Enjoy Caregiving? Become a Certified Nursing Aide

Do you enjoy providing caregiving services for a loved one or neighbor?  If so, you may want to become a Certified Nursing Aide and expand your employment opportunities while enjoying a fulfilling career.

Certification is managed by the department of health in each state in the U.S.A.  You may usually find training programs through community colleges and in some states, nursing homes and hospitals offer certified nursing aide classes.

Admission requirements for Certified Nursing Aides are typically:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • Reading, writing and math competency
  • English competency
  • Drug testing
  • Background checks

The cost ranges from $500 - $4,000 and usually financial aide and grant programs are available.  Classes usually can be completed inm 1 to 3 months.  Usually part-time evening programs are available.

You may learn more about caregiving job opportunities and find certified nursing aide training programs in your area on Caregiverlist.

 

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The Cost of Caregiving for Alzheimer's Disease in Dollars and Health

Many caregivers feel overwhelmed when a patient or loved one develops Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia.  More than 5 million Americans currently suffer from the disease, a number that’s estimated to grow substantially during the next couple decades as our senior population increases with the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. 

By 2030, more than 7 million people ages 65 and older will have Alzheimer’s, according to an estimate published in the newly released Alzheimer's Association annual reportAngela Geiger, chief strategy officer at the Alzheimer's Association, worked with Fox News to identify other key points of this new report, several of which relate to caregivers. Those caregiving for seniors with memory loss can use these 10 factoids on Alzheimer's Disease to better care for their senior loved ones and senior clients.

1) Alzheimer's disease is more than lost memories. Forgetfulness is a hallmark symptom, but the disease cuts deeper. "Your body forgets how to function," explains Geiger. In fact, Alzheimer's disease causes death, as its progression eventually prevents the individual from engaging innate abilities like moving and swallowing.

2) Early diagnosis may garner better care. According to 2009 research in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia, people 70 and older who were told they had Alzheimer's or dementia by a doctor and were aware of it--or had family members who knew--tended to have more doctor contact and fewer days in the hospital. But early diagnosis, which can translate into a care plan that can have a significant impact on the quality of life of the individual and the family, is not always attained. "We know people don't know enough about early signs [of the disease]," including healthcare professionals, says Geiger. Mood and behavior changes, an early warning sign of Alzheimer's, often get misdiagnosed as depression, for example.

3) Alzheimer's patients have higher out-of-pocket costs. People 65 or older with Alzheimer's disease or dementia pay 30 percent more in out-of-pocket healthcare costs than those without such disease, according to the new annual report.

4) Total healthcare spending is radically higher in Alzheimer's families. Add up all the healthcare dollars spent by various payers--including Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers--on people 65 or older with Alzheimer's or dementia, and you get triple the burden of people without, says the new Alzheimer's Association report. "The costs get greater and greater as the disease progresses," says Geiger, and more consistent, specialized care is needed, typically resulting in 24-hour nursing home care.

5) Additional medical conditions complicate matters. The majority of people with Alzheimer's or dementia also have at least one other serious medical condition, according to a January report by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. For example, 60 percent also have hypertension, 26 percent have coronary heart disease, 23 percent have diabetes, and 18 percent have osteoporosis. The presence of Alzheimer's or other dementia only complicates the management of another chronic disease. To properly control diabetes, notes Geiger, vigilant daily maintenance is required, from checking blood sugar to taking insulin to being extremely conscientious about food choices.

6) Hospital trips become more frequent. Having Alzheimer's or another form of dementia at age 65 or older resulted in triple the likelihood of a hospital stay compared with people without such an illness, says the January Dartmouth report. And the frequency extends to caregivers, too. A 2008 Journal of General Internal Medicine study found that nearly 1 in 4 caregiver spouses of people with Alzheimer's or dementia required a trip to the emergency room or hospitalization.

7) Family caregivers take a personal health hit. Multiple studies have found that unpaid caregivers for those who have Alzheimer's or other dementia are more likely to have higher levels of stress hormones, reduced immune function, new hypertension, and new heart disease than noncaregivers. Geiger stresses the importance of caregivers' efforts to alleviate their own stress: "We want to break down that isolation." She encourages caregivers to participate in local face-to-face support groups or, if they prefer, anonymously in online message boards.

8) Family caregivers face a long haul. People with Alzheimer's and dementia typically experience a slow progression of the disease, so family caregiving is often a long-term prospect. A 2004 report by the Alzheimer's Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving found that at any one time, nearly a third of these caregivers have been at it for five years or longer and nearly 40 percent have been doing so for one to four years.

9) Family caregivers do the job free. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that in 2008, 9.9 million caregivers--from children and other family members to friends and neighbors--provided 8.5 billion hours of unpaid care, which amounts to some $94 billion in value. On top of that, these caregivers pay an average of $219 per month out of their own pockets, according to the 2004 report by the Alzheimer's Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

10) The states will feel an increasing burden. The annual report estimates that by 2025, the western states of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Alaska will experience an 81 percent to 127 percent growth in the number of residents with Alzheimer's Disease, as compared to year 2000. Also by 2025, California and Florida, where more than 500,000 residents will have the disease, will lead the nation in volume.

You can also learn more about the costs of senior care and ways to pay on Caregiverlist's home page.

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Early Warning Signs for Alzheimer's Disease

Senior caregivers know the difficulties of caring for someone with memory loss.  But sometimes when you see someone daily, you do not as easily notice some of the early warning signs for memory loss in the form of Alzheimer's Disease.  The Alzheimer's Association has been promoting their new "Know the 10 Signs" for early detection and early diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease.

 These 10 signs include:

 

1) Memory changes that disrupt daily life

 

2) Challenges in planning or solving problems

 

3) Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure

 

4) Confusion with time or place

 

5) Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

 

6) New problems with words in speaking or writing

 

7) Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

 

8) Decreased or poor judgment

 

9) Withdrawal from work or social activities

 

10) Changes in mood and personality


As soon as you notice signs of memory loss, it is a good time to make sure the senior has an estate plan in place and to understand the ways to pay for senior care as many years of caregiving are often necessary for those living with memory loss.


 

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Nursing Home Wrestling Incident: the Challenges of Memory Loss

Families who have needed to find care services for a senior suffering from Alzheimer's Disease or another form of dementia know the challenges of finding the right nursing community.  Many nursing facilities do not accept patients who have Alzheimer's Disease or dementia because they do not have proper facilities or staff to provide for adequate care.

The Minnesota incident of a former wrestler who mistakenly wrestled another resident, with injuries resulting in the eventual death of the resident, have brought to the table a new discussion about how best to provide for care for those seniors with memory loss.  There are no easy answers.  Fortunately, the wife of the resident who died also does not feel Minnesota wrestling legend Verne Gagne understood what he was doing.

Ask Caregivers who assist seniors with memory loss about the behaviors a senior with memory loss will act out and you will understand that it is not at all uncommon for someone to go back to performing a task they did many years ago.  And often it will especially be something that they performed over and over again in their earlier years.  And when these tasks are done in the wrong environment or with others, many accidents can happen.

When I owned a Senior Home Care Agency, one client with memory loss had the habit of going to his basement to work on his water heater because he had previously been an electrician.  Another client who was a bank teller was drawn to sorting papers constantly throughout the day and another client got up and dressed for work to go to the office every day - even though they never went anywhere. 

The Minnesota situation is very sad. Although at the same time, it is understandable that Mr. Gagne would go back to his wrestling days - he was very active in the industry and even helped launch the careers of pro wrestling legends Hulk Hogan and Jesse Ventura.  What do you think the best care options are for those with memory loss?

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An Historic Inaugural - Especially for Our Seniors

Our first African-American president will take the oath of office tomorrow in front of an audience that will include many seniors who can remember segragation and their grandparent's stories about slavery.

One of my dearest friends is African American and another is Chinese American and I cannot even imagine not having the opportunity to interact with other cultures or being segragated from someone of another race.  But today is also Martin Luther King day to remind us that it has taken much work to create opportunities for those from all backgrounds in this country.

It is also a reminder to us of the different viewpoints a senior may have because of the era that they lived in.  One of the biggest challenges for senior caregivers is to try to connect with the senior in a way that understands the senior's viewpoints and needs.  Sometimes it is very difficult for a younger caregiver to understand that a senior is not comfortable with their style of dress or jewelry or language - but when we take the time to think that we all go with what we know based on our environment and then think about the environment someone was in 50 years ago, we can better understand where they are coming from.  And then we can try to connect to them with sensitivity towards their thinking.

One of the greatest assets President-elect Barack Obama brings to the White House, according to those who know him well, is his ability to listen and connect with people from all walks of life and from all viewpoints.  This is definitely a skill we all need when dealing with someone much older or much younger than we are - I am sure in addition to his many other skills, President-elect Obama would also be a stellar caregiver!

 

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Living to Age 100 Becoming Common

One of Caregiverlist's employees will be taking time off next week to visit her 100-year-old Grandmother who will soon turn 101.  Reaching age 100 doesn't receive as much attention as it did when my great-grandmothers turned that age.  Instead, reaching age 105 or 110 grabs the limelight now because more and more seniors are living to be 100.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population age 65 and older is projected to double between 2000 and 2050.  We have modern medicine to help us age a little better and with advances in nutrition and an easier lifestyle, Americans can expect to live way past retirement age.

This means seniors who retire in their 60's need to plan for their next 40 years - life is far from over at retirement.

The news media has picked up on a story about a Chinese senior this week.  The Chinese woman, at age 107, decided that she is interested in getting married because she does not want to be a burden on her relatives now that she can no longer do everything for herself.  She apparently did do all her own laundry and household tasks until recently.........although perhaps a husband is not the answer for help with those things?  I don't know, maybe it works differently in China.  In a country where arranged marriages are a common practice it is very impressive she has waited this long.  I wish her luck! , ,

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: New Surgeon General?

Apparently Dr. Sanjay Gupta, of CNN fame, has accepted the job of Surgeon General.  And now the news media is talking about how appropriate this choice may be.

He is a medical doctor.  And he clearly knows what the issues are since he is on the front lines with daily news deadlines which also means he can communicate and hustle......probably all qualities that will serve him well as Surgeon General.  I think it is quite fine that the choice is not a government official.  It is kind of refreshing, actually.  Especially when you consider government officials came up with a "donut hole" for medication coverage for seniors.  That program would never had sold in the private sector. 

CNN's Dr. Gupta is known for promoting a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise for longterm health.

The grim reality is that many seniors do suffer mobility, breathing and heart problems because of years of unhealthy living.  Improper diet, smoking and lack of exercise have contributed to a decline in their health.  Advances in medicine have enabled them to stay alive with medications, oxygen and medical equipment, but this is at an added cost to Medicare and to taxpayers.  And it means family and professional Caregivers, at an additional cost, are needed to help them get through each day.  Certainly many seniors could not have prevented their medical issues.  But many other seniors perhaps could have limited their medical issues with a change in lifestyle (and this applies to all of us, at all ages, right?).

As a side note, there has also been new mentions of a "nanny issue" (a nanny was hired but payroll taxes were sort of not paid, which is an issue if you were the employer of the nanny who did not pay the taxes and may be taking an appointed government job) for one of Obama's nominees......another reason to realize the value of using a Senior Home Care Agency for senior care services - professional management will insure that taxes are taken care of as part of the payroll benefits, along with substantial insurance protections such as Worker's Compensation Insurance and Professional Liability Insurance......those who think they are saving some pennies by skirting taxes with a hire-direct caregiver should think at least twice before they go this route.  An uninsured Caregiver can sue their employer (the senior) for many things and no protections are in place.....and the IRS can hold the senior responsible if the Caregiver does not pay their payroll taxes (and if you are going to be appointed to a government job, senior caregivers are in the same boat as nannies when it comes to paying taxes).

 

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Peter Falk's Daughter Says He Has Alzheimer's Disease

Those of us who are old enough to remember the television detective series "Columbo", know the beloved actor Peter Falk, 81-years-old, who played Columbo.  Others may remember him as the Grandfather who narrates the story of "The Princess Bride" movie to his grandson. 

Catherine Falk is seeking a court's approval for a conservatorship of her father, who she claims no longer recognizes people. A hearing has been scheduled for late January.

Falk won four Emmys in his role as Columbo.  He was also nominated twice for Academy Awards for movie roles in 1959 and 1960.

The petition filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court states Falk lives in Beverly Hills with his wife and recently had hip surgery and requires constant care.  Earlier this year, there were incidents where Falk spoke or acted out of the ordinary and now this diagnosis explains it.  It is also reported that he requires full-time caregiving services at this time.  It is always more difficult for the family when care issues are not already decided prior to the development of memory loss.  Perhaps his daughter will be able to quickly reach court approval for his proper care needs.  However, the actor is married so there may be other issues to resolve.  This is a reminder to all of us to set-up a trust which will dictate our caregiving and financial arrangements should we be unable to manage them on our own.
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Considering Caregiving Needs at Holidays

As you gather with your family for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, remember to take time to really talk with the seniors in your family and notice if there are any changes they are experiencing as they age, and think about what you can assist them with to age well.  Remember, some age-related illnesses, if caught and treated early, can be given the proper medical attention in order to slow progression.  Take the time to think about any care needs your senior relative may need as their health conditions change.

It is sometimes easier for those who do not see their parents and grandparents often to notice changes than for those who have daily interactions with them.  Take the time to notice hearing, vision and overall appearance.  Are your elder relatives keeping up with their home maintenance as well as their own appearance?  Are they taking their medications at a regular time each day?  Are they incorporating physical exercise into their daily routine?  Are they maintaining social activities?

Healthy aging requires maintaining physcial and mental exercise and socialization, along with eating a nutritious diet.  Many seniors will find it necessary to change their lifestyle some to make sure they are keeping up with both health needs and social needs as they age.  And, sometimes, it is necessary to involve a family member or caregiving service to assist with care needs, at least part-time, as abilities change.

If you live far away from senior family members, take the time to investigate senior care options in their town when you are visiting.  Find out what quality Senior Home Care Agencies are in their area and learn about senior service programs.  Obtain names and numbers so you will be able to contact someone to assist if the need should arise.

 

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Mini-Mental Exam Can Detect Memory Loss

In only ten minutes time, a mini-mental exam screens seniors for signs of dementia.  Referred to in the medical community simply as a "mini-mental", the official name is the Mini-mental State Exam and it is copyrighted by Psychological Assessment Resources (PAR).  Geriatric care doctors will give this exam to their senior clients to keep ahead of any signs of memory loss.

The mini-mental test asks questions about the time and place of the test, and incorporates math and language skills to test cognitive and memory abilities.  It asks questions like how many nickels are in $1.25 and if you can spell a certain word backwards.

Many times memory loss in seniors can be connected with an illness or with medications.  If properly addressed, senior memory loss can be slowed or reversed. Because of age-related diseases, seniors are more at risk for memory loss and should be sure their medical doctor is conducting a mini-mental at their annual check-ups.

If you are a caregiver for a senior, you can also find a variety of memory exercises at the Alzheimer's Store.

One of my Aunts suffered a stroke a few years ago and after being air-lifted to a metropolitan hospital,  she received excellent care and made nearly a full recovery.  Now she enjoys telling how in the days following the stroke, the doctor would check on her each day and ask her if she knew who the president of the United States was.  Each day, she would answer "George Bush".  Finally, she told him he needed to ask her something new.  He then asked her if she knew what the Gettysburg Address was, and............she began reciting it.  She had memorized it in grade school.  He told her she indeed knew it better than he did!

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