Seniors Optimistic About Aging, Survey Shows

Concerns about the economy, unemployment rates and the uncertainty of the country’s financial future have everyone worried. But there is one segment of society experiencing less anxiety about what the future holds: Seniors.

A recent survey from the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare and USA Today shows that most older Americans (over 60) are optimistic about their future. Generally regarded as the last generation to experience and enjoy the fruits of their labors, older Americans may very well be the last to live The American Dream. Many receive employer-provided pensions, sold homes before the real estate crisis (or have paid off their mortgages), and are grandfathered in to receive Medicare and Social Security benefits. This all adds up to a rather rosy outlook on life.

The inaugural United States of Aging Survey to examined 2,250 seniors about their outlook and preparedness for aging, and their community’s ability to meet their needs as they age. Most seniors plan to age in place and continue to live in their homes, those surveyed view senior-living facilities in their community favorably.

And while most respondents were generally content with their finances and health, the one area of concern is caregiving. More than half of seniors aged 70 and older have someone they consider a caregiver and the vast majority of caregivers are family members. But when senior needs become greater than the family caregiver can provide, most realize that they will have to turn to local, professional caregivers to accomplish the tasks of daily living. The question then becomes how to pay for care in this age of declining government funding?

But until those caregiving needs arise, the majority of older Americans believe that they are aging healthy and have a strong sense of purpose and passion about their lives and their future. 

The Science of Happiness includes 3 different types of happiness:

1) Rock-Star Moments

2) In-the-Flow of a Favorite Activity

3) Sense of Purpose

The Rock-Star Moments are those emotional highs that are wonderful but not lasting because they are "moments", such as your graduation day, your wedding day, the day your baby is born or the day you received the big promotion.  It is a wonderful moment and this is why often you'll hear about the rock star who becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol because they are in search of that same high again and again.  It is a wonderful moment, but does not last.

The In-the-Flow happiness is when you are running or biking or boating or doing that favorite activity that just makes you feel relaxed and at peace.

The Sense-of-Purpose happiness is lasting happiness that sustains a person because it delivers fulfillment and also is lasting.  This happens when people are actively involved in living life and engaged with others in their daily activities.  Seniors, we hope, have figured out this sense of purpose and perhaps this helps deliver their happiness.

For now, this is good news that the elderly we are finding are the happiest bunch of Americans!

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Caregiver Employment Checklist

Senior caregiver employment opportunities will continue to increase as the large Baby Boomer population enters their golden years and enjoys a longer lifespan because of the advances in medicine.  At the same time, senior care services are moving to the home.  The passage of the new health care law includes the Accountability of Care Organizations to help doctors and health care providers work together to deliver better care and this means they will not receive the same reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid if a senior patient is readmitted to the hospital too quickly after one stay.

Accountability - kind of cool that this is finally coming to help care.  Caregivers or those seeking to be caregivers or anyone interested in a fulfilling career may apply for a part-time or full-time position as a senior caregiver on Caregiverlist, the nation's only career center for professional caregivers and C.N.A.'s.

Caregivers with only personal experience may still apply for a senior caregiver job to begin gaining professional skills.  An online caregiver certification training course can be completed in 10-hours and meets the training requirements for many states and are the basic skills required of professional caregivers.

Review the Caregiver Employment Checklist and apply for a senior caregiver job in your area:

  1. Employment Eligibikity Verification for I-9 Form
  2. Professional References
  3. Personal References
  4. Copies of Professional Certifications
  5. Addresses Lived (current and former)
  6. Immunization Record
  7. Education Record
  8. Background Check
  9. Schedule of Availability
  10. Reason for Wanting to be a Caregiver

Review the caregiver job description and join this growing field to continue to enjoy caregiver career opportunities.  Remember, seniors with memory loss such as a Alzheimer's Disease sometimes need care services for as ten years or more. 

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Caregiver Training Courses

Caregiver training requires learning skills for assisting with what is called "Activities of Daily Living" in the senior care industry.  Certified Nursing Aides, or C.N.A.'s, learn these skills in a C.N.A. training program along with more advanced skills around safely providing bathing, feeding (including feeding tubes) and toileting (including catheters).  C.N.A.'s then work in the field with supervision by a C.N.A. who has already obtained certification and a Registered Nurse (R.N.).

Senior caregivers working as professionals caring for seniors in their homes or at assisted living communities or those considering becoming senior caregivers can take online training courses to learn the basic caregiving skills.

Most states have not yet passed legislation requiring caregiver training.  Washington state is an exception as the Service Employees Union jumped in to protect their union workers and successfully passed legislation requiring 75 hours of training (which was piggy-backed with a liquor license law which highlights the lobbying intersts in American politics).  Most senior care industry professionals agree this was not training that was passed to support seniors since the union was the advocate and the senior care companies must pay for the 75 hours of training which is a cost passed on to the seniors.

The reality is that 8 to 10 hours of training is "just right" to get someone started as a professional caregivers.  Then with supervision by a professional Care Manager, a caregiver can implement a senior's daily Care Plan and sharpen their skills while providing one-on-one senior care.

Caregiverlist's Certified Training provids a 10-hour online training course powered by aQuire Training and meeting the 8-hour training legislation passed in the state of Illinois (and supported by National Private Duty Association senior care company members).

Review the caregiver training modules and purchase the 10-hour caregiver training course to develop your professional caregiving skills.  Senior caregivers may apply for caregiving positions at senior care companies on Caregiverlist.  "Caring for the Caregiver", Caregiverlist provides the only professional senior caregiver Career Center created by senior care industry professionals.

Northwestern University's Dr. Lee Lindquist, located here in Chicago, recently published a quality of senior care study noting that quality care directly connects to quality training.  You can read about her study in Caregiverlist's news section on our home page.

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Companion Caregiver Robot May Be Future of Home Caregiving

In a recent poll conducted by the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare and USA Today, the majority of seniors are content with their lives, until they need caregiving. The numbers show that the majority of caregiving falls on family members. But what happens when potential family caregivers live far away or have no desire or knowledge of how to provide that care?

Meet Hector.

The CompanionAble project has developed Hector the Companion Robot, whose goal is to help the elderly live at home (semi)-independently for as long as possible. Hector’s job is to assist with the activities of daily living for the elderly living with mild cognitive impairment. Hector demonstrated some of his care abilities such as diary management, reminders for taking medicines on time, and, setting up video-conferencing sessions to the EU President Jose Manuel Barroso and the EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Marie Geoghegan-Quinn, at the European Innovation Convention in Brussels in December 2011. Final trials and demonstrations are underway in Spain, Netherlands, France and Belgium.

Hector-like companions have also recently appeared in film. Can real-life robotic companions be far behind?

Set in the near future, Frank, a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no longer live alone. They are tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank's son chooses a different option: against the old man's wishes, he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health.--Synopsis of the movie, Robot and Frank, starring Frank Langella.

Is this the future of caregiving? According to Project Coordinator Professor Atta Badi of The University of Reading, UK, Hector will provide cognitive support and stimulation of the elderly, to help them live at home longer. Tell us what you think of this innovative initiative.

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Becoming a Senior Caregiver: Professional Caregiver Certification

Becoming a senior caregiver may sound simple but actually working as a caregiver requires many skills and the first step is to understand the senior caregiver job requirements.

What is required to work as a professional senior caregiver?

  • Background Check: must pass a criminal background check
  • U.S.A. Worker Status:  must be legal to work in the U.S.A.
  • Caregiver Training:  minimum training must be completed
  • High School Diploma or Equivalent
  • 18-years-of-age or older

What is a senior caregiver exactly?  The job description for a professional senior caregiver includes assisting with meal preparation, household tasks such as laundry, monitoring medications and engaging the senior in activities.  This means caregiving also requires being a chef and a housekeeper and medical assistant and a little bit of a therapist.

Caregivers give assistant to seniors but are mindful to not cross the line and perform nursing or doctor duties.  This is why, for instance, medications are only monitored.  Certified Nursing Assistants or Aides are authorized to do more hands-on care and to monitor the senior's vital signs and complete C.N.A. training program at an authorized C.N.A. school in their state. provides a 10-hour online caregiver certification training, powered by aQuire training, and meeting the training standards established by the private-duty senior care industry in the state of Illinois and used as a standard in many other states (most states do not yet provide guidelines for senior caregiver training).

Professional senior caregivers provide non-medical care and companionship to those who need extra assitance or guidance with Activities of Daily Living because of memory loss or age-related illnesses.

Caregivers may be employed by senior home care agencies, nursing homes and assistant living facilities, and care for senior patients in their professional job role.

Caregiving jobs are available both full-time and part-time.  Many seniors who retire early and are looking for part-time income may decide to work as a senior caregiver.  Read stories about senior caregiving as a profession and apply for a senior caregiver job on

Hiring a Senior Caregiver for Family Member

Senior care can be very complicated, as it not only involves providing physical and emotional care but also requires family members to confront the realities of aging.  When the tables turn and adults must begin caring for a parent, it reminds all of us that this is part of the cycle of life.  As my uncle often would say, birthdays are good even if they mean you are growing older because the only way not to have them is to die.

Family members who become caregivers know the challenges of working as a senior caregiver at the same time as being a daughter or son or niece or nephew.  This is why many times family members will choose to hire an outside person to be a caregiver.  This is often a need out of necessity, when a senior requires around-the-clock care or develops memory loss.

Professional senior caregivers receive caregiver training to manage to the activities of daily living for a senior and to understand the emotional issues that come along with aging.  Basic caregiver training includes learning first aid skills and how to effectively communicate with a senior.  Many states are beginning to pass legislation to require licensed senior home care agencies to perform training that consistently meets minimum standards.  The state of Illinois began requiring 8 hours of training in 2008. 

Caregiver training modules that meet the minimum caregiver training standards include:

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

The first step when becoming a senior caregiver for a family member is understanding the job duties and the necessary caregiving job skills.  You may take a 10-hour online caregiver course that meets the basic training requirements in states such as Illinois.

View the caregiver job description for professional caregivers as a starting point for becoming a caregiver.  Many times people who have worked as family caregivers will become professional caregivers as part-time caregivers for seniors with memory loss as this can be very fulfilling work.

Caregiverlist provides the daily costs of nursing homes nationwide which also allows family caregivers to understand the costs of senior care.








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Walk to End Alzheimer's During World Alzheimer's Month

Alzheimer’s Disease can be a lonely one — lonely for those who endure it and lonely for the caregiver. In fact, studies show that loneliness increases the chances of getting a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

September is World Alzheimer’s month and September 21 is Alzheimer's Action Day. Participants are encouraged to “Go Purple”, change Twitter and Facebook profile pictures to the purple End Alz icon, and speak up and share stories of Alzheimer’s in the hopes of eliminating the stigma associated with the disease.

The Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s™ (previously known as The Memory Walk) is an opportunity for individuals and communities to gather together to, according to one call for walk volunteers, “remember, honor, care and fight for the many living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.”

Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, according to 2012 statistics. It affects 5.4 million older Americans (or one in eight). And cost for care in the United States for 2012 are estimated to be around $200 billion and doesn’t even take into account the estimated billions of dollars of care provided by an estimated 15 million caregivers.

Walks are scheduled around the nation to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. If your city’s walk occurred earlier in the month, don’t despair; nearby walks could be scheduled well into October.

Consider joining a team, walking as an individual or starting your own team. Share your stories, remember those who you’ve lost or simply provide your support in the Alzheimer’s Association mission: To eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

If you are already caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, Caregiverlist has partnered with the leading producer of training videos for the caregiving industry, Terra Nova Films, to assist our caregiving community with understanding how to care for the physical, emotional and psychosocial needs of those suffering from the disease.


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Senior Care Costs: Medicare vs. Medicaid and Health Insurance for Caregivers

Senior care costs vary widely, based on which type of senior care health insurance a senior has received - Medicare or Medicaid.  As the presidential election gears into high speed, much talk and confusion is now filling the airwaves around Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs.

American seniors receive Medicare health insurance beginning at age 65, unless they qualify for Medicaid instead, as a very low-income senior.  You may review Medicaid financial qualifications in your state, as Medicaid is administered by each state in combination with federal money.  This is why Paul Ryan, the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate received health care and Social Security payments while he was a minor after the death of his father when he was age 16.  Paul Ryan also requested a grant for a community health center in Racine, Wisconsin, via the new healthcare law. 

This highlights the fact that candidates from both parties know that healthcare is a need for both those who are low-income as well as for seniors.  Moving past the political posturing, the facts are often somewhere in the middle.

Senior caregivers often do not have healthcare as a benefit - if they work part-time or as a direct-hire for a senior.  One benefit of the new healthcare law is the ability for everyone, including small business owners, to have access to affordable healthcare and the benefit of knowing that you will not be dropped from an insurance policy.

As unemployment remains high in the U.S.A., knowing you can both find and purchase individual health insurance and not be dropped from a plan just because you are not part of a group health insurance plan is a comfort to many Americans.  This also will be a comfort for senior caregivers who currently do not have health insurance.  A Caregiverlist survey found that more than 50% of all senior caregivers do not have health insurance.

Medicare's largest cost that can be easily trimmed is Medicare fraud which amounts to billions of dollars each year.  AARP supplies this report on questions to consider for candidates around Medicare.  Meanwhile, remember that senior caregivers often do not have access to health insurance right now.  One of the benefits of the new Affordable Care Act, called the O'bama Care law, is that everyone will have access to health insurance. 

Remember, too, that Medicare does NOT pay for long-term care while Medicaid DOES pay for long-term care in a nursing home.  Review nursing home costs nationwide to plan for your senior care needs.

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Senior Caregiver Training Programs

Senior caregivers must perform a wide variety of job duties, making it difficult to hire just anyone for the trusted job of senior caregiver.  Because of this, many states now require senior caregivers who work as a professional caregiver to complete specific state-mandated caregiver training.

Caregiverlist's Certified Caregiver training, powered by aQuire, meets the training standards created by senior care industry executives and passed into law in the state of Illinois.  Members of the Illinois National Private Duty Association, which included the founder of Caregiverlist, were instrumental in establishing this training to set a basic standard for caregiver skills in illinois.  The Illinois Home Health Home Services & Home Nursing Agency Licensing Act requires health care workers to be part of a Health Care Worker Registry and to complete a minimum of 8 hours of senior caregiver training.

Many states do not yet have training requirements as part of a state law, but the states of Washington, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Nebraska and Delaware require 75 hours of training which is almost as much training as is required for Certified Nursing Aides or C.N.A.'s.

Senior care companies in states that do not require training usually do provide at least 10 hours of training along with on-going training for the senior caregivers to keep up with the latest skills for assisting seniors with age-related illnesses.

A recent Northwestern University study by Dr. Lee Lindquist noted that there is often a lack of consistency for training in caregivers who are not working for professional senior care companies.  Lack of training can result in inability to effectively communicate with seniors with memory loss and provide proper care for age-related illnesses.  Because of this, more states are beginning to pass legislation requiring training as the Baby Boomer population ages and will result in more than 77 million seniors.

C.N.A. training varies slightly in each state but consistently is provided by schools approved to implement the C.N.A. training and then the students must pass the state C.N.A. exam.  Caregiverlist provides a free sample C.N.A. test and a C.N.A. practice test.

Caregiver Certification for 10-hours can also be purchased online and taken at the caregiver's own pace - once passed at the 80% level, the caregiver will receive a certificate to print out.  Senior caregivers with personal or professional caregiving experience may apply for a senior caregiver job in their area.


Lilly Ledbetter Law and Senior Caregivers

Lilly Ledbetter was applauded last night at the Democratic National Convention and has a special connection with senior caregivers.  The Lilly Ledbetter law became the first piece of legislation - the first law - signed by President Barack Obama.  The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stating that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action.  And right now, senior caregivers are faced with the challenges of maintaining their work positions while also performing caregiver duties.

Lilly Ledbetter worked for Good year Tire & Rubber Company  and filed the pay discrimination suit just 6 months prior to her early retirement in 1998 - partly because she simply did not know previously that she was being paid much less than men who held the same position that she did.  The Supreme Court used this technicality to deny her lawsuit although Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did propose interpreting the law according to the date of the last paycheck.

Caregivers for seniors are usually women - in fact the oldest adult daughter typically takes the role of caregiver for her parents.  Studies (and reality) show that women will miss out on work promotions and career opportunities because they must be absent for caregiving. 

The Family Caregiver Alliance research determined that 65.7 million caregivers make up 29% of the U.S. adult population providing caer to someone who is ill, disabled or aged.  Caregivers of people age 50 years and older are 68% female.  While men will often become the caregiver for a spouse with memory loss, studies show a relatively equitable distribution of caregiving between men and women although female caregivers spend more time providing care than men do (21.9 vs. 17.4 hours per week).  And 36% of women caregivers handle the most difficult tasks such as bathing, toileting and dressing.  Male caregivers are more likely to assist with finances, arranging care and other less budernsome tasks.

These are stereo-types but highlights the bigger issue which is that female caregivers are more likely than males to have made alternative work arrangements:  taking a less demanding job (16% of females vs. 6% of males), giving up work entirely (12% vs. 3%), losing job related benefits (7% vs. 3%).  Overall 70% of working caregivers made some job change to accommodate their caregiving role with 9% giving up work entirely and 3% taking early retirement.

Caregiving has shown to reduce work productivity by 18.5% and increase the likelihood of leaving the workplace.  The 2008 economic downturn had a harsh effect on the working family caregiver with 6 in 10 caregivers experssing they are less comfortable with risking taking time off from work to care for a family member or friend.  And 51% expressed added stress caused by their need to care for a loved one when faced with increased work challenges.

Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers provide care 1 to 4 years more than caregivers caring for someone with an illness other than Alzheimer's disease and are more likely to provide care for 5 years or more.

Lilly Ledbetter paved the way for fair pay for women and regardless of your political party, it is worth noting she stood up for this right.  There are both men and women who are somtimes plugged into jobs for reasons beyond their talents.  We won't change this anytime soon but we can stand up for fair pay when the talents are the same according to performance reviews and years of work, which was the case for Lilly Ledbetter. 

As 77 million Baby Boomers retire and create the largest senior population ever, it will become necessary to have more ways to accomodate the need for family caregivers and to provide fair pay for professional caregivers.  Living longer comes with a price tag and living longer with an age-related disease, such as Alzheimer's disease, comes with an added cost of loss in work or loss in advancement in a career for those providing the care.  As nursing homes can cost as much as $300 or more per day, it is important to begin valuing the cost of caregiving for family caregivers and create new ways to provide for senior care.  Right now, seniors with financial challenges associated with caregiving needs only have the option of spending down to qualify for Medicaid which does pay for a nursing home ongoing.  Caregiverlist provides the Medicaid financial qualifications in each state as so many seniors have come to us for this information - it is easy to see that the burdens of care can take a financial toll on families.



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