Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week: Summer on Lake Michigan

How calm, beautiful and relaxing the water can be.  Caregivers provide companionship to seniors, and caregivers must remember to "care for the caregiver."  This week's photo was taken along Lake Michigan in Wisconsin this summer. Take a moment to breathe deeply and let the stress fade away. Please enjoy and feel free to share this photo and inspirational quote with your loved ones. Caregivers know the realities of caregiver stress, and we can help you relieve that stress. Thank you for all you do, and have a great week. 

"A diamond is a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well."  -Unknown

Hospital Readmission: Revolving Door for Some Seniors

Part 1: Hospital-to-Nursing Home-to-Hospital

My mother always believed that if she ever found herself in a skilled nursing facility, she would never go home again. That’s a scary prospect for a senior, especially since nursing homes have become an extension of a hospital stay, with Medicare footing the bill for the first 100 days. That stay includes rehabilitation services. Lucky for my mom, she breezed through her post-hip replacement surgery nursing home rehab and made it back home with plenty days to spare. But her fear is not unfounded; here are some startling facts:

  • 1 in 5 (20%) Medicare patients are transferred from hospital to skilled nursing facility to complete their treatment and/or rehabilitation.
  • 1 in 4 (25%)  Medicare patients will be readmitted to the hospital within the first 30 days of their nursing home stay.

Hospital readmissions from a skilled nursing facility (SNF) can be disastrous for elderly and frail individuals. Complications can arise due to hospital infections. Constant hospital readmission can be distressing for the resident and family, causing patient delirium. Some patients even find it stressful to assimilate back to the nursing home after being released from hospital yet again.

Medicare could also begin cutting reimbursements to nursing homes they deem to have high rates of “avoidable”, “preventable”, and “unnecessary” hospital readmissions.

The American Health Care Association, has introduced an initiative to reduce hospital readmisssions. There are a few programs within their Quality Initiative that are assessing and attempting to correct the phenomenon of rampant hospital readmissions.

INTERACT (Interventions to Reduce Acute Care Transfers) is a program designed to improve the early identification, assessment, documentation, and communication about changes in the status of residents in skilled nursing facilities. By implementing strategies on a daily basis, the goal of the program is to reduce transfers of nursing home residents back to hospitals.

CHATS (Communicating Health Assessments by Telephone) is a program designed to help nurses and physicians communicate the status of a patient. Good communication can lead to prevention and treatment within the SNF.

LTC Trend Tracker is a free web-based tool that enables long term care providers to access key information to benchmark and examine their ongoing quality improvement efforts.

While some hospital readmissions are inevitable, some are preventable. Indicators show that progress has been made. According to the AHCA website, as of the end of third quarter 2013,

  • AHCA members have reduced 30-day readmissions by 3.3%.
  • Over 2,000 member centers achieved a 15% reduction in their hospital readmission rates since the launch of the AHCA Quality Initiative
  • About 26,400 readmissions in AHCA member centers were prevented, saving the health care system roughly $270 million.

We at Caregiverlist® recommend the book Ending Hospital Readmissions: A Blueprint for SNFs for Skilled Nursing Facility administrators. This book shows the financial consequences of the “revolving door” and provides strategies and tools to help minimize unnecessary transfers. With education and staff involvement, not only can costs be reduced, but residents’ quality of life can be enhanced. It’s a win-win for everyone.   

Ear Machine App Tests for Hearing Loss: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

Hearing tests are usually something seniors will avoid at all costs.  The idea of needing a hearing device means you have finally crossed the line into old age and many seniors avoid going down this road until their hearing problem has become a very real problem - causing awkward moments for their friends and family.  Now there is an App that allows you to test the quality of your hearing called the Ear Machine.

Being in an area with too many loud noises can be overwhelming, just as straining to hear a soft noise can be difficult on the ears. The Ear Machine App allows the user to adjust the loudness of the sound coming in through their headphones as well as fine-tune the sounds they are hearing for a better listening experience.  And for a better way to check your hearing to make sure you do not have hearing loss.

The Ear Machine app pulls sounds from the environment around the user using the microphone on their mobile device and allowing the user to move the fine-tuning wheel until they hear the noises around them at a clearer level than without the headphones. This function can be particularly useful for seniors who may be hard-of-hearing to participate in conversations, for caregivers to hear a senior who may be soft spoken or for anyone who wants to have control over the sounds in a busy or loud environment. 

Now anyone who has a parent or who may be a caregiver for a senior who you feel has hearing loss, can simply use this App to test their hearing - no need to keep asking them to go to the hearing doctor.  Just do the hearing test with this App, in the comfort of the senior's home.

The microphone on the phone is quite sensitive. In testing out the app in a new environment, it picks up quiet sounds located very close to the phone very well- for example, if I'm typing on my computer and the phone is sitting next to it, I can hear my fingers hitting each key very distinctly, which is not something that my ears catch without using this app. The only issue with this comes into play when the cord for the headphones is jostled- it comes across as a rather loud rustling that can disrupt the user from hearing sounds that are further away. 

The app also has a function that auto sets the loudness and fine-tuning wheels to their recommended levels for your environment. In addition to using the microphone to listen to the sounds around you, the app also allows users to tap into the music selection on their phone and adjust the levels to hear it they way you want to. 

 

The Ear Machine app is available for Apple platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

States React to AARP Scorecard

Much has been made of AARP’s released report 2014 State Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Scorecard. In fact, I covered the results in a recent blog.

Since the report’s release, state politicians and policy makers have been scrambling to either issue statements strongly urging for their state’s commitment to long term care improvement or stridently patting themselves on the back for a job well done.

Louisiana’s Times-Picayune article on nola.com about its senior population being over-institutionalized. Louisiana ranked 37th of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. in its overall long-term care policies. In that state, aging seniors are (predominantly) either placed in nursing homes or cared for at home by unpaid family members. And it ranked dead-last in effective transitions—meaning that a high number of nursing home residents are hospitalized because they’re not receiving the care they need. Funny, the same report found that there are a high number of nursing home residents with low-care needs. No doubt it is because of the lack of alternatives such as adult day care and other home and community-based services.

Not surprisingly, vociferous Louisiana AARP advocates call for increased funding of alternate care choices in an attempt to acquiesce to the majority of older Louisiana residents who wish to age in place, at home. Ironically, despite the article pointing to so many calls-to-action, they conclude optimistically, pointing out that “Louisiana's ranking in 2014 improved slightly from the 43rd slot, when scorecard was last issued in 2011.”

On the flip-side, Minnesota’s Office of the Governor Mark Dayton was quick to issue a press release extolling their number one spot on the scorecard for long term care access, choice, quality, and caregiver support. The release also pointed out that Minnesota ranked in first place on the 2011 Scorecard as well.

In the release, Gov. Dayton cited the following efforts that assist Minnesotans in “providing our parents, grandparents, and people with disabilities the best possible care.”

  • New incentives for providers to increase quality
  • More help for people who want to move from nursing homes and other congregate settings to homes of their own
  • More comprehensive information and referral services for individuals and family caregivers
  • Support for core community services that help people stay in their homes
  • More flexibility for consumers in choosing supports tailored to their needs
  • Promotion of competitive employment for people with disabilities
  • A stronger adult protection system; and
  • Own Your Future, an initiative that encourages Minnesotans to plan for their long-term care and is now exploring new ways Minnesotans can finance this care.


We at Caregiverlist® not only care for the caregiver, we advocate for seniors and their families. I hope that the Long-Term Care Scorecard elicits more than one-upmanship between states. It’s a great opportunity to see where your own system may be lacking and examine and adapt those state policies and approaches to long term senior care that appear to be working best.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week: Misty English Morning

Hopefully you were able to enjoy a fun and festive holiday with your friends and family.  Caregivers can take time to relax and we invite you to take a moment to yourself with this week's photo.  It was taken in Oxfordshire, England on a morning walk, just as the mist was starting to lift and signaling the beginning of a beautiful day. Thank you, caregivers and certified nursing aides for all that you do for your our seniors. More caregivers are always needed as seniors in America are living longer. You can learn more about becoming a senior caregiver and apply for a job near you. Have a great week. 

"There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter."   -Rachel Carson 

Senior Care Opportunities in an Aging World

I’m often asked if senior care, specifically in-home senior care, is really the fast-growing employment opportunity that we always say it is. Consider this:

  • The percentage of the U.S. population in 2010 aged 65 and over was 40.3 million. In 2050, is it projected that nearly 21% of the entire population of this country will be over 65 (up from 4.1% in 1900.)
  • Over 38% of those aged 65 and over had one or more disabilities in 2010, with the most common difficulties being walking, climbing stairs, and doing errands alone.
  • Medicaid funds for long-term care have been shifting away from nursing homes. Funding for home- and community-based services increased from 13% of total funding in 1990 to 43% in 2007.
  • The top ten states with people aged 65 and older in 2010 were also the top ten states with the oldest old, aged 85 and over. The top four states were California, Florida, New York and Texas.


These are just some of the highlights from the U.S. Census Bureau report, 65+ in the United States: 2010, released in June 2014. Prompted by the Baby Boom generation, those born in the years following World War II (from 1946 to 1964), the report examines the social and economic implications of an aging majority population.

The U.S. is not the only country to experience the Baby Boom. Western countries that experienced relatively low birth-rates in the thirties and subsequent high birth-rates in the 25 years after WWII include the Scandinavian countries, Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the U.K. and Switzerland. In fact, in 2010, 50 countries had a higher proportion of people aged 65 and over than the United States. According to the report, by 2050, that number is projected to reach 98, or almost half the countries in the world. And, of course, developed countries will experience a greater number of the oldest old (age 85+) because undeveloped countries have a lower life-expectancy.

Eldercare policies in not just the United States but around the world will have to accommodate this worldwide growing segment of the population.

This is the perfect time to become a professional senior caregiver. An expert in this field will have worldwide opportunities in the coming years. How does one start? At Caregiverlist®, we provide you with everything you need to become a professional senior caregiver. First, see if you have the temperament for senior care and you are aware of what the job entails.

Check your state’s minimum training requirements—Caregiverlist’s® basic training meets most state requirements. If you pass a criminal background check, you can begin the application process by using our free resume writer and attach it to our 5-minute caregiver job application.

Once you become a senior care professional, your opportunities for mobility are only as limited as your imagination. Whether you decide to work in the fastest-aging South and West regions of the United States or in aging-friendly countries like Sweden, Norway, or Germany, the universal truth is there will be no lack of senior clients in the near future.

USCensusWorldAge

BillGuard App Helps Caregivers Manage Finances: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

Caregiving brings rewards beyond monetary compensation, but caregivers may need to budget carefully to ensure they can cover their bills and other living expenses on their caregiver pay. The BillGuard app allows senior caregivers to link their bank accounts to the app and view their spending patterns as well as set budgets for themselves. 

When users first create an account on Bill Guard, they can link up their various bank accounts by picking their bank and logging in through the app. Once all accounts have been linked to the app, caregivers can see their recent spending history on their homepage. This includes a summary of how much money the user has spent thus far in that month. Under the analytics tab, users can see a month by month breakdown of the amount of money spent and a further breakdown of the categories in which they spent their money, such as Cash, Loans, Groceries, Eating Out, Clothing, Utilities, etc. 

When a user is looking at their monthly summary, the app allows them to select "vs" the previous month so users can see if they spent more or less on each category in the prior month and recognize spending habits. Caregivers can use this particularly to compare bill costs and leisure spending from month to month to see where they can cut back on spending a little to save more money. 

The app also features an area called Savings that searches the internet for coupons and savings tips customized to your spending history to enable caregivers to save the most money possible. Users can click into that area of the app whenever they'd like to, but an alert icon will also appear on their dashboard when the app finds an applicable coupon. 

 

The BillGuard app is available for Apple and Android platforms.

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

Become a Certified Senior Caregiver

It takes a special kind of person to become a professional caregiver. Many start as caregivers to aging family members and they experience first-hand what a difference compassionate care can make in the life of a senior. However, caregiving is much more than a fulfilling vocation; those who decide to become certified caregivers find it is career that offers competitive pay, flexible scheduling, and an expanding job market. Most of all, those working in senior care often tell us that they make meaningful connections with elderly clients and their families. It truly is a job of which they can be proud.

For those interested in learning more about caring for elderly adults, Caregiverlist® presents The Home Caregiver Career Overview infographic. We've culled information from various reputable sources, internal and external, to show you just why senior caregiving is The Career That Keeps on Giving.

Baby boomers are aging. By the year 2030, approximately 20% of the American population will be 65 and over. The majority of seniors (our research estimates it at 90%!) want to age at home with the help of in-home caregivers. If you thought quality caregivers are high in demand now, just wait a few years—home healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries and is projected to grow by nearly 50% from 2012 to 2022.

Non-medical home caregivers provide home and health services, help with activities of daily living (ADLs), and sometimes most importantly, companionship.

Senior home care agencies lament that there aren’t enough quality caregivers to fill all available positions. Talk about job security! As we showed in our 2013 Senior Care Employment Index, there are nearly 11,000 senior care agencies in the United States and 1,000 new agencies opened in 2012 alone. In addition to benefits (such as medical and dental insurance and retirement plans) and flexible hours, home care agencies regularly pay their hourly caregivers significantly more than minimum wage.

Becoming a certified caregiver requires that you meet your state’s minimum training requirement and pass a criminal background check. Then you are on your way to a career that offers the rewards and personal satisfaction that few others can provide.

Senior Caregiving Jobs

 Please feel free to share this Caregiverlist® Home Caregiver Career Overview infographic on your own blog or website. When you do, please give credit and link to Caregiverlist.

Log in