CDC Reports Record High Flu Hospitalizations of Elderly

It’s a well-known fact that people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu than their younger counterparts. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it's estimated that between 50 and 60 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations in the United States occur in seniors.

The CDC release the new flu numbers on Friday showing a record high amount of flu hospitalizations among the senior population. In fact, the numbers are the highest since the agency started tracking the numbers nine years ago.

About 198 out of every 100,000 people 65 and older have been hospitalized with flu-related illness this season. The next highest rate was for the 0-4 year old group with about 38 out of 100,000. Compare that to last year’s numbers, when, at the same time in the year, only about 40 out of every 100,000 elderly were hospitalized with flu-related illness.

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Because immune defenses weaken as we age, the flu can be a real danger; seniors comprise an estimated 90 percent of all seasonal flu-related deaths. On average, about 24,000 Americans die each flu season, according to the CDC. While flu vaccinations don’t guarantee a flu-free season, (the CDC reported that the flu vaccine is only 23 percent effective this winter,) Fluzone, a higher-dose flu shot developed specifically for older adults, is designed to give people a better immune response, thereby providing better protection against flu.

Those who are considered at high risk of developing serious flu complications are those with:

  • Asthma
  • Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes)
  • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Morbid obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
  • Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, cancer, or those on chronic steroids)

If you see your senior client or care recipient developing any flu symptoms, act fast and get them medical attention. Antiviral drugs can be used to manage and treat flu in the elderly before serious complications develop. Look out for fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, body aches, chills, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

Caregivers should take extra precautions as well. The CDC especially recommends that anyone working with older adults get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of influenza, especially if they work in a long-term care facility.

Caregiverlist hopes that seniors and their caregivers stay safe and healthy all year, but especially during this dangerous flu season.

Finding New Recipes Made Easy With Gojee App

Sometimes deciding what to make for dinner can be daunting task. Grabbing a frozen dinner to pop in the oven seems like a much easier option than searching for a good recipe and making a dish from scratch. Frozen dinners often contain high levels of sodium and artificial preservatives though. The Gojee app makes finding new nutritional recipes for caregivers and their senior clients easy. 

When caregivers first open the Gojee app, they are met with a screen tiled with delicious looking photos of food and drinks with witty titles such as "Tofu For You" and "Get Sauced!" Users click on the tile with a recipe that interests them to get a closer look at the food. Some of the recipes are fairly simple to make, such as the Asian Pear, Persimmon, And Almond Salad, which requires only seven ingredients and no heat to cook. Caregivers can simply follow the directions to mix the ingredients cold and serve in a matter of minutes, possibly even faster than microwaving a frozen dinner. 

Once caregivers select a recipe that tickles their taste buds, they can browse the list of ingredients and place a check mark next to the ones they need to purchase, which adds them to the Shopping List portion of the app. Then, once caregivers visit the store, they can fill in the empty bubbles next to the ingredients as they place them in their shopping cart. Users can also view more recipes like the one they've selected. 

The app provides a wide variety of recipes, from desserts to main dishes to vegetable side dishes. Caregivers should take their own specific dietary needs as well as those of their senior clients or whoever is dining with them into consideration when deciding which dishes to make. If a caregiver is cooking for senior who is watching their cholesterol, they should skip a recipe containing whipping cream or make an ingredient substitution for something lower in cholesterol. 

The Gojee app is available for Apple, Andriod and Chrome 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

California Enacts Minimum Caregiver Training

Cases of elder abuse and elder neglect can be found everywhere. Abuse can be physical, psychological, and/or emotional. Seniors can be the victims of neglect when caregivers fail to fulfill their duties and obligations to provide even the most basic elder care. Seniors can be the victims of financial exploitation, especially when they entrust their caregiver with their funds and assets. If a caregiver is going to mistreat someone in their care, they’d be hard-pressed to find an easier victim than a vulnerable senior.

Senior care experts agree that there is a correlation between caregiver training and elder abuse. Regrettably, there is no federal mandate for caregiver training. It is up to each state to set its own guidelines for nursing assistant, home health aide, and personal care aide training and supervision. Most senior care agencies have minimum training requirements for their employees, but are not required by law to do so.

California has taken steps to rectify that situation with its Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act. Per Assembly Bill 1217, on and after January 1, 2015, home care agencies would be duty-bound to establish and continuously update a home care aide registry and would require criminal background check clearances for home care aides.

Caregiver training would include a minimum of five hours of entry-level training prior to working with a client. This includes:
(1) Two hours of orientation training outlining the role of a caregiver.
(2) Three hours of safety training, including basic safety precautions, emergency procedures, and infection control.
(3) An additional five hours of annual training. The annual training will include, but not be limited to:

  • Clients’ rights and safety.
  • How to assist a client’s activities of daily living.
  • How to prevent, detect, and report abuse and neglect.
  • How to assist a client with personal hygiene.
  • How to safely transport a client.

The training may be completed through an online training program, as long as that training can be verified.

While this is a great step and in keeping with the many states that require minimum caregiver training, it doesn’t necessarily cover the 400,000 caregivers in California’s $7.3 billion In-Home Supportive Services Program (IHSS) for low-income elderly and disabled residents. Those caregivers are hired, managed and trained by the care recipients themselves. Training requirements for the nation’s largest publicly-funded home care program have been met with resistance because clients want autonomy over their care and how it’s delivered. As a result, only about 12 percent of those caregivers have even basic caregiver training.

Finding official state reports of elder abuse and neglect is a daunting task. The most recent data I could find is from the 2004 Survey of State Adult Protective Services published in 2007. Titled Abuse of Vulnerable Adults 18 Years of Age and Older, a Report of the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), it was prepared by the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the National Adult Protective Services Association. Unfortunately, many states differ in their definitions of what constitutes abuse. For the survey, because states collect very different types of information on the abuse of vulnerable adults, it’s hard to compare apples-to-apples. Thirty two states could provide abuse reports for vulnerable adults aged 18-59 as well as aged 60+; the balance of states don’t collect data by age group, so there’s no telling how many of their reports detailed elder abuse specifically.

The demand for direct-care workers like Personal Care Aides and Home Health Aides will soon outpace the supply. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor, the projected growth in home health care services from 2012 to 2022 is 67 percent. As the pool of informal caregivers shrinks (family and friends), the demand will need to be filled by a more professional workforce. And in order to to help minimize instances of elder abuse, we believe that workforce should be adequately trained.

Caregiverlist applauds California for taking training initiatives, but is it enough? Should minimum caregiver training be federally mandated? What are the possible downfalls to requiring any senior caregiver to obtain even the most basic caregiver training?

Colors of the English Countryside

Even in winter you can discover beautiful colors. This week's stress relief photo was taken on the grounds of Highclere Castle in England, where "Downton Abbey" is filmed. Please enjoy and feel free to share it with loved ones. At Caregiverliswe know the realities of caregiver stress. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. Senior care training assists caregivers to better manage a senior's care needs and manage caregiver stress. We hope you have a great week.

Feel-Good Senior Care and Caregiver News

It’s an occupational hazard. Because I write about anything and everything connected with seniors and eldercare, I come across a lot of depressing stuff. From elder abuse to inequitable caregiver pay, the internet is not lacking in bad news.

In a bit of a departure, certainly for me, here are some stories from around the web about seniors and senior caregivers destined to make you feel good.

  • Two nurses thwart “grandparent scams,” as reported in a story by Steve Coulter of the Connecticut Ridgefield Press. One nurse prevented a senior from wiring $5000 for “bail money” and another stopped a couple from sending $2,800 to a scammer claiming to be their grandson needing money for surgery. Both instances involved bogus claims from grandchildren in trouble and both warned the seniors not to tell anyone about the financial need. Luckily, these two nurses were both highly observant and able to convince the seniors to contact other family members for verification. Of course, they found out their grandchildren were never in trouble.
  • Scotland’s oldest woman, Jessie Gallan, celebrated her 109th birthday and divulged her secrets of longevity to the Daily Mail. “My secret to a long life has been staying away from men. They're just more trouble than they're worth. “I also made sure that I got plenty of exercise, eat a nice warm bowl of porridge every morning.”
  • Men are in the house as well. Yoganonymous posted these life instructions as told by William Snell, 95:

  • In my FB feed: Random Acts of Flowers Chicago delivered 63 bouquets to Waterford Nursing Home and Rehab. RAF recycles and reuses every part of donated flower arrangements including ribbons, wire, foam, buckets, baskets, vases, moss, and stands (and flowers) as part of their “upcycled” floral arrangements.
  • Kitty Nicholson, 100, knits a baby cap a day for the last five years. Every baby born at Waccamaw Community Hospital and Georgetown Memorial Hospital leaves with one of her creations. “It keeps me out of trouble.”

So there’s good out there along with the not-so-good. Caregiverlist invites you to share your feel-good senior or caregiver story in the comments.

Organize Your Schedule, E-mails and To-Do List Using Central App

Keeping one effective to do list can be tricky if your main source of organization is your e-mail account. With new e-mails coming in all the time from the company that you bought something from once six months ago, the important stuff can get buried between the junk. Using the Handle app, senior caregivers can create specific To Do lists based on their e-mails and organize their calendar effectively. 

Users can begin by importing their existing e-mail accounts and calendars for in-app organization. The app will then organize tasks based on what day they need to be completed and display them in categories on the home screen based on due dates such as "This Morning" and "Next Week." Users can view their e-mail account from within the app and when they receive a message with a new To-Do task, they can simply swipe right on the e-mail line in the app to create a To-Do, Reminder or Add to the Calendar. Once a Reminder or To Do is created from an e-mail, the app archives the message so that read messages don't clog up your inbox. When users click on the To Do from the list on their home screen, the e-mail is attached for easy viewing so the user can recall the important details. 

Users also have the ability to create Projects within the app that incorporate a list of To Dos underneath them. This feature proves particularly useful for senior caregivers who have multiple senior clients or who work with their senior client but also need to accomplish tasks for their own family. Caregivers could maintain a weekly project for each senior client with a list of all the tasks they need to do that week, such as pick up prescriptions, call their family for a check in or attend a doctor's appointment. 

The Handle app is available for Apple and Chrome 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

Seniors and Bullying

It’s an irony of life that, in many ways, we end as we begin — dependent, spoonfed pureed foods (is Ensure the geriatric Enfamil?), wearing diapers. If it’s true that at a certain point we our lives begin to Benjamin Button, then maybe it’s true that retirement communities are like high school, replete with the ubiquitous resident mean girls.

In a New York Times Op-ed piece this weekend, Jennifer Weiner writes about the bullying behavior her 99-year-old “Nanna” experienced when she first arrived at her new retirement home. In Mean Girls in the Retirement Home, Ms. Weiner describes that Nanna wasn’t allowed to sit at certain dining tables. Nanna wasn’t invited to play bridge. It sounded to Ms. Weiner (and to me) like classic school bullying.

I thought, is senior bullying really a thing? It is.

With more elderly entering senior care centers, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes, the instances of senior bullying is on the rise. It’s estimated that 10-20% of seniors in these types of communities find themselves objects of bullying by the members of the “controlling group.” Sometimes, residents with dementia will act in a bullying manor out of frustration, anger, and confusion.

Senior-to-senior aggression can be overt or passive-aggressive. Studies show that, much like the bullying found in high school, men tend to be openly abusive, challenging other residents both verbally and physically. Women tend to take part in stereotypical behavior, spreading rumors and ostracizing victims.

Why do seniors engage in bullying? The same reason kids bully. A bully, no matter what age, seeks to control and dominate. Perhaps because they lack power in their own situation, they seek to make themselves feel stronger by making others feel weak and fearful. They also have a lack of empathy.

How do you know if a senior is experiencing bullying? Here are some telltale signs:

  • Isolation
  • Depression
  • Avoidance of certain communal areas
  • Taking circuitous, out-of-the-way routes to get to and from areas
  • Complaints that they are not liked and are not included in activities

Bullying is a form of elder abuse and should not be tolerated. In these instances, a third-party has to get involved. Alert the staff  or on-site social worker if you suspect bullying. If they don’t intervene, contact your state’s long-term care ombudsman to report the abuse. Everyone deserves to live their life with respect in a caring community.

Have you ever experienced senior bullying? What did you do about it? Tell us in the comments.

Delicate Winter Beauty: Stress Relief Photo

It may be mistaken for cherry blossoms, but this is snow. This week's photo was taken last winter in Chicago, and captures the clean, fleeting beauty of freshly fallen snow shining in the sun. Caregiverlisinvites you to enjoy the photo and share it with loved ones. At Caregiverlist we know the realities of caregiver stress.Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and 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.  

Home Care Workers are "Companions" Judge Rules

For the million+ home care workers in the United States, the dream of finally receiving the respect and pay equality their profession so richly deserves was struck down with one judge’s decision to block a Department of Labor regulation that would force third-party employers to provide them minimum wage and overtime, just days before it was to be enacted.

Judge Richard J. Leon, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sided with the Home Care Association of America, the International Franchise Association, and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice who oppose the exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage and overtime requirements.

The new rule, scheduled to go into effect in early January, would have guaranteed a national baseline minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for all direct care workers.

Congress originally excluded home care workers from the FSLA when, in 1974, they defined all in-home care services as “companionship” services. However, today’s in-home care worker is generally more professional and better trained. They provide much more than mere companionship, many times providing vital services such as help with the activities of daily living that are so important in helping seniors to live independently in their own homes.

Quality home care agencies should (and many do) pay their workers more than minimum wage and overtime for the invaluable services they provide. However, the national median wage for home health aides is less than $10 per hour and that’s why, many argue, federal mandates need to be in place. Opponents of the regulation believe if 3rd-party agencies are forced into paying more to their hourly wage workers, the cost will be passed along to the consumer — seniors and their families who are already struggling with the high cost of senior care.

Judge Leon, who was appointed to the United States District Court in February 2002, came into prominence in December of 2013 when he ruled the NSA’s collection of all Americans’ phone calls most likely violated the Constitution (specifically, the Fourth Amendment). The judge also had historically and infamously sided with the tobacco industry against the FDA.

The home healthcare industry is facing a looming shortage of qualified home health aides and senior home caregivers. Those caregivers are the ones who make it possible for the elderly to age at home in dignity and not in nursing homes, thereby saving Medicare millions of dollars. Senior care experts agree that the only way to draw a trained workforce and stem the high-turnover rate is to provide a decent living wage. For those senior caregivers who do so much more than provide “just companionship” (although that, in and of itself, is a great service), we don’t think it’s too much to ask that they are protected and guaranteed to make at least as much as the teenager who flips burgers at McDonald’s.

Shop For Groceries and Delivery to Home in Peapod App

For senior caregivers who live in urban areas and don't own a car or for senior clients who are isolated and have difficulty getting to the grocery store, keeping the fridge stocked can be difficult. Instead of facing cold the temperatures and snow that accompany winter in many parts of the nation to get to the store, senior caregivers can use the Peapod app to shop for groceries for themselves or for senior clients and schedule a time for delivery right to their home. 

Users can search for food items within the app in several different ways. If you'd like more of a product you already have at home, you can scan the barcode into the app and it will try to find it for you in their store. Users can also create lists of all the items they'll need or look at previous orders and click "Buy" directly on the product list page. There's also an area for Specials and New Arrivals that users can browse and pick from. For a more traditional grocery store experience, users can decide to "Browse the Aisles" to see foods in categories like produce, deli, bakery, frozen, etc. laid out exactly the way they are when you walk through a grocery store. 

Items that are on sale throughout the app are marked with a little red price tag icon. Once users click on a item to view the details closer, a full nutrition label also appears to help shoppers make nutritionally conscious decisions. After shoppers have added all of the items they want for this grocery trip into their cart, they can checkout and schedule a time for delivery. Orders must be received a minimum of 12 hours in advance of the desired delivery time, although during the winter and on weekends caregivers may need to schedule further in advance if they live in a popular area because time slots will sell out. 

The Peapod 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


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