Sunset in Santorini: Caregiver Stress Relief Photo

The magic of a beautiful sunset seems to captivate us no matter how many times we see it. This week's stress relief photo was taken in the village of Oia on the island of Santorini in Greece. Caregiverlist invites you to enjoy the photo and share it with loved ones. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for caring for our seniors. Please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on and visit our career center for additional career tools. Have a great week.

"There's a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they're absolutely free. Don't miss so many of them."  -Jo Walton

Occupational Therapy's Role in Fall Prevention

Falls—they’re not just for seniors. However, whereas my recent tumble after meeting with a Chicago pothole resulted in some scrapes, bruises, and a banged-up ankle, injuries from falls for the elderly can be much more dire.

Have a nice trip, see you next fall!

September 23 marks the first day of fall in 2014, and it’s also the 6th annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA). This year's theme is Strong Today, Falls Free Tomorrow, and seeks to unite professionals, caregivers, and older adults in raising awareness and preventing falls proactively.

We at Caregiverlist have written a lot about falls and fall prevention over the years, and there’s good reason for that. Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death—over 21,700 older Americans die annually from injuries related to unintentional falls. By 2020, the annual cost of fall injuries (direct and indirect) is expected to reach $67.7 billion, according to the CDC. Those senior who survive falls can face long post-hospital nursing home rehabilitation.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and other professional associations, along with several federal agencies are part of the Falls Free© Initiative. Specifically, AOTA is promoting the role of occupational therapy in fall prevention.

What is Occupational Therapy (OT)?

Occupational therapist practitioners work with older adults in their homes or in facilities to do the day-to-day activities they want to do, safely. They perform an individualized evaluation, determine a person’s goals, help improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities, and evaluate if those goal have been met.

How does OT help in fall prevention?

The occupational therapist will remove environmental hazards in the home. They can suggest furniture arrangement so that there is plenty of room to walk without obstacles. If you hold onto furniture for balance, they will advise whether it is heavy enough to do that safely or suggest alternatives.

The therapist will review your entire home and be sure you can safely and easily get to the items you use on a regular basis. They’ll help create a plan for accessing things that are used most frequently.

The OT will evaluate the lighting throughout your home, making sure that you can see in potentially unsafe areas.

Occupational therapists will work with caregivers as well, educating them on proper patient transferring techniques, and providing proper guarding techniques while a patient is moving or managing stairs to reduce the risk of patient falls without
injury to the caregiver.

This 2008 video from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Institute on Aging, offers advice on preventing falls and shows how an occupational therapist assesses potential hazards in the home.

Medicare often pays for occupational therapy if prescribed by a doctor. Speak to a medical professional to determine if an occupational therapist can increase your or your senior’s quality of life and perhaps reduce the risk of falls. I just wish they could fix potholes.

Diabetes Monitoring App for Health Maintenance

Senior caregivers or their senior clients who live with diabetes know how difficult balancing healthy eating with maintaing healthy blood glucose levels can be on a daily basis. The Diabetes in Check app helps users with Type 2 or Pre Diabetes with logging their daily activity and blood glucose levels for health maintenance.  

The app asks basic questions upon account creation, such as what type of diabetes the user is managing: Type 2, Pre-Diabetic, Type 1 or Gestational. A disclaimer states that the app design suits Pre and Type 2 Diabetes but the tracking can be useful in managing the other two types as well. The next question inquires about other health conditions that the user may be managing in conjunction with the diabetes, such as depression or high blood pressure. Then once users enter their activity level, age, weight, height, etc. their profile is complete and they can begin logging daily activity. 

Users can set a weight loss goal in the app. Based on current weight and height, the app will recommend a daily calorie intake as well as a carb count for each meal to help users reach their specified goal. Users can log their meals in the app using frequently added foods or by scanning the bar code on the food item they're eating.

The Recipes area of the app also suggests meals for users to make to fit into their nutritional guidelines for healthy living with diabetes. Additionally, the Food Guide section shares nutritional information on a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, etc. and details how they affect blood sugar levels. Users can quickly search the alphabetized list while comparing meal options. 

The Diabetes in Check app is available for Apple products.

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

Home Care Clean-up Kit for Senior Caregivers

Senior caregiving comes with many challenges, including the need to maintain a clean and healthy environment.  Keeping a clean living area is not as easy at it sounds when you must also consider health issues.  Especially if you are caring for a senior who may be confined to their bed or wheelchair, you have the added challenge of bathing them and assisting them with bathroom visits when they are not fully able to be mobile on their own.

One time, I assisted a senior with a transfer from their bed to their bedside bed-pan in order for them to have a successful toilet visit.  While I was very nervous about the transfer because the senior was a tall man, everything went smoothly.  All the lessons learned in nursing aide training paid off.  However, when I went to dump the bed pan, well, I missed the toilet some and had a bigger mess to clean-up.   

Now, Clorox has come to the rescue, marrying together multiple products needed for caregiving in a "Home Care Clean Up Kit".  Another challenge for caregivers is finding all of the right products in one place, which usually cannot be done.  Clorox has done the research and understands caregivers must protect themselves along with protecting the senior.  Remember, one of the positive aspects of the new healthcare law, which rarely is mentioned, is the fact that hospital readmissions were rather out of control because so many times a senior goes into the hospital only to come home with a new infection.  The new healthcare law will decrease the Medicare payments to hospitals who have poor performance for readmissions.  Maintaining a clean caregiving environment impacts the quality of the senior care.

Clorox's new caregiver product offering, called Care Concepts, offers non-latex exam gloves, hand sanitizer, stain remover, germicidal non-bleach spray, disinfecting and deodorizing spray.  And, the best part of the offering is that Clorox has packaged all of these much-needed items together in one package to allow seniors and their caregivers to easily have all the necessary tools for a clean caregiving environment.

"We've participated in numerous studies of caregivers, buy we are exceptionally pleased with this report because it re-enforces the hardships we often hear caregivers endure and it helps us to better understand the unique challenges and rewards of being a caregiver," said John Schnall, CEO of the Caregiver Action Network.

Resources for senior caregivers are always appreciated and these new cleaning products (without bleach) will help caregivers more easily do their jobs.  Proper cleaning of the caregiver's environment is part of the caregiver training for basic caregiver skills.

Clorox Clean-up Home Care Kit

September is National Senior Center Month

We know most seniors prefer to age in place, at home. In fact, according to AARP, over 90 percent of older Americans want to stay home as opposed to relocating to assisted living or nursing homes.

The challenge with aging in place is that unless the senior has a full time caregiver, they can wind up being alone most of the time. That isolation and inactivity can begin a downward spiral of depression and loneliness. Not exactly the picture of a happy way to age.

Senior care at home can also get expensive, especially if you’re paying for simple companionship. Paying a companion caregiver $15 per hour to sit and play bridge might be a bit of overkill, especially since most seniors live on a fixed income.

The National Council on Aging has designated September as National Senior Center Month, and the theme for 2014 is Senior Centers: Experts at Living Well — Discover, Play, Create, Challenge.

Not to be confused with Adult Day Care Centers which are more costly and offer a higher degree of structure and supervision, Senior Centers are facilities that offer a wide variety of activities and offer opportunities for independent seniors to interact. It’s perfect for the active elderly—those who would like a place to “hang out”, have fun, and maybe learn a little something new.

Senior Centers often offer classes, trips, parties, volunteer opportunities, and recreational activities, and lifetime learning programs, including expert lectures. A healthy meal can also be had for an additional minimal fee. Oftentimes, they provide opportunities for day- and sometimes even overnight-excursions.

Regionally, some senior center endeavors are pushing boundaries and giving area seniors a little extra this month.

  • In Livermore, California, the California Highway Patrol will be offering a free public presentation on “How to Recognize Elder Abuse”.
  • The Glastonbury, CT Senior Center are inviting seniors to take part in a 10-week fitness challenge that includes a variety of activities to make people more aware of their own health and well-being.
  • The St. Clair Street Senior Center in Tennessee is featuring a Drum Circle, Tai Chi, St. Clair Walkers and an Art Show.

Some programs have been developed specifically to highlight this month’s senior center theme, but some communities see a great opportunity in working with local seniors.

In New York, for example, the Department on Aging is teaming up with local arts councils and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs to present SPARC : Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide. The initiative places 50 artists-in-residence at senior centers across the five boroughs of New York City. The goal is to produce arts programming for seniors in exchange for workspace and a small stipend. As reported by website Hyperallergic, last year, participating dance company De Novo staged Houseguest at the Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance and included seven seniors from the Astoria senior center where they had been in residence.

I plan on exploring this month’s theme by taking my own mother to a local senior center. Looking ahead to winter, it may be just the place for her to spend some time among her peers in the community. While I don’t expect she’ll be performing any contemporary dance moves, they might just get her to Zumba.

Roman Evening Stroll: Stress Relief Photo of the Week

The time when day fades into night is a great time for a relaxing walk. This week's photo was taken in Rome, Italy, at dusk. Caregiverlist invites you to share it with loved ones. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work. Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Senior care training briefs help senior caregivers to understand various senior illnesses and keep up with the latest care techniques to relieve caregiving stress. Have a great week. 

"Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer."  -Leonardo da Vinci

Tripping Seniors to Prevent Future Falls

Tripping the elderly on purpose would seem to be a cruel joke. Falls among seniors (those 65 or older) are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. They are also the leading cause of injury death. So who could possibly think that tripping older adults is a good idea?

Researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago have developed a lab-built treadmill system that trips its subjects unexpectedly. After striding several paces, a sliding section of the treadmill walkway suddenly moves, causing the test subject to stumble.

Leading the research is physical therapy professor, Clive Pai. He calls the method a potential "vaccine against falls." He’s seen elderly subjects fall a few times on the treadmill (saved from actual injury by a harness), and then, after several “trips”, they subconsciously learn how to keep themselves upright.

Sensors attached to various points on the experiment participants track and analyze the muscle groups involved in catching oneself before one falls. The idea is to then concentrate on strengthening and improving the range of motion of those muscles. In theory, this will help prevent the injuries incurred when an elderly person falls to the floor.

"This is all implicit learning. We don't give any instruction. They don't have to be motivated — they're naturally motivated because they don't want to be on the floor," Prof. Pai said.

The National Institute on Aging is providing the five-year, $1 million grant to study and develop the treadmill system. There are plans to enroll 300 participants within the next five years. Researchers then hope to bring the treadmills to the public via doctor’s offices and physical therapy centers.

This photo taken on July 28, 2014, shows a UIC physical therapy assistant professor Tanvi Bhatt, left, with research subject Mary Kaye, 81 as they demonstrate a treadmill balance session. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Until this research proves effective in preventing falls and the treadmills are widely available, consider these 6 tips to prevent falls from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Consult a doctor to check eye and ear health and review medications.
  • Exercise to improve strength, coordination, balance and flexibility.
  • Wear sensible shoes or none at all. No high heels, slippers, thick-soled shoes. Stocking feet, especially on hardwood floors, can also be hazardous.
  • Keep walkways clear of clutter. Use non-slip mats in showers. Secure rugs with double-stick tape. Keep household items like dishes, food and clothing within easy reach. Use plenty of lamps with bright bulbs.
  • Turn on lights when going up and down stairs.
  • Hand rails, grab bars, raised toilet seats can be of great assistance in the bathroom. Place a plastic seat in the shower along with a hand-held shower nozzle.

Senior caregivers need to know how to maintain a clean, safe, and healthy environment. Caregiverlist Basic Training, powered by Caregiver Training University, provides a training module to help prevent accidents and injuries in the home.

Book Recommendations App for Caregiver Stress Relief

Stress relief for senior caregivers plays an important role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. One good way to take your mind off a tough day and relieve stress is to sit down with a good book and read for a while. The GoodReads App asks users to rate books they've already read and suggests similar titles for them to read next. 

When users first create an account, the app asks them to select from existing categories of the types of books they enjoy reading. Popular options include classics, contemporary, fantasy, fiction, non-fiction and young adult.

The next step asks users to rate different titles on a scale of one stars through five stars in the selected genres so the app can get a sense of which books the user enjoys and make suggestions to read next. The more books a user rates, the better matched the suggestions for what to read next become. If users don't rate the suggested 20 titles to start off with, then they can still browse through the most popular titles and fun lists such as "Best Women-authored Books."

Other areas of the app include "My Books," which allows users to keep a running list of titles they've read previously, are currently reading or would like to read in the future, "Scan," which pulls up book info easily with a quick scan of the bar code on the back, and "Challenge," which asks users to set their own 2014 reading goal for number of books they would like to read this year. 

Senior caregivers can use the app to find books for themselves to read for stress relief, whether it's before bed, in a waiting room or on a quick break from caregiving. They can also try sharing book recommendations with their senior clients. If a senior client particularly likes to read, create them their own account on GoodReads and become friends with them on your own profile so you can share recommendations between one another. 

The GoodReads app is available for Apple and Android products.

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

Caregiver Pay Increases with Training, Studies Show

It’s back to school for most kids in the U.S., including my own. As we filled backpacks with new school supplies last night, I discussed with them the importance of a good education. “Stay in school,” we tell our children because, while not the only reason, higher education can directly affect your earning ability throughout your life. According to the National Dropout Prevention Center, high school graduates earn $143 more per week than high school dropouts. College graduates earn $336 more per week than high school graduates ($479 more per week than high school dropouts.)

The same holds true for the correlation between senior caregiver training and caregiver pay.

Becoming a companion caregiver is a great place to start to see if you enjoy elder care. While you are a companion caregiver, you can work on becoming certified to become a professional senior caregiver.

The Personal Home Health Aide (basic non-medical senior caregiver) occupation is cited by the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics as having the second highest projected growth rate from 2012-2022 at 49% with 580,800 new jobs created, and a 2012 median pay rate of $19,910 per year, or $9.57 per hour.

Home Health Aides have the third highest projected growth rate at 48%, with 424,200 new jobs and a 2012 median annual pay rate of $20,820, or $10.01 per hour. Becoming a Home Health Aide means increasing your education by taking a certification course.

Senior care training requirements vary by state, and every licensed senior home care agency must follow their state caregiver training requirements. Caregiverlist’s Basic Training 8-hour online course satisfies orientation training requirements for most states. CHHAs do not hold licenses but many employers prefer them to be certified. The certification process requires passing an exam after 75 hours of training and skills testing.

Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (C.N.A.) is the next step in pursuing senior caregiving on an even more professional level. It’s also has one of the highest projected change in employment, with 312,200 new jobs projected from 2012-2022. That means a 21% growth rate. The median salary for C.N.A.s is $24,400 per year or $11.73 per hour. Nursing assistants must complete a state-approved education program and must pass their state’s competency exam. If you wonder what an exam looks like, Caregiverlist has provided a sample test for you to check out.

Of course, registered nurses will also be in demand, with 526,800 new jobs projected. That pay is $65,470 per year or $31.48 per hour. However, the big salary jump means more intensive education. Nurses pursue either a bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses also must be licensed.

It’s no wonder that these fields are some of the fastest growing in the nation. As the elder population increases, so will the need for skilled, certified, educated caregivers. So if you want to get to work, go back to school!

Relaxing Moment Boating by the Palace in London

This week's Stress Relief Photo takes us back to London, England, to the pond near Kensington Palace. People are enjoying a weekend morning with their boats and the beauty of the park. As many of are together with friends and family this Labor Day weekend, remember to savor that time. Enjoy the photo and feel free to share it with loved ones. Thank you caregivers, for all you do. 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. As summer fades away, we hope you enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend. 

"Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections."  -Unknown

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