest Olympian is held by Sweden's Oscar Swahn, who was 72 when he won a silver medal in shooting at the 1920 Antwerp Games.  According to the sport and science resource, Top End Sports, here are some historical older Summer Olympic competitors

  • Arthur von Pongracz of Austria also competed at age 72 in Dressage in 1936.
  • Louis, Count du Douet de Graville (69 years old) competed in Equestrian at the 1900
  • GamesGalen Carter Spencer was an American who competed in archery at the 1904 Summer Olympics. He won the gold medal in the team competition.
  • Jerry Millner (born July 5, 1847) was a British shooter who represented Great Britain and Ireland at the 1908 Summer Olympics. He won a gold medal in the Free rifle at 1000 yards. At the time he was 61 years old. 
  • The oldest woman to compete in the Olympics was British rider Lorna Johnstone, who participated in Equestrian at the 1972 Olympic Games at 70 years old. 
  • In 1908, British archery winner Sybil Queenie; Newall became the oldest woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal, she was 53 years old.

Certainly as living advertisements for aging well, here are the some of the older Olympic hopefuls to cheer for on team USA:

  •    Shooting: Emil Milev, 44 
  •    Shooting: Daryl Lee Szarenski, 44 
  •    Shooting: Eric Uptagrafft, 46 
  •    Equestrian: Steffen Peters, 47
  •    Equestrian: Phillip Dutton, 48    
  •    Equestrian: Beezie Madden, 48 
  •    Equestrian: Tina Konyot, 50   
  •    Equestrian: Rich Fellers, 52
  •    Equestrian: Jan Ebeling, 53  
  •    Equestrian: Karen O'Connor, 54
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Northwestern University Study Confirms Caregiver Quality Vital Requirement

Senior caregivers must be qualified and trained in order to deliver quality care.  As we have often said, senior caregiving is not at all like babysitting.  The parents are present at the beginning and end of a babysitting shift and children are expected to follow the directions of a babysitter.  In senior care, age-related diseases such as memory loss, can be present, and the additional stress of dealing with the aging process require a trained caregiver.

Now a Northwestern University research study confirms caregiver quality is a vital when senior care services are necessary.  Lee Lindquist, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, conducted a research study which is published in the July 13th issue of the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.  The study confirms that quality standards are a must when hiring a senior care company.

Hire-direct care rarely works in senior care and because of the high incidents of financial abuse in senior care, many states have passed legislation requiring only licensed senior home care agencies to provide in-home care (be wary of the babysitter websites - many of them have a long list of babysitter arrests since there is a lack of identification checks to prevent an alias name from being used - - - there are new social babysitting sites where only neighborhood Mom's are making referrals).  Senior care industry professionals know that active management is necessary for successful senior care.  In addition, licensed senior home care agencies provide the necessary payroll taxes and insurance coverages, such as Worker's Compensation insurance and Professional Liability insurance to protect both the senior and the caregiver.

Proper background checks are imperative - it is important to know that a simple name and social security number match are only a beginning.  Proper training for senior caregivers also should be a requirement, such as a caregiver certification course (the state of Illinois requires a minimum of 8 hours of training for senior caregivers and you should ask a senior home care agency to provide you with their training system).

Dr. Lindquist provides "10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Caregiver":

  1. How do you recruit caregivers and what are your hiring requirements?
  2. What types of screenings are performed on caregivers before you hire them?  Criminal background check (federal or state?), Drug screening? Other?
  3. Are they certified in C.P.R. or do they have any health-related training?
  4. Are the caregivers insured and bonded through your agency?
  5. What competencies are expected of the caregiver you send to the home?
  6. How do you assess what the caregiver is capable of doing?
  7. What is your policy on nproviding a substitute caregiver if a regular caregiver cannot provide the contracted services?
  8. If there is dissatisfaction with a particular caregiver, will a substitute be provided?
  9. Does the agency provide a supervisor to evaluate the quality of home care on a regular basis? How frequently?
  10. Does the supervision occur over the telephone, through progress reports or in-person at the home of th eolder adult?

Caregiverlist provides a Career Center for senior caregivers which includes training tools and information on the senior care industry.


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Senior Care Training Programs: Online Courses for Senior Caregivers

Senior care training involves learning many skills in order to care for the emotional and physical aspects of senior care and to understand the bigger picture in order to recognize early signs of memory loss and elder care abuse which is often financial.

Senior caregivers are trained to safely assist with physical care needs such as transfering form bed to wheelchair to toilet and to interact with seniors with memory loss and hearing loss.  Many skills are improved upon as a caregiver provides care to seniors with different personality types. 

Caregiverlist's Certified Caregiver Training program provides a certificate for successful completion of a 10-hour online training program which meets the requirements established by the Illinois Department of health for non-medical senior caregivers.  The National Private Duty Association was behind the legislation which required all senior home care agencies in Illinois to become licensed beginning in September, 2008.  These licensed home care agencies must provide for a minimum of 8-hours of training each year.  The 10-hour onlione caregiver certification meets this training requirements.

The Caregiver Certification program includes these caregiver training modules:

  • Duties of a Caregiver
  • Communicating with Others
  • Observation, Reporting and Recording
  • Providing Personal Care
  • Promoting and Maintaining Good Mobility
  • Elimination and Toileting
  • Environmental Hazards and Safety
  • Basic First Aid
  • Understanding Elder Abuse

Upon passing the course at 80% success rate, a caregiver may print out their Certificate and their name will be added to the database of certified caregivers.  Senior caregivers remain in high demand by employers and may find job opportunities for part-time and full-time employment with professional senior care companies.


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Respite from Senior Caregiving: Caring for the Caregiver

The demands of taking on the responsibilities of caring for an aging parent or other relative can take a toll on both the mental and physical well-being of the caregiver.  Caregivers who lack sufficient support or respite resources risk suffering from “compassion fatigue”, which is an exhaustion that overcomes the caregiver and can cause excessive feelings of guilt.  This exhaustion is beneficial to neither the caregiver nor the one receiving care – it is vital to schedule enough breaks from daily caregiving in order to ensure the mental and physical wellbeing of the caregiver, which in turn benefits the one receiving care. 

Many support groups exist nationwide specifically to help caregivers cope with the strain of caring for a sick or elderly loved one.  While support groups are certainly beneficial, it is important for family caregivers to realize that they do not have to shoulder the entire burden of caregiving with no rest.  Options exist to help ease the exhaustion that can result from relentless caregiving.

Respite care exists so that the primary caregiver can take a vacation - whether it is a vacation out of the home, or a vacation within the home that provides a break from caregiving duties.  Adult day care is another option for family members who need to run errands or go to an appointment without worrying about how their loved one will be cared for or supervised while they are gone.  It is important for caregivers to realize that they need to consistently care for themselves while caring for another in order to provide care to the best of their abilities.  It is additionally important for relatives to realize when they are no longer able to fully care for a loved one entirely on their own. 

If your family is looking into beginning care services, Caregiverlist provides a chart that compares the by-state costs of several senior care options, including home care, live-in care, nursing home, and assisted living.  You may additionally research the costs of nursing homes in your area from our directory of the daily costs of 18,000 nursing homes nationwide.  Or, if home care would be most appropriate for your needs, allow us to connect you with quality home care agencies in your area.

Family caregivers may also take a 10-hour online caregiver training course to become certified as a caregiver and gain the skills needed to be a non-medical senior caregiver.

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Chicago Nursing Home Care

Chicago seniors may need to have nursing care after a hospital stay and once a senior has Medicare benefits, they will receive a portion of the nursing home stay covered as a benefit, as long as a medical doctor preapproves the nursing care need.  However, Medicare will only cover a portion of the nursing home costs for up to 100 days after a major medical event.

This is when it becomes important to understand both the costs of care and the quality of the care provided.  Health inspections are conducted of nursing homes almost every year - the inspection must happen once every 15 months but as the inspectors change and some of the criteria can be subjective, these are only a starting point for evaluating a nursing homoe.

Chicago seniors should focus on the criteria that can be most likely to be accurate - Caregiverlist highlights these ratings which include the staffing ratio of C.N.A.'s to patients.  Often the ration is one C.N.A. to every 12 to 15 residents which means it can sometimes be difficult for this one C.N.A. to adequately transfer and assist all residents each morning and evening.  In these instances, families often must hire a private caregiver to come to the nursing home and assist the senior.

Chicago senior care options include:

  • Nursing Home care
  • Assisted Living
  • Senior Home Care (by licensed senior home care agency)

Review the nursing homes in the Chicagoland area along with the daily costs in order to be prepared should rehabilitation care in a nursing home become a need.

Illinois nursing homes range in price from $96 to $408 per day for a private room with a bathroom in the room - nursing homes in smaller cities cost less and the highest rating is 5-stars.

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Chicago Senior Care Costs

Chicago seniors prefer to stay in Chicago.  Unlike some northern cities, Chicagoland seniors most often age-in-place and stay in their home or move to a senior living community.  Downtown Chicago has even begun to attract empty-nesters from the suburbs.

Chicago seniors have the following care choices:

  • Senior home care agency hourly or live-in caregiver services (professionally managed, meeting the state of Ilinois requirements which include 8-hours of training for caregivers)
  • Assisted Living Community (which will often require additional private duty caregiving services by a senior care agency)
  • Nursing Home

Chicago nursing homes range in costs from $106 per day at Margaret Manor on West Cullom Avenue to $291 per day at the Lexington of Schaumburg.  Nursing home staffing ratios of Certified Nursing Aides to residents is an important part of considering which nursing home will be most appropriate.

Senior home care agencies in Illinois must be licensed and must provide a minimum of 8 hours of training for caregivers.  Caregiverlist's Certified Caregiver training, powered by aQuire, has been customized to meet the Illinois Department of Health caregiver training requirements for professional caregivers.  Family caregivers and professional caregivers may purchase the training online.

Chicago seniors may review the Illinois nursing home costs and ratings in Caregiverlist's nursing home directory.

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Alzheimer's Disease New Treatment

Alzheimer's disease progresses at various paces and presents an ongoing challenge for senior caregivers.  The Alzheimer's Association International Conference met in Vancouver this week and announced the first medication that is showing positive results in clinical trials for slowing or halting the progression of the disease.  The treatment is an immune therapy called IVIG/Gammagard that has been given intravenously for 3 years to a small group of participants. 

The medication, made by Baxter International, follows 9 years of no new drug therapies being announced for the disease.  The participants in this therapy did not show improvement in most of the symptoms of Alzheimer's that they already had, but they also did not show any further decline on measures of cognition, memory or daily functioning or mood over the three years.

The U.S. government has announced a plan to prevent Alzheimer's disease by 2025.  As the cost of senior care can in a nursing home or in the home with a full-time caregiver be as much as $80,000 per year, this is good news.

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Five Wishes Legally Documents Care Requests

End-of-life care always presents challenges, but the challenges are multiplied when the legal documents for someone's desired wishes are not in place.  The Five Wishes is a simple legal document that is also affordable and assists seniors and caregivers to plan for end-of-life care.
As a senior caregiver, it important to know the senior's wishes when a medical emergeny arises.  Are they a DNR, or Do-Not-Resucitate?  Do they want to have life support if the issue will only be short-term or not at all? Who is the healthcare power-of-attorney (PofA) and the financial power-of-attorney to manage these issues for the senior if they cannot make the decisions themselves.  It is also important to have these legal documents in place prior to memory loss beginning.
The need to make critical medical decisions often occurs suddenly and must frequently be decided by someone other than the one needing care. It is important to have a set of medical care instructions in place to prepare for the possibility that an individual may not be able to be their own advocate when major decisions must be made. Five Wishes acts as a valid living will, which is a document that expresses the wishes of its owner in regard to life support and other considerations of urgent medical care. 
Read about issues seniors and caregivers confront and learn how the Five Wishes can be of assistance in Caregiverlist's interview with an estate attorney and senior home care agency owner in this article.  The Five Wishes document is inexpensive and developed by someone who worked with hospice patients.   In it, we spoke to the owner of a homecare agency to better understand what kind of documentation is helpful when care is suddenly needed. We additionally spoke to a tax attorney to differentiate between what constitutes a will, a living will, or a Power of Attorney and the advantages of having each. 
Since its creation in 1997, Five Wishes is now available in 26 languages and is a legal advance directive in 42 states. It is available for purchase online or may be ordered by mail. Five Wishes must be signed by two witnesses to verify that the owner is of sound mind at the time of signing the document. While Five Wishes is particularly useful for those needing or seeking senior care, the homecare agency owner and the tax lawyer recommended that any adult have a living will in place. 
You may purchase the Five Wishes document online or order for $5.00 per document, with discounts available when you purchase 25 or more at the website
You may also want to research senior care options to learn about the nursing homes and senior care agencies in your area as you plan ahead for potential senior care needs.
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Doctors Marking Up Medications Prompts New Laws in Some States

Seniors on Medicare know that medications can be the most expensive portion of their healthcare.  At the same time, the little pills their doctor prescribes are many times allowing the senior to extend their life and live a more enjoyable life.  This may be why it is shocking news that doctors are marking up the medications they dispense in their office to make more money.

Doctors prescribing and selling medications also presents a conflict of interest.  The New York Times reports Florida, California and Oklahoma lawmakers are tackling regulation of this issue.  The doctors profit some from the overcharging but it seems Automated HealthCare, a leader in physician dispensing, is behind the practice and partly owned by Abry Partners, a private equity firm which has contribued more than $3.3 million in political contributions. 

The heartburn drug Zantac has been sold by doctors for as much as $3.25 instead of the normal 35 cents.

Seniors should question their medical doctor if he is prescribing a medication and also selling it in the doctor's office.



Financial Columnist Terry Savage Highlights Long-term Care Insurance

Senior care costs can spiral up as care needs advance, as all senior caregivers have experienced.  Right now, Americans must pay for their own long-term senior care, unless they have nearly no assets and qualify for Medicaid health insurance for very low-income seniors.  One solution to help pay for senior care costs is long-term care insurance.  But it now it seems that even these insurance companies are questioning if they can cover the costs of paying for senior care with their policies.

Terry Savage, a financial columnist, provides an overview of the long-term care insurance industry in her column this week.  Combination products, or "combo products" are one way to fund long-term care that allows you to leverage the insurance contract.  You can have as much as six times the amount you paid in premium to use for paying for long-term care expenses.

Insurance companies offering these combo products are:

  • State Life Insurance Company, a division of OneAmerica
  • Lincoln Financial Group
  • Genworth

These combo products combine the concepts of an annuity or life insurance policy with long-term care insurance.  As nursing homes can cost as much as $300 per day (you can access nursing home costs in Caregiverlist's nursing home directory), and Medicare does not pay for long-term care, it is important to evaluate and plan ahead for senior care.



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